Is Rap/Hip Hop Bad for African Americans

This opinion was originally written four years ago.

The Bottom Line If you don’t want to read my whole essay, The answer is YES! If you want to know why, read on.

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The question of the day, my friends both white and black, is, “Is Rap/Hip Hop bad for African Americans?”

For all you readers that like Rap, let me tell you, I don’t, and that makes me more impartial with regards to the negative effects of Rap on the black community. What, you don’t think there are any negative effects? Well thats where we disagree and that’s why we’re going to discuss this.

Now, some of you may know me and some of you may have guessed, so I won’t keep you in suspense, I am White but I’m not racist. Am I color blind? probably not. Very few people are. My wife is and I think my kids are but I’m older and grew up in the forties and fifties. My father was an Archie Bunker type and was a closet bigot. Funny thing he used to rant about the Russians and the Poles more than the Blacks(they were known as coloreds then) and the Jews. Maybe that’s why I married a Jewish woman and have Black Friends(they’re really my wifes but I made them mine too).

I had been thinking about writing this essay for many months but thought it might be too controversial and cause bad feelings, that is until I read an Editorial by Leonard Pitts Jr. a black columnist for the Miami Herald, on Oct, 26 of this year, called HATE THIS GAME? The game in question is called Ghettopoly, however, the article is really about Rap and the bad impression it sends to mainstream America about the African American community. Pitts insights are profound and mirror my own thoughts, therefore I will be quoting him when appropriate.

My musical tastes do include the various incantations of Rock and Metal but it wasn’t always that way. In the fifties, I lived in Chicago and when I was twelve, thirteen and fourteen, I attended The Art Institute. My favorite baseball player was a rookie then on the Milwaukee Braves named Henry Aaron(ever hear of him?). I used to listen to the games on Milwaukee radio station and I’d also listen some of the black radio stations to hear Rhythm and Blues and the real birth of birth of Rock and Roll.

I’ve always been a non conformist, never settling for what everybody else liked, knowing there was something better, so while Guiselle Mackensie and Snokey Lansing were singing about Old Smokey and The Doggies in the Window on Lucky Strikes, Hit Parade, I was listening to Muddy Waters, Joe Turner, Bo Didley, Screaming Hawkins, The Dells, Fats Domino, The Spaniels, The Ojays, The Del Vikings and a bunch of other artists that I no longer remember.
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Eventually this underground Blues and Rock and Roll was absorbed into mainstream top 40 music, first through surrogate white artists like Pat Boone, the Diamonds and the Crew Cuts covering the the music and then by the black artists, like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino themselves.

The late fifties and early sixties was a golden age for for the black rock and roll musicians. The fifties brought us The Platters, The Penguins, the Rays, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Coasters, Clyde Mcphatter and the Drifters. The sixties brought us more Drifters, Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Four Tops, Martha and the Vandellas, The Marvelettes and the Supremes. This was when Black music was at it’s acme both in popularity and creativity.

Black Music continued to thrive with black superstars, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five, Ray Charles, Whitney Houston, Prince and Tina Turner.

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Then in the late 1980s, catastrophe hit. Rap music, the music of the Ghetto, the music of despair and thuggery was born and although Black R & B and R & R didn’t die it was thoroughly diminished. It is to this ill conceived birth that Leonard Pitts Jr. addressed the following comment, “I keep wondering where all this fury was when rappers like 50 cent, Nelly, Ja Rule, and Snoop Dogg first started pimping, drug dealing and drive by shooting all over the video channels…….Where was the moral indignation when Black people were reducing Black life to a caricature?…….With a few isolated exceptions – activist C Delores Tucker and Rev. Calvin Butts – Blacks have been conspicuously silent as Black music, once the joy and strength of Black people, has detoured into an open sewer of so-called “hardcore rap””.

Pitts goes on to say, “The vast majority of that practitioners are nothing more and nothing less than modern day Uncle Toms, selling out Black dreams by peddling a cartoon of Black life unencumbered by values.” This is strong stuff but I’m afraid it’s true, Rap/Hip Hop has crammed out the good black music, the music everybody, white, black, brown and yellow liked and substituted a predominantly hateful message, and I’m afraid White music has suffered too. There’s been a noticeable decline in the quality of all music over the last five to ten years but unlike the Black community this decline does not translate into a negative perception of the white community.

