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Jenna 6 and the Hip Hop Communitty

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    Posted: October 10 2007 at 6:23am
 

NEW YORK - When the latest call for a protest over Jena Six came, it wasn't led by Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, but rapper-actor Mos Def.

Mos Def sent out a viral video urging students to walk out of classrooms nationwide this week in protest of the prosecution of six black teens initially charged with attempted murder in the beating a white classmate in Jena, La.

And Mos Def is not the only member of the hip-hop community speaking out in this racially charged case. When Mos Def known as a politically and socially conscious rapper traveled to Jena for a march on the town last month, as he spoke to the media, legendary UGK rapper Bun B was at his side. Hip-hop soul singer Lyfe Jennings was also in attendance, and rappers like Ice Cube and T.I. have lent support, moral and financial, for the protests.

"I don't know what motivated the prosecutors to do what they did but what's definitely evident to anybody who looks at the case is that he placed a bigger (punishment) upon the black man than he did upon anybody else was involved," Jennings said.

Perhaps it's because they mirror the faces of rap young black males that it has resonated with the hip-hop community. Or maybe it reflects a growing political awareness in a genre that's been criticized for glorifying negativity. But it is clear that the Jena Six case has struck a chord.

"Right now with the situation going on with Jena Six, I got to pay my respects to them. When I was in high school there was a lot of fighting going on; I ain't never really seen nobody get the type of punishment they got, where the dude is trying to throw the book at them," says 17-year-old rapper Soulja Boy, who has the No. 1 song in the country with "Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)."

"I feel like that's not right, so I gotta send my respects out to those young dudes, and I hope everything go well with them and their families."

The teens, known as the Jena Six, were charged with attempted second-degree murder for allegedly beating a white student bloody and unconscious following months of mounting racial tensions after three white students hung nooses from a tree on school grounds. The charges have since been reduced for four of them. The sixth was booked as a juvenile on sealed charges.

One student, Mychal Bell, was convicted on a reduced charge of aggravated second-degree battery by an all-white jury and faced up to 22 years in prison. An appeals court later threw out the conviction, saying he was 16 at the time and should not have been tried as an adult on that charge. He stayed in jail for months while the case worked its way through the legal system. He was freed on bail last month.

The case has garnered national attention and drawn protests from thousands, including civil rights activists such as Jesse Jackson. David Bowie donated to the teens' defense fund, and rocker John Mellencamp has even written a song about it.

But the voices of protest were particularly strong among the hip-hop set. While hip-hop had been a voice of social activism in its earlier days, with groups like Public Enemy leading the charge, in recent years, its leading stars have been more identified with championing materialism and violence than making political or social statements.

But the hip-hop community has been more vocal about the Jena Six case, from its stars to its blogs, which have posted frequent updates about the teens' fate.

The always outspoken Mississippi rapper David Banner wasn't at last month's protest instead, he went on a radio tour to promote his album so he could let listeners know about the case.

"I thought it would have been more powerful for me to get on the radio and talk about it, and drive people there and let people know what's going on than actually being there," said Banner. "We wanna be there to show face, but if you're actually more powerful at the capacity that you are, then you should do what you do."

Banner says he became involved because "it's so close to home.

"No. 2, there's a Jena Six that goes on in Mississippi every month or every two months," he continued. "See that's the thing. America has a tendency to try to make things single out things as if this is a one-time occurrence. ... We have to stop acting like stuff don't exist."

Bakari Kitwana, an author whose books include "The Hip-Hop Generation" and "Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop," says the rap community has gotten more politically active in recent years, especially after Hurricane Katrina.

"What's different about this moment in terms of hip-hop and political activism is that ... we're to the point where grass roots activists and hip-hop artists are talking with each other about political change," said Kitwana.

The walkout that Mos Def endorsed was planned and executed as a collaborative effort among artists Talib Kweli, M1 of Dead Prez, Common and the activist groups the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Sankofa Community Empowerment, Change the Game and the National Hip Hop Political Convention.

"We will continue with these acts of civil protest until Mychal Bell's freedom, not only but safety, is secured," Mos Def had said in a video last month publicizing the walkout.

Still, many of hip-hop's most famous names have still not lent their voices to the protest, and Kitwana said a larger examination of unequal treatment by the criminal justice system might better serve all involved.

"If 50 Cent came out on that question `Why are we targeting Black and Latino communities for more policing than the other communities?' that would be profound,'" said Kitwana.

 


Edited by Anomis - October 10 2007 at 6:31am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anomis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2007 at 7:26am

I am not in the loop, and won't be 4real, for a minute.

Somebody tell me 50 answered the final call.
Is there a line that Hip Hop artists don't cross, that may effect deals, and sales? I will tell you what is worst than Love or Hate.....Indifference, a trait that makes the very angels weep.
My scope is, that the artist would not be "successful" were in not for our communities making them so.
Why didn't more artists get with Mos Def?
 


Edited by Anomis - October 10 2007 at 9:25am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote jamaicakid85 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2007 at 1:46pm
Wow Mos Def most definitely gets much more respect from me word to Black Star. And how did that happen schit! And Mississippi is the most racially charged region in the U.S. period I had a friend who was stationed there but he loopholed his way out of there real quick. New York is getting racially charged as well with NYPD smokin black doods, and NYC has the largest black population in the country I smell a riot .

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Anomis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: October 10 2007 at 3:23pm
Now, that is a damned shame the brother in the military, and pulled up. I honestly do not blame him. Honestly, the Hip Hop royal order should have been more visible and vocal. Especially the Queen, Lyte, PE, etc, old school mature Conscious artists. I am seeing it as indifference. I must admit some of what they maybe doing may not have made the news, but if you have been in the industry you gotta know somebody.
 
Steve Harvey had paid for buses to take people to march, down there comn' from STL. that was cool, that was real on his part.
 
I'm not paranoid. Rcism is alive and well, and doing Taibo.


Edited by Anomis - October 11 2007 at 4:55am
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