Although Viva Fidel’s music resonates with those seeking justice, and his lyrical wordplay and content is geared more towards those who read books than those who live to party, he doesn’t denounce those who are often criticized by what is often referred to as the “conscious community” for their lyrics promoting excessive drug use, crime and promiscuity. He simply does what he does, and makes music that he likes in hopes that it will connect with like-minded individuals.
“I don’t really have any science or formula or none of that, I just like to make songs that I enjoy,” said Viva Fidel. “I like thinking music. I like stuff that makes me think, I like stuff that makes me go look-up some stuff and then rewind that. And I know there’s other people like me out there, so I’m not afraid to just go there with it,” he added.
Gat Turner is another whose lyrics of fury provide sounds of inspiration and solidarity for those who are involved in societal upheaval and ultimately a societal reconfiguration. The latest collaboration between he and Viva Fidel is the “Killwaukee Xperiment” which includes an inside view into their creative process and community work through online interaction and YouTube videos. He easily explains why his lyrics connect with those with the spirit of resistance.
“I believe that my lyrical content connects so well with those that are critical of the establishment because they are dissatisfied with this current order of things and my lyrics speak to their dissatisfaction,” said Gat Turner. “In many instances it creatively articulates the change that they desire for themselves. We are living in a time of universal change and my music and lyrics are like a herald of that change. I represent an idea whose time has come, and when the people hear it or see it being manifest, it is almost as if they can’t resist it.”
Gat Turner says even if they do resist it, he has the spirit to continue to hurl truth anyway in an authentic manner that resonates with the people.
“I figure if these so-called mainstream artists can stand on what they represent, then I can rep the truth just as hard. Even if the listener isn’t on what I’m on, he or she can still feel me, because I mean what I say,” Gat Turner said.
Many consider Immortal Technique, to be a leading figure in this movement of those using their voices and platforms to enlighten the minds of listeners. He has traveled to Afghanistan working to establish an orphanage there and is always available whenever there is a fundraiser for a righteous cause in service of the people. His latest offering, “The Martyr” provides a soundtrack of the insurgency against the kleptocrats and oligarchs. Despite its name, Tech is not advocating terrorism; it actually refers to how one’s ego and selfish desires must die in order to truly become a revolutionary force for change.
Likewise, the young up and coming group AK-47 are using revolutionary lyrical concepts to move their supporters to positive change through action. Many when they hear the group’s name AK-47 mistakenly draw negative conclusions thinking it refers to the Kalashnikov assault rifle. The young men eagerly destroy those negative thoughts by explaining that their names, Arshad and Khalil, make up the first part, and the 47th surah or chapter of the Holy Qur’an—the book of scripture for those who practice Islam—is titled “Muhammad.”
Other Hip-Hop activists such as Jasiri X and Brother Ali are quite often seen and heard— nationally and internationally—speaking truth to power. They are also doing something else that many consider revolutionary—they are obliterating the previously held notion that you can’t be popular and sell units if you raise political issues, speak to racial and economic disparities, or take on controversial social issues. During last year’s NATO demonstrations in Chicago, protesters wore Jasiri X buttons. He was also one of the featured resistance artists during the protests targeting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC.
Brother Ali’s latest effort, “Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color” is opening ears, eyes and raising consciousness throughout the land. Ali also recently collaborated with Jasiri X for a song on his newest project titled “Ascension.”
Wise Intelligent, another prolific rapper who has always used his influence to educate and enlighten, has a highly anticipated new project titled “El Guerrero Negro” which is scheduled for an April 23rd release.
New Orleans based rap activist Truth Universal is one who also believes in using the mic to mobilize.
“I think that Hip Hop can contribute to grassroots activism by helping to galvanize members of various communities. It can also help to initiate and or continue dialogue on issues that affect the community. It is those discussions that can help move some folks to action,” said Truth Universal.
That is a threat to the existing order and will always be opposed by those who benefit from the system said Rebel Diaz adding that the property eviction has not stopped them, in fact, it has made them better able to conduct asymmetric cultural warfare.
“It’s not a threat to the system when you have young people being dumbed down and their conversation is all about swag or diamonds and how violent they are or the size of the rims on their car. But if you have people talking about it’s cool to read Malcolm X, and it’s cool to learn about the Black Panther Party, that’s what is beautiful to us,” said RodStarz. “Now that we’re out in the street it’s going to be even harder for them to stop us now because now we’re mobile. We’re taking it everywhere and that’s the spirit and it’s the spirit of resistance.”
(There are women involved in this movement as well, such as Palestinian queen of Hip-Hop Shadia Mansour, Detroit-based Invincible and the well-known and diverse performer Queen Yonasda, all highly influential and battling daily against neo-colonialism, neo-liberalism and exploitation. That will be covered in a future article.)