Commentary By Bakari Kitwana

Power to The Generation of Hip-Hop

The car that hip-hop author Bakari Kitwana is riding in

cuts north from Montauk Highway onto Sag Harbor Turnpike and vaults the

railroad tracks that divide Bridgehampton's tony neighborhoods from their

poorer cousin, where young men shift furtively on some street corners.

"Stop here," says Kitwana, a bespectacled, athletic 35-year-old, who earned

his chops as a leading hip-hop intellectual by writing two books and serving

as national affairs editor for Source magazine. "I'm sure I'll know somebody."

Sure enough, he does. Though Kitwana left the East End in his rearview

mirror when he graduated from Bridgehampton High School in 1984, people on the

street still know him...

Turning Rhymes into Votes

It's difficult for most people to come up with positive social attributes for hip-hop. Mainstream America views it largely as a disruptive force, one that represents a litany of social ills perpetrated by young people: disrespect for authority, glorification of violence and misogyny, ghetto-to-glamour materialism, and rampant drug dealing and abuse. When a teenager cruises by in a low-riding, tricked-out car, rattling and thumping with bass beats, few people see in trim or her the bright future of American politics.

But Bakari Kitwana does. He sees enormous potential for a powerful voting bloc among the "hip-hop generation," those born between 1965 and 1984. He believes young people, and...

Ivy League Hoopsters Rap Conservative Message

HANOVER, N.H. - HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — The conservative right has two big new additions. They wear Dartmouth green.

Josh Riddle and David Rufful are basketball players at Dartmouth College who have a rap act on the side, calling themselves The Young Cons and aiming to spread the words of Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan and "Atlas Shrugged" through music.

With G-rated YouTube videos and a burgeoning network of online followers, the conservative jocks have turned a prep school lark into an unlikely platform for their political views.

Their beats may not win any awards, but that's OK to them.

"It's just two young college kids who are attempting to fight some of the stereotypes we think young people have about...

For Clues on Teenage Sex, Experts Look To Hip-Hop

Hip-hop, with its suggestive lyrics, videos and dance moves, has long been criticized by public health experts and parents, who fear that it leads to risky sexual behavior among teenagers.

But it has never been clear whether there is something uniquely insidious about hip-hop or whether the problem is simply that most people over 40 just don’t understand it. After all, nearly every generation seems troubled by the musical preferences of the next; remember, Elvis’s gyrating hips were once viewed as a corrupting influence on the nation’s youth. To solve that riddle, public health researchers are deconstructing hip-hop culture, venturing onto club dance floors and dissecting rap lyrics. The hope is that by understanding hip-hop, experts can design more effective health messages —...

For Clues on Teenage Sex, Experts Look To Hip-Hop

Hip-hop, with its suggestive lyrics, videos and dance moves, has long been criticized by public health experts and parents, who fear that it leads to risky sexual behavior among teenagers.

But it has never been clear whether there is something uniquely insidious about hip-hop or whether the problem is simply that most people over 40 just don’t understand it. After all, nearly every generation seems troubled by the musical preferences of the next; remember, Elvis’s gyrating hips were once viewed as a corrupting influence on the nation’s youth. To solve that riddle, public health researchers are deconstructing hip-hop culture, venturing onto club dance floors and dissecting rap lyrics. The hope is that by understanding hip-hop, experts can design more effective health messages —...

When Rappers Keep Their Mouths Shut Tight

A fight erupts among acquaintances, words give way to violence and a bystander is fatally shot amid a crowd of onlookers.

Mr. Ramirez, top, was a security guard for the rap artist Busta Rhymes, bottom, shown at Madison Square Garden in 2004.

For investigators, solving the crime would seem simple enough: question witnesses, identify the gunman and make an arrest. But in this particular case, the killing of a security guard two weeks ago outside a recording studio in Brooklyn, detectives have run into a stubborn wall of silence. Among scores of witnesses, including the rap artist Busta Rhymes and a half-dozen hip-hop celebrities who were present at the filming of a video...

When Rappers Keep Their Mouths Shut Tight

A fight erupts among acquaintances, words give way to violence and a bystander is fatally shot amid a crowd of onlookers.

Frank Micelotta/Getty Images, bottom

Mr. Ramirez, top, was a security guard for the rap artist Busta Rhymes, bottom, shown at Madison Square Garden in 2004.

For investigators, solving the crime would seem simple enough: question witnesses, identify the gunman and make an arrest. But in this particular case, the killing of a security guard two weeks ago outside a recording studio in Brooklyn, detectives have run into a stubborn wall of silence. Among scores of witnesses, including the rap artist Busta Rhymes and a half-dozen...

A Political convention With Beats

THE political conventions will always be with us this summer. Or, at least, it will seem that way as the Republicans and the Democrats put on their quadrennial revues in New York and Boston. Then, there will also be the covey alternative conventions. But one political convention has already come and gone. And if you blinked -- or don't listen to rap -- you may have missed it.

The National Hip-Hop Political Convention was held here June 16-June 19 with the goal, according to its Web site, of creating ''a political agenda for the hip-hop generation.'' The phrase ''stupid white men'' floated freely throughout the four days.

The convention, according to its organizers -- a loose collective of politicians, writers and activists -- attracted 600 delegates and 2,300 others from...

Will the Hip-Hop Generation Abandon John Kerry?

John Kerry can claim to be "fascinated" by hip-hop. He can say he hopes to succeed Bill Clinton as our second "black president." But despite the naked pandering, Kerry has failed to connect with voters in the hip-hop generation — that is, according to the guy who invented the term. Author and activist Bakari Kitwana's take on Kerry's candidacy should be a sobering one for Democrats: Not only does it suggest a loss in November, it also forecasts the defection of young black voters from the party they believe has long taken them for granted.

"Historically, just watching the constant and repeated disrespect that the Democratic party has offered us... I just don't think they're serious," says Kitwana, who also predicts that a "shift is coming" in black...

National Hip-Hop Political Convention in Newark

A four-day national political conference kicks off today in

Newark to address the problems of the hip-hop generation.

Hundreds of conference participants are to discuss how to make young people

more politically active.

"We are using the ... framework of hip-hop as a rally cry for organizing

and mobilizing young people to develop a political agenda and get them involved

in electoral politics on the local, state and federal level," organizers say

on their Web site, www.hiphopconvention.org.

Bakari Kitwana, a co-founder of the organizing group called Hip Hop

Convention, said he expects 2,000 people to attend the...

Pages

The Huffington Post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - 2:45pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2012 presidential election ramps up, expect conservatives to keep gunning for black youth, in general, and hip-hop, specifically. Black youth showed significant gains in 2008, and now represent the group of 18- to 29-year-old who vote the most. Their ability via popular to inspire young voters -- who in 2008 voted for Barack Obama over John McCain by a ratio of 2-to-1 -- poses one of the most viable threats to Republicans' aspirations to retake the Ppesidency. The recent national discussion surrounding the rapper Common'...

Sunday, November 7, 2010 - 11:33am

Let’s begin with the premise that no people, culture, religious, racial or ethnic group is by definition immoral. Not acknowledging this, at the core, is the problem with Juan Williams’ gross generalization about Muslims that recently got him fired from National Public Radio (NPR). But if NPR’s “Fresh Air” interview last week with the rapper Jay-Z about his new book Decoded is any indication, it’s a message still lost on Terry Gross.

To be sure, Juan Williams revealed his bias by openly expressing his personal opinion. Terry Gross didn’t do that. Instead the bias is more subtle and...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 2:43pm

Originally published in the Huffingtonpost.com

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 12:32pm

As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.

Last week, the Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: "Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?" or as reporter...