But Pitts is not yet finished. Here’s more, “It is a cynical knowing act promulgated by men and women who get rich by selling lies of authenticity to young people, White and Black, who are looking for lessons of Blackness. They are as much minstrels and peddlers of stereotype as Stepin Fetchit, Bert Williams or any Black performer who ever smeared black goop on his face or shuffled onstage beneath a battered top hat”

I may be wrong but I get the impression that most African American people are proud of Rap/Hip Hop. They think it is a Black creation and it is but it’s nothing to be proud of. It’s not a product of their African heritage, the Blues was that. It’s a product of the Black Barrio. It was born in, and is about the worst aspects the Ghetto. Christ, it glorifies demeaning life in the Ghetto with it’s angry message.

I’m sure there are others but the only recent successful Black music artists I can think of Mariah Carey, Seal, Boys II Men and Destiny’s Child/Beyounce. This compares to a bevy of Rap artists, which means that rap is perceived by White America as the music of choice for Black America and by association is perceived by the lifestyle of choice for Black America.

I doubt if anybody thinks this is good or helpful to the Black community as a whole. It is good to the Black Rappers though. It gives something else to talk/sing about as they go to the bank with their troves of cash. They now get to rub their wealth in their fans faces in their music.

As Mr. Pitts says “Black people of my generation(I’m 46) have resisted speaking forcefully against this because, like all baby boomers, we are deathly afraid of appearing less than hip. But as I recall, our parents never worried about that. They understood their role to be not hipness, but guidance”

“I am of a generation that has largely failed that role, that turned “judgement” into a four letter word. The fruit of that failure lies before us; an era of a historical young people who traffic in stereotypes that would not be out of place in a Ku Klux Klan meeting”

Now I know that after 15 years there is bound to be a Rap song or two or maybe dozens with a positive message but please save your examples. Save them and live by them for to live by the others is a recipe for disaster, a ruined life. I’m Talking about the negative message pervaded in the overwhelming preponderance of Rap/Hip Hop.

I sincerely hope I haven’t offended anybody. This needed to be said and I hope it makes you think.

November 27, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , . African Americans, ghetto life, Hip Hop, misogyny, Rap, Thugs, women. 14 comments.

The Bush Legacy

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The Bottom Line
Where previous books I’ve read on the Bush adventure have taken us to and briefly beyond our initial occupation, Fiasco takes through 2004, with in depth analysis of the insurgency.

The brand new book by Thomas Ricks’– Fiasco, provides the reader with an informative assessment of the conception, planning, prosecution and aftermath of the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Intentional or not, Fiasco ends up as an indictment of, not only the Bush Administration, but the military itself for extremely poor judgment at the least and malfeasance at the most.

Ricks goes into some detail lining out to chain of events, naming the patrons of the war and their motives, along the way, which led to the war. He also describes the planning, or mis-planning if you wish, of the war, but the majority of the book centers on the immediate aftermath of the invasion, from April of 2003 through 2004. Ricks lays out the argument that during this period, Phase IV of the war (the aftermath) was so bungled that we were within an eyelash of turning victory into defeat. He also maintains that this mishandling was so endemic and pervasive that the outcome is still in doubt.

Summary

Ricks postulates that the Iraqi war was contrived by neo-conservatives led by Paul Wolfowitz, justified by handpicked intelligence, much of which had been discounted. He goes on to say the military planning was altered time and again by the overbearing Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield, who at one time proposed an invasion force of ten thousand men.

Then after the successful invasion, despite a flawed plan, which totally by passed the ultimate enemy and the backbone of the future insurgency — the Fedayeen, our troops throughout the country stood by as witnesses to the greatest act of thievery in the history of the world, as looters stole Iraq. This was the result of having too few boots on the ground, a fact that haunts us (the military) to this day. A result of the widespread looting of Iraq, besides requiring billions to replace, was that it set a tone for lawlessness in Iraq. It also made our troops appear indecisive, which they were.

