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Wanted for Killing 3, Christopher Dorner’s Claims of Racism, Corruption Resonate with LAPD’s Critics

AMY GOODMAN: The city of Los Angeles is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer. Dorner is wanted in the three recent killings targeting fellow officers and their families. During a Sunday afternoon press conference, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the bounty.

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Remembering Jam Master Jay

All sorts of emotions are whirling inside my head and to be honest it's hard to believe Jam Master Jay [Jason Mizell] is dead...Dude was 37 years old, had a wife and three kids. I believe his oldest son is 15. And if you ever met Jay, you knew he was a cool cat. He didn't bring a gangsta persona to the table. He wasn't the type of cat who needed a bunch of bodyguards when he walked down the street. As far as I knew he wasn't living foul, causing drama or somehow instigating any sort of 'rap feud' which are all too frequent.

Jam Master Jay was a cool cat and it's for that reason I don't wanna do what we always seem to do when we encounter violent death... I don't wanna simply 'keep it moving' and act like him being killed is no big deal. It is a big deal. I don't wanna put a good face forward and stick the emotions of yet another violent death of another brotha in the back of my mind. There's been one too many deaths and I no longer have room in the back of my mind. I don't wanna fall back on old tired clichés and say things like 'death is a part of life' or 'when it's your time to go it's your time to go'. That don't cut it for me anymore. I don't wanna act like this doesn't bother me cause it really does. I don't wanna give into this unwritten code among us as black men to not be phased by violent deaths because it's an all too common occurrence.

I don't wanna hold a candle, pour liquor on a curb or go on the radio station and play all my Run DMC records and rebroadcast all my old Run DMC interviews. I don't want Jay's death to be reduced to yet another tribute. It seems like in the past two or three years we've been doing a helluva of tributes.

In the past couple of year alone we've lost Big Pun and DJ Screw out of Houston to heart attacks. Too Poetic of the Grave Diggaz passed from cancer, but he courageously recorded his last album while he had the disease. We lost Aaliyah to a plane crash and Left Eye of TLC to a car crash. We lost San Francisco pioneering rapper Cougnut and San Jose's D-Mac who died together in a car crash just days before the Sept. 11 attacks. Days after the attack we lost Boogie Knights of the group The Boogie Boys. Many of us are still grieving from last month's sudden death of Money Ray of the Cold Crush Brothers. He was diagnosed with cancer in August and died five weeks later.

And yo, I gotta be honest; I'm still recovering from the emotional upheaval of the sniper killings, which just ended last week. I'm still asking questions with regards to Kenneth Bridges, co-founder of Matah. Why did this community activist and community leader have to be killed? Why was it another brother to be the one to take him out?

I'm still trying to get over the haunting images of the distraught mother of the 35-year-old bus driver who was the last sniper victim. I'm still trying to process those heartbreaking images... I'm still asking why? I'm still asking why there are 94 murders in Oakland. And I'm really bothered by the fact that damn near everyone I know knows someone who has been killed in the past few years. And I'm still asking why we seem to take death so lightly? Why do we see life as so expendable?

I keep asking myself what happened to the promises and commitments we all made when we came together in '95 during the Million Man March? We promised to uplift and affirm life. What has happened since then? Why is loss of life no longer a big deal anymore? Why is black life so cheap? What are we doing to ourselves and why? What's going on? Will we ever get it together? Will we as black people ever get it together? I keep thinking about a song that poet D-Knowledge did a couple of years ago where he asks 'Does Anyone Still Die of Old Age'?

I don't know if we've been able to fully grieve and process all this death. Many of us are still left with unanswered questions. Why did this have to happen? It seems like as soon as we start the process we're hit with another sudden death, which means we wind up shoving a lot of feelings and emotions in the back of our minds, doing another tribute and moving on. This time around I don't just wanna do another tribute. There's just too many tributes to the point that it's becoming routine and that's bothersome for me. Jay's death and for that matter anyone's death should not be routine.

Maybe I'm feeling this way because I'm realizing that in many respects, I still never really got over the deaths of Pac and Biggie. There's really been no closure despite all the VH1 documentaries, articles, movie etc. This morning I was talking to my boy Pharrel over at Roc-A-Fella records and he pointed out something that really hit home. He told me. "I hope they catch the guy who did this. I hope they catch him because there have been way too many unsolved murders in hip hop."

I kept thinking about that and all these names that ran through my mind. Scott La Rock, Freaky Tah of Lost Boyz, East Palo Alto's Karisma, JoJo from Bored Stiff, Ray Luv's Dee jay DJ CAE, The Mac out of Vallejo, DJ Quick's partner Mau, Pac's homier, Yare "Kauai" Foal, Oakland's Seagram, 2 Pac and Biggie.. The list goes on...There's a whole lot of unsolved murders in rap and I don't care what anyone says, that lack of closure has an effect.

