The Birth of Hiphop, Ka
My heart is never the question/I write hard phonetic aggression/My art is parked in the medicine section/Stay sharp, each word carves letter perfection/I got four bars, you need better reception. —Ka, "Peace Akhi"
Things more important than the thing I wrote about last week include the continuing bloodbaths and massive shake-ups in a dozen places not properly registering to most of the people who'll read this—including the guy who wrote it—and also how our own government is at war with our privacy, causing e-mail servers to shut themselves down in protest. Bradley Manning asked the president—who once promised to protect whistle-blowers—for a pardon that likely won't come, and came out as a trans woman. Snowden is hiding in Russia, where trans women are attacked on camera, and a gay teenager was kidnapped and tortured—also on camera—until he reportedly died. Aaaand just to recap: A white man's fear of me is more important than my right to live. Rap is no longer CNN for anybody, and even Chuck D would tell you that—but if we are hiphop, then hiphop needs the truth to live.
Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation took issue with Kool Herc's recent hype around the 40th anniversary of his back-to-school jam at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx being the actual, factual 40th anniversary of hiphop culture itself. In November, Hiphop History Month, the UZN celebrates their 40th anniversary and the 39th anniversary of hiphop. I honor hiphop as part of my inheritance as a descendant of the peoples of Africa (which means—to differing degrees, maybe, but in the final analysis—every last one of us), another product of original ingenuity, a symptom of the soul. All respect to the architects and pioneers, but I'll try to paraphrase something I said on Facebook (that got a lot of likes and is thus relevant): All that sounds like hairsplitting, petty church business, anathema to a pantheist like myself. I just can't imagine cats really arguing about the birth of blues, or jazz, or funk—though I'm sure there must be some dry-balled nerds that do—so to have to do that with hiphop infantilizes it unnecessarily. See it as part of the eternal and it is eternal. Give it a birth date and you give it a death date. All respect, though, to sis Cassandra, reppin' 206 Zulu, who told me that it's "not about the date, it's about a person focusing on self-interest"—I feel that.
Speaking of pure light, we talked about Earl's album a very little bit (I wrote a longer review online), but now I'm telling you: Go purchase Ka's The Night's Gambit (I suspect I'll review this, too). A 40-year-old veteran of the late '90s indie-rap-vinyl era via his membership in the very underrated Natural Elements, Ka came back to my attention on Roc Marciano's Marcberg in 2010. If you recognize the illest old and young heads out right now, you might get a better picture of this rap shit. Ka's writing (and a few other rappers') is the kind of writing I worship, use as mantra, and take inspiration from when I sit down to speak my own little piece. Not no so-called hiphop writers. Peace.