[Listening to: Lionel Richie, All Night Long]
I am elated. Hip Hop Politics is one of the three courses I am teaching this Fall. I teach at Pace and City College, two New York City universities. Hip Hop Politics is a class I proposed and designed, standing on the strong shoulders of all those who came before me. My class meets Wednesday’s in the evenings. Today.
Earlier today I got an email about the very last summer-ish, outdoor Park Jam of the year from the Tools of War listserve. Way uptown, free music in the park, legendary Hip Hop figures on the wheels of steel, this is how Hip Hop was born. Or rather, re-born, for every generation creates its own cultural framework, right? And they are all tributaries off oceans off rain from the same clouds.
That is, every generation elects its leaders and leadership formats. Come November 4th, let us not forget that we’ve been voting for our leaders with our ears, our thinning wallets, our bodies, for the music makers who move us, and for the writers who continue to stir our souls.
So even though I had a lesson plan for the day all set, I went with my gut, printed out the Tools of War email announcement, and took the class out for a good ol’fashion Hip Hop field trip. We possed up, got to 135 and St. Nicholas from Fulton St. in a half hour flat, ascended the park stairs, took in the police men hawking, and piled backpacks on the grassy knoll. I told em that dancing would be considered “Class Participation,” and don’t forget, participation is at least 10% of your grade. Cuz no one was dancing. But we did, students taking time to teach each other steps, we were the life of the party.
We danced, and shook with tenderness. Fly and flared with pride. Pop Master Fabel and his wife Christine (www.myspace.com/toolsofwar) were gracious hosts. Fabel himself spent time speaking to my students, who were wide-eyed listening, as were the others who gathered around our circle to listen. Listen to the pioneer speak about how birthing Hip Hop must give way to nurturing it, about “The Stripping of Hip Hop,” and how the genre emerged as the profitable powerhouse it is now by stripping down from all Four Elements (break dancing, DJ-ing, graffiti writing, and MC-ing) to only one, MC-ing, aka, rapping. But no hate on rappers though, hate the game, not the player, isn’t it? 🙂
He concluded and we all posed for mad pictures.
Here are a two poems to reflect the dusk sky of this evening’s class. Wish you could have been there.
park jam/fall flavored
with whole fruits
still in it/to win it
eroding a new groove
into the stone cold reef
that surrounds this
till she dies/this life
is a park jam
do u believe in magic>
don corleon and gangsters
fabel, students, and pranksters
elegua on the wheels and
their eyes were watching god and
cameras, cops, bathrooms, dancefloors and
seating myself at the table and
finding myself strong and able
and im thankful>
in his eyes, did they hold me
in my eyes, me i see
i am thankful>
Stay tuned for more. And more.