The Roots’ Phrenology CD was playing in Everyday Music this afternoon when I visited it on my lunch break. Eventually, the track “Something in the Way of Things (In Town)” came on and Amiri Baraka’s tale of urban bleakness resonated with the widespread feeling in the country that racism in police departments is out of control.
Hearing the late poet/playwright/essayist Baraka triggered thoughts of the Last Poets’ first two incendiary proto-rap records, The Last Poets and This Is Madness. It led me to think that perhaps we need more of the Last Poets’ revolutionary fervor and righteous anger in our music.
This may be a naïve, quixotic gesture, but a video featuring a unified mission rap in the vein of Stop the Violence Movement's "Self Destruction" might be in order. It could feature big current rap artists and old-school hiphop icons calling in the strongest terms for an end to excessive police force and accountability for transgressions. Who knows: It might inspire positive change and rein in the violent behavior to which so-called peacekeepers resort. At the very least, it would be cathartic.