Friday, April 29, 2016

Africa Bambaataa: Why it's Important to Stand Up and Speak Out

Those who know me well know that I've spent more than half my life in the underground Hip Hop circuit.  I am far from a house hold name though and I'm old enough that few will remember my very meager contributions to the underground music set.  I'm not a star.  I'm not an icon.  I've never won a Grammy.  I've never gone platinum or even gold.  For all intents and purposes I'm just another brother who loves Hip Hop.  That said, I love Hip Hop.  I love Hip Hop culture.  I love the music.  I am as close to a Hip Hop purist as you can possibly get.  It is for this reason that I am compelled to speak out on the allegations surrounding Africa Bambaataa of the Zulu Nation.

After receiving a phone call from a long time Hip Hop partner who lives on the west coast I have to speak.  After a DM conversation with another good friend a few days ago(who also lives on the west coast) I can no longer be silent.  After listening to an incredibly disheartening interview from on of Hip Hop's true fathers I can no longer hold my tongue.  Many people are going to take issue with some of what I have to say.  But this needs to be said and I need to say it.

If the allegations against Bambaataa are true(and there is strong evidence to suggest it is) then we who claim to love Hip Hop should be condemning this in the strongest way possible.  Child molestation is not something we should waffle on, mince words, or dismiss.  The dismissive nature in which many of us, particularly those of us who remember the Golden Age, is deeply disturbing.  The fact that many of us don't want to speak on this or when we DO speak on it we are downplaying it and dancing around it is, in a word, wrong.  Child abuse and child molestation is a crime.  The victims must live with the trauma for the rest of their lives.  This is not something we should ignore, look past, dismiss, or play down.  We must be direct and we must be straight up with our language.  What happened was wrong.  Period.  Full stop.

Recently I heard an interview with KRS-One.  Now before I continue I've long had a deep and powerful respect for KRS-One and Boogie Down Productions.  Their contributions to the game run deep.  KRS was the emcee you wanted to emulate.  His mic presence, lyrical ability, dedication to Hip Hop, and staying power is a testament to how important he and BDP are to Hip Hop culture.  So you can imagine my disappointment when he was asked about Bambaataa he responded "I don't give a fuck".  It was like being hit in the chest.  I expected KRS to speak loud and strongly condemn the actions of a child molester.  Instead, KRS displayed the type of dismissiveness I spoke of and almost seemed disinterested in the question.

We can't do that.  We can't.  Our voices must be loud.  Our voices must me strong.  Our voices must be direct.  As the elders of Hip Hop we owe it to the culture to speak out.  And we're not.  We're looking the other way.  We're being silent.  We aren't saying what needs to be said.  And wrong.

So today I'm going on record.  Because I cannot in good faith or in good conscious continue to pretend this isn't an issue.  Child molestation is a terrible, terrible thing.  Those who know must come forward.  Those who participated must be punished.  We must speak with one voice and say "We will not tolerate this.  This isn't Hip Hop culture.  This isn't what Hip Hop is about.  This.  Is. Wrong. 

I wont be silent on the issue any longer.  When asked, I will speak and I will speak loudly.  Thank you for reading.