Dukes is a beatsmith, historian and mailman hailing from the south of The Netherlands. He knows more about politics than you and is as nuanced as a brick through you car’s front window. This is his exclusive column for TRU. (the opinions expressed by Dukes are solely those of Dukes and do not represent the TRU board of editors).
Rappers endorsing Barack Obama is the latest trend in hip-hop that aggravates the shit outta me. The hip-hop that I grew up on appreciated the underdog and compared itself to him. Names like Sadat X, Tragedy Khadafi and Scarface make that clear. Jeru rocked the mic like Fidel Castro. Onyx’ Fredro Starr rolled with more niggaz behind him than Khadafi. Makaveli’s pet project the Outlawz had group members called Kastro, E.D.I. Mean, Yaki Kadafi, Hussein Fatal, Mussolini and Komani. One of the best hip-hop records of all time is Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report, in which the two most featured rappers on the album – Noreaga and Tragedy Khadafi – clearly envisioned themselves as political gangsters and renamed the New York City boroughs after foreign conflict zones.
In 1996 Jay-Z was “still spending money from ’88.” Because of his tales of him selling drugs, the man is now a wealthy business man who endorses Obama. Eazy-E at least had the decency to go up to the White House and recognized the Republicans who, through the Iran-Contra affair and depriving inner cities from social institutions, made sure that people like Eazy were able to push dope. Which in the end made it possible for him rap about it and get money. I think Jay-Z should pay penance for this obvious case of playa hatin’ by making a pilgrimage to Ronald Reagan‘s grave, so he can thank the man that indirectly caused him to create Reasonable Doubt. Matter of fact, I think rap fans worldwide should undertake this pilgrimage to pay homage to the man who made great gangster rap possible in the first place.
“They raidin’ our cribs, invasion like Bay of the Pigs, for my hood we reacted how Castro did!” is a Hell Razah quote I used in my master thesis. To me that’s one of hip-hop’s greatest lines ever. It compared Red Hook with socialist Cuba by referencing the invasion of the Bay of the Pigs, in which the Cuban underdog won from the United States government. To me, the attitude of that line is pretty close to my definition of what hip-hop is all about. When I started loving hip-hop it was because of the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude, the underdog who lived by his own codes and rules. But now with the whole Obama hype that rebellious attitude seems gone, outside of the underground. Rappers make lame Obama references. Redman should talk about how many weed he smokes and pick up girls at the Chickenhead Convention, not try talking himself into some broad her panties by saying he voted for Obama. We need a new Onyx album where they rap shit like “we rock the baldhead just like Hugo Chavez” and a new Dead Prez song where they hate on whitey and “wanna kill the whole lot, inspired by Pol Pot.” That’s what hip-hop needs right now. To think of the leader of America’s Democratic Party and ‘the leader of the free world’ as an underdog is downright bizarre. Face it, the man is to capitalism what Alexander Dubček was to communism; he just tries to give it a human face. Just a decent man like most of us who tries to do what he think is best for him and his environment, no more, no less.
When I started going to college in a city nicknamed Havana at the Waal back in 2006, they had regular poster sales on campus. A good amount of them featured either Che Guevara or Malcolm X, usually with a quote of them superimposed on top of their image by a visually handicapped retard who happened to know his way around PhotoShop. When I left college about half a year ago the Che Guevara and Malcolm X posters where gone. They now sold Barack Obama posters. Now that’s change.