20 October 2006

High fives to the youth!

It is hard to understand the rationale behind the actions of some politicians… no wait, actually, it is very easy to understand the rationale behind the actions of some politicians; it only is hard to justify them.

Possible next Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, met yesterday with Rhymefest, an American Hip Hop artist. They talked about whether Hip Hop is harmful and sends a negative message to the youth. My first thought about it was “Rhyme.. who?”! How is he the representative of the worldwide Hip Hop community and if he is, how come I know nothing about his political activism? Has there been a new rising star and hope for political music or political musicians since I gave up on American Hip Hop?

Usually I start making conclusions without much research. This time was different. I went to listen to some of the tracks from this guy and it appears that I can safely continue ignoring the overground in the United States as Rhymefest, in the first song that starts blasting from his website tackles the important issues of having “these hoes on the floor”, he asks women to “put it on his stick” and invites them to perform oral sex with him. Go back to sleep hopefuls. This is not political – just another rapper disrespecting women and promoting himself. He denies this is about promoting himself but it obviously would be rather unlikely that he did not.

Or am I judging him too quickly? Maybe. Maybe I should wait for longer time and see what it is that he does and stands for. Maybe. But then again - there are people in the British Hip Hop community who could have talked about the real topics; Blak Twang amongst many others have done songs specifically about this Hip Hop lyrics / gun crime problem, and if they are not good enough (or sell enough records and create enough publicity) then surely there are several Americans who have some credibility when it comes to the politics in music.

So, Cameron decided to dodge the bullet, and talk to an unthreatening rapper from America instead of a British one. As I said, it is easy to understand because it is unlikely that an American rapper, rapping about hoes, would bring up the social condition of the large groups of the society in UK, whose life Hip Hop is, who Mr Cameron has criticised. At least not with any authority.

And the justification for all of this? Considering the party that David Cameron is leading, regardless of his attempts to renew its image; the disastrous effects of its politics in the 80’s on to the state schools and the general conditions for not so well off Britons, it is ridiculously arrogant for him to attack an art form, and then solve the situation by accepting cup of tea invitation from a rapper on a promotional mission – from another country.

And about Rhymefest, I must still continue, that if I am looking at this incident purely from business point of view, he made a brilliant move. To get this publicity with a price of one flight ticket is great. Everyone who is trying to sell records should have thought about that. I am not against him as such, although now that I have recogniced a few of his songs from the BBC Radio 1Xtra rotation, I find them to be awfully boring and disrespectful, which I cannot or do not want to justify with anything. But as far as I understand Rhymefest has not promised anything to any community in UK unlike Mr Cameron has.

It was not Cameron though who initiated this meeting. He had just worried over a radio DJ shouting out some people who are in prison and you know the general "it's not racial but this cannot be tolerated stuff". When hearing about that, Rhymefest had contacted him apparently so they could chat about it. And he said yes. Fair play. What I cannot understand is, that if he is so worried and if he is a politician who cares about the people - why did he not contact the elders of the British Hip Hop community to talk about it? 

Maybe David Cameron, as down as he is with the youth and their culture, could take few hours every week in his schedule to high five to these artists, instead of concentration of what happens in the streets of UK, its council estates and state schools. Is it life imitating art or art imitating life? Or is it just a photo opportunity – I think I know what I feel about it.

During the times of Labour Government attacking Moslems during their holy month of Ramadan and Conservative Party doing its best to not look conservative, the British politics are getting a bit much. It is hard to imagine that the two parties would be stupid; they probably are very smart. They just pick the opportunities that suit them and are popular. In that their ethics are much like the ones of American chart rapper.

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