This anonymous letter landed in my inbox about a minute ago:
After more than 20 years, I’ve finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning point in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I’ve simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren’t ready for.
Between the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practice I’ve ever seen.
The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialize beyond their circle. Based on their behavior and formal appearances, they didn’t seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn’t find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn’t the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I’d like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn’t talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who wear kicked out of the house but I didn’t remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realized I’d probably be jeopardizing more than my job and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.
As the months passed, rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies when more than happy to capitalize on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.
I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90’s, having the internet as a resource which wasn’t at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labeled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalization of rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviors which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of rap music realize how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.
“Never fit a dress to the body but train the body to fit the dress. ” _Elsa Schiaparelli
The True and Living Art and Justice Tour is an opportunity for youth from Baltimore City to travel the country using art and media as a tool to promote social justice. The group will create a documentary disecting the role art play in social justice. The tour will culminate in the Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team competing in Brave New Voices, an internaitonal poetry competition.
Understand the role art & media plays in the pursuit of social justice
Build connections with youth doing similar work in various regions
Create opportunities for youth to share their talents with a broader audience
Develop skills in: networking, community organizing, public speaking, research
Develop a consciousness of issues and solutions that other areas & groups face
The ‘art & justice’ tour is the Tubman City Poets in action. By engaging in an intentional tour of the East Coast & Midwest, these young Poets will, on a national level, champion the cause of Social Justice.
Our goal is aggressive (as is real change) and it cannot happen without your help. Please donate whatever you can.
The True and Living Art and Justice Tour is being organized by American Friends Service Committee, Griot’s Eye and The Baltimore City Youth Poetry Team (under the umbrella of dewMore Baltimore-a program of Fusion Partnerships)
Ok people, I was sitting in my Living room, Yes a real one and I was flipping channels and came across this show called Guy Code on MTV2. The people on the show are so funny. They discuss topics with women and men and how men and women usually behave in certain situations. As a matter of fact the episode I saw was about relationships, and these are some tidbits that were shared; you decide if the followings things are true or false:
___ Guys would rather spend time with their significant others than their friends.
___ Guys disappear from their friends when starting a new relationship.
___ Eventually that new relationship will become an old relationship.
___ Guys wil forfeit the game to pick their significant up from yoga practice.
___ Guys will only buy you a drink if they are in a relationship with you.
___ Guys will say if a person asks what is this? The Guy will say, It is what it is.
___ Guys must answer a question with a question to not answer the question.
____ Having relations for the third time signifies a relationship.
___(PDA) Public Display of Affection happens when your having a great day with your significant other.
___PDA is marking your territory.
I wouldn’t take their advice but the show is funny and filled with comedians. Once in a while there are some AHA moments but if your looking for a good laugh you might want to check it out.
El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz aka Malcolm X
May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965
I wonder if Spike Lee has cointel papers as wallpaper outlining the insides of his house
What if Denzel Washington was closer to George Washington embarking marching a generation of neo intellectual plantation slave agents across the waves of poison processed Potomac hair follicles astrological philosophical debacles
What if Linwood X was Judas bumping futuristic rap music
hand in yo pocket using the movement’s very blueprints like rifles
aimed at Christ’s most promising disciple
no more then icing on the cake of history’s fakest debates
so when I write slice mics like a wordsmith wolverine
X genes encoded in my rhyme schemes
faiths fallacy I am fate the future laced in my palms
spirit of the honorable Elijah Muhammad tossing knowledge at your face
but your tongue is too numb to the taste to speak anything opposite
of the hate created by hate
it seems we often have a hard time seeing the humanity in our hero’s
we are all filthy field Negros picking at one another’s insecurity’s
like cotton in the sun chained to our own beliefs
so we speak what we know not and believe whatever where told to think
drowning in 2nd hand biographical ink
while information changes more hands then coke deals
but deeper still much deeper still
the truth has been premed to the root since youth
spiritually stripped of its nutrients like black hair
Medea molesting Madam CJ Walker walking trough your nightmares
tap dancing on split ends for ends baptizing your mind
in vicious Christian dogma and yellow 5 got you running with closed eyes Americanized trying to wash away your own thoughts like hot relaxers
cause if knowledge and wisdom was rhythm you’d probably drop the beat like hungry rappers and start snitching to master
but what less would you expect from devils in the flesh
spit the truth with my dyeing breath Slangston X
slice out my tongue and drop the message on your front steps
Central intelligence agencies and federal burres of investigated bureaucracy pulling plagiarized Isis pages out the pentagons basement co-signed by Arab masons
the bastard child of orthodox Islam and Lucifer
getting butt fucked by the ghost of J Edgar Hoover
No need for sharp shooters when double barrel shots guns are aimed at close range
hi fiving white Jesus in the bleachers singing glory hallelujah
with no soul like it’s regal
bullets raining down from on high like fire on your pain
Nigga fuck the government I aint never scared
but the government is scared of to many free black people
But where still too afraid to see what’s true cause there is no Luv 4 Self if you hate my reflection because it looks too much like you… hmmmm
Maybe where too late or perhaps it’s too soon to assume
that professor X I’ll just walk in the room
Manipulated mutated metamecha miracles the reincarnated voices of hung slaves singing negro spirituals resonates through Fard Muhammad’s empty tomb while the sound of Nat Turner’s shot gun rounds can be heard
echoing off the walls of Malcolm X’s hollowed out bullet wounds
While his daughters shed bitter waters inside of a lonely mosque
at the foot of their father’s cross outside bombs are going off
Korans tossed like hand grenades in the direction of a transparent Zion
and you can hear Betty Shabazz crying streams of fire from Sunni Muslim eyes
cause its hard to tell truth from lies when false gods redefine holy lines
in the name of the most high
Celebrated deflated pride amputated black fists still trying to rise
In a racist society designed to keep its subsidized dichotomy trapped inside
the “Theology of Time”, tick tick tick all rise all rise
let the messenger’s hands rise
like Mosses holding off army’s beneath Mt. Sani at night
Armageddon is canceled!!!
