Friday, July 17, 2009

Entertainment: The African American Pacifier

Peace and blessings, loyal Backpacker Weekly readers. I hope every one's week was spent intelligently. You know, it's been kinda hectic the past few weeks, and I'd like to take a quick moment out to honour those we've lost. Boxing (the sport I hold nearest and dearest to my heart) lost two great, great, competitors. Arturo "Thunder" Gatti, and Alexis "El Flaco" Arguello, both have passed on. Foul play is suspected in both deaths. May God have mercy on them, and all those we've lost recently.

Lets open up Today's installment with a simple word. Ambivalence. Don't know what that word means? Well, our problem stems a might bit deeper than the matters at hand now, doesn't it? The biggest "news" of late, has been the timely passing of the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. I say timely because, God is sufficient, and disposer of all affairs. When it's time to go, it's time to go. There is no hold up, no wait, there is no "well, I was kinda in the middle of something". When your number is up, that's it. So Mike, thank you for the talent you've shared with us, and also, thank you for spawning the catalyst for this here blog topic!

Entertainment. To be entertained, distracted, to indulge in something. What do we use entertainment for? We use it for a myriad of reasons; we use it to make us laugh, make us cry, make us forget, we use it to fill up time in an empty schedule, we use it to distract us from reality. To distract us from reality. Above all else, does that not hold the most truth to it? Does that not encompass all of the given definitions and then some? I'll be the first to admit, reality is a motha ... the saying "its real in the field" didn't just pop up because it rhymes, entertainment takes us away from what ever it may be that we're dealing with in our lives and allows us to immerse ourselves into a realm of fantasy. If not fantasy, it provides an outlet of escapism that we can harness to alleviate a number of ailments. Do we allow it to control us? Do we give entertainment too much of our attention? I ultimately pose the question, do we as African Americans, a people who use entertainment like air, allow it to hinder and impair on very basic judgment and obstruct evaluation of moral fibre?

African Americans love to be entertained. Do we ever. No one can refute that. Don't even try. I'll do the knowledge on that, in case you aren't quite yet in the know. As slaves. We we stripped away from our roots. Literally cut off from all ties to what made us African. The only thing we had left was oral translation, spirit and soul. I tell you what. Lemme lock you up some place in Georgia and make you pick cotton, endure torture beyond belief and eat the foulest of mother nature's creations. Let's see what you do to take your mind off of all that. We did what the slave owners couldn't fathom. Called upon our spirit for help. Negro spirituals, song, dance, that became our weapon in a seemingly limitless arsenal. That's what got us through the deepest pain. That stayed with us, just like high blood pressure from all that pork. That's my synopsis.

I'm going to use two main focus points, and I will not allow my personal beliefs and ideologies to make their presence known ... that heavily.

First. Hip Hop. See, we as members and fans of the Hip Hop culture allow a lot of bullshit to pass. All to often excuses are made for brothers who generate income off of the production and consumption of social pollutants. We take it all in. We do all but except it, and then give mans passes like "yo, he's just expressing himself", or "yo, he's just dictating his point of view for his struggle and those a like". Yeh, I've heard all that before, and to be honest, it's quite a weak excuse. That's like saying Hitler gets a pass for the Holocaust because some one pissed in his Cheerios, and he felt the only way to rectify his unfortunate breakfast dining experience was to erradicate some Jews. I don't wanna hear it. People, point blank, period, we've become accustom to the bullshit! We've become all to complacent with mindless drivel and accepting mediocrity. Think about it. If a brother comes on the radio with a record like "I'm Black", the Styles P song, it doesn't get spun, you probably didn't care to hear it when it was spun. It's automatically ruled as "that bullshit". You say, "man I can't dance to this shit, I can't hear this at the club!" But when the Ying Yang Twins dropped "The Whisper Song" you were all over it. It's because "I'm black, even though my skin's kinda light/ that just means my ancestors was raped by some body white/" makes you deal with actual reality. Whereas "Wait till you see my dick" doesn't. Well, not really any thing relevant at least. There is a reason Gucci Mane and Young Jeezey are in current rotation, and Mos Def, Talib Kweli, artists of that caliber are pushed to the back burner. Kids now days are especially susceptible to this because of the emphasis on monteray gain. I remember building with brother Jasiri X about his after school programme he runs for children in Pittsburgh. He uses Hip Hop as his education method. He brought up OJ Da Juiceman in his discussion, and explained to me, the kids loved him because "he gets paid". They dont really overstand he what he represents, and if they do, they turn a blind eye to it because of what he "has". How often has that happened through out the course of Hip Hop? If Nas was convicted of leading a child porn right tomorrow, I bet you all the tea in China I break every Nas album I own and curse him to the grave. I don't care that he was one of the best lyricists ever! He was soliciting kiddy porn! The scale doesn't balance out people!!!

Second. Mike Jackson. "Damn, damn, damn, Jaxx. You really gonna go in on old Mike? Pause." Nope. I'ma just keep it 100.

My man James "Cyfe" Moore posted a note on facebook the other day, concerning Mike's death, his funeral and all the subsequent fuss. He really made some poignant points. Essentially he required that we hit the "nigga please" button and stop saying Michael was in the same echelon as Malcolm X and Dr. King. I agree whole heartedly. Was I a fan, of course? Did I succumb to the rumours? Most Definitely. Do I have my own opinions, of course. One thing y'all gotta overstand is that, Mike died Muslim. So I'm not gonna sit here and bash no Muslim. Not happening. However, I will say this. Mikes passing DID NOT keep me from my day to day actions at all. I purposely missed his funeral for a few reasons. One, I buried my best friend, I don't wanna see that shit again. Two, no ones funeral needs to be that public in the first place. Three, I don't want that funeral turned production to some how alter my opinions, what ever they maybe, to far past hypocritical levels. Was Mike iconic? Certainly. Did he impact millions? Absolutely. But I don't remember Mike ever really pushing religion, philosophy or knowledge to the level of real world leaders and brothers who fought died for the struggle and the message. Y'all making Mike out to be prophet. Fall back with all that nonsense!!!!

This illustrates my point. Our culture, us as a people put far too much weight on irrelevant shit. We would rather be entertained then deal with the truth at hand. That's God's curse on our people for our actions. My Imam has told me that time and time again (yes, he is black), that our people have been cursed for our ignorance, and that is it. Do I really need to cite examples? The proof is in the pudding. I pose this final inquiry. Have we let the entertainment business dictate our lives beyond repair? Or is this something that can be overcome, like the countless social and physical obstacles we've encountered as a people? We gotta come to terms with our own reality and consciousness, we gotta acknowledge the tangible occurrences present in our immediate vicinity. That's all we have to do to begin to ween ourselves away from the entertainment, and lean ourselves towards the edutainment. Learning can be fun ... you just
read this blog, didn't you? :)

*Editors Note*

I used "Ambivalence", above. I used that because, I rap. I am an entertainer. Though I'm not the status quo. I don't shuck and jive, finger pop, coon out and fool myself. I take a stance and use my gift, my abilities to educate and shed light. I do all that, but I still have a good time. I make sure those who watch my show, and listen to my music, those who read my blog, genuinely enjoy my work. I'm not bashing entertainment, I'm just asking where your head is at. You, the reader! Where is your head right now? Do you spend too much time away from reality? I do from time to time. But I overstand where I am in life. Do you?

The Ayatollah has spoken