And while one can easily make the case that there's a lot of unsolved murders in our community in general, one would hope that we would be able to get to the bottom of some of these high profile slayings. The fact that we never seem to solve the murders of some of these artists the same way we don't seem to be able to solve the murders of 'Pookie' or 'Ray Ray' from up the block, underscores the notion that in many circles the loss of black life is no big deal.

It don't matter whether you're a high profile artist or a d-boy on the local corner in the hood. It's like we're expected to die a quick and early death. And even sadder is the perceived circumstances of our deaths are all the same. In other words, since last night I've been fielding a lot of calls from local reporters who seem bent on making this connection to JMJ's death with the deaths of 2Pac, East-West coast feuds and on going beefs in rap like Ja Rule vs. DMX and Nas vs. Jay-Z. This is not the Jam Master Jay I know.

It's like cats are trying to make the case that perhaps Jay lead a crazy lifestyle that somehow invited the violence that befell him. I don't wanna put JMJ in that category. Almost all the newscasts and stories I've heard end with reporters trying to make that connection. "Jay Master Jay like 2Pac and the Notorious BIG' is in a long line of rap stars who have died violently in a violent rap world." Heck CNN has a poll on their website as we speak asking who has the most musical influence 2Pac, Biggie or JMJ. As innocent as it may seem to some, there's something about that poll and the overall approach and questions raised that don't sit well with me.

I don't wanna say Jam Master Jay and 2Pac in the same breath. I don't wanna compare him to Biggie. I don't wanna say JMJ is in a long line of rap stars who died violently...Jay deserves his own space in our minds and hearts. We all need to take time out and reflect on Jay the musician, the pioneer, the man, the father, the husband, the friend, the associate and not categorize and compartmentalize him. I don't wanna see him reduced to another violent casualty in a 'violent rap world' as one TV reporter described it.

Before asking questions about hip hop and violence let's begin by asking 'Did you know Jam Master Jay?' 'How are you coping with this sudden loss of life?' Are you sad? Are you angry? How will you deal with it and what changes will you try to bring about? 'What type of man did you know JMJ to be?' What did he mean to the community? What did he mean to his family?' Words cannot express the hurt, sadness and anger I feel for this loss.

Please take time to hug those you love. It should be obvious by now, no one is promised tomorrow. Please take time to say a prayer for Jay's three kids and the wife he left behind. Pray for the rest of his family and friends. One can only imagine what they must be going through. Pray that God gives them strength to get through the pain of his death. Pray that they be comforted. Lastly take time to reflect and allow yourself to grieve. Allow yourself to heal. We've been hit with a lot of stuff over the past few years.

Hip Hop Culture Blamed Again

Headlines

The following is excerpted from a longer article that ran in Davey D's weekly Hip Hop newsletter:


This morning I get a call from my man Jahi who does a lot of community work in the Baltimore-Wash, DC area...Dude called me up this morning, and said to peep the article on MSNBC about the 'American Taliban' John Walker. This is the young white cat from Marin County here in the Bay Area who is accused of fighting American soldiers in Afghanistan.
"His family says the turning point may have come at the age of 16 when he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which describes the conversion to Islam of the famous black militant. Some Internet postings examined by NEWSWEEK show that young Walker soon became pretty militant himself."
Many are calling him a traitor and suggesting that he be charged with treason in the death of an American CIA agent who interviewed him hours before a prison uprising resulting in his death.

Well, just when you thought you heard it all... MSNBC comes out with an article that will soon appear in Newsweek called 'From Hip Hop to Holy War.' Apparently this kid who fought Americans as a Taliban soldier was a Hip Hop head. In fact he supposedly got introduced to Islam via Hip Hop. Young Jonathan Walker was a frequent visitor to Hip Hop websites where he often debated cats and even posed as an African American to take on various issues or issue his own statements. Homeboy questioned the sincerity of Nas and questioned why he considered himself a 'God' while smoking blunts and fornicating. Mr. Walker had lots of questions for the Five Percent Nation.

Here's a sampling of what I read on the MSNBC site..
"Walker discovered his passion for Islam online, after sampling other possibilities. At the age of 14, under the handle doodoo, he was visiting Web sites for hip-hop music with particularly crude raps on sex and violence. In one e-mail posting, he scorned a critic of hip-hop as a worthless d 'krider. In one e-mail at the height of his fascination with hip-hop, he appeared to pose as an African-American, writing, 'Our blackness should not make white people hate us.' But as he got older, he veered to a very different direction. He began visiting Islamic Web sites, asking questions like 'Is it all right to watch cartoons on TV or in the movies?' His family says the turning point may have come at the age of 16 when he read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which describes the conversion to Islam of the famous black militant. Some Internet postings examined by NEWSWEEK show that young Walker soon became pretty militant himself. In a 1997 message to a hip-hop site, he demanded to know why a rapper named Nas is indeed a God. ' If this is so,' Walker indignantly asks, 'then why does he smoke blunts, drink Moet, fornicate, and make dukey music? That''s a rather pathetic god, if you ask me.' He quizzes an online correspondent about the Five Percent Nation of Islam, 'a small North American sect' about its adherents vision of bliss and how to pursue it.' I have never seen happiness myself, ' writes Walker. 'Perhaps you can enlighten me ... where I can go to sneak a peek at it.' Selling off his hip-hop CD collection on a rap-music message board, he converted to Islam."
Peep the rest of the story to see what I mean.

