As one of Hip Hop’s great lyricists of this era, Hasan Salaam, prepares the release of his latest LP, Life in Black and White, he shares some understanding on Hip Hop. Hip Hop’s role, what it isn’t responsible for and what it truly is and can be.
Blaming Hip Hop for the problems in and out of our community is some real Stockholm syndrome shit. We are not to blame for the systematic attacks on our people. Long before Kool Herc spun at a party or the world heard Rappers Delight the police we killing us in cold blood. From Camden to Watts and Chicago to New Orleans there have been countless cases of police terrorism and lynchings in this country over the past 500 years. Wearing a SnapBack doesn’t give the police a right to harass and beat you, same as Trayvon wearing a hoodie shouldn’t give predators like Zimmerman a pass to kill a child. The true problem is that this country built it self and still feeds itself off of Black Death. Hip Hop music was not there when slaves attempting to escape were tied to horses and quartered in front of the entire plantation to strike fear in men, women and children. The music was not there when Emmett Till was snatched from his bed or when the freedom riders were attacked by the side of the road. Rap music didn’t assassinate our leaders based on COINTELPRO documents and the eradication of a possible Black Messiah, the FBI did that. Hip Hop didn’t create crack cocaine and flood it into Black & Brown neighborhoods, the CIA did that. Blaming our music ignores the fact that this is nothing new, it has been updated to suit the times but it’s nothing but Jim Crow 2.0. Hip Hop is not the problem, in fact it has been a powerful tool to spread the truth about the injustices committed against us here in America since it’s inception. The system attempts to co-opt it based on the power it has. Hip Hop is has spread all over the world and appealed to all as a music of the counter culture, a buck back at the system and a rise against oppression. The spirit of our culture is as brave as the Spirituals we sung on the plantation laden with hidden messages leading us from bondage. It’s as genius as Jazz and the flatted 5th’s we played from memory and improvisation while the society that danced to it wouldn’t allow itself to believe we had the mental capacity to compose it. Rock & Roll, Doo-Wop, Soul, R&B, House, Go-Go, Hip Hop and every other musical form we have created in America has been a powerful tool in our fight for Freedom, Justice and Equality.
No Justice No Peace
As this next full length LP is about to drop rewind to a review of Hasan Salaam’s last effort…
MUSIC IS MY WEAPON EP Review
The Solo MC. They became known when they use the forum as something to amplify the size of their worthy talents. They became famous when they can naturally relate what we want through.They become absolutely essential, vital and uplifting when their talents fulfill our wants yet their essence and content is everything we need.There are moments in the career of these latter MCs where one can notice the wonderfully blatant difference. Music is My Weapon is Hasan Salaam’s newest EP, one of those moments we gotta call real.
Music is My Weapon is a perfect use of the EP as transition to a highly coveted third album, Life in Black And White, the follow up to the stellar Children of God. It doesn’t play as a B-side short runner setting up the A-side long player but a reminder of his strong thematic awareness and his concept versatility. Initially intended to be given free, it is logically and justifiably linked up as a worthy purchase to fully support the funding of a school, clean water well, and medical clinic in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa (http://www.indiegogo.com/ItTakesAVillage). There are countless charities and organizations the Carnegie rappers disingenuously toss chips aside to appeasing their aural shit. It is rare to see the sincerity of an MC with albums worth of that quality naturally progress to funneling his humane bars outwardly.
The 9 track EP is a complete primer that merges major ideas presented throughout Hasan’s career with evidence of elevated song crafting skill. The militant multiple meanings of the EP’s title fuel the work and reveal Hasan as not only expressing his culture but as a man of culture.“Musical Chairs” is filled with bars of sincerity as the love of music itself is expressed with verses on his youthful experience with it and the discography of legends that soothe and lift us up. Using it the toughest way, “.1911” calls out bitch wiggas, fake niggas and “all the leaches in the game” with such intensity that the rewind captures a wealth of lines (“Ain’t no swine for mine you dig/my style Halal never fuck with the pigs”) and stylings (”You know the struggle I go go for mine, the G. O. Divine…”). The fury that Hasan possesses on the EP is engaging because it takes on any pacing as the hard mid-tempo on the ill collab, “Shining,” with Steele of Smif-n-Wessun and Reef the Lost Cause with Chace Infinite on the smooth chorus all attest to.
“This ain’t pop music but you could get popped to it/better Hip Hop to it or get your block rocked..” because there are constant flows of inspiration for we listeners of the real, most hopefully livers of it, can match to every occasion. This is the relevance that Hasan addresses on“Chaos Theory.” Either through his most aggressive cadences with charismatic fluctuations guiding clever lines(“Bulletproof soul under God’s control/but not like Creflo Dollar cuz his God folds…”) on “Chaos Theory” or the introspective fortifying of “All Roads Home,” the diversity is impressive. This EP is ultimately about the inspirational weaponry music is and whether describing his Earth on “The Letter,” the historical building through the Avtomat Kalashnikova(“AK-47”), the metaphorical commentary of “Miss America” capped with the classic quote of Richard Pryor’s bi-centennial nigger build, the beats themselves are workman respectful when separated from their lyrical instruments. The horns of “.1911” propel the verses while the b-boy breaks show the current stop in the musical movement, Hip Hop. Still, this 9 track EP with 9 different producers depends on the choices Hasan makes . Bass drums are the focal point though guitar, organ and piano loops and chops all persist to thematic supporting blends. The closing title track openly declaring this weaponry of music as a 500 year process from Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk (Salsa, Bomba, Plena, Roots Reggae, Calypso, Merengue…), also proves Hasan is in the present moment of this movement.
Get the Music Is My Weapon EP HERE