Hip-Hoperation Earth

by Professor A.L.I.

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“The earth in revolution, returnin’ to a point before the humans’ devilution” –these are the last words off of Hip-Hop-E, in which the E, if you haven’t figured it out yet, stands for the Earth. My solo career as an artist (which began with the Carbon Cycle Diaries LP, and was followed by the Emerald Manifesto LP) has consistently been inspired by our planet; Mother Earth and her fate remains my muse because this is the narrative that most perplexes me. Carbon Cycle Diaries was “a call to planetary arms” and Emerald Manifesto laid out a plan for permaculture, noting that hope for our planet was possible if we followed a path of regeneration.

Regeneration requires the engagement of an entire generation. Currently this type of action happens sparingly, in pockets, localized in particular regions—yet it isn’t a global call. The planet is not engaged in this, because every step we take, corporate interests to maximize profits, or political parties focused on trying to maintain a semblance of governmental control have undermined the scale of the larger movement and while we have days like Earth Day to remind us of our duty to the planet or drought induced policy changes (at least in California), these are drops in an ever diminishing bucket and the hope of Emerald Manifesto led to the creation of Hip-Hop-E.

The Emerald Manifesto lays out a plan – in the face of our wasteful ways… 

On Hip-Hop-E, I engaged with the idea that we are the problem and that ultimately, it is not the earth that must evolve but that we must be cleansed, so that the earth can hit the reset button. I remixed a feature from Sadat X to use for a hook, and engaged with the idea of the planet returning to a point before we destroyed it, using its own mechanisms to cleanse the disaster we’ve made during our stewardship of it.

This is a shift from “Eco-Rap” that KPFA labeled my music as back in 2011 and it’s a huge shift from songs like Earthsong featuring Blue Scholars. It isn’t invoked by cynicism but an epiphany from study of various texts, religious, spiritual, predictive and scientific and the theme that emerged to me is our insignificance and our hubris to believe otherwise as a species.

By hubris, I mean the belief that we have the ability to damage our mother irreparably and to further believe that her fate is with a savior that is also us. It was this second point that made me pause wholly and reconsider the dominant narrative. What if we were not caretakers, but germs, that needed to be cleansed? Yes some of us were like good bacteria, helping the host body, but the vast majority of us were like laboratory-produced strains of Ebola—hence the metaphor of an inevitable apocalypse.

Is it so hard to believe? We send so much junk into the universe, inject it into the veins of our mother and subject the very life essence of this planet, the water to waste that makes panacea turn poison and we expect that “Chickens won’t come home to roost”? This was the mental frame of mind in which this song was written… and it contains a quote from my late brother, Malcolm Shabazz, quoting his own grandfather, Malcolm X—and I agree with him—and of course I am frightened. I am fearful for my family and friends and our entire race, because of the inevitable karmic Armageddon we have invoked. My hope is that we somehow come to our senses and engage in a planetary paradigm shift, perhaps its not too late… yet here we are & here it is:

I’m not the only planetary Hip-Hop “Raptivist” or artist—nor did I create this genre but like my brothers from Earth Amplified or Sustainable John, I’ve definitely put my voice behind it—for this Bhooma Devi is our mother, and we are being held hostage by her other rebellious sons and daughters, along with her and this is how we voice our frustration. Peace to my fellow Hip-Hop Eco-Raptivists and Green Hip Hoppas… Peace to the Earth and those who cultivate her, hoping to regenerate what others have destroyed and Peace to all the Shamans, Priests, Imams who congregated and lead their congregation in planetary healing prayers and paradigm shifts in action. PEACE.

Asiatics and the Knowledge Resurrection

#HipHopEd

#HipHopEd

Above all else, I am in-equivocally an Asiatic Black Man.  Dravidian (Tamil) & West Indian narratives from my paternal and maternal respectively, coupled with a National Geographic DNA test that shows markers that link me with my brethren from Papua New Guinea, the Aboriginal human being from Australia & Tasmania, the Andamanese and other Dravidians and ultimately East Africa.  Along with the rest of my global black community, I am what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad would have called an “Original Man”.

Sharing this narrative was important for me to do for two important reasons.  First, it’s important to establish the motivation behind my weaving of this narrative into the oral storytelling of the song “Asiatics” featuring Planet Asia and understanding that it comes from a space of authenticity.  The second is to understand that the piece and the idea behind Asiatics its ultimately engaging in knowledge resurrection, knowing, in Foucaultian fashion that knowledge is everywhere and is layered, and that what we see is merely that which is erudite and accepted by the current systems of power and therefore cannot be a universal truth and can be, at best, one interpretation.

The knowledge I speak of, is that of “origin”.  Where do we originate from?  Why does our shared knowledge point us towards Europe, Athens or Rome then to the Crusades and the Renaissance, Empire, Colonialism and Global Conflict as defining settings for the narrative that answers that question–in spite of the insurmountable evidence of our African origins, of Black Athena, of the African wealth that fueled Rome, and the whitening of Jesus after the Crusades and the Renaissance, of the wealth of Africa that empowered the West and continues to… I mean is that coltan in the phone or tablet you are using to read this on?  Asiatics, therefore questions the accepted narrative and postulates that true knowledge, i.e. knowledge of self, that comes through deep inquiry and digging beyond erudite systems of information reveals a broader, more universal truth.

The irony is that this argument is put forth through Hip-Hop, an artform that reaches back into a method of preserving narratives in the shadows–such as the various oral traditions that ultimately come together in the Bronx, N.Y. in 1972 coalescing into a paradigm shift, essentially forming a new intelligent movement–a “hip” “hop”, which initially, before being co-opted for the most part, preserved the narratives that were discarded by the status quo and protected the truth brought to the surface by scholars like Frantz Fanon & Stokeley Carmichael, leaders like Malcolm X and Kwame Nkrumah and by activists like Assata Shakur and Fred Hampton.  Hip-Hop took that truth and retold it, keeping it alive, while crack & heroin flooded the urban community and Blackexploitation manipulated the image of Blackness, so recently rediscovered into one akin to the Jim Crow narrative–ultimately creating a new psyche, one which again re-oriented the Black Human towards Europe and Eurocentric framings.

This is why I reached out to Planet Asia, an artist who has been dedicated to the preservation of HIp-Hop as intelligent movement, in spite of corporate pressure to shift it into something devoid of intelligence altogether.  Planet Asia is an artist I’ve admired and as a fellow West Coast Muslim M.C., it felt appropriate and two years ago we put together a project that spoke to the youth in an African-American Literature course I was teaching at the summer at U.C. Berkeley.  It was almost as if Planet Asia was guest lecturing for the project and the song Asiatics was born from it, a remix of the original joint that created a back-and-forth conversation that conveyed the message that truth lay underneath the surface and that knowledge was key.

This is Foucaultian, Intelligent Movement to the fullest, this is in the words of my sister, Aisha Fukushima, “Raptivism” of the mind–it is Hip-Hop to the core and moreover it is Hip-Hop-Ed… a genre that was created because they have hijacked Hip-Hop with the likes of Iggy and Drake…

P.E.A.C.E.

A.L.I.