Since I first heard about The Coup last year, I’ve gained more and more respect for Boots Riley the more I listen and learn about him. Today he posted a very interesting article about racism and its economic underpinnings that I think does an excellent job of showing the true source of most of the inner city violence in the U.S. I just recently finished reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and I think Boots points out a lot of similar problems Malcolm X does in his life story, one of which is that often times it’s the bourgeois black leaders that are misrepresenting the issue as much or more than the white ones, which I find very interesting, and unfortunate.
As an educated and aspiring socially aware citizen of this country, I have to admit that I have had (and still sometimes have) some reservations about the violent subject matter of a lot of rap music, but I think it’s reading and thinking about stuff like what Boots wrote in that article that has allowed me to be OK about the stuff that some rappers talk about in their music. Boots never fully excuses the violence, and neither do I, but he does make those kinds of actions and decisions understandable, and helps me admit to myself that I can’t say with any certainty that I wouldn’t be involved in the same lifestyle if I was put in their situation. It’s not admirable, in and of itself, to be violent towards your fellow human beings. It is admirable to find a way to survive in a system that is stacked against you, and that’s the message and the lesson I get out of a lot of trap/thug/gangsta type music I listen to. It’s a shame that some people just see the surface level of that message and emulate it, but like I said in this post, if the conditions weren’t already in place for a person to be influenced to commit violent acts by listening to music, then the music itself would be harmless.
We should also never forget that there are PLENTY of rappers that aren’t talking about that stuff all the time, and we should be thankful for them as well for offering their perspective. Thanks for the enlightenment and inspiration, as always, Boots.
The Coup – Hip 2 Tha Skeme