Thursday, September 27, 2012

Note: Defects of the total or expanded form of value, labor, and hip-hop.

"It is true that the completed or total form of appearance of human labour is constituted by the totality of its particular forms of appearance."

Karl Marx, Capital, page 157.

Substitute "hip-hop" for human labor.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Notes Toward a New Synthesis of Hip-Hop

I have been sitting on these for months now, constrained by time and my own underdeveloped ideas.  I need help.  All ideas and written works are a collective product and I have no idea why I haven't asked for assistance before.  I have been doing a close study of Marx and the broad communist tradition on organization for two years which has helped to create new categories of thought as well as to refine old ones.    The original and second versions of the Theses on Hip-Hop were too underdeveloped and influenced by orthodox Marxism to go much further than the positive contributions they made without a more thorough study of Marx.

1.  Activity/Labor/Use Value (not "Culture") - While we might casually describe hip-hop as a "culture," it is far more consistent with its essence to see it as an activity; an activity that is historic in nature.  By historic we mean that it rests on the shoulders of the social activity of previous generations of people and is not something abstract, fixed, or eternal.

Positing hip-hop as an activity as opposed to a culture allows us to see it in its all-sidedness.  Hip-hop is both influenced by the activity of people just as it shapes that activity; it is a dialectic.  Seeing hip-hop one-dimensionally as influential (for example, that it makes people violent, misogynistic, or materialistic) abstracts it, places it above society and beyond the control of everyday people.  The educator must be educated too.  On the other hand, arguing that hip-hop simply "reflects" society or mass activity also takes it out of our control; our control to consciously and critically shape it in a way that fulfills what Marx called our species-being, that is, fulfillment of our ability to modify external nature to suit our needs and wants according to our own conscious activity.

This practical-critical activity is labor and hip-hop cannot be anything but labor because it produces a use value that satisfies a need.  By labor, we don't necessarily mean wage labor though the use values of hip-hop has certainly and inevitably been commodified and so has the labor power of those producing it.  Rather, we see it universally, both in its degraded form under capitalism and in its potentiality to be free of the division of labor that is capitalism.

One consequence of seeing hip-hop as an all-sided activity means that our ability to change is dependent upon our ability to organize collectively and struggle against capitalism.  Either side of the one-sided approach means either determinism, that is, hip-hop is what it is and there's nothing we can do to change it, or individualism, which usually means let's put out a rap album against misogyny.  While the latter is fine, in and of itself it cannot challenge the social basis for misogyny: the patriarchal division of labor under capitalism.  This requires mass organization and struggle of female and male-bodied people.

2.  Foundation - The foundations of hip-hop lies in the destruction of welfare state capitalism and the recomposition of the American and, later, global working class.  This restructuring meant the uprooting of productive industries to the US and global South which formerly employed Black labor, the breakup of militant working class activity and political organization, the gutting of social services so that the working class take on a larger burden of its reproductive costs, the militarization of neighborhoods of color to ensure compliance and quell resistance, and the massive incarceration of the black population that is seen as unwanted labor.  

This was done in order to raise the rate of profit.  

This of course fell on Black workers with a certain intensity as they were already a part of the division of labor that was either unpaid or paid below its reproductive costs.

3.  Subjectivity - The story of hip-hop's origins is not esoteric anymore.  Many of us may not know it but a lot of us know some of the places, personalities, and periods that set it in motion.  Though it began in the South Bronx among Black youth, many of them from the Caribbean or had folks from the same, before it was a household name it quickly grew to absorb other layers of NY working class youth, foremost among them were Puerto Ricans.  They were often dismissed by Black hip-hop youth, though through their experiences with white supremacy, they knew they weren't white.  In hip-hop they saw something that they could embrace as their own; they could seize it and enlarge it through imbuing their own experience and therefore give it a larger totality.  This is the real story of hip-hop: groups of people who take forms of hip-hop, innovate on those forms, and as such expanding its content.

Just like PR youth in 1970s New York, hip-hop has seen the absorption of other subjectivities, black queer youth in New Orleans, white trailer parks in the Midwest, the wards of Houston, the favelas of Brazil, the open air ghettoes of Palestine, the Banlieues of Paris.  It takes on forms such as gangsta walking in Memphis, turf dancing in the Bay Area, krumping in L.A., etc.