Cause we need more balance of analysis
between truthful statements and bloviated intellectual masturbation
ejaculating with lack of fertilization on the square foundation
perhaps there’s not enough “Art” and to much “Conversation”
So they’ll probably try to murder me on the mic for my rhymes
then dig me out the grave to be killed a second time
but to much truth was produced from the “grass roots” of my scribes to
“Reinvent” eternal life
If you’re father was a martyr and your mother is a whore then there just isn’t
any way to ignore the fact that you’re dead on the inside
I seem to sense an X gene in your president’s bloodstream
Beyond the enigmatic x’s and o’s of sankofa sports scrimmages
so warfare gets declared between images and immigrants
while hustlers work 24/7 to feed fiends and receive no healthcare or benefits
ask Reagan, now that’s “taxation without representation” on your decedents
so the “white news media” reacts blame it on “crime by blacks”
and 30 year old ghetto grandmothers who sip on yak while singing the blues
“police brutality” and “mob violence” choreographed by “white liberals and Jews” confused bloody ballads of hysteria, bite the bullet and cast a ballot rather than face the challenge of “race war in America”
niggez bitching about snitching when “housing conditions in black communities” are already reminiscent of prisons
ridiculous politicians roosting chickens
and it’s a fact, that there can never be a “united black front”
as long as our streets are still divided by crack
now where’s the “resurrection” for your spiritual relapse
Christ cast demons out of swine and turned water into wine
so I guess that makes it divine to dine on spear ribs
and live as functional alcoholics
and you’ll still find “crime inside of a gentrified Harlem”
where the black mans muse reads the news and sings the blues in front of Langston Hughes’ house starving
and the headlines read like an apocholiptic drama
Miley Cyrus, Kanye and Osiris, Lady Gaga smoking ganja with the Ghost of Osama
Justin Bieber twitters Martin Luther Kings dream was cool but Lil Wayne
had the best diamond incrusted slave chain of all time, of all time!!!!
Word to Elijah Muhammad’s baby mama’s minister Farrakhan strapped wit a suicide bomb in the shape of an X etched across his chest bear hugging Obama
while Castro is shitting in his pajamas hunted by the ghost of every dead Kennedy
and Manning Marable riding a “Pale Horse” named selective memory
headed for the white house under a secret identity
FREE MY NIGGA, FREE MY NIGGA, FREE MY NIGGA MUHAMMAD
while time magazine imposes upon Malcolm Shabazz the Second
to stand next to the window posing holding the M1 just like his grandfather
soul stolen cameras flashing like cannons blasting mic left smoking
no words of solidarity spoken
black helicopters dropping doctrines of mass destruction over Mecca
and Harlem’s lungs just exploded
and all that was left was a poet overdosing on HOPE holding his chest
bullet holes in his text… I AM SLANGSTON X
I have been so absorbed in the digital aspects of sharing that I have to open up my living room to you about this one. Research has found that most of our TV shows that we love to watch are being analyzed by social media. YES! when we tweet or comment about our shows it goes into a Social TV analytics program that gives out information about who is number one and who is done. It also ranges in categories of reality shows, sports and movies. Here are the sites if you want to take a look and you can join these sites to take part in the social media ratings party. There is one called bluefin labs that tells you the number one brand, show and network. Here is the link https://bluefinlabs.com and the other link is to Social Guide I like this one as well http://www.socialguide.com/join.
Talk to you later from my Digital Living Room.