Hip-Hop and Politics

Hip-hop hating conservatives are gonna have to step to the rear because looking at recent statements and events, we got a chance. A couple months ago, I did a point-by-point breakdown the platform of Russell Simmons' Hip Hop Summit Action Network. I'm not wild on the polemics, so I just kinda pointed out some areas where the agenda could stand some refining from being a nebulous idea to an actionable achievable plan. I ain't gonna lie, though, in my own mind, I was quietly convinced that the HHSAN was just as much a front door for the Democratic party as the NAACP. I was wrong, though. Watch this:
In addition to the registrations, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network honored Maryland’s Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, also a Republican, for their work on the drug laws in Maryland and their efforts to improve businesses in the African-American community.
Now, to be fair, I seem to recall the NAACP giving Condoleeza Rice an Image Award two or three years ago, but I don't know how much weight that carries now. I'm not so sure Dr. Rice would have been welcome at the NAACP Convention a couple months ago, but I can't say that the NAACP has shown utter contempt for Black conservatives...just a general dislike. Anyway, Russell Rush's organization is in its nascent stages of formation. It has no real victories and no real defeats with which to cement its ideological focus. If we stand to the side and do nothing, then it will shrinky-dink down to being a vehicle for one party over the other. It doesn't have to be that way, though. "The Democrats do not own Hip-Hop," Simmons said. Now I'll be the first one to tell you that not all of Rush's ideas are compatible with a conservative/moderate mindset (man,I hate labels) but we can't really hash those issues out as long as we stay away from the table. But it's not just Rush. LL Cool J performed at Clinton's first inauguration and he performed at the Democratic convention this year, and maybe at some other events in between. Here's what he had to say:
AllHipHop.com: Did you recently just go to the Democratic Convention in Boston? LL: I went to the convention, but I went to [perform at] the Rock to Vote concert. And what I said after I finished performing was, I’m not here to endorse any particular candidate. I said that if there is any candidate that is looking for my endorsement, we have to meet face to face and I need to know what their plans are and how they are going to affect my community, and then America as a whole, and then my community within America. I have to know what the plan is. I’m not going to lend my name and my credibility. I respect them of course. And I said it respectfully because you have to respect the people that are running for the leadership of our country because this is a great country. And I do love this country because it has given me a great opportunity. Regardless of what our ancestry is, ultimately we are all here because of our ancestry. So whether good or bad, at the end of the day we are here now and we need to take advantage of this opportunity of being Americans. At the same time, if I’m going to endorse somebody, I can’t just endorse him or her just by default. We have to sit down and talk. I have to see what’s going on, and how what you do affects the people I love. AllHipHop.com: Have you followed any of the candidates? LL: A lil’ much. I haven’t been stimulated to that point. When I hear someone talking about something other than what Bush has done wrong, then I can listen a lil’ better. But at this point I don’t know anything about what anyone is saying but what Bush did wrong. That doesn’t help me. There’s a whole focus on the problem but what’s the solution?
Now let's not jump the gun and give LL some kind of ideological label, but let's recognize the fact that there are some inroads to be made. I'm telling you, if we can emphasize the economic benefits of the conservative agenda, we're in there. I don't think there would ever be a conservative majority within hip-hop, but I think that we can have a significant presence. But for me, it's not even about some ideological version of Stratego, it's about doing something. If we're out there doing what we're supposed to be doing; the things we talk about and the things we know are right, the rest of that will follow.