True Stories: Hip Hop in 2016 world still shines a light and offers solutions

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The dumbed down nar­ciss­ist­ic ver­sion of real­ity, con­tinu­ally fed to us by a cor­por­ate Media and polit­ic­al élite which move as one, is over­whelm­ing.

These mech­an­isms of power, and the dir­ec­tion they move in, simply reflect the agenda of an empire.

The mod­ern day emphas­is on mater­i­al­ism, per­petu­at­ing class divi­sion, and attempt­ing to jus­ti­fy illeg­al war, rep­res­ents the empire’s final attempt to seize the remainder of cap­it­al from those that have it, both abroad in the form of illeg­al war in the hunt for resources, and domest­ic­ally in the form of aus­ter­ity.

The MSM’s false, nar­row, and deceit­ful explan­a­tion for 9/11, provided the mil­it­ary indus­tri­al com­plex and those work­ing for it, with a jus­ti­fic­a­tion to keep man­u­fac­tur­ing and selling weapons, itself big busi­ness, and to then use those weapons to seize the land and resources of oth­er nations.

The eco­nom­ic crash of 2008, caused by fin­an­cial crim­in­als, became the excuse to enfor­ce upon the people class war­fare in the form of aus­ter­ity. With false reas­ons for illeg­al war firmly drilled into enough people’s minds, the empire has con­vinced people to sign up for eco­nom­ic slavery at home through aus­ter­ity, cut­ting edu­ca­tion, wel­fare, health pro­vi­sion, while attack­ing civil rights and liber­ties.

The empire so to speak, is the sys­tem of cap­it­al­ism, first built from free human cap­it­al dur­ing slavery, imple­men­ted through colo­ni­al­ism.  The so-called demo­cra­cies of the of the west, developed in the United States, Bri­tain and Europe, could not have flour­ished without the wealth accu­mu­lated through theft, slavery, and forced labor.

This empire has not yet been defeated.  While it’s clear that its power is dimin­ish­ing, as it dimin­ishes, in a bid to keep power, the viol­ent means used to keep con­trol stead­ily worsen.  Oth­er world powers are emer­ging, without the same imper­i­al ambi­tions as the empire, and the empire knows it.

This is the world we live in in 2016. The hall­marks of neo­lib­er­al­ism, war, pover­ty, eco­nom­ic ser­vitude, and the abuse of state power wherever it mani­fests are com­mon prob­lems that are affect­ing all of human kind to vari­ous degrees regard­less of col­our, gender, and faith.

It is in everyone’s interest to shape and seek out a bet­ter world for the future.

I believe that Hip Hop, and the art­form of poetry and lyr­i­cism, in their finest moments, become the most unri­valled and raw expres­sions of freedom and the human spir­it. You can feel Hip Hop like you can feel your heart­beat. Hip Hop can speak to you and for you.  Hip Hop is our life for­ce, It lives and breathes and tells ourstory and the stor­ies which are shunned.  It tells the true stor­ies.

True Stor­ies: Ques­tion the impact of the MSM on soci­ety

One of the most effect­ive ways of cri­tiquing soci­ety, and of offer­ing a vis­ion of the world as it might be, or could be is Hip Hop.

Music­ally, people might sug­gest the ori­gins are to be found in New York. The wider tra­di­tions how­ever, of res­ist­ance, story-telling, and of learn­ing from and remain­ing loy­al to our ancest­ors, have roots in Africa which have branched out all over the world influ­en­cing and devel­op­ing a uni­ver­sally loved art­form.

In 2016, the vis­ion of the world offered by the 1%, is sup­por­ted by a MSM con­trolled by the same cor­por­a­tions the 1% rep­res­ent. They push an agenda of mater­i­al­ism, racism, miso­gyny, war, and sug­gest that greed and money is equal to the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness and spir­itu­al ful­fil­ment.

Not every­one is buy­ing it though. The nar­rat­ive has and is being chal­lenged-and not from where you might think.  Recently, some of the most respec­ted names in UK Hip Hop joined forces with a group of young people to help cul­tiv­ate a new gen­er­a­tion of lyr­i­cists focused on ques­tion­ing the MSM and its impact on soci­ety.

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True Stor­ies, is a pro­ject and cre­ation of Amy True, who is ori­gin­ally from Craw­ley and is one of the UK’s most loved Hip Hop artists known as both a soul­ful sing­er and for her hard hit­ting lyr­ics which pull no punches and who encour­age oth­ers to Ques­tion Author­ity.  The pro­ject recently gave a group of young people the chance to be ment­ored, write lyr­ics, and per­form, along­side some of their favour­ite rap­pers includ­ing Amy her­self, Logic, and also Chester P.

“From a young age I have seen how main­stream media has swayed our way of think­ing, most of the time to some­thing neg­at­ive mak­ing us feel insec­ure, scared, and push­ing us towards an agenda of a few, who do not have human­it­ies best interest at heart.

As a ment­or I believe that sup­port and guid­ance is imper­at­ive to young people, allow­ing them to think for them­selves.  Many people are hurt and are also des­per­ate to achieve some­thing before they truly under­stand them­selves. This can lead to bad decisions and unstable found­a­tions.”

