Hip-Hop Nation- Poison distilled into sound.

Hip-Hop Nation

Poison distilled into sound.

reviewed by James P. Lubinskas

The Source: The Magazine of Hip-Hop Music, Culture & Politics (monthly)single-issue price:
$2.95

one-year subscription:
$12.95.

In the May 2000 issue of AR there were samples of anti-white lyrics from rap groups. Many of them urged the murder and torture of whites or “devils,” as the rap world likes to call them. Not all of rap (also known as hip-hop) is so openly anti-white, but it is a huge industry with several publications, and the biggest and glossiest of these is The Source. It is a monthly published in New York City and claims a circulation of 440,000. It began in 1988 as a one-page newsletter and has grown tremendously. The March 2000 issue is 290 slick pages stuffed with ads from companies like Foot Locker, Nike, Nintendo, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Rap and Sex

Most of the articles are about hip-hop groups and their music. Almost all performers go by stage names like Puff Daddy, Snoop Dogg, Da Brat and Ghostface Killah. Some of the writing in The Source is phonetic Ebonics, in which men become “niggas” or “gang-stas,” and women are often “hoes” or bitches. “What” becomes “whut,” and “boys” is written as “boyz.” Some of the articles are so filled with slang they are nearly incomprehensible. This is a from an interview with rapper Lil Wayne:

“Whut is a Hot Boy?“A paper chaser who got his block on fire. Remain in the G until the moment he expires. Know what it is to make somethin’ out of nuthin.’ Handle his biz and don’t be cryin’ and sufferin’.

“Whut is the meaning of bling bling?

“Icy. You can’t even say what it says ‘cause it’s too icy.”

This is an exchange with rapper RZA of the group Wu-Tang Clan:

“A lot of critics say that Wu fell off after Wu-Tang Forever [a previous album]. And there has been something missing from each project that has come out since. What happened?“After the Wu-Tang Forever tour, I personally took a look at the whole Clan, like, ‘Yo, right now, niggas know us for Voltron, but we gotta break down to the lions. Everybody go their directions.’ I ain’t been wit’ anyone but Ghost and my C-artists for almost two years. I assigned Power to Rae and Deck. I assigned Divine to Meth and Cappadonna. I said, ‘I’m a rock me, Ghost and U-God, na’mean?’ Dirt … he’s just Dirt, na’mean? As far as Masta Killa, I’m just gonna keep ‘im, but he got an album finished. Basically we broke the sh*t down on purpose.”

Many of the interviews and articles drip with sex talk. Again from the interview with Lil Wayne:

“Whut color is the inside of a whale?“The inside of a whale … I don’t f****n’ know. But the inside of a p***y is pink.”

“Whut’s the first thing you do when a girl backs that ass up?

“Make her drop it like it’s hot.”

“Whut’s the first thing you do after a show?

“F**k a ho, slang d**k.”

An article on female rapper Da Brat begins by quoting her on the set of a video shoot saying, “Can somebody get some tissues and wipe around my titties?” She also shows a sophisticated understanding of promotion: “The album cover [of my next release] is going to be tight, wet and squeezing … Hopefully niggas will say, ‘damn, I wanna f**k her,’ so I can get the record sales goin’.”

A review of an album by a group called Hypnotize Camp quotes the lyrics: “I conversates/I’m tryin’ to f**k on the first date …” Other songs on the album include “Project Hoes” and “D**k Suckin’ Hoes.” Many of the photos and advertisements show provocatively dressed women in suggestive poses and men with their shirts off. Advertisements in the back of the magazine tout phone sex and 1-900 numbers with names like “I like it Raw!” “Phat Phone Phun” and “Love Shack.” Others offer videos of exotic dancers and “uncensored” tapes of black celebrations like “Freaknik.”

Half the pages in The Source are ads and most of them are for clothing or accessories. From the look of the rappers and the advertisements, hip-hop is serious about clothing and jewelry. For men, the advertisers tout baggy designer jeans, basketball shoes, leather boots and sneakers, baggy athletic shorts, Italian shoes and something called “urban style.” Many of the rappers and men in advertisements wear gold chains, bracelets and rings. The hot look for male rappers is to go bear-chested with their pants hanging low enough to show their underwear. Many have tattoos and wear kerchiefs on their heads. Almost all strike angry, glaring poses in front of the camera. There are very few articles about women; The Source is clearly aimed at black men.

