Rap and Spirituality
By Marvin X
Rap poetry and spoken word originated in Africa at the dawn of civilization, in the Nile Valley and the classical West African cultures. The poets were the priests, the magicians, the shamans, the scholars, the prophets and warriors. These poets were found in Moorish Spain, Arabia, Iraq and Persia, geographical areas infused with African culture and civilization.
In America, the African poetic mind emerged during the 19th century, but more prominently during the Black renaissance of the 1920s with Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, Countee Cullen, and during the 50s with the poets Bob Kaufman, LeRoi Jones, Ted Joans, Margarete Walker, Gwen Brooks and others.
Conscious rap is the direct descendant of the 1960s Black Arts Movement: Sonia Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Askia Touré, Last Poets, Haki Madhubuti, Nikki Giovanni, Marvin X, and others.
The Black Arts poetry was short lived and conscious rap as well. Both were anathema to the US sham democracy and were replaced by academic muddle and street pussy and dick rap and pseudo gangsta rap. From a cursory viewing of current rap videos, one would think blacks are the world's greatest lovers, pimps and gangsta, and black women are sexual freaks, whores and gangsta bitches.
For revolutionary rap, one must check out the Palestinians and Muslim fundamentalist poets. They have the energy and message the blacks originated but were forced to abandon by record company pimps and low mentality black rappers. The BET music awards opened with Waylans joking about deaf, dumb and blind rappers—but it is no joke.
In the name of freedom of speech, we shall not condemn any lyrics for we are absolutely against censorship and abhor black bourgeoisie culture police who espouse the moral high ground while they wallow in conspicuous consumption and crass materialism that is as morally decadent as that of the rappers and hip hoppers they decry.
But for sure, the negative images in rap videos and abrasive lyrics (and I am known to use motherfucker, bitch and ho, on occasion) are a desecration of our culture, actually an insult to our ancestors who were paraded butt naked at slave marts from New York's African village (Wall Street, still a slave mart) to New Orleans and throughout the South, throughout the Americas for that matter: Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, and elsewhere.
Of course language is a weapon in the cultural revolution, it can assault the enemy and free the slave from linguistic bondage. The oppressor and his lackeys cannot determine the language of the oppressed, that is our human right, part of our struggle for self determination. Ultimately, we determine and define the terms of our existence.
We determine what is profane and obscene. But what is more profane and obscene than poverty, ignorance and disease? Don't use language as a scapegoat for the continued exploitation and blood sucking of the poor.
But the rap videos are the modern coon shows, minstrel shows and battle royals of the antebellum South. What progress have we made from the slave mart moans to rapping about it's hard out here for a pimp? Think of all the brothers who were lynched for looking at a white woman. Snoop Dog can pimp white women on TV because she is the last weapon in the white man's arsenal against the black nation, as Elijah taught.
While you fought for freedom, suddenly the white woman jumped out of the box like jack to claim minority status and win rights and privilege rightfully deserved by black men and women. Keep pimpin, hustle and flow with your trailer house trash white girl, but you will never be anything until you embrace your black woman and stand with her, no matter how sick she is or how sick you are—go to the doctor together. Don't disgrace your mother with alien women. Remember Samson and Delilah.
Unconscious rap derives from the animal plane and must advance to the divine or spiritual plane if it is to be beneficial to our people. I must admit that I appreciate Christian rap in spite of lyrics based on juvenile mythology glorifying the after life and suggesting Jesus is God. If Jesus is God who was God before Jesus was born?
At least Christian rap is better than raps on the pussy and dick theme, glorifying crass materialism that reveals poverty consciousness— people who have money don't flash. How can anyone in their right mind glorify diamonds and gold that Africans died to procure for De Beers and others, Africans who had their arms and hands cut off in wars for filthy diamond merchants in Europe, Israel and New York?
Yes, better to rap about Jesus and pie in the sky than sista got a big ole butt. In the words of ancestor Paul Robeson, rappers must become artistic freedom fighters or give up the game, for rather than pimps, they are whores for the record industry, the filthy capitalist bloodsuckers of the poor.
Muslim rappers know their duty is to teach the uncivilized. They know they shall suffer a severe chastisement if they fail to perform their duty.
As descendants of Nile Valley poets, the poets of classical West African civilization, the poets of Arabia, of Persia, of Moorish Spain, whose poems and science brought Europe out of the Dark Ages into the Renaissance, and the poets who inspired our people with the sorrow songs and songs of inspiration to endure and transcend the terror of slavery and pseudo Reconstruction, segregation and civil rites opportunism, we must continue our radical tradition or be cursed by our ancestors and God Almighty.