Davey D's end-of-year hip hop awards

by Davey D, DaveyD.com

Top Five Low Moments in Hip Hop in 2007:

1) Hip Hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa was not voted not the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame this year. It was a big disappointment especially when you consider all that Bam has done. Here's a guy who helped spearhead the movement to turn gangs around and make them productive.

We all know the story behind the notorious Black Spades that routinely terrorized the Bronx back in the 1970s becoming first the Organization and later Mighty and now the Universal Zulu Nation. We know about Bam introducing Hip Hop not only around the world, but also introducing the early Hip Hop crowds to world music like Fela Kuti. Back in the days Bam was known as the Master of Records because of his wide range of musical tastes and influences.

We know that Bam was a positive force who used his music and popularity to raise money for Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress when South Afrika was under Apartheid Rule. We also know that Bam was the first in Hip Hop to do a song with James Brown. He later went on to push the envelop by teaming up with Punk Rockers like Johnny Rotten and later on Funkateers like George Clinton. This is just small portion of the many things Afrika Bamabaataa has done..

The Gas Face goes out to the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame and all those who voted. How can you not put one of the founders for the biggest music genres in the world inside the Rock-n-Roll hall of Fame? Talk about Disrespect

2) One of Hip Hop's lowest moments came in January of 2007 when the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) teamed up with the police to raid the offices of DJ Drama and DJ Cannon in Atlanta. It was a foul move when you consider that for years the industry especially on the Hip Hop side has depended upon mixtape deejays who usually at great expense to themselves have gone out and literally laid the foundation and blown up the careers of the artists they featured.

Mixtape deejays have long been a bigger asset then the marketing departments at many of these labels Drama and Cannon are the best of the best and too see and hear about their offices getting raided and them getting arrested was about one the lowest moments we had this year. In my opinion the motivation behind the raid was about exerting control, not loss of revenue.

Nowadays the RIAA wants to bring their gestapo tactics to the average consumer. They are now pushing a case through the court system to make it illegal for purchasers of a CD to copy music onto their computer. How low and how sad is that?

3)The death of soul legend and longtime James Brown sidekick Bobby Byrd. Folks within Hip Hop know Byrd best for the song 'I Know You Got Soul' which was immortalized by rap stars Eric B & Rakim.

4) The untimely death of Kanye West's mother Dr Donda West. For people who had an opportunity to meet her she was a down to earth incredible woman who had made name for herself teaching for 31 years in the Chicago school system. Many of us felt we knew Dr West personally because Kanye always talked about her and even wrote a heartfelt song about her. Our hearts broke alongside the young rapper when it was learned she died during a routine surgical procedure.

5) The sudden death of rap star Pimp C. He was an icon who was one half of the group UGK. They are credited with helping establish southern rap. When Pimp C wound up going to jail he sparked a two or three year campaign with fellow rappers and fans calling for his freedom. He was released this year and quickly made noise by giving colorful interviews where he spoke out against phony rappers who he felt were soiling the game and diluting the music. UGK along with fellow southerners Outkast had one of the hottest songs of the year with 'International Players Anthem (I Choose You)'. Pimp was on a roll and his death came as a huge shock to his peers and fans.

Top Ten High Moments in Hip Hop for 2007

1) Master P stepping up, apologizing to Black woman and making a promise to turn things around and release positive music. He came across as an esteemed elder statesman and repped us well during the contentious Congressional Hearings last Summer.

2) Byron Hurt's award winning documentary Hip Hop Beyond Beats & Rhymes which addressed misogyny in Hip Hop and forced us all to take along hard look.

3) The Paid Dues and Rock the Bells Tour. These two concerts sold out in many cities and let us clearly know that Hip Hop was alive and well inspite of dire predictions from so called experts and critics. The highlight of these tours was seeing all the great acts that now have stellar back up bands...