There must be more than 500 photographs of people in the magazine and only about ten are not blacks. The Source is free of the “diversity in advertising” found in white magazines. It is also worth noting that even though there are a few well-known white rappers none is even mentioned in The Source.

Because the music, clothes, fashion and behavior in The Source are explicitly, exclusively black, big-name advertisers run ads in the magazine with nothing but black faces. Needless to say if there were ever a white version of The Source, the same advertisers would boycott it rather than produce all-white ads for it.

Though not blatantly anti-white the magazine promotes black consciousness in its political articles. In a story on banned books subtitled “Books They Didn’t Want You to Read,” Laini Madhubuti writes about “conservative U.S. censors” battling the “cultural merit of several classic works of literature.” These include books by Malcolm X, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker.

A glowing review of a book called Standing at the Scratch Line by Maya Angelou’s son Guy Johnson tells us:

“In his debut novel, Johnson introduces us to LeRoi ‘King’ Tremain, an African American man living in the early 20th century, who, while raiding a compound with his uncle, murders two corrupt white police officers. To avoid any repercussions against his family, King leaves home and enters World War I. His brushes with violence don’t end there, however. During the war, King ends up killing bigoted US soldiers and Germans.“Later on in the book, our protagonist opens a lucrative club in Harlem but eventually chooses to move back to his hometown, New Orleans. Despite confrontations with the KKK there, King finally establishes a peaceful way of life.”

A section called Media Watch recounts the mainstream media’s coverage of hip-hop. The lead story is about Sean “Puffy” Combs, who is often seen with a Mexican movie star named Jennifer Lopez. The Source reprints a New York Daily News quote from a Puerto Rican who is not happy with Miss Lopez’ choice of boyfriend: “She has to represent our whole race. If she sticks with this guy, I just don’t know.” The Source’s opinion: “If Puffy were white, we doubt the media would make it a point to print random quotes from people who think Jennifer should dump Puff.”

The March issue profiles San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. Titled, “The Original Big Willie,” the article starts with: “Playa, you got game? Meet San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. This O.G. not only plays for all the chips, he knows how to look fly while doin’ it. Take notes.” The story goes on to say that “Da Mayor” is “known as much for his fresh fits, fly girls and fast cars as for policies and power. Benzos, Porsches and Ferraris go hand-in-hand with tailor-made suits and his love of San-Fran’s nightlife.”

The interview is mostly puff but gets serious about recent California ballot initiatives. After Mr. Brown says he opposed propositions to dismantle affirmative action and welfare for illegals The Source asks: “So was all that designed to limit the participation of minorities?” Mr. Brown replies: “I think it was designed to do exactly that. I think the old guard, the old conservative white guys are concerned that their power is slipping and if that power hold slips, they know what’s going to fill or grab it: It’s going to be a collection of racial minorities. And they are doing everything they can to position themselves so that even though their numbers diminish, their influence continues. And all of those things — Prop 209, Prop 187, English only — is all designed to do that.”

Perhaps unintentionally, The Source reveals how removed hip-hop is from the rest of the country. In something called its publisher’s credo, it bills itself as a “voice for the Hip-Hop Nation.” This form of “music” is, in effect, the sound-track of a nation — an alien and often repulsive nation.

AR

4 thoughts on “Hip-Hop Nation- Poison distilled into sound.

  1. Hi there, i greatly appreciate visiting this blog so much!
    This was another one of my favorite blogs.

    I though to ask you though and couldn’t find another method to contact you, but I would really love to see you do
    a post on the US economic situation. I know this may be out of the ordinary for your blog, but I really
    like how you think and would love to see your thoughts on this topic.

    Thanks!

    • In an article denigrating rap for it’s slang and phonetic ebonics, you reply with “nuff said.” The irony is almost too much to comprehend.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s