December 18, 2001
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.
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...
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: email@example.com