Ultimately, the biggest sin the military committed was a sin of omission. Purposely or not, they refused to recognize the character of the war they were in (with Rumsfield’s help) as an insurgency and act accordingly. The lessons of the insurgency we fought in Viet Nam seem to have been lost as a bad dream and the military insisted on fighting a brutal conventional war. This was a major error in strategy.

Last but not least, the tactics used by our military lost the backing and respect of the Iraqi people and fueled the fire of the insurgency, which the generals refused to fight as such.

Conclusion

As a newspaper reporter, Ricks’ writing takes on a news reporting style of writing — very compelling, very smooth and very easy to read. While the writer does perform an occasional analysis, the book seems to center around hundreds of quotation bites and the author’s attendant explanations and elaborations.

Of course, this means that there are many opinions mixed in with the reported facts and history. Still, I give these opinions credence for two reasons — the high quantity of similar views within the book and the fact that these views mirror conventional wisdom and other publications.

Being an opponent of the war, this book was a vindication, of sorts, for the deductions I had arrived at. The Bush Administration took us to war with a marginal war plan and no plan whatsoever for reconstruction, disengagement or exit. I find it incongruous that the Administration is constantly saying the Democrats had no plan for Iraq, when they, themselves, had no plan.

By the way, according to this book, Jay Garner the one time reconstruction czar, who was unceremoniously dumped after two weeks, originally voiced the one plan the Administration keeps harping on — “we’ll stand down when they stand up,” in an unapproved speech: a speech for which he was chastised, but from which their big plan evolved. The plan of course was poorly implemented and has yet to bear fruit.

The true irony of the war was that the approach the Administration took toward the war. The parsimonious use of troops, telling the generals to expect redeployment in a matter of months and trying to fight the war on the cheap, actually had the opposite effect by adding to the longevity of the war and running the cost into the hundreds of billions.

I give this book a five star rating.

November 18, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . attack, Baghdad, Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq, Islam, liberators, lies, politics, President Bush, Rumsfeld, Saudi Arabia, Shiite, slam dunk, Sunni, Syria, Terrorism. Leave a comment.

Whatever Lola Wants! An R Rated Review

The Bottom Line
A good movie if you and your significant other wish to set the mood for what goes on in the movie.

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Softcore as opposed to hardcore, is a mild form of pornography – pornography defined as: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement – wherein the actors and actresses, either naked or partially clothed, engage in, what at least for appearance sake are, simulated sex acts. Hardcore, is of course, the graphic celluloid recording of actual sex acts in detail and usually focusing in on the actors genitalia.

I don’t know about this particular movie but many softcore films have been shown on late night cable movie channels, like Cinemax and Showtime. Not that hardcore films are hard to get but one of the advantages of softcore films is that they are easier to obtain and carry less of a social stigma, if one tends to feel guilty about watching such things, especially since even mainstream commercial movies, occasionally, have the equivalent of softcore scenes.

The reason I say they are easier to obtain is that they are readily available for sale on websites such as Amazon and Ebay and many can be rented from Netflix and Blockbusters. This particular movie was rented from Netflix.

Frivolous Lola

It seems to be a leading lady in a Tinto Brass film you must:

• Be young and attractive
• Have an exceptional sensuous body
• Not be shy about nudity
• Exude a cheerful, lighthearted persona
• Act loveably naughty.

That has been the case in the previous Brass films I have watched and reviewed and Frivolous Lola is no exception. Rumor has it that the inscrutable producer of erotica met the vivacious young actress, Anna Ammirati while examining her body. The body of her car that is, after being involved in a traffic accident with her. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, the outcome was inevitable – Anna gallivanting around with little or no clothing in his next movie. Anna is reputed to have entreated the enigmatic director to feature her in his next movie and a enchanting match was born.

The Plot

Lola is a carefree lass in an unnamed village in Italy of some notoriety and gossip. Her mother who grew up there, left years before but returned with a handsome paramour, Andr’e and a vibrant sexually precocious teen daughter, Lola.

Lola is a virgin a condition she dislikes. She is engaged to the son of the village baker, Masetto, whom she wants to deflower her. Masetto would like to wait for their wedding night and this frustrates Lola.
A sub plot of the movie is Lola’s relationship with her alleged father, Andr’e. They both find each other intriguing and therefore, attractive.

The Story

The story revolves around Lola’s efforts to get Masetto to make love with her and thus take her virginity. She tries various tricks, including making him jealous by coming on with other men. There was even a scene in a tavern where she is jitterbugging with three soldiers, sans her panties, with flashes of her genital folds and pubis.

Lola’s alleged father Andr’e fascinates her. He is somewhat of a leach with prurient instincts and she is drawn to and fanaticizes about him. She makes a couple unsuccessful attempts to seduce him.

In the end Lola does trick Masetto into deflowering her – her term and at their wedding the next day a scene takes place between Lola and Andr’e where you are left wondering, no believing that they also have sex.

In hindsight it may be a take on that old song of the fifties, “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets.”

Cast

Anna Ammirati …. Lola
Patrick Mower …. Andre
Mario Parodi …. Masetto

Susanna Martinkova …. Michelle
Antonio Salines …. Pepe
Francesca Nunzi …. Wilma

Director

Tinto Brass

Report Card

Story – B
Acting – A-
Directing – A
Cinematography – A
Cast – A-
Erotic factor – A+
Entertainment factor – A

Conclusion

Lola is indeed frivolous and afew other adjectives ranging from adorable to bratty. Her self-centered thoughtless behavior is nothing short of tawdry. If there are women that behave so flippant, I wouldn’t want to be engaged to them. Yet, as a viewer there is something winsome about her frolicsome, lighthearted, even compelling behavior.

As with other Brass movies I have viewed a typical theme permeates Frivolous Lola. Nothing is shameful to her. She with the overactive libido was born to enjoy life and she resents anyone that wants to rein her in, while her man is supposed to go along with her indiscretions

Frivolous Lola is an exercise in exhibitionism. The movie seems to be a memorial to Lola’s or is it Anna Amirati’s shapely figure with voyeuristic peeks at her genitalia. The story seems incidental, it is merely a vehicle to attain the desired effect.

I do not mean to sound like this is bad. Contrary, it is good. I found the movie to be funny entertaining and stimulating – one of his best and one of the better erotica movies available.

The lovely Anna Amirati was uniformly naughty and loveable. Her body was adorable and her acting endearing. Supporting actors, Packtrick Mower and Mario Parodi did well too.

The film was shot in what appeared to be the Italian countryside. The sets and costumes were colorful and the cinematography was first rate. Rating 4.6 stars

November 12, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , . erotic, Humor, naked, review, sex, Softcore. 3 comments.

A Review of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (And the Crusades)

The Bottom Line
Most followers of Islam maintain their faith is a religion of peace and Allah (God) is merciful. Yet, the jihadists are even more vocal about their aggressive, destructive ways being directly from the Qur’an, therefore Allah (God).

Who’s right? They both are. Remember Muslim hordes set out in the seventh and eighth century to conquer the world and convert all infidels (non believers) to Islam. The fact is, the Qur’an and other Islamic holy books are full of contradictions, so if you are looking for answers to questions you may have about Islam, you won’t find them here. But, if you want to know what kind of people we are fighting against and why, this book will tell you.

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In this timely, hot button book, Robert Spencer examines the motivation and goals of, not necessarily, just the terrorists alone but fellow extremists and, by association, all Muslims in general.

He claims there is a substantial quantity of misinformation being disseminated about Islam, some officially and some by apologists. Islam, which, translates into surrender, appears to be aptly named since there was plenty of surrendering going on among Islam’s perceived enemies in the first hundred and fifty years of the religion. That’s when aggressive, ruthless armies of the Prophet Muhammad, poured out of Arabia, spreading the nascent religion across a swath of Africa and Asia from the Atlantic Ocean to India. Later Indonesia and parts of India, Thailand, China, Malaysia and the Philippines were added. The victims of this onslaught were given three options: surrender and convert to Islam, surrender and become a dhimmi (a second-class citizen subject to onerous taxation) or DEATH.

This area is home to some one point two billion Muslims, which Spencer claims are all potential enemies of the rest of the inhabitants of the globe. The reasoning is that the seeds of confrontation are intertwined within the fabric of Islam, through the Muslim holy book and he cites various passages from the Qur’an to substantiate his theory. At the head of these passages is Jihad, which means struggle. The struggle, according to Spencer is to struggle against the infidels (non-believers) to achieve a position of preeminence where Islam reigns supreme.

We all know that this is what bin Laden wants but it’s been widely reported that this view is a perversion of Islam. According to Spencer, this is straight out of the Qur’an and the perversion is that this information is being withheld from the public, ostensibly to not engender additional angst with John Q. Public. Even mainstream Muslim’s seem to have trouble coming to grips that their holy book is the basis of so much terrorism and could be so inconsistent.

Other passages that should be of concern to Westerners are the traditions of deceit and duplicity. Muslims should not befriend infidels and it’s expected that they should lie to them (but not Muslims). If they do befriend an infidel, it should only be to gain an advantage and any agreements with infidels are again, to gain an advantage and if no longer needed, should be discarded. No wonder Israel cannot get a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Spencer also takes a cursory look at the Crusades. He states that, although they appear to have been a waste of time and manpower, they kept the Muslims at bay for almost two hundred years. Spencer believes this gave the Europeans just enough time to build their strength and technology to hold their own when the Islamic hordes, once again set their sights there.

Even so, there are large pockets of Muslims left over from Jihadists incursions in Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Spain. It is Spencer’s contention that without the Crusades we might all be on our knees five times a day facing Mecca. However, that still might happen since an estimated fifteen million Muslim immigrants, with more daily, have inundated Europe. As we’ve all seen on the news recently with bombings in London and Madrid and riots in France, these immigrants can be problematic, but they also could become a fifth column.

Conclusion

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is the kind of book that can get under your skin if you let it. I’m sure it’s accurate and factual and in comparison to other similar books I’ve read, specifically, about the plight of Muslim women, it backed what I had previously read. However, it seems to me, to be written with a conservative slant. It seems to highlight the worst of Islam, giving only perfunctory concessions to other views. The fact that Regnery Publishing, a well-known right wing publisher, published the book reinforces that feeling.

As for the author, Robert Spencer, he did a good job of presenting his case in a fluid, easily understandable and readable style. I personally believe what he wrote but many would feel it wasn’t balanced. He is obviously well versed on the subject of the book, providing the chapter/verse in the Qur’an, wherever he paraphrases a passage. He has a thorough knowledge of the subject and puts his views forward in a believable method. In addition, he provides many interesting sidebars where there are comparisons of the teachings of Muhammad and Jesus, quotes from historic figures, Books You’re Not Supposed to Read and Just Like Today segments.

Spencer makes several good points, such as saying our war on terror is incorrectly named, terror being a tactic. He says the enemy is the Jihadists and the war should be so named. I also got a kick out of Spencer’s term for outrageous, seventy-two virgins in heaven Muslim belief. He called it bordello paradise.

Frankly, if you are looking for some good news about the Muslims, this book is not for you, unless you consider learning more about their downside, good news. The bottom line, according to Spencer, is their can be no long-term peaceful co-existence with the Muslim society unless they modify the aggressive tenants of the Qur’an. Don’t hold your breath.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) is 231 pages and contains eighteen chapters. They are titled:

1] Muhammad: Prophet of War
2] The Qur’an: The Book of War
3] Islam: Religion of War
4] Islam: Religion of Intolerance
5] Islam Oppresses Women
6] Islamic Law: Lie, Steal, Kill
7] How Allah Killed Science
8] The Lure of Islamic Paradise
9] Islam – Spread by the Sword? You Bet.
10] Why the Crusades were called
11] The Crusades: Myth and Reality
12] What the Crusades Accomplished – And What They Didn’t
13] What if the Crusades Had Never Happened?
14] Islam and Christianity: Equivalent Traditions?
15] The Jihad Continues
16] “Islamophobia” and Today’s Ideological Jihad
17] Criticizing Islam May Be Hazardous to Your Health
18] The Crusade We Must Fight Today

November 3, 2007. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Atrocity, attack, Baghdad, Cheney, George W. Bush, Iran, Iraq, Islam, President Bush, Saudi Arabia, Sharia, Shiite, Sunni, Syria, Terrorism, women. 6 comments.