pop master fabel and tools of war

[Listening to: Lionel Richie, All Night Long]

Dear Readers,

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

we are/dancing


eroding a new groove

into the stone cold reef

that surrounds this

mounts this


till she dies/this life

is a park jam

fall flavored


do u believe in magic>

don corleon and gangsters

fabel, students, and pranksters

elegua on the wheels and

im thankful>

their eyes were watching god and

im thankful>

cameras, cops, bathrooms, dancefloors and

im thankful>

seating myself at the table and

im thankful>

finding myself strong and able

and im thankful>

in his eyes, did they hold me

im thankful>

in my eyes, me i see

i am thankful>


Stay tuned for more. And more.



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2 thoughts on “pop master fabel and tools of war

  1. Peter says:

    If you’d seen MY moves, believe me, the syllabus would be edited on spot with a sharpie and gum. lots of gum.

  2. mariko d. says:

    Roopa! Didn’t realize this was you writing when I read this post. I was planning on attending that event but couldn’t…look what I missed.
    Keep up the great work, your voice is invaluable!

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