Q-Tip, the Gatekeeper

The following are a series of posts to Twitter by producer/MC Q-Tip, offering perspective as to why HipHop culture stays on guard for inauthenticity. The posts, in all of their unedited glory are, together with typos, etc., eloquent and articulate.

[Q-Tip is a member of A Tribe Called Quest, Native Tongues and the Universal Zulu Nation as well as a solo artist and producer of other artists.]
HipHop is a artistic and socio-political movement/culture that sprang from the disparate ghettos of NY in the early 70’s

Coming off the heels of the CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT and approaching the end of the Vietnam war it was a crossroads 4 America

specially for blacks in the US our neighborhoods were PROLIFERATED w/a rush of HEROINE

our school systems here in NY dungeon traps with light for learning

blk men some of whom didn’t return from tours of duty n the ones who did came w/war baggage (agent orange, addiction, ect..)

these men had families but due to these events and throw into the mix the public emasculation…

they proved to be handicapped parents. The surrogate parents? The STREETS

the streets of gangs, crimes, and the hustlers coddled us and swept us up

but! Being a spirited, rhythmic & expressive people music art dance outlined our existence

it proved a way for us to exhault to scream to dance to laugh and find OUR VOICE

we weren’t at the time skilled musicians as kids. We had records, turntables, ideas and INGENUITY

being natural chemist we took from whatever was availed to us and we created something mighty and special

we cut breakbeats back n forth we took a hybrid of Jamaican toasting along w/ radio jock rap( hank Spann, Gary Byrd, ect.) and

we put our rap down..

it was a neighborhood thing really. Black and Latino Kids were carving out their space and it became infectious

eventually Keith Cowboy coined the phrase hiphop . Yrs later the first rap record was recorded and now we r moving

but during these strides this country still had the monster of racism and racial insensitivity breathing and ruling

believe it or not young black n Latino lives specifically weren’t acknowledged in mainstream American culture unless Ofcourse..

the convo was abt gangs , being criminals or uneducated. And hey! Like I stated early our families were rushed our schools

sucked and we were left to put devices to survive

but HIPHOP showed that we had DEPTH, fire, and BRILLANCE

the music was undeniable! It moved from NY N became national and even GLOBAL

hiphop now was FOR EVERYBODY!! All of those who cld relate to the roots, the spirit, the history, the energy.. It reached YOU

it touched your spirit n took u up. We magnetized you! That’s what BRILLANCE does

now u are fulfilling your dreams … BUT!

you have to take into account the HISTORY as you move underneath the banner of hiphop. As I said before

hiphop is fun it’s vile it’s dance it’s traditional it’s light hearted but 1 thing it can never detach itself from

is being a SOCIO-Political movement. U may ask why … Well

once you are born black your existence I believe is joined with socio-political epitaph and philos

based on the tangled and treacherous history SLAVERY alone this is the case

it never leaves our conversation… Ever. WeAther in our universities our dinner tables our studios or jail cells

the effects still resononates with us. It hurts… We get emotional and angry and melancholy

did u know president Clinton was the ONLY PRESIDENT to apologize for it?

did u know that remnants of slavery exist today thru white privilege? When certain “niceties” r extended your way because of

how u look? Isn’t that crazy? I say this 2 say u are a hiphop artist who has the right 2 express herself however she wishes

his is not a chastisement this is not admonishment at ALL this is just one artist reaching to another hoping to spark insight

into the field you r in. I say this in the spirit of a hopeful healthy dialogue that maybe one day we can continue

I’ve been on twitter a long time and this will probably be my last series of tweets pretty much but

I’m Kool with it as long as I got to share this w u. Zzzzzzz’s up! Peace!

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“The War of Art” or “Why We Battle”

Inspired by the 25th anniversary of the Bridge Wars

In the early 21st century HipHop has begin to over shadow the typical evolution of youth cultures. A major reason for it’s longevity is that it has grown beyond being a simple ‘sub-culture’ or ‘arts culture’ with timeless art, archives and curriculum built upon the lessons that it presents at it’s most positive moments. However, the fame of hip-hop art and commerce is sometimes magnified through negativity. It would be misleading to think that persons of any culture would always have parallel or similar points of view, we are after all human. A culture such as HipHop is very opinion-conscious from who has the flyest style to who the greatest of all-time is. The GOAT argument, in pop culture, is reserved for rappers, but we all know who our favorite DJ’s are and who the graff writers and dancer are that inspire us. It is in the Hiphopper’s nature to debate, to battle, to “show and prove.”

The traditional arenas in which Hiphoppers bring the noise, the skills, the style are the party spot. Your crew is the crew that is the ONE to tear down the house, no matter what the media is. The DJ and his sound system, the MCs,\; the B-Boys & B-Girls ruling the floor; Did your crew do the backdrop or an installation? Flyers? Maybe it’s your clique tht simply threw the party and helped get the tape out of the headlining group. There is always another artist or crew out to push more and the most primal battles come at the center of the circle.

Before rappers gain the type of legendary status of commercial radio playing their major label releases… Before racking up the statistics and victories of big money contests… Before being crowned the king of your city or sector… A DJ or, much more often, an MC will battle their way out of their neighborhood or district. The tradition is rhyme for rhyme, schoolyard to block to park to party, but also getting recordings out and around because you also need money for resources. There-in is developed an instinct to be and fight for number one.

Rhyme battles have been fought epicly from day- or weekend long festivals, pay-per-view, live radio broadcast, on records and simply traditionally in a club open mic or cipher.

Detractors point to conflicts that have seemingly gone beyond musical and lyrical antics but no major incidents have ever been proven to be a result of “rap beef”. In some cases, conflict resolution and even alliances have resulted from conflict among rappers. In many cases, the music inspired by the feuds have become known as classic songs in the cultural cannon. Research some of the following [beyond my wiki gateway]…

South Bronx vs. Queensbridge – the Bridge Wars

Kool Moe Dee vs. LL Cool J

Scribble Jam

Red Bull BC One

Nas vs. Jay-Z

LL Cool J vs. Canibus