Wednesday, August 27, 2008
The Great Debaters Vol. 1 Rhymefest vs. Killer Mike
Pro-Chicago blog Fake Shore Drive is starting up a new series called The Great Debaters where they're inviting rappers to engage in debates with Chi-Town's own Rhymefest. The first guest of the series was Killer Mike.
This discussion sounded very interesting as both seem to know a lot about their surroundings and have great analytical skills. FSD founder Andrew said that this one was a random phone conversation that turned into a debate, which is why this one is typed out. The rest of the series will be streamed audio. Here is the convo...
I. Haterville. Economics or just Hate?
AB: So Mike, you were at the Ozone Awards a few weeks ago in Houston, right?
KM: Of course I was, I’m from the soooooouth.
AB: Okay, well you know that Chicago is referred to, by some, as “Haterville”, and a lot of people claim we don’t support our artists here. However, in the South, it seems like there’s a lot of unity and camaraderie – at least that’s the way it’s perceived in the media. But at the Ozone Awards it seems like chaos with all the fights and what not
KM: In the south, there’s always going to be internal squarmishes. Shit, it goes back years and years – Master P and Pimp C was beefin’. 10 years ago Suave House and Rap-A-Lot was beefin’. But in the South it appears we are able to rebound from our beef quicker – we get off that bullshit a lot quicker and get back to making money quicker, and it usually don’t take a death. We have gangs in the South, be we aren’t as married to the principle of gangs like in Chicago. See down here, we tend to call racism what it is, so we tend to self-segregate. If you put a bunch of us Southerners in Chicago, we probably ain’t gonna seek out Lake Shore Drive – if we comfortable in our neighborhood we gonna stay there. We ain’t gonna go out and try to mingle without our people, so our problems have to be worked out a little quicker.
AB: Fest, what are your thoughts on the unity in the South versus up here?
Fest: I think it’s interesting, some of the things Mike said. Some of the things I agree with, but one thing I don’t agree with – was “Man, if people down south came to Chicago, we probably wouldn’t go to Lake Shore Drive or leave our comfort zone.” I think that’s one of the biggest problems with Black people in this country is that they suffer from the ignorance of not knowing what’s outside of our community. Like a lot of us don’t know of programs that are available to us, like scholarships, because we don’t go out of our comfort zone. Look at Bill and Melinda Gates. Bro – they had a $1 billion dollar scholarship fund for black inner-city kids, and hardly anyone signed up for it, so they shut it down. We need to go outside of our comfort zone and not be confined to our own hoods
KM: Let me jump in here real quick. A lot of times you’ll hear me talk about “self segregation”. That is not the same thing as being afraid to leave your comfort zone. What I was referring to when I said “We probably wouldn’t go to Lake Shore Drive” is that in my city, we have a true Black upper, middle and lower class community. In the South, we’re self segregating and keeping a dollar in the community when we really need to.
Fest: And go to black to vendors and buy white products…That keeps the dollar in our community.
KM: I didn’t say the dollars didn’t leave our community, but that it turns a few more times within our community. Because that keeps jobs in the community.
Fest: Yo, yo, you saying that, but if you look at the statistics, the South has the poorest black communities in the country. So how does that apply? You’re not saying Atlanta, you’re saying the South as a whole. If you look at South Carolina or Mississippi or Alabama – dollars aren’t turning in those communities.
KM: Dollars are turning in Alabama, because Mercedes are made there. South Carolina has a burgeoning industrial and manufacturing based economy, so money IS turning there. The south is no Utopia – but there is more room for growth in the South. You’re not going to grow Detroit, you’re not going to grow Chicago or Harlem – because they’re already gentrified!
Fest: That’s not true, bro. That’s not true. In fact, industrial and manufacturing jobs are depleting in America, while the technology profession is booming. Unless, Mississippi or Alabama can incorporate those jobs for our people, I can’t agree.
KM: What you don’t understand is there is a Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum, there is a Children’s Civil Rights Museum, a Children’s Museum and there is the High Museum of Art, who through September is hosting a Civil Rights portrait exhibit. But 9 out of 10 black parents haven’t taken their children to ANY of these places. So instead of leaving my community to see the bigger world, I’d rather see the bigger world inside my community
Fest: I believe we suffer more from not knowing what’s outside of our community, and I think that’s the problem. We can’t keep justifying ignorance.
II. Chicago Hip Hop vs. Southern Rap
AB: Let’s switch it up for a second and talk Chicago Hip Hop vs. Southern Rap. (Fest and Mike immediately begin quoting various rappers from their region)
Fest: You know what I heard Kanye say on a single!?!? “And the white man get paid off of all of that”
KM: That’s a great line. But Kanye also said he wants head from a white girl!
KM: Oooooohhhh...Okay I see how this is going
Fest: So you wanna go negative line for negative line? I’m not gonna get into the misogyny, because everybody is guilty of that. But if you’re looking for something you can grow from the most, line by line, you can’t say Jeezy is above Kanye.
KM: See, that’s your thing, if you’re going to use Southern rappers as examples, you’re always going to put Jeezy, Wayne and Boosie on display. Hold up – there ain’t nothing wrong with them – I listen to these guys, I’m friends with these guys, but they’re the new gangsta rap. How about I pull said something like, well “Bump J talks about drugs”, “The Speedknot Mobstaz talk about gangs”, “Do or Die talks about pimpin”. See you can’t do that, because Chicago is a more beautiful music experience than that.
Fest: Yo, you know when you can say that? You can say that when Chicago radio, or Atlanta radio play and embrace Bump J or L.E.P. the way they do Jeezy and Wayne, because those two are the ones who are really influencing our shorties and the youth in America, besides Kanye.
KM: Actually, what’s influencing your shorties more than ignorant music or gangster rap is not the presence of it , it’s the absence real role models. It’s the absence of the role models when they wake up in the morning, or the absence of the role models they see in the classroom everyday.
Wayne is from a city, that before Katrina, had a 74% black poverty rate. Jeezy, and this ain’t to let no cat out of the bag, is from a small rural town in Georgia. So my thing is, how terrific is it, that a boy can make it from that small of a town, come to Atlanta and musically takeover. That’s a great story!
Fest: That is a great story – I just wish it would be told more often. This ain’t about Jeezy, or Wayne, or Boosie because I’m not even speaking to them. It goes beyond the South. It goes to New York, the West Coast, wherever, and my thing is, the ignorance is prevalent in the absence of positive role models, which is the enemy of our people.
KM: But my thing is the South has only been on top for four years. Four years! We haven’t been around long enough to pollute the water! That didn’t start with us! That started in the 90s! Cash Money would’ve never rapped about jewelry had Biggie never rapped about platinum and jewelry.
Fest: That’s not the problem! Because then I’d have to go back and say I didn’t like Kool G Rap, I didn’t like the Geto Boys, I didn’t like NWA. I’m not saying that! I’m not saying negative or gangster rap is the downfall of our children in America. What I will say though, is that there’s no longer a balance between the positivity and the negativity. It used to be that I could listen to Scarface, but guess what, they’re gonna play Rakim right after that. I can go and listen to Too Short, but they’ll play A Tribe Called Quest right after that. Now, there’s no balance.
KM: If you look at most southern rappers who are successful, they walk in the room with a $70 pair of jeans, $5 white tee and a $60 pair of sneakers – with a chain, hat and sunglasses. Every successful “so-called” conscious rapper is usually rockin’ a $400 shirt, $600 jeans and some sneakers that regular people can’t pronounce or obtain. Who really reflects the value of the people?