Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Difference Between Rap and Reggae

Mumia Abu-Jamal expounds on some major differences between Rap as both an art form and music industry versus Reggae's cultural influence. Rap, he points out, has significantly lost its roots and original cultural value, and has become, to a great extent, one more prostituted, money-compromised business. Rap, particularly Gangsta Rap, also has a big problem with its attitude toward women. Many videos and songs denigrate and belittle women as nothing but sex objects or, even worse, objects of violence. How completely patriarchal and reactionary can you get?

Rap has all too often taken the original rage in the ghettoes against oppression, as well as the original revolutionary impulses, and commodified them, twisted them, and even turned them upon blacks themselves. So we now have the phenomenon of egomaniac Rapsters who glorify male chauvinism, criminal violence and themselves while they roll wheelbarrows of money into the banks. And they have even gotten into deadly rivalries amongst themselves. Welcome to the land of greed, destruction and alienation.

Let me point out however, as a commenter has explained, that some Rappers like Talib Kweli, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Spearhead, The Coup, work to remain true to Rap's original social message. There is a similar conflict within Hip-Hop poetry and spoken word, by the way, from which Rap evolved.

To hear Mumia's Prison Radio broadcast, check out: Pick 2), the long version, to hear his whole message.

Mumia, ever astute, reminds us through his words of the need to maintain liberating art forms for the greater good, such as Reggae. Of course Reggae is not one pure, monolithic manifestation, but has its own complexities and shortcomings too. However, resistance against racism, imperialism and exploitation has remained a key focus. One of the greatest exemplifiers of this liberating theme, of course, has been Bob Marley.

To listen to one of Bob Marley's songs, by the way, click here.


Hans Bennett said...

Cool! Glad you liked it... I think Mumia makes many good points, but I also think he should have drawn a distinction between mainstream corporate rap, and rap that is more hard-core and not corporate... Like Talib Kweli, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Spearhead, The Coup, and many more.

While I don't think the anti-corporate rappers should be lumped in with the mainstream ones, I do think Mumia's critique of mainstream rap is right on!

This reminds me of this recent banned Boondocks clip criticizing BET:

Also, if you'd like to learn more about Mumia's case, please check out our new video and let us know what you think:

Hans Bennett said...

Whoops! That was a bad link. This one should work better.