Is hip-hop “just” artists?  Yes and no.  

In a sense the exclusivity of being an artist has been broken down as more and more people use forms of hip-hop to express their species being and where the artists are no longer just pop icons or those aspiring to be.  Hip-hop is constantly being democratized both by new forms of technology such as YouTube and freeware production but also by the forms of hip-hop itself.  By that it is meant that to do or to be hip-hop does not require formal musical knowledge and ability but merely the desire to do it.  Here is where many who don’t understand hip-hop make the claim, “anyone can do it.”  This is true and it is this that is partly the power and peculiarity of hip-hop, though like any other form, it has its masters and journeymen.  As stated in point one, hip-hop is an activity; not the exclusive activity of artists but the exclusive activity of humans under a definite social development.

4.  Politics - Hip-hop taken as a whole has no logical and coherent set of politics--it never did and as it grows it will be more and more difficult to discern.  The most we can do is deduce general sensibilities and possibilities, mass and informal forms of politics, based on the broad activity of hip-hop.  What we can consistently observe from hip-hop’s beginnings to its most advanced and modern forms is a rejection of official institutions such as the police, the courts, and the whole bureaucracy of the State.  More explicitly there is the rejection of the white supremacist forms of these institutions as can be seen not only from the litany of lyrics of artists from all periods and subgenres but by the very folks who connect with the music.  The experiences of Black people under white supremacy in the post-civil rights period has to an overwhelming extent informed hip-hop.

At another level there is a rejection of culture that is associated with white supremacy and so the language, dress, and mannerisms of multiple layers of the hip-hop generation and multiple subjectivities within it have tended to defy what is considered normal and proper.  This has come with a contradiction where many of these “counter” cultural aspects have been commodified and made acceptable back to certain layers of white society.  This is not unique to hip-hop but unique to capitalism.

Where hip-hop has tried to cohere a set of politics it has been lackluster.  Hip-hop has so far failed as an independent political project.  It has been recuperated by bourgeois and non-profit forms of political organizing and activity.  

We have seen hip-hop mayors and presidents and a stratum of individuals that have gone into official political life but they have been met with disappointment and disillusionment at every step, if not cynicism from the outset.  Certainly with the 2008 election of Barack Obama there was a genuine interest in official politics but this collapsed with his acceleration of the crisis that it was hoped he would halt.

The non-profit organizations in general are themselves the result of the privatization and looting of social services beginning in the 1970s and the attempt by the ruling class to regulate the extension of services to those who defer to the logic and priorities of capital.  They have been confined to teaching the activity of hip-hop within a narrow, culturally conservative (four elements) and politically liberal framework.  Furthermore, the NGOs have used hip-hop to legitimize the present system by encouraging youth to stay in school, to defer to authority, and where it encourages action it is channeled into bourgeois forms such as petitions, voting, and safe forms of protest.

Outside the NGOs, you have the cultural organizations, some going back to the earliest days of hip-hop while others have emerged in more recent years.  These organizations are not only out of touch with the present hip-hop generation but they have determinedly attacked it (save for those whose activity is confined to antiquated forms).  Their problem is, in their fetishism of the four elements, they were unable to make sense of the subsequent changes hip-hop underwent as a result of its own contradictory development as well as its struggles against official society.

The most far left of hip-hop expressions is confined to the production and performance of radical music.  The emergence of such forms of hip-hop in the mid-80s to the early 90s were intertwined with two key mass experiences.  1)  The anti-apartheid solidarity movement on black campuses and campuses with sizeable numbers of black students where campus struggle and organizing for divestment from the South African regime renewed conversations about the value of forms of nationalism and communism.  2)  The uprising of Black and Latino workers in Los Angeles in 1992 helped to politicize a subjectivity that had long been in incubation since the demise of Black Power.

As the 90s and Clintonian New Democrat politics progressed and these experiences receded into the background, the remaining political rappers and those inspired by them became not only more marginal but more conservative in their understanding of the content of hip-hop.  Since 2007 we are living in an increasingly politicized world with the worldwide capitalist crisis, the assault on the global working class, and the forms of struggle that have emerged in response.  Necessarily we’ve entered a new incubation period where hip-hop can begin to assume forms that are an outgrowth of the period.  But we should be clear that it will not be or look anything like the forms we saw in the last epoch of struggle--those that continue the old forms will have no currency with this generation.  

