Malcolm X and rap music have always fit together like a needle in the groove, connected by struggle, strength and defiance. But three recent episodes involving the use or misuse of Malcolm and other black icons have raised the question: Has rap lost touch with black history?
No, because it’s just the next chapter. Malcolm X was essentially assassinated as a part of black gang violence, and now rap is black gang violence set to “melody” and “lyrics.”
Chart-topping rapstress Nikki Minaj provoked widespread outrage with an Instagram post featuring one of black history’s most poignant images: Malcolm X peering out the window of his home, rifle in hand, trying to defend his wife and children from firebombs while under surveillance by federal agents. Superimposed on the photo: the title of Minaj’s new song, which denigrates certain black men and repeats the N-word 42 times.
That came after Minaj’s mentor Lil Wayne recorded a verse last year using the civil rights martyr Emmett Till in a sexual metaphor, and the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons posted a Harriet Tubman “sex tape” video on his comedy channel.
What is happening to mainstream rap music, which was launched by Simmons and is now ruled by the likes of Minaj and Wayne?
“I don’t want to say today’s rappers are not educated about black history, but they don’t seem as aware as rap generations before them,” said Jermaine Hall, editor-in-chief of Vibe, the hip-hop magazine and website.
Caring about history, aka acting white. Leftist white people care more about black history than black people care about black history.
While previous generations had to struggle with the racism and neglect of the 1970s or the crack epidemic of the 1980s, Hall said, today’s young people have not faced the same type of racial struggle – “They’re sort of getting further and further away from the civil rights movement.”
Silly rabbit, tricks are for grownups. When you have no real struggles of your own, the obvious thing to do is to invent them. Photo ID to vote, Trayvon Martin, school-to-prison pipeline, achievement gap, food deserts.
Remember the reason that Malcolm X-Lax was peering out his window holding a rifle. That’s because he knew that the Nation of Islam, who he had quit and left behind not long before, was gunning for his head. The way this article was written, you would walk away thinking the FBI wanted to and eventually did assassinate him.
Jasiri X, a rapper whose music focuses on black empowerment and current events, said many of today’s mainstream rappers use images of revolutionary black icons to promote an anti-establishment image.
“All the while, they’re being funded and pushed by major corporations,” he said.
Otherwise, KKKrazy Glue loses its adhesive qualities. The people associated with “major corporations” that are funding them and pushing them and the (c)rappers themselves are trying to topple a common enemy.
“Mainstream rap music has lost its reverence for anything besides money,” Gray said.
Today’s rappers threaten to kill people who disrespect them, “but they sit back and let you disrespect our legacy, our culture, our history,” he said.
And that’s completely unlike the way it used to be. After all, Malcolm X lived a long full life and died of natural causes at the ripe old age of 85 back in 2010.