A Rapper Up In the White House…Holla!
On Race, Culture and the Grand Obstructionist Party
I am surprised at the silence on the left in the face of the torrent of virulent invective leveled against President Obama by a chorus of racist charlatans on the right for inviting his Chi-Town home boy, the progressive rapper known as “Common,” to bust some rhymes up in the white house. It is clear from the sense of outrage expressed by a succession of commentators on the FOX television Network – who howl like hell hounds about the rapper’s panegyrics to his home boy and fellow bard Jeremiah Wright, and exiled revolutionary activist Assata Shekur – that we are witnessing another episode in the culture wars initiated by Pat Buchanan at the Republican convention back in the day. It has been a major weapon in their assault on the left.
The tactics employed in what amounts to an no holds barred attack on the popular culture was designed to mobilize the untutored, racist, paranoid, white squares against the changes in American society inspired by the counter-culture of peace, love and celebration of universal humanism that flowered in the 1960’s. The goal of right-wing reactionaries was to develop a counter-narrative that cast the Grand Obstructionist Party as defenders of true American virtues against the hedonism, atheism and socialism of the “New Left.” It is from this historical perspective that the present attack on Hip Hop must be viewed.
Chi-town Players Living Large and In Charge
No Drama Obama aka “Chilly B.” and Common: I love it!!!!!
Since these clueless old poot-butt white bread Republican squares don’t know “Common” from “Fitty Cent,” their attack is really leveled at the art form itself…and thus a repudiation of the dissonant narratives and oppositional logic that arose from the young, black, urban proletariat and became the voice of a generation: transcending race, geography and class. This is the source of Republican hysteria about a rapper in the White House. They see it as the triumph of black urban culture in American society – an accomplished fact among the masses of young people everywhere! After all, Obama has already abandoned bowling for basketball! cry the racist hysterics on the right.
This is why the grand Obstructionist Party must not be allowed to get away with using racist invective disguised as music criticism as an effective weapon in the culture war. In his thoughtful and path breaking book “Racism, Power and Privilege” sociologist William Julius Wilson argues that racist propaganda must be opposed; otherwise it will take root in the public mind and become a substitute for reality. That’s why I feel compelled to set the record straight about Common. I reached out to Leon Saunders, producer of the annual Miami based music festival, “Jazz In the Gardens,” and has represented a wide array of major Hip Hop artist as booking agent, Manager or promoter, and I asked his opinion of the rapper called Common.
After explaining that he detested Gangsta Rap that glorifies violence, and misogynist rap that degrades women, as well as the cavaleir use of the racist epithet “nigger,” Saunders said: “Whenever I’m promoting a show and need a rapper I always call on Common; he represents the epitome of Hip Hop as a vehicle for positive poets.” The ultimate beat down of the right wing cultural warriors came from comedian Jon Stewart in his clash with the pompous intellectual poseur and silly sophist Bill O’Reiley. He put a simple question to smarmy Billy: “Would you also bar Bono, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dillon from the White House? They have all made songs celebrating people convicted for murder!”
And I would add that the intent of the teller of the tale determines its ultimate meaning; hence Common wrote a song about a black revolutionary Shero! I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Dirty Dick Cheney hangs out all over Washington and he is a mass murderer! And besides, Common’s performance at the white was da bomb! Intelligent; Spiritual; uplifting; transcendent; flowing smooth as honey; black love; universal truth…all that and more! Bravo!!!!!!
Common Dropping Lyrical Science!
An American master at work
BY: Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
May 17, 2011