We should also be careful about where we’re looking for these new forms.  Radio, television, and the old terrestrial forms of communication likely will not be where we will find it, though their less centralized character 20-25 years ago was able to capture parts of the politicized hip-hop then.  Since then, the consolidation and monopolization of these archaic entertainment mediums reduces the possibility for any broad expression of hip-hop to emerge.  This doesn’t mean it won’t; we can only speculate.  Radical hip-hop was, is, and can be commodified and sold as can any other use value produced by labor.  But what we can say is that today hip-hop is as more comprehensive and universal than it has ever been while TV and radio are narrower than they have ever been (narrower in the range of hip-hop forms it expressed previously).  

Very few who produce radical music actually organize.  Though there has been some openings with Hip-Hop Occupies that have more proactively tried to tie the music into practical-critical activity, there has yet to be a conscious form of hip-hop organization that is class struggle based; that is, left of the Democrats and non-profits and that focuses on building mass direct action.  The best we've seen is class struggle organizations having a political hip-hop artist appear at an event and hip-hop is therefore turned into a spectacle rather than a mass activity.  I'll be happy to be proven wrong on this if such an organization exists.

Most marginally, there have been rightist forms of hip-hop, “hip-hop republicans” and assorted right-wing rappers but they are generally more of a spectacle than communist rappers.  Such hip-hop warrants very little discussion.

5.  Totality - Though "hip-hop" remains a contested word, we assert that what comprises hip-hop is a totality of contradictory tendencies and mass experiences.  Contradictory, because while hip-hop likely may not have been what is without its codification into four universally recognized elements (rapping, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti art), it has long  progressed beyond these elements into something for more complicated.  The four original elements of hip-hop are not its totality, not only in the sense of it not being limited to four forms of activity (the DJ, the MC, the breakdancer, and the graffiti artist and these forms of activity themselves have changed due to their activity) but also because the activity of hip-hop isn't just a trade, art, or skill.  Hip-hop is our lived experience necessarily extending beyond artists and informs the sensibilities of entire generations.

Furthemore, hip-hop isn't confined to formal recognition by those peoples and experiences which form part of its totality.  Some use the term "rap" or "rap music."  Though hip-hop emerged through the activity of South Bronx youth in the early 1970s, many who participate in the activity of hip-hop today have no memory or knowledge of this history.  In fact, many of the so-called pioneers of hip-hop have rebuked the present generation with claims that what we do and who we are is not hip-hop.  This conservatism and dogmatism is incompatible with the contradictory and historical nature of hip-hop.

Political and "conscious" rap are limited by the same tension as explained above.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Truth and Revolution, a History of the Sojourner Truth Organization 1969-1986 by Michael Staudenmaier

Though I never got around to the posts I had planned to publish this year I think it's worth mentioning the release of a new book that has been seven years in the making.  It is called Truth and Revolution, a History of the Sojourner Truth Organization 1969-1986 by Michael Staudenmaier.  Mike is a friend and comrade of mine and we met only days after I helped establish the Sojourner Truth Organization digital archive.  STO was a New Communist organization active in the 1970s and early 80s that prioritized workplace organizing and anti-imperialist solidarity in the Midwest with an emphasis on fighting white supremacy and workers' autonomy.

Just a few months later a couple of us started publishing Democracy and Hip-Hop inspired in large part by STO and their theoretical and political influences, i.e. C.L.R. James, W.E.B. Du Bois and Antonio Gramsci.  Of course, our main influence has been hip-hop itself--we weren't latecomers to a culture we didn't grow up in or understand and thereupon graft some ideology on top of it.  We were and still are hip-hop first and foremost.

Mike shared with us his project to write such a book and even gave us STO literature in the original (or copies where there wasn't one).  He was nice enough to plug the blog in the new book which means a lot.  I'm already half-way through it and it is such a comprehensive and critical treatment of one of the most dynamic, if not esoteric, militant organizations in the 1970s.  It is has been incredibly helpful for thinking about consciousness, organization, autonomy, relationship of militants to workers, etc. in actual circumstances.  I've already been familiar with key STO texts but to have them anchored in the group's lived experience has been very enlightening.