Call me paranoid or call me being overly cautious, but my ears and eyes always perk up when you mention Hip Hop. This is the one art form from America that has spread out and been embraced all over the world. Hip Hop has always come under fire, so when it shows up in a Newsweek article with the details that it does with regard to this subject, I have to take note. Homeboy [Jonathan Walker] says he was introduced to Islam via Hip Hop websites, Hip Hop message boards and the Five Percent Nation. Does this mean all these outlets are going to somehow be blamed in some sensationalistic perverted way for this 'young' 'innocent' white guy who went to fight for the Taliban? If I hadn't seen such nonsense take place in other situations I wouldn't raise the red flag, but I have.

Case in point; many of you may recall the riots that took place at Woodstock a few years ago. Here we had a bunch of 'mosh pit' suburban kids burning down the place because the price of water was too high and in the process several females were brutally raped. I was reading various accounts and was shocked to find that several prominent news agencies somehow made the assertion that Hip Hop was the cause. They blamed the 'aggressive' rap meets rock fusion exemplified by groups like Limp Bizkit and the Redhot Chili Peppers as the driving force that caused these Woodstock concert goers to go berserk. So forgive me if I become concerned when I read about "little Johnny" out of Marin being a student of Hip Hop before moving on to the Taliban.

All this comes to light one week after the Federal Trade Commission starts heating up on the music industry. In particular, Hip Hop was cited as being irresponsible while simultaneously the FTC praised the movie industry for cleaning up its act. The FTC findings seemed out of wack and was described as a form of profiling. It prompted one Congressman Ed Towns [D-NY] to prepare a response. He, like others, knew what was coming. Hip Hop would be blamed for the corrupting morals and disturbing direction the entertainment industry had taken.

As crazy as it sounds, there are many who will be quick to blame 2Pac and not the 40 year old program director who decided to play Lil Kim or P-Diddy 15 times a day while not once touching a Talib Kweli. There will always be corrupting things out in society, so we have to seriously question the vision and intentions of those who consistently highlight and grant access. In my mind, it's a lot easier to hold accountable the handful of program directors, radio station owners and other media decision makers who program for millions than a 16 year old kid for writing 'bad' raps because that's all he heard on his favorite station 8 hours a day. However, that is rarely done. I guess it doesn't make for a sensational story and it doesn't make good business sense. After all, some of these offending decision makers work for the same media conglomerates that are busy criticizing rap. How ironic to hear a news commentator lambaste rap but never make mention that it's their boss who also runs the video outlet, radio station or record company that markets, promotes and profits from the 'offensive' material.

As I'm writing this article CBS News is reporting that homeboy was into 'hard-core' Hip Hop and this is what may have led to him being corrupted. Folks are now gonna start having a field day. This is the same CBS that owns MTV and BET which are often under fire for inappropriate marketing of images. For some who are reading this, this will appear to be funny or of no consequence. After all as I said earlier, Hip Hop being under attack is nothing new. But from my vantage point there are a lot of things suddenly being set into motion and going down because we are in extraordinary times. It seems like many elected officials, lobbyists etc. are pushing their long held agendas through without question because folks are scared and figure this is what we have to do because of the threat of terrorism...
"As crazy as it sounds, there are many who will be quick to blame 2Pac and not the 40 year old program director who decided to play Lil Kim or P-Diddy 15 times a day while not once touching a Talib Kweli."
Folks who have long had problems with Hip Hop will now use this time to attack and clean house. Now is the time to pass crazy laws and move forth all in the name of fighting terrorism. Remember folks, last year we reported how two New Jersey senators were trying to push legislation to prevent the sale of certain types of rap. We also reported how NYC had developed a Rap Task Force. We also noted how police departments throughout the country had begun keeping dossiers on artists and Hip Hop organizations. In some cases legitimate organizations were suddenly being labeled as gangs. Is the next step to start labeling them as terrorists?

With the passing of all these new laws that give law enforcement more power to do surveillance and keep people in check, the rebel spirit of Hip Hop will no doubt come under fire. After all if the argument can be made that it led to the corruption and traitorous actions of a young well-to-do white kid from the suburbs then perhaps its time to really clean up the business. The end result is that KRS-One will be seen with same lens as his 'gangsta rap brethren.' Boots or dead prez will be seen as deadly as Dr Dre and a Chronic album. Bambaataa and his Zulu Nation may be viewed as an organization linked to terrorism, especially if they have Five Percent cats down with them. Call it far-fetched, but stranger things have happened. I'll say this. It makes that Jay-Z vs. Nas beef seem down right petty.

Let Davey D know what you think of all this? Send your thoughts/responses to: mrdaveyd@aol.com
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