Among our favorite purchases are cars and liquor. Blacks make up only 12% of the U.S. population, yet account for 30% of the country's Scotch consumption. Detroit, which is 80% black, is the world's No. 1 market for Cognac. So impressed was Lincoln with the $46.7 billion that blacks spent on cars that the automaker commissioned Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, the entertainment and fashion mogul, to design a limited-edition Navigator replete with six plasma screens, three DVD players and a Sony PlayStation 2. Certainly, higher rates of unemployment, income disparity and credit discrimination are financial impediments to the economic vitality of blacks, but so are our consumer tastes. By finding the courage to change our spending habits, we might be surprised at how far the $631 billion we now earn might take us.

The inherent bias of this hiphop documentary became most glaring, however, when – not until three-quarters through – it finally turned to the proverbial elephant in the room: white corporate control of the rap music industry. Until then, the filmmaker was content to let the viewer believe that the growth of flagrant sexism and even assaultive misogyny in rap was solely the fault of Black male rappers. Ironically, the documentary itself underrepresented conscious women voices in hiphop. The music industry, as anyone who has even casually studied the rap music scene knows, and as the documentary – eventually – grudgingly admitted, took active steps to increasingly promote the “bitch ’n ho,” “bling-bling,” bustin’ ’n bangin,’ shootin’ shit up, rap music that whites racistly and hypocritically love to condemn, while virtually shutting the door on any Black male performers who didn’t want to play into that stereotype.

Rappers that abuse and sell out their own people and culture should be held to account, but that's only part of the picture, says Hip Hop artist Paris. If huge media corporations stopped demanding anti-social lyrics, "gangstas would stop being gangstas and misogynists would stop being misogynists at the drop of a dime." Don't look to the music industry - the people that created the problem - for remediation. Meanwhile, the commercial rap genre is imploding, the result of pollutants cultivated by powerful forces from outside the culture.

I remember when I first heard rap. I was standing in the kitchen at a party in Harlem. It was 1980. A friend of mine named Bill had just gone on the blink. He slapped a guy, a total stranger, in the face right in front of me. I can't remember why. Bill was a fellow student. He was short-circuiting. Problem was, the guy he slapped was a big guy, a dude wearing a do-rag who'd crashed the party with three friends, and, judging by the fury on their faces, there would be no Martin Luther King moments in our immediate future. There were no white people in the room, though I confess I wished there had been, if only to hide the paleness of my own frightened face. We were black and Latino students about to graduate from Columbia University's journalism school, having learned the whos, whats, wheres, whens, and whys of American reporting. But the real storytellers of the American experience came from the world of the guy that Bill had just slapped. They lived less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from us in the South Bronx. They had no journalism degrees. No money. No credibility. What they did have, however, was talent.

The ill-informed multi-millionaire and uneducated rapper, Killa Cam or Cam'ron, whose real name is Cameron Giles became the face of anti-snitching in the recently aired 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper. Cameron description of a snitch is very problematic, and his articulation or lack thereof, did not speak to the corporatization of such practices. Of course, Anderson Cooper, whose status prominently rose after his emotional coverage of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast did not probe this systematic structure of snitching that goes to the highest levels of government. For example, why didn’t Mr. Cooper interrogate the police commissioner about the routine brutal practices which police officers and investigators use to extract “evidence”? More importantly, to make this issue of snitching something that is only particular to Hip-Hop glosses over the activities of music executives and their role in such negotiation, the role the government plays in creating "snitch" programs that allowed them to monitor and kill Blacks, and as well as the recent activities by the Bush administration in manufacturing data for the invasion of Iraq. Where were all these information? And more importantly, why did 60 Minutes, just like the rest of the news media, continue to collude and propagate such ideas?

Growing up in New York, acclaimed hip hop video director Lil X was influenced by the Minister and the Nation of Islam greatly. "You couldn't be a teenager back then and not be touched by Farrakhan. We can't measure how important this man has been to hip hop. This (Minister's invitation) is like the godfather making a request and when have you ever known the godfather to make a call and people don't respond. Everybody should honor this man." Lil X is developing a 10-minute video presentation in honor of the Minister along with producer The RZA of Wu-Tang who is working on the 2007 remix to "Fight the Power", which will feature surprise performers. Both of these will serve as a salute to Minister Farrakhan's contributions to hip hop.

Knowledge Project

Africa Knowledge Project is an academic resource that offers journals and databases. Check them out.

 Upcoming Deadlines



LivewireRasta Livewire is a leading blog that provides in-depth viewpoints from Rastas in Africa and African Diaspora.

Africa Knowledge Project (AKP) publishes peer-reviewed journals and academic databases.

Ojedi is an online retailer of fine art and exceptional handcrafted pieces from around the world.

Africa House is an Africa and Diasporian gallery. Africa House accepts proposals for submission on a rolling basis.

African Event Posters show posters of events at Africa House.

African Gourmet Dinners shows images of African gourmet dishes.