This is definitely a book I recommend to libertarian-minded militants out there.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Update for 2012

Hey folks,

So though the blog has been more or less idle for two years or more, I have some new writing in store for it; a review of albums and mixtapes from this year, a reflection on Hip-Hop Occupies, and, most importantly, a new and major revision of "Theses on Hip-Hop" written back in 2006 and last updated in 2007.  This last one I'm really excited about dropping on the world and I hope it generates good discussion and gives me and maybe others some new categories to work with.  My time is limited with much of it spent on organizing and political education and self-development, but Democracy and Hip-Hop will see new activity in 2012.  I'm super excited about it.  So check back with me soon!

--R.E.B.E.L. (new "bacronym" TBD)




Friday, June 03, 2011

Hip-hop latino y Frantz Fanon

Funkdoobiest
Latinohiphop.org es un blog que tiene videos hip-hop en español. ¡Yo miré tres videos anoche y fueron muy buenos! Mi grupo favorito latino es probablemente Cypress Hill, pero la mayoría no se piensan que ellos son hip-hop latino. Ellos fueron parte de la tradición de boom bap.

Latinohiphop.org is a blog that has hip-hop videos in Spanish. I watched three of them last night and they were really good. My favorite Latino hip-hop group is probably Cypress Hill, but many don’t think of them as Latino hip-hop. They were a part of the Boom Bap tradition.

So I know Cypress Hill did incorporate some Spanish references into their lyrical styles, but they didn’t deviate too much from the boom bap style (but in the last ten years or more they have begun to switch things up). Same goes for Beatnuts, Funkdoobiest (who were Puerto Rican, Chicano, and Lakota Nation), Lighter Shade of Brown and others who most don’t see as making specifically Latin@ hip-hop, though they were Latin@ themselves.

Latinohiphop.org really reveals the breadth of Latin@ hip-hop forms. While on the blog I watched a few videos from Chingo Bling, Choquib Town, and Sabor de Centro. It is clear that these artists have enlarged the content of hip-hop by giving it specific forms which correspond to their own regional and national cultures, yet it is also hip-hop proper insofar as it is consistent with rhyme and beat patterns that make hip-hop what it is.

The Latin@s who were part and parcel of hip-hop in the States in the 1990s helped to develop a kind of hip-hop known as boom bap, but why it it that we don’t think of boom bap as specifically Latin@? Why not all hip-hop for that matter since Latin@s were indispensable to it since its inception? Why is it submerged into the generality of hip-hop? Why is it that when they are cast within the specificity of Latino hip-hop it is done only because of their identity?

This question is complicated when we think of how much American Latin@s embraced black culture, most evident when hearing them use the word “nigga” as their own.

Cypress Hill is hip-hop, yet is also Latino hip-hop. Likewise, Chingo Bling is Latino hip-hop, but also hip-hop.

This dynamic makes me think of Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks who saw the limitations of embracing blackness to the extent that is predicated on negating whiteness. But to become fully human this negation must happen because the only other choice is to be white which is something black people can never become even when they try. So while blackness must eventually be transcended, it can never be in a world were human beings are branded black and others white.

It would be great to hear from my Fanon reading friends if the above narrative is consistent with the text and with Fanon’s dialectical method.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Viva Hip-Hop

Said, from La Haine
I have been inspired by an onslaught of new blogs and blasts of creative energy by friends and comrades and it is so soon having its contagious effects. It has spoken to my own need to write and to claim my own independent and semi-public space for reflection and creativity. After all, I gave up that creative aspect of myself when I traded in my turntables and beat machine for…whatever it is that militants use. Laptops? Books? Pencils? Notebooks? Not that being a militant can’t be creative.

For a few years the Democracy and Hip-Hop Project (D&HHP) was a space for myself, LBoogie, Rob, and others who contributed to think about the relationships of political struggle and organizing to that thing which holds so much fascination for our generation and for which we are indissolubly a part: hip-hop. The result has been a nice collection of notes and thoughts on questions that concern the meaning of hip-hop itself and I encourage others to look over some of it. At its best it was parlayed into student organizing where hip-hop was a form of presentation through flyers as well as a reference point in conversation with folks and how through it they interpret their lives and give expression to their resistance.

I’m currently studying Spanish at Austin Community College. I’m hoping it can help me find decent work as well as allow me to organize with folks who mainly speak Spanish. Spanish speakers have made very fundamental contributions to hip-hop, whether it be the immigrants or descendants of the Caribbean in America’s East or Chicanas and other Latina people on the Left Coast. It would be ideal if Militante de la generación de hip-hop could help facilitate some of that through writing.

I would welcome it, because the last two years I have experienced a disconnect with that part of myself that has shaped so much of who I have become. A lot of that has to do with being a campus organizer at UT-Austin where I have been in isolation from those sections of militant working class youth who took classes at Delgado Community College in New Orleans and where my partner LBoogie and I spent a lot of our time. Don’t get it twisted–the last two years have been the richest organizing experiences of my life. I have grown by leaps and bounds in relationship with some of the most dynamic young organizers I have ever met; folks I have built what I think will be lifelong friendships and many of them I straight-up consider family.

But there is a part of myself that needs expression and that can’t always find an outlet through those specific friendships.

Since there has been a lull in activity at UT around budget cuts and immigration, which I and folks I have organized with have put our collective energies toward, I have a bit more time to think about what it was I missed about Delgado, slow and drab as it was at times.

I miss debating the necessity of queer liberation through the lens of Bounce music, a form of New Orleans hip-hop where openly queer and transgender artists have fought and shed blood to carve out a space for themselves and their identity. I miss talking about the philosophy of Lil Wayne and about black liberation as it was understood by the generation which took part in the L.A. rebellion of 1992. I miss the communication and pedagogy that hip-hop can be. At at time when I wore my own “conscious hip-hop” blinders (which meant hating on other forms) a then-homie of mine corrected me, citing Common Sense, “but black music is black music and it’s all good, I wasn’t salty she was with the boys in the hood.”

I also just had a different relationship with folks at Delgado, not just because I was a student there but because I felt like there were common experiences students shared. I’m not a student at UT nor do I plan to be, but that isn’t the reason why I haven’t felt quite the same toward UT students (not that I think all UT students are inherently backward or middle class).

At UT, a lot of the folks who have been swept up in the struggle against budget cuts and defense of ethnic and gender studies oftentimes understandably base their relationships with hip-hop on specific artists and forms which are consistent with their own codified and systematized politics. And they want a hip-hop which affirms that. But with that comes a major misstep with what most other hip-hop means for folks who don’t think of themselves as political: its profound exposition of the conflicts and tensions within our very society.

This is nothing new and a good section if not the bulk of this blog has been focused toward these questions. I don’t wish to revisit those things–that work has been done. Rather, in my own transitional period into new areas of political work, I’d like to use this space to help me segue back into what I hope will be something more explicitly hip-hop in orientation. I don’t know if that will be a hip-hop community organization as such or if it will mean more informal methods for employing a hip-hop ethos into ostensibly non-hip-hop organizing.

Because being hip-hop isn’t largely about being a DJ or a dancer, it isn’t about being a technician or having a skill. Hip-hop is an activity which can’t be narrowed to someone with a CD with their name on it (although that is a valid part of it)–it is about how folks think and express their very struggles, sometimes open, usually passive or in retreat. As such, it lives with those of us who aren’t skilled or aren’t artists (in the formal sense at least).

But something happens when we consciously put hip-hop toward fighting and destroy white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. It becomes an aid in a critical kind of practice, a practice that critiques itself and improves itself. As I have said before, rarely do I turn to KRS-One for philosophical insight, but someone who thinks as much about hip-hop as he does is bound to get some things right. I’ll close for now with a quote from his song, “Hip-Hop Lives.”

‘Hip’ means to know, it’s a form of intelligence/
To be hip is to be updated and relevant/
Hop is form of movement/
You can’t just observe a hop, you gotta hop up and do it/
Hip and hop is more than music/
Hip is the knowledge, hop is the movement/
Hip and hop is intelligent movement/

Monday, July 26, 2010

GCL1 on History of Seattle Struggle and Hip-Hop Organizing

Just read a bio from hip-hop activist/organizer GCL1 from the blog Sheepskin Camo after he left a comment on Gathering Forces in regards to organizing street youth of color. I'm very, very impressed with his breadth of knowledge, experience, and perspective as it relates to hip-hop in particular and hip-hop organizing.

http://sheepskincamo.blogspot.com/2009/04/seattle-hip-hops-minister-of_10.html

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

D&HHP?

After four years since the blog began, never has it been this idle. We've always run into the very objective problem that we are first and foremost organizers. Though when Rob and I started the blog, we were taking a break from organizing to assess our political perspectives. Under such conditions, there's time to focus on cultural questions and being that we were both part of a local hip-hop "scene" and considered ourselves as part of the hip-hop generation (and still do) we were partly trying to validate a broader hip-hop that we felt was misunderstood by this scene and that had implications for the political content of a future movement. We thank C.L.R. James for that.

LBoogie's subsequent partnership with the blog two years ago helped to steer the blog in a more politically coherent direction, and as I began to organize again with her, as a place to consider the relationship between culture and organizing.

On both accounts, I think we've made our point. We have proven (not in words but through practice) the contradictions of conscious hip-hop, the value of popular hip-hop, that the contradictions of hip-hop music taken as a whole express the contradictions of our generation and that a change in the music MUST be based in actual organizing and movements, not by making radical hip-hop as the hip-hop Feuerbachians postulate. Yet, we have (or maybe I have) broken with the entertainment industry as completely subordinate to the will of the masses, that it is propelled forward by its own internal impulses and that those who dis "the industry" are simply conservatives, but are legitimately critiquing monopoly capitalism.

While we're both too busy these days to both keep up with the debates within hip-hop and to try to flesh them out in writing and, after all, it isn't really a blog when it only gets updated once every two months, fundamentally I feel like we've satisfied what it was we set out to do.

So, while I won't say we'll never post anything again, what I will say is don't expect anything. As it is, it can serve as an archive or resource for others who are thinking about what hip-hop means, who the hip-hop generation is, what are its politics, and what does hip-hop politics (not political hip-hop) look like organizationally?

On a personal note, I'd like to see less cultural revolutionaries and radicals and more organizers. Cultural work is important but it cannot be a substitute for building fighting organizations and campaigns. Those existing hip-hop organizations are too tied to foundations and the Democrats and so their politics are painfully liberal. Ironically, they are actually doing more than those that are making political hip-hop music. The other kinds of organizations are purely cultural, perhaps tacking on "social awareness" or a type of political education to teaching the arts of hip-hop.

There is not a damn thing wrong with that. It reflects a larger problem of a politically demobilized people. So while I hope to see hip-hop political organizations that forefront organizing and building campaigns and putting forward demands on bosses and college administrations, right now I'm trying to build with anyone who's willing to fight, whether they identify as hip-hop or not.

I love and have always loved hip-hop. I don't think hip-hop is dead. BUT, if hip-hop does "die," I will be the first to acknowledge it. For there is no culture but a culture born out of resistance to oppression and hip-hop's death will only make way for a more richer cultural form if hip-hop is proven to be incompatible with the social movements of tomorrow. But I'm not gonna sit around and wait for that to happen. I'm gonna seize the time and be a part of that which will be the basis for such a form.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Mainstream" Lyricism

Proof that "mainstream" artists can be lyrical heavyweights. Everyone here comes sick. And as a new artist, Drake hasn't come weak yet. I love this cat.

A few links while folks are waiting

Two recent links on Ernesto Aguilar's new blog about two different hip-hop films are worth checking out. At least one of them, anyway. Dirty States of America, a throwback to 2003 looks at the roots of Southern hip-hop music. I'm a little disappointed that I'm so late discovering it, but I'm excited that a documentary like this is available. For those on Netflix, its available for instant viewing.

A previous post is for a more recent (I believe) documentary that looks at the relationship of white folks to hip-hop, Blacking it Up. I gotta say, I'm not one bit impressed with either the concept nor the trailer. For one, its a bit of an afterthought. About 25 years after. Two, implicit through the trailer is that white folks are co-opting hip-hop music, an analysis as unsophisticated as it is disingenuous. It becomes all the more clear when two of the personalities who are interviewed are Amiri Baraka and Paul Mooney. Now, as much as I have a historical respect for these two, they are probably the most ideal people you can find who are completely out-of-touch with our generation's politics and sensibilities. In short, it looks to be a film that wants to lock white folks into their whiteness and very likely lets racist black and white intellectuals and pundits--who hate on all hip-hop and use it to point to black folks' supposed depravity--off the hook. And I thought Byron Hurt's documentaries were weak.