4) KRS-One, Lord Cashus D and the Chicago Hip Hop community that came out in full force and lit things up at the FCC hearings around the issue of media consolidation in Chicago. There were attempts to stifle voices but folks in the The Chi weren't having it.. Hip Hop was in the building. You can peep KR%S speaking at those hearings here:

Big shout outs are in order to the Seattle Hip Hop community who followed suit and came out in force at the FCC hearing there in November. 206 Zulu Nation members came through and let the FCC Commissioners know that Hip Hop folks were alive and active and very much against the type of dribble being offered up daily on commercial stations.

5) Watching Mos Def on Bill Maher show alongside Dr Cornel West speaking out and let the world know about the plight of the San Francisco 8 political prisoners. as well as the Jena 6. Maher tried to over talk Mos Def and throw all sorts of crazy arguments his way, but Mos swatted them away and went on repped for us real hard. It was a beautiful thing.

Check out the video here:

A couple of months later Mos Def showed up in Jena, Louisana to show support for the Jena 6 and then upon seeing that many of his fellow artists weren't there he went ahead an organized a nationwide school walk out.

A couple of months after that Mos Def came to San Francisco and put on a benefit concert to raise money for the SF8 who he feels are being unfairly prosecuted and railroaded for crimes they were aquitted of over 30 years ago.

Mos not only put on a full fledged 3 hour concert complete with a dope back up band, but he also held a standing room only town hall meeting in one the housing projects in the Filmore section of SF to bring attention to this issue. He had two of the SF8 on stage with him. Mos for President in 08.

6) In the same vein props goes out to Talib Kweli who started off the year by completing his Right to Return Tour which was designed to bring attention to the plight of those displaced by the floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Like Mos Talib did fund raising concerts and then held well attended town halls.

7) The Freedomland Project Out of New Orleans. Say what you want about the 504, but many of the artists from that area stepped it up and put in work to save lives at the height of the Katrina floods and many are on the ground putting in work now. The Freedomland Project pulled to9gether many of the city's grimiest artists and had them put together a heartfelt song that expressed the angst frustrations and hope they have in the aftermath of Katrina. The project and video are off the chain. Its a shame so many slept on this.
Check out the video and tell me that ain't fresh...

8) In the same vein we have to give it up to New Orlean artists like Sess 4-5 who not only dropped some lyrical bombs with songs like 'Stayed in the Ghetto' and 'Blackman', but he was one of those artists who has long put his money where his mouth was. When I was out there in August for the Hurricane Katrina Tribunal he was out there leading the march through the ravaged lower 9th Ward. He was out there standing tall with the people helping lead the charge to stop the recent demolition of public housing. We give Sess 4-5 The Unsung Heroe Award

9) Long time Hip Hop head and professor Jared Ball entering into the Presidential race. This past summer Jared Ball who is best known throughout the Washington DC area for his Freemix Mixtape Radio show announced that he would be running for President under the Green Party banner. He is our first Hip Hop presidential candidate. No, Ball doesn't get regular press on the nightly news,nor does he get quoted in the NY Times every week, but his ideas and concepts are so on point and resonate with all who hear him. He inspires hope and people should definitely give him a listen..

10) The formation of the Hip Hop Chess Federation in the Bay Area and witnessing Rza and his fellow Wu-Tang family members Gza and Black Monk take the championship for the federation's first tournament. Big shout out to long time journalist Adisa Banjoko who put this together. he brought together a gang of chess playing Hip Hop artists ranging from Casual of Heiro to Paris to pioneers like Popmaster Fabel to DJ Q-Bert to Raaka from Dilated Peoples to Sunspot Jonz of Living Legends along with martial arts experts and chess masters to go head to head in the ultimate thinking game. Things went so well this past summer that HHC is gearing up for a own's chess tournament called the Queens Invitational. Banjoko noted that its important to get people to think long term and if they're gonna battle, battle on the 64 squares as you comtemplate your next move opposed to having meaningless battles in the streets over nonsense. Check out Rza winning the tournament.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey