Archive for May, 2006

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Lupe Fiasco Talked About Uganda’s NightWalkers
by Davey D
original article- May 31 2006
In our interview with Lupe Fiasco, he spoke about the tragedy taking place in Uganda. He was in support of trying to help find solutions to the nightwalkers. Read about this issue where you further learn about this and hopefully get involved…

A Defining Issue for African Americans: Saving the Child Night Commuters
 
Dear Friends of Black People World Wide:
 
There are thousands of children that will travel 7 – 10 miles by foot tonight just to sleep in partial safety. Many of them will sleep on the ground. I went to bed tonight at 10pm only to awake at 2am because I could not sleep knowing that our babies are going through this hell tonight (and every night).  About 2 months ago, I interviewed some college students that were sleeping outside to bring attention to the “child night commuters in the northern region of Uganda . These college students were all white. My procrastination and inaction has caused me to lose sleep over this. So, I make this plea for your help in this most serious cause. Because these are African children, I believe African-American elected officials, media and activists must take action. And, we all should do something.

 
I ask that you please:
 
1.) Send an email and/or call the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (Rep. Melvin L. Watt) and ask that the Caucus take the lead and immediate action on this issue. You may even forward him this email at nc12.public@mail.house.gov or call him at (202) 225-1510.

2.) Send this email to your list of people who will forward it to others who care about Black people.

3.) Learn more about this (at http://www.Poli-Tainment.com) and mention it to one other person you know – in person.
 
Thank you for caring about OUR babies.

Your Friend,

 Opio Lumumba Sokoni 
 
  ABOUT THE CHILD NIGHT COMMUTERS

Children continue to be the main casualties in the 20-year-old war in northern Uganda between government forces and rebels who are known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA has abducted more than 20,000 children. These boys and girls are beaten, tortured, raped, forced to fight, and sometimes killed.
 
Night Commuters
Terrified of being abducted by the LRA at night, as many as 40,000 children leave their rural homes every evening. Known as “night commuters,” these children walk to neighbouring towns (including Gulu, Pader, and Kitgum). They sleep on the street or in public buildings. They hope there is safety in numbers.

 Abducted Children
Abducted children are often forced to murder their own family members and burn down their villages. The LRA does this to make the children believe they won’t be welcomed back to their communities should they escape.

 Children Who Escape
Thankfully, thousands of children have escaped or been liberated by government forces. However, these children are usually severely traumatized. There are few social services available to help them recover. Most children have little education and few vocational skills. They are often rejected by their families and communities because of the atrocities they have committed. Many girls who were raped in captivity are now mothers. HIV rates are high. Although they are free, these children have little hope for the future.
 
AGAIN, PLEASE:
 
1.) Send an email and/or call the chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus (Rep. Melvin L. Watt) and ask that the Caucus take the lead and immediate action on this issue. You may even forward him this email at nc12.public@mail.house.gov or call him at (202) 225-1510.

2.) Send this email to your list of people who will forward it to other people who care about Black people.

3.) Learn more about this (at http://www.Poli-Tainment.com) and mention it to one other person you know – in person.
 
to Learn More go to http://www.Poli-Tainment.com

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Mista FAB Lands Radio Gig & Endorses Mayoral Candidate Ron Dellums
by Davey D

As the Bay Area’s Hyphy Movement continues to take hold around the nation, here in the Bay, things are moving to higher levels. The person who is front in center of this movement is Mistah FAB.

For starters he has been speaking out and letting everyone know about his position in next week’s Mayoral elections here in Oakland. Mista FAB has come out and endorsed former Congressman Ron Dellums and has been pulling no punches both with him and his fans.

FAB sat on a Hip Hop meets Politics panel a couple of weeks ago when Dellums came to speak. FAB was impressed and told the candidate that he and other politicians need to have a way to make their political speak relatable to the Hip Hop fan base that Mista FAB and others have.

FAB also told Dellums that he should not be fooled into thinking that because he sports a grill, wears his hat backwards and gets hyphy that he doesn’t stay up on the politics effecting Oakland. Following in the tradition of 2Pac who was always well read and stayed informed, Mista FAB is and numerous other artists are the same way. Part of being able to get their hustle on is being up on all aspects that impact both their business and neighborhood.

FAB noted that he has sat down and spoken with Dellums about a number of key issues including police harassment, segregation in the neighborhoods and poor housing. He came away satisfied that the job will get done under Dellums and may actually take some sort of position within his administration if he gets elected. Thats real big

If thats not enough, Mista FAB has stepped up his game and landed a Friday Night radio show on KYLD (Wild 94.9) in San Francisco. The show is called The Yellow Bus and he intends to take people to school. He noted that on his show, he will play all the latest hyphy jams but he’s also going to have a segment called the Book report where he laces cats up about the latest political happenings.

In a recent interview FAB noted that, as an artist he can get people to get hyphy, go dumb and shake their dreads. So with that in mind, he wants to influence fans to also go get political… The Yellow Bus is going to be major addition to the Hyphy Movement…

With FAB hitting the airwaves, he joins other Bay Area artists like E-40 on KMEL 106.1 FM and T-Kash on KPFA 94.1 FM who both have popular radio shows

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Wave of tragedy devastates the hip-hop community

By Davey D

original article-may 19, 2006

Davey DThe hip-hop community has been hit with devastating losses over the past few months.

Fans around the world were saddened when producer J-Dilla of Detroit’s Slum Village suddenly took a turn for the worse and died in February of complications from lupus. His death was especially painful because it occurred just days before his critically acclaimed album “Donuts” came out. The previous week, an album-release party was held in Los Angeles, where numerous artists for whom Dilla had made beats, including De La Soul, were on hand.

The sudden death in March of Professor X (Lumumba Carson), leader of the Afrocentric political rap group X-Clan, sent shock waves throughout the community. His death was especially hard to accept because many had seen him at a media reform demonstration just three days earlier, where he had spoken about his determination to step up his activism and resurrect the Blackwatch organization founded by his father, Sonny Carson.

In addition, the members of X-Clan had patched up differences that had kept them apart for more than 10 years. They were set for a surprise reunion. The week Professor X died, he was supposed to visit California to shoot a video with group members Brother J and Paradise. This coast, particularly the Bay Area, had special meaning for the group because it was the first to embrace and champion the music of X-Clan, originally based in Brooklyn.

The fact that Professor X died of spinal meningitis made headlines in New York. The Professor X case underscored the music industry’s dirty little secret: Despite the billions of dollars the industry generates annually, most musicians do not have health insurance.

Weeks after these deaths, the hip-hop community was shocked to hear about the shooting death of Eminem’s best friend, Proof, leader of the group D-12. The charismatic Proof (who played the man who gave Eminem his start in the movie “8 Mile”) had announced that he was working with other artists on a tribute album for Detroit’s J-Dilla. Sadly, people are now doing a tribute album for Proof.

Over the past two weeks, California has lost three hip-hop legends, two of them on the same day. One was DJ Dusk, who spun frequently at Bay Area functions. Dusk was also a political activist in the area of education. He died two weeks ago, when he was hit by a drunken driver in Southern California as he walked a girlfriend to her car. According to witnesses, Dusk pushed the woman out of the way but was struck himself and dragged 80 yards. His selfless act speaks volumes about the kind of man he was.

His death was widely mourned in tributes around the country. He was so well loved that hip-hop pioneers Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc and Jazzy Jay made rare joint appearances in New York, Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where Dusk had his biggest followings. They visited San Francisco last weekend to do a tribute and raise money for Dusk’s family.

On the day that DJ Dusk was killed, Michael “Mixin’ ” Moore, a pioneer in hip-hop radio in L.A., died at age 46 from heart failure. Best known for his Militant Mix, fusing speeches and news clips over popular instrumentals, he also is credited with inventing the 5 o’clock Traffic Jam, a mainstay on commercial radio around the country.

While the hip-hop icons were paying tribute to DJ Dusk last weekend, rap legend Skeeter Rabbit of the pioneering dance group the Electric Boogaloos died. He was an innovator in “strutting” and “popping” and was no stranger to the Bay Area, where he participated in numerous competitions.

On Saturday may 20th there will be two seperate tributes and funerals for Skeeter Rabbit and Michael Mixxing Moore

With all the deaths, many in the hip-hop community have taken time to reflect. Since no one is promised tomorrow, we must learn to appreciate what we have today. Digital Underground’s “Heartbeat Props,” which encourages us to honor the living, rings especially true these days.

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Yet Another Hip Hop Legend Lost-RIP Skeeter Rabbit
by Davey D
original article-May 15 2006
 
It’s hard to say what exactly is going on as of late, but Hip Hop has been hit with some devastating loses as of late. From J-Dilla to Proof to Professor X, the losses have come quick, without warning and have left very little time for folks to grieve before being impacted with another unexpected demise.
 
Here on the West Coast, we have been hit extremely hard. The lose of DJ Dusk to a drunk driver still has LA and much of the West Coast’s Hip Hop scene reeling. This past weekend, Hip Hop pioneers Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc made a rare appearance on the same bill to raise money for Dusk’s family. They performed in LA on Friday and then in the Bay Area on Saturday. Also on the bill was Jazzy Jay who wrecked shop. On Friday’s show DJ Z-Trip and Cut Chemist came through and also represented. The night before the LA appearance Herc, Bam and Jazzy Jay spun at Tabel 50 in New York, where Dusk had a strong following.
 
In an eerie sense of Deja Vu, while these Hip Hop pioneers and icons were paying tribute to DJ Dusk and others were still trying to make sense of the passing of DJ Michael Mixxing Moore who passed on the same day as Dusk, unbeknowst to many of us in attendence, another Hip Hop legend-Skeeter Rabbit of the pioneering dance group the Electric Boogaloos passed away earlier that morning…
 
The word is just now getting out beyond the dance community and needless to say people are besides themselves… Everyone is asking what is going on?  Why is so much death hitting us… The details surrounding his death    are still unclear and sketchy. We’ll await an official announcement from the Electric Boogaloos and Skeeter’s family
 
In the meantime here’s some biographical information about a man who greatly impacted Hip Hop…
 
“Skeet started dancing as a young kid growing up in the streets of Los Angeles. Skeet started out locking and soon after started popping with his cousins Boogaloo Sam and Poppin Pete around 1978. In 1979 Skeet became an official member of the EB’s and has gone on to become a pioneer and innovator of the dance styles popping and boogaloo.
 
Skeet is currently helping spread funk styles knowledge through shows, appearances and classes around the world.
 
Skeet has appeared in videos by such artists as Thomas Dolby, The Talking Heads, and Michael Jackson. His movie credits include: Michael Jackson’s “Ghost,” “DC Cab,” “Body Rock” and “Fast Forward.” He was also a featured dancer on David Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. “
 
You can click here to see a couple of clips of Skeeter Rabbit dancing..
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrC2PsGfXLI
 
 
You can also check the message boards of fellow EB member Mr Wiggle’s  for more info
http://p076.ezboard.com/fmrwiggleshiphopfrm1.showMessageRange?topicID=12190.topic&start=1&stop=20
 
or you can check the Electric Boogaloo’s website
http://www.electricboogaloos.com/
 
Here’s a eulogy that was written for Skeeter Rabbit.
 
A Eulogy to Skeeter Rabbit: The Man Who Saw Too Much
 
I’ve just been sitting here looking at pictures of Skeet.  For such a loud person, its interesting how he is so often in the back, off to the side.  His face looks different now than I remember it–its like another side of him has revealed itself.  Its like I can see it now when I look in his eyes–how he was haunted by the things he saw.
 
If you don’t know me, lets just say that at first glance Skeeter Rabbit, even someone with the name Skeeter Rabbit, is a pretty unlikely person for someone like me to have crossed paths with.  He is an even more unlikely one for me to have considered such a close friend.  The last time I saw him, only about two weeks ago, we both had tears in our eyes (in a choked-up manly sort of way of course) after one of Skeet’s patented hugs and a year without seeing each other.  How did two people from such vastly different backgrounds come together like that?  In my opinion, its about who Skeet (Stephen Nicholas) is as a soul and who he was as a human being.
 
My relationship with Skeet is a pretty strange one.  Its strange because Skeet’s a Crip (and I’m sure that wherever he is, he’s throwing up signs as we speak) from the black part of Dallas who was relocated to Compton, Watts, South Gate–places I’ve only heard about in rap songs even though I now live in Los Angeles.  And me, I’m a young white guy from Maine, a place where gangs live only on MTV, black people are usually African refugees, and popping is called breakdancing.
 
I found this popping thing about five years ago and instantly fell in love.  I started watching videos and practicing in my bedroom and I of course idolized my favorite dancers, like Skeet.  When I finally met him, I was SCURRRRRRRRRRED as the kids say.  I was so shy and he was such an intimidating presence, but I was immediately struck with how warm he was.  He made me feel ok, like I was welcome, like I was the star of the show.
 
As I got to know him better, this pattern continued and ultimately, more than any other single person I have met in my life (and this is not just after-death hyperbole), Skeet taught me that I am ok–just as I am.  Skeet didn’t intend to teach me this–he was more intent on me getting the mechanics of the Toyman down, learning variations on the Egyptian Twist, and of knowing how to do the ORIGINAL walkout.  See, he taught me that I am ok simply by being him.  I wrote an autobiographical play about six months ago and while I didn’t mention Skeet by name, a key passage was written directly about this experience. It goes like this:
 
so I put on this act again and it was just another one of these acts and it got harder as I got closer to these dancers as people….cuz there were all these things I wanted to say to them.. ask them about their lives and their experiences and who they were and what they thought about.. 
 
and I couldnt because of that damn voice.. all I could say was like wassup dawg.. yo,  word?? ill homie yaaah fresh… and my vocabulary was like 20 words and I couldn’t get anything out.. it just kept building until there was like one of those moments where something just finally comes to a head.. I just had to open up.. I couldnt stand it anymore so I just went out on a ledge and I tried.. I just said it.. and.. I was talking just like Im talking now.. cuz I couldnt do anything else.. the only way I could get these feelings out was to talk like this.. and the weirdest thing happened.. he was this big black guy ya know.. and he’s just listening like… uh huh word.. yup.. and he.. he took it in.. and he started opening up to me.. telling me things he didn’t tell other people.. 
and at that moment, something popped and I was just like……..
 
woah..
 
black people are just….. 
 
they’re just……. 
 
people..
 
wait a minute… maybe…. maybe people are just people… and I didn’t know what to say because
 
I just got accepted by a black guy
 
from the hood
 
as ME 
 
And that’s when it really started.. this part of me started moving to the forefront.. this part inside.. something that I wasn’t really familiar with started asserting itself more.. and.. it was really scary for me because I was coming from this if you cant touch it it doesn’t exist background right.. and this other thing wants to keep coming out.. Id get these urges… to cry… to pray… to just let go.. Sometimes… I’d just feel this indescribable longing…. like this remembrance… and before I knew it I started feeling the presence of God…
 
Now, Skeet loved telling gang stories and he told them so nonchalantly that it was hard for me sometimes to really comprehend how it must have affected him.  He told me casually that his first experience with gang violence was when he was 11 and how all he wanted to be when he grew up was a G.  He was fond of showing his scar from being stabbed and he was always proud of his collection.
 
But every so often I saw a different side of Steve.  It was like the anger and the pain could only be hidden or laughed off or run from for so long, and when he finally lost his breath and couldn’t keep up the act, there was a different person.  A deeply wounded, deeply regretful person who couldn’t help but ask why the things in his life happened as they did and why he couldn’t escape them.
 
When I got the call I was surprised, but somehow not.  I’m sure everyone can relate to that numbness that sets in.  As it started to sink in, I tried to get into his head–tried to get a peek inside and figure out how that happens and why.  And I kept picturing him reliving his past, haunted by memories he couldn’t make go away, regretting the things he’d done…  I’ll never know if this is true, but its as close as Ill probably ever get to understanding. 
 
And so I started to think that maybe there is a big lie that is sold to us about happiness and fulfillment and enlightenment.  It says that the more you open up to life, the more you let the grace of God into your heart, the easier/better/lighter your life becomes.  To me, Skeet proves that it isn’t true.  This is a man who as much as any I have encountered in my life strove for and stood for the truth.  And I know because of this, he saw an enormous amount of truth and light.  But he also saw a whole lot of dark.  He saw a lot of the ugliness of life, too much of the gritty reality that most of America and many of the people reading or hearing this are sheltered from.  And when you are open and honest and courageous enough to see the bad as well as the good, I think it is sometimes more than a human being can take. 
 
I have to say, on a far deeper level than I think words can express, I’m not sad at all–I’m not worried at all.  For I know Skeet and you and me and everyone has done this many times before and will do it many times again.  In Skeet’s eyes, I see an African warrior, a British philosopher, a Buddhist monk, an ancient martial artist, an Egyptian pharaoh.  But in this life, I see a deeply wounded man, an incredibly sensitive man who simply wasn’t able to harden or numb himself to the extent that his life experiences required him to do.
 
And last, as my duty to Stephen Nicholas, I would like to expand our scope.  As a child, this man was forced to grow up and see things that one should never see, let alone at the age that he did.  And in this regard, Skeet is just a number–another of the billions of people whose suffering and welfare are ignored and who are psychologically scarred for life by the things they experience in their childhood.  So, to those of you who mourn for Skeet, I hope you find it in you to extend that mourning to all children who grow up surrounded by war, by violence, by drugs, and by a system that tells them from day one that they don’t matter–whether the child lives in Maine, Dallas, Compton, Africa, Iraq, or Mexico.  And I hope we can use the life of someone who shined so brightly as a source of energy in our daily attempts to bring love and warmth to everyone we are fortunate enough to meet in this all-too-short little trip we call life.
 
For the dancers, Skeet always said to me that you have to find a teacher who teaches you how to teach yourself.  I’ve always seen myself as Skeet’s student and so I guess for me, its about that time now.  But I’ve been wondering about a final class, about what he might want to leave me with. It makes me think of the story Stretch told me, about how whenever they’re in Japan, Skeet is always the one going to the clubs to just get down–he just loves to dance.  And I think that’s what he’d say–that its as simple as that–just love to dance.
 
Skeet was a man of God.  His license plate read (in seven characters) I live for Him.  May we all be strong enough, courageous enough, and truthful enough–about who we really are, about what we are really going through–to do the same.  Thank you.

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KRS-One: Is He Potentially to Hip Hop What

Marcus Garvey was to Pan-Africanism?

 

By Bro. Tony Muhammad

Politrix2012@yahoo.com

 original article-May 07, 2006

 

tonymuhammedchitown-225Just hours prior to his lecture at Florida International University this past month, KRS-One and myself had a deep conversation about how controversial the topic of discussion for the evening was Hip Hop and the Art of Civilization Building.  We talked about the general feelings, beliefs and characteristics associated with being part of a culture.  We discussed how the concept of a cultural identity is by and large something invented, a process that comes into being as a result of social circumstances.  The word culture in root, means to cultivate as you would do to a tree or a plant with the purpose of making it grow and flourish.  At the lecture, which was opened up by a panel of scholars from various walks of life, all influenced greatly by Hip Hop culture, KRS-One mentioned how today Hip Hop is in every profession: teachers, lawyers, doctors, even FBI Agents.  He also mentioned how people of different religions throughout the world claim Hip Hop. 

 

From a layered perspective of what culture is, the concept of culture is much more complicated than merely claiming identification with one particular group of people.  Under this view, we can identify with different sets of people in different circumstances.  For instance, I myself am what is typically known as a Latino and I am able to relate to and identify with other people within this diverse group based on the language, customs, food and music we generally share.  In other circumstances, as a Muslim, I am able to relate and identify with others based on the Islamic traditions that they hold (i.e. prayer, fasting, social customs, religious holidays, etc.).  From a constructionist point of view of what ethnic identity and culture is, a culture includes the concept of having a common history, traditions, myths, art, music, literature (or oral traditions) and language (even merely in the form of sayings, catch phrases, or even what is generally regarded as slang).  According to Dr. Joane Nagel, cultural identification among a group of people could come about as a result of either it being imposed by others, self-realized as a result of political and social realities or simply chosen based on perception of meaning.  When analyzed carefully, Hip Hop includes all of these characteristics and the people who have entered into it in different ways throughout its history.

 

marcus-garvey-225Marcus Mosiah Garvey, the founder and leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in the early 20th century, was deemed controversial for arguing that peoples of African descent are in fact one people because they share a common racial condition and history.  Based on this, he developed a universal flag, newspaper, religion, national anthem and attempted government and economy under the banner of Pan-Africanism.  Garvey also organized world conferences which attracted and involved the participation of African peoples throughout the world who spoke different languages but identified with each other solely on the concept of being African.  Mind you, this was unheard of prior to this time and Garvey received both praise and scorn for it during his time.  Today, much of the cultural symbolisms and traditions that were birthed in the Garvey movement are found among African peoples throughout the world.  We even have an attempted unification of African countries, The African Union, which surely could not have been developed without the idea and belief that the peoples that live within the region have some form cultural connection to one another and should come together based on it.

 

 Is this much different from the path that KRS-One is headed towards?  He has already been both highly praised and scorned for introducing the concept I am Hip Hop.  Under the Temple of Hiphop, for the past 8 years, he has pushed the idea of celebrating Hip Hop Appreciation Week in mid-May.  He has even had the United Nations sanction Hip Hop as an official culture, developed what is known as The Hiphop Declaration of Peace and is currently in the final process of releasing the universally driven Gospel of Hiphop.  Just as Garvey, at one point of his life, became greatly frustrated with Blacks in the United States for being too focused on their own problems (rather than viewing the scope of their reality from an international perspective), KRS-One this year seeks to celebrate Hip Hop Appreciation Week in Europe to see if there is a difference of response to his calling.  Overall, to many of us of the Hip Hop generation in the past 20 years, KRS-One has many at times driven us to question our world views and identity within it a mental and spiritual exodus that Marcus Garvey inspired in a similar way almost a century ago.

 

krsone1smile-225Those who do not take KRS-One seriously in these endeavors typically just view him as an artist.  As you look deeper into KRS-One, you will see much more than this; a philosopher who expresses himself in the traditional ways of the West African griot breaking down history, science and universal principles backed by the popular music of the time.  Today, in our superimposed Western form of thinking we tend to separate and categorize (and sub-categorize) all of this and tend to limit each other based on one main thing that we do in our lives.

 

When we take Hip Hop a step further and say we are going to form a government and economy over it, this may not be possible at this particular time when the corporations of the world are defining for people generally what Hip Hop is supposed to be and what a typical Hip Hopper is supposed to look and act like.  When the ice of this age melts and the glits and glamour are gone, will we be able to distinguish between who the real community builders are from the trend followers?  With how diverse the Hip Hop community is and how certain members are so highly ego driven, would a political and economic system over it be successful?  How would we be able to deal with the concept of diversity itself, especially considering that racism itself continues to be a highly unresolved problem in this world?  What about dealing with issues in the community such as homosexuality, which is highly expressively unacceptable among many within Hip Hop?  How much of this can potentially become a mass movement rather than a spectator sport situation?  Truly, these questions need to be answered before we move forward in this increasingly complex and technological world.  Surely, we can not rely on just one man to answer them for us.  We must all do our part within the dialogue – The Reality!

 

Stay tuned to the Urban America Newspaper website, www.uannetwork.com, as to how you can get a copy of the historic KRS-One lecture at Florida International University on DVD in the following months.

 

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LA Loses Two Hip Hop Icons-The Nation Loses a Freedom Fighter

By Davey D

original article-May 05, 2006

Davey DThe city of Angels is in mourning as it has lost not one but two iconic figures within a week. In fact both passed away on the same day Saturday April 30th.

The first was DJ Dusk a well known member of the Universal Zulu Nation and an incredible DJ whose most recent exploits had him spinning every Thursday night at Rootdown at a club called Little Temple. Over the years Dusk made a huge impact for not only being an incredible diversified DJ who could spin everything from Salsa to Hip Hop to Reggae, he also made inroads on the radio. I believe he got down at Pacifica’s KPFK. He was one of those deejays who kept himself rooted in the community and tried to make a difference.

The circumstances surrounding Dusk’s death speak volumes to the type of man he was. The way it was explained to me, was He had a gathering of close family and friends at his home and was walking a woman back to her car when an out of control driver sped towards her. The woman was destined to be hit when Dusk leaped to her rescue. He pushed her out the way and tucked his head down to take the full impact of the vehicle which he knew would hit him. He was dragged for about 80 yards as the driver tried to escape. Luckily an alert passerby swung their pick up truck in front of the driver and prevented him from leaving. I’m not too sure about what sort of charges if any will be levied on the driver.

Last night (Thursday) all sorts of folks including Dusk’s family came out to the Little Temple to pay respects. People tried to stay upbeat, but in reality it was sad. It was sad to see his family experiencing such a major loss. It was sad to see those close to him holding it together, putting on a brave face, but inside mourning and missing Dusk greatly.

Ironically, the last time I saw Dusk was three weeks ago when he put together the annual tribute for DJ Rob One another iconic DJ from LA who passed away from brain cancer 5 years ago. Lots of people from all over including Hip Hop pioneer Prince Whipper Whip flew in from Michigan to pay tribute. The loss of Rob One, although 5 years later seemed to still be fresh on a lot of people’s minds. Dusk was the perfect host as he meticulously pulled old mixtapes and drops for the late DJ and played them for the audience. He wanted to make sure that a cat like Rob who meant so much to so many people would not be forgotten. He wanted to make sure that that those who attended would strive for the excellence that Rob One came to represent.

I’m sure no one in their wildest dreams would’ve thought we’d all be back at Rootdown paying tribute to DJ Dusk. It’s a sad thing and just underscored the importance of us not to take anything for granted.

As I sat at the bar listening to them play two of Dusk’s mixtapes… ‘Top Ranking’, a classic reggae and dancehall CD and ‘La Musica’ a classic Salsa CD, it hit me just how harsh this past year has been in terms of untimely deaths.

First it was J-Dilla, then it was Professor X and later on we lost Proof. We just lost Big Hawk down in Houston. We lost Taurus aka T who was hype man for The Coup. Atlanta rap star T.I. had his van shot up and lost one of his peoples. On top of that we lost LA Hip Hop pioneer Mixmaster Spade, Crip Founder turned Peacemaker Stanley Tookie Williams, C. Delores Tucker who fought to clean up the filth in the music industry, Rosa Parks the mother of the Civil Rights Movement and Coretta Scott King the first Lady of the Civil Rights Movement and widow to Martin Luther King. It seems like we were just talking about losing comedian Richard Pryor and heck it just a year ago I recall getting that painful phone call from Red Alert telling me that Justo Faison who was the deejays biggest advocate was killed in a car crash. Thats an awful lot of people who have meant something to us to be passing all within a year. Sadly I know I forgot a couple and I didnt include those who were close family and friends, like my cousin Michael who was like an older brother.

Again Im laying all this out so that we take this to heart and strive to make the most out of life and try and make life for those around you betterPlus I think its important that we always take time out to reflect on those who pass. I mean really reflect and not become so hardened that we see these passings as routine. I also think we need to be honest with ourselves about whether or not we actually gotten over the passings of people from a few years back.

Ill be honest its going on 10 years and I still think about 2Pac. I recall missing Rob One when we were at his tribute. The death of Jam Master J is still fresh in everyones minds. Many still mourn over Biggie. Those loses are still being processed by many of us and it gets harder and more complicated because we get hit with all these others

As we were sitting here dealing with the passing of DJ Dusk I got word that another LA legend passed away. Michael Mixxing Moore who used to spark the airwaves with his trademark Militant Mix on a number of radio stations including KKBT. This brother was all about taking Hip Hop and using it as a tool to spark social change and bring consciousness to those who needed it most. He wasnt the first to play speeches over break beats and dope Hip Hop instrumentals. But he was among the first to do it with an unmatched focus and determination to wake folks up at a time when radio was starting to dumb people down.

Im not sure what lead to Moore’s passing. Dude was only 46 years old and I hadnt spoken to him in quite sometime. I know I got hit up on Myspace and asked to be his friend. That was on Thursday or Friday of last week and in retrospect Im not sure if it was Mike or one of his peeps. I just recall getting his email and I said soon as I get back to LA, Im gonna give dude a call. He was a big part of LA history and just never got his props. By Saturday he was gone.

Because of Moore’s militant, uncompromising stance on important issues, he wont get the shine that others will get. No one should forget him getting a helicopter and dropping flyers calling out KKBT and accusing them of being racist during the Summerjam back in the early 90s after he had a huge falling out with them. No one should ever forget the passion in that exuded when he spoke about wanting to wake folks up. He was a mentor to many including DJ Mark Luv who heads up LAs Zulu Nation chapter. Damn I wish I could find copies of his militant mixes. He made his mark and should not go unnoticed. May he RIP.

damusmith-225Lastly we need to make a moment of silence for an activist who set the standard and never wavered from speaking truth to power. Damu Smith out of Washington DC may not get the accolades and praise that we have given to some of our fallen Hip Hop heroes who have passed on, but Damu was a giant figure among giants. He was known all around the world.

The work that he did and continued to do up to his recent passing where he advocated for Peace and Justice with his organization Black Voices for Peace is such that it helped elevate us all. In fact when you look at what Damu Smith stood for damn near all of his life, youll note that he championed causes that have led to so many untimely deaths. Damu was about spreading Peace and promoting both spiritual and physical health.

He was the type of cat who was knee deep in the battles along the environmentalist front. Talk about beef. He was the type of cat that fought tireless in places like Louisiana and Mississippi and throughout the south demanding that unscrupulous companies not use our neighborhoods as toxic dumping grounds. He wasnt some tree hugging hippie type. He was focused on getting rid of the dangerous toxins and chemical plants that was directed at many of our communities. Damn I wish I could run down everything this cat did. This man was an incredible organizer. And when he spoke he lit up the room. Damu was one of those cats who really set the standard because he walked the walk and talked the talk and he was humble. There were very few contradictions and discrepancies with him.

The sad part about Damus passing is that because of the dumbing down we have going on in urban radio and throughout a lot of urban media in general, he wont be given a moment of silence. No deejays are gonna play his speeches or talk about his life. Hell be one of those unsung heroes who one day well realize we came this far because of the work he put in You can peep more about Damu Smith here: www.damusmith.org/

So many deaths in so short a time I cant help but think and feel that God is asking for each of us to step up our game. Weve lost so many of our heroes to violence. We gotta do more then say RIP and play a few tribute songs. We lost so many to bad health and disease, and yet many of us are continuing down the same unhealthy paths that have taken our friends and loved ones. Many of us are not spiritually fit. We say we love the people who died but how many of us take the time and effort to carry out the sound ideals and solid effective work of those we so admired? All this is a jarring wake up call. Either we wake up or start doing the right thing or well soon find ourselves doing a lot more tributes…

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How Radio Continues to Dumb Down Blacks in Los Angeles

http://www.eurweb.com/story/eur26174.cfm

original article-may 05, 2006

One need only to look at the recent booting of John Salley of “The John Salley Block Party” on Radio One’s KKBT-FM (100.3) The Beat and the chosen replacement of Dallas based personality Tom Joyner, to see the crisis in black radio in Los Angeles.

In the nations second largest media market that is home to almost one million blacks, there is only one daily talk show that focuses on issues relevant to blacks in Los Angeles and unless youre up at 4:30 a.m., you miss it. And this is not a plug for the Front Page on KJLH, but it is what it is.

Please tell me that I am not the only black person in Los Angeles to notice the gradual yet progressive downward spiral of black radio into meaningless banter by obsolete personalities who are solely focused on their own lives and use four hours during morning drive time to tell you about it. And if its not the Chatty Kathy personalities then its the celebrity who has a new movie, television show, album, video, ring tone, sneaker, or whatever that just wont shut up.

Then theres the issue of community news, you know news about issues relevant to you and me. Well, thats just about disappeared too. If radio stations read news, its usually Associated Press or City News copy that wasnt written by us and usually doesnt pertain to us. How many black radio news reporters do you know of? Off the top of my head I can only come up with one, Jacquie Stephens.

Lets be clear here. There are only two black owned radio stations in Los Angeles, Stevie Wonders KJLH and Radio Ones KKBT.

KJLH gets a pass simply because they are home to the only daily black talk show in Los Angeles and they actually have a black reporter that goes out into the community to report our news. However, KJLH would do better by moving the Front Page into the Home Teams time slot and vice versa.

Radio Ones KKBT has been a constant disappointment for years. I didnt think they could go much lower after hiring Steve Harvey but then they hired John Salley and made a fool of me. It was a bad move to nix then KKBT personality Dominique DiPrima, but Da Poetess has been trying to hold it down over there for the community.

Consider this. Spanish language radio disc jockeys were the moving force behind the mass numbers of people in attendance at the pro immigration rallies and marches. They told their people where to go, when to be there, what to bring with them, and the people came.

When was the last time John Salley, Big Boy, or Cliff Winston told you to attend a rally in support of an issue that was important to blacks? My point exactly.

Illegal immigration is all everybody is talking about these days, everybody except you know who.

So imagine my own surprise when I found myself tuning in to KFI 640 AM of all stations to get briefed on the latest immigration news. Notoriously known for being Los Angeles conservative talk station, KFI has been the only station in Los Angeles to really address immigration in a language that I can understand, English. And even though I dont always agree with their points of view, I can appreciate a station that is actually willing to at least talk about the issue. It was KFI not a black radio station that first asked blacks how they felt about illegal immigration and had blacks call in to the station to voice their opinions. Go figure?

Someone reading this article is going say, Well, these stations play music. Their focus is not news. That may be true, but if its a black station, we should also be able get our news from them as well. I dont expect KFWB News 980 or KPCC 89.9 FM to do a special broadcast on community news specific to blacks, although it would be nice. I do however expect stations that cater to this community to address the issues that are important to us and provide us with comprehensive news that we can use to educate ourselves.

Who was voted off of American Idol the night before is irrelevant when we are in danger of losing a community like Leimert Park.

Somehow I just dont think a Dallas based radio personality who has no connection to the community is who we need on the airwaves in Los Angeles. Its just a hunch.

# # #

Kennedy Johnson is a black writer who lives somewhere in Los Angeles. Kennedy can be reached at johnson_kennedy@hotmail.com.

The State of Black Radio

An instrumental part of the immigrant rights supporters mobilization was the cooperation from Spanish language media. What is black and urban radio doing in Los Angeles to educate and mobilize blacks on the issues? Or should they be educating the community?

Confirmed panelists include radio pioneer Lee Bailey of eurweb.com, KJLH Public Affairs Director Jacquie Stephens, and 100.3 The Beat Community News Director Poetess. Invited guests include Eddie “El Piolin” Sotelo of Radio la Nueva.

Join the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable for a candid discussion on the state of black radio in Los Angeles Saturday, May 6, 2006 at 10 a.m. at the Lucy Florence Coffee House located at 3351 West 43rd Street in Leimert Park. For more information, please call (310) 672-2542.

Saturday, May 6 at 10:00 AM at the Lucy Florence Coffee House.

3351 West 43rd Street in Leimert Park Los Angeles
$5 donation
All Proceeds Benefit the Educational and Community Engagement work of the the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable
501C-3 Non-Profit
information, please call (310) 672-2542 or visit www.laurbanroundtable.org.

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