With RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta,
M-1 and stic inspired me to develop this College
Healing is work, not gambling. It is the work of inspiration, not manipulation. If we the healers are to do the work of helping bring our whole people together again, we need to know such work is the work of a community. It cannot be done by an individual. It should not depend on people who do not understand the healing vocation….The work of healing is work for inspirers working long and steadily in a group that grows over generations, until there are inspirers, healers wherever our people are scattered, able to bring us together again.
–Ayi Kwei Armah—
No matter if one relates R.B.G. with
Red Black and Green,
Revolutionary But Gangstas,
Redeemed By God,
Read Bout Garvey,
Revolutionary Black Gangstas,
Real Black Girls,
Ready 2 Bust Gats or
Riders Basic Guidelines, etc
We must know that the principles and guidelines were passed down from great leaders like Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X and Huey P. Newton. They must know that the RBG Family consists of real leaders that will forever ride for our Black and Brown People worldwide. The links in my signature take you to the communiversity’s primary website/ portal. The product is very intelligent so as you continue to play with it more will be revealed. It gets as smart as the person driving (from GED to PhD). Multi-Tab Learning is how one integrates the audio with their photo surveying and reading for rapid concentrated overstanding. The group blogs/articles in the portal are where the meat is. Presently, we have 12 websites comprising over 5000 RLOs (Reusable Learning Objects) and media assets all concentrically integrated and linked to hundreds of robust Afrikan-centered websites. The portal pilot enable you to access and navigate everything seamlessly.
In the words of Sekou Toure “to us, Revolution means the collective movement initiated by a group of men or by a whole people, and supported by their conscious determination to change an old degrading order into a new, progressive order in view of ensuring the safeguard and development of collective and individual interests, without any discrimination whatsoever. The People’s Revolution, to us, remains thus a collective consciousness in motion, and a collective movement guided by conscience and whose ultimate aim is the continued progress of man and the People.”
THE MAIN GOAL OF THIS SCHOOL IS NOT MASTERY OVER OPPRESSION. SUCH A GOAL, EVEN IF ACCOMPLISHED TO ITS FULLEST EXTENT, WOULD ONLY LAND AFRIKAN PEOPLE IN A VACUUM. RATHER, THE PREEMINENT GOAL OF THE RBG STREET SCHOLARS THINK TANK’S CORE CURRICULUM IS SELF-MASTERY BY WAY OF AFRIKAN-CENTERED CULTURAL TRANSFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF SECURING BLACK POWER. NONETHELESS, THIS GOAL MANDATES THE ACTIVE NEUTRALIZATION OF ALL OPPRESSIVE YOKES WITHIN AND WITHOUT THE AFRIKAN SELF AND COLLECTIVE. GIVEN THAT WE ALL ARE DECENDENTS OF A PEOPLE THAT WERE TAKEN THROUGH THE EUROPEAN’S EVIL GENIUS THREE STEP PROCESS OF DERACINATION, I.E. DEAFRIKANIZATION, DEHUMANIZATION AND INFERIORTIZATION, THE INDIVIDUAL SEARCH FOR SECURITY UNDER OUR PRESENT CONDITION AND THE QUEST FOR PERSONAL HARMONY AND PRIVATE SUCCESS AT THE COST OF BETRAYING OUR COLLECTIVE ASPIRATIONS FOR SELF-DETERMINATION REQUIRES LITTLE COURAGE, VISION OR RISK. SUCH EFFORTS ACCEPT THE SOCIAL ORDER (DISORDER) AS IMMUTABLE. BUT, IN ORDER FOR AFRIKAN PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO DEFEND, DEFINE AND DEVELOP IN OUR OWN IMAGE AND INTEREST; A NEW COURAGE, NEW VISION, NEW CONSCIOUSNESS, COMMITMENT AND CONDUCT IS REQUIRED. THE DEHUMANIZING ENEMY WITHOUT MUST BE NEUTRALIZED—AT LEAST PSYCHO-CULTURALLY AND SOCIO-MATERIALLY,JUST AS THE ENEMY WITHIN MUST BE EJECTED. NEITHER CAN OCCUR WITHOUT SERIOUS STUDY AND WORK THROUGH OUR OWN AFRIKAN EYES AND ORGANIZED TECHNOLOGICALLY SOPHISTICATED INDEPENDENT INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT. BOTH ENTAIL RISKING A SOCIAL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, EDUCATIONAL AND SPIRITUAL CRISIS; AND EVEN PHYSICAL DEATH. FOR THEM AND ONLY THEN CAN A NEW AFRIKAN WORLD UNION BE ESTABLISHED?
By Tom Jennings
published in Freedom magazine ,
Vol. 65, No. 10, 15th May 2004, p.7.
Revolutionary But Gangsta (‘RBG’, Sony, 2004) – a provocative but realistic