It may come as a surprise to my readers to learn that my preferred style of music is not hip-hop. Neither is it at the bottom of the list, that place is secure in the possession of anyone who perpetrates the accordion. Hip-hop can, occasionally, be rather good. There are a vast array of musicians from all over the world who present their messages in their own style. It is a vibrant, creative and exciting musical form, just not always to my taste.
What intrigues me about hip-hop is how it exemplifies much of mainstream artistic culture. It is hypocritical.
The most revered political figure amongst musicians is Che Guevara. Rage against the Machine proclaim Guevara as their ‘honourary fifth band member.’ Never mind his penchant for personally executing those fellow rebels who had the temerity to disagree with his interpretation of the revolution. This is the man who attempted to ban any musical expression which he thought imperial in nature and a threat to the revolution. This is the man who described blacks, who make up a high proportion of hip-hop artists, thus, “The Negro is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.”
Then we have the situation in Iran where the paranoid ayatollahs in charge of the theocracy have decided to ban hip-hop. In their crusade to eliminate anything western they have decided to crush hip-hop. This is hardly surprising. What is surprising is the silence of the hip-hop community.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran government censors must review all music before it is allowed to be released. Routinely hip-hop artists are refused permission to record or perform their material. On 7th November some artists were attempting to make a record in secret. The abandoned houses near Tehran where they were recording were raided by police. Recording equipment and musical instruments were seized and the men and women found on the premises carted off to jail.
The response from the hip-hop community? Silence. Quick to rage against the harsh imperialism of western democracies there is no rush by artists in the $300 billion industry to the recording studios when they are faced with genuine persecution. Yet more hypocrisy from the ‘cutting edge’ and ‘courageous rebels’ in the artistic and entertainment industry.
Ah well, at least they don’t play accordions.