Speak­ing at one of the work­shops which were fun­ded by the Arts Coun­cil, and also at the final per­form­ance at Hack­ney Attic where the young people per­formed their writ­ten pieces to a live audi­ence, it was clear to me that the work­shops have had a real impact.

These young people were already know­ledge­able about the world around them, and already under­stood the rela­tion­ship between much of the nar­rat­ive pushed from the top down by the media and polit­ics, and its influ­ence on the way people think.

By the same notion, they know that inde­pend­ent thought and lyr­i­cism also has the poten­tial to influ­ence people, but pos­it­ively.  That’s why they wanted to work with the likes of Amy True, Logic, and Chester P in the first place.  These artists have used their music and the plat­form they have developed to call out and chal­lenge power to its face.  Fur­ther­more, they have attrac­ted hun­dreds of thou­sands if not more, of views and listen­ers on You­Tube and else­where as a res­ult.

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It’s telling that dur­ing the work­shops, and also in their per­form­ances the young people wanted to talk about and reflect pretty much every top­ic which they real­ised had been dis­tor­ted or ignored.

The media’s takes on the Lon­don riots, issues around race, war, pover­ty, aus­ter­ity, edu­ca­tion, and dra­coni­an pro­grams like the government’s ‘Pre­vent’ strategy were all sub­jects tackled and dis­cussed though lyr­i­cism.  When the media reflects not the truth, but a polit­ic­al agenda, the truth can be expec­ted to emerge through art as a cul­tur­al and neces­sary respon­se to the real­ity on the ground.

Beyoncé’s trib­ute to the Black Pan­thers recently, for example, while pos­it­ive, is sim­ple reflect­ing a real­ity cur­rently lived for people in places like Fer­guson.  The inspir­a­tion to pay trib­ute to the Black Pan­thers, them­selves an inev­it­able respon­se to racism, cer­tainly did not come from any cor­por­ate board­rooms.  Rad­ic­al­ism is an idea cur­rently exper­i­en­cing reviv­al and resur­gence in the United States, born dir­ectly of the eco­nom­ic and social con­di­tions exper­i­enced by many.

It is the same with the best of UK Hip Hop.  As power per­sists, and the struc­tures that sup­port it main­tain, more and more art, includ­ing Hip Hop will reflect the cul­tur­al respon­se from com­munit­ies opposed to such power-until such power dimin­ishes.

And it is encour­aging that at least some of the names revered in UK Hip Hop want to pass the torch on to the young­er gen­er­a­tion.

The per­form­ances from the young people, through both spoken word and rap cul­min­ated in a ‘True Stor­ies’ EP.  The True Stor­ies pro­ject will con­tin­ue, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be hear­ing from some of the recent gradu­ates again in the near future.  They have a lot they want to say, they know how to say it and why.  They know how to inform and enter­tain, and have been guided by some of the best.  Hip Hop can speak dir­ectly to the heart and stir emo­tions.  Ulti­mately, it is this human reac­tion, a rest­less­ness that spurs people into action, and often causes change in the world by mak­ing people think, and not simply accept things as they are.

Hip Hop will con­tin­ue to play an import­ant role in Lon­don, so long as the polit­ic­al status quo remains, which for the time being shows no signs of let­ting up. It has always delivered truth in the face of nor­m­al­ised viol­ence and polit­ic­al absurdity in the main­stream.

As one of the par­ti­cipants, Justina Efe Taylor expressed in one per­form­ance “The truth is a non-fic­tion­al story wait­ing to be heard”.  Not many people today would dis­agree.

True Stor­ies Ep is free to down­load on www.amytrue.bandcamp.com

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Richard Sudan

Richard Sudan

Richard Sudan is a Lon­don based writer, polit­ic­al act­iv­ist, and per­form­ance poet.His writ­ing has been pub­lished by the Inde­pend­ent, the Guard­i­an, the Huff­ing­ton Post and Wash­ing­ton Spec­tat­or, in addi­tion to oth­er news­pa­pers, magazines, and blogs. He has been a guest speak­er at events for dif­fer­ent organ­iz­a­tions ran­ging from the Uni­ver­sity of East Lon­don to the People’s Assembly cov­er­ing vari­ous top­ics. He also appears reg­u­larly in the media, and has fea­tured as a guest on LBC Radio, Col­our­ful Radio and else­where. His opin­ion is that the main­stream media has a duty to chal­lenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writ­ing poetry for per­form­ance at Brunel Uni­ver­sity, and main­tains the power of the spoken and writ­ten word can massively effect change in today’s world.

About Richard Sudan

Richard Sudan
Richard Sudan is a London based writer, political activist, and performance poet.His writing has been published by the Independent, the Guardian, the Huffington Post and Washington Spectator, in addition to other newspapers, magazines, and blogs. He has been a guest speaker at events for different organizations ranging from the University of East London to the People's Assembly covering various topics. He also appears regularly in the media, and has featured as a guest on LBC Radio, Colourful Radio and elsewhere. His opinion is that the mainstream media has a duty to challenge power, rather than to serve power. Richard has taught writing poetry for performance at Brunel University, and maintains the power of the spoken and written word can massively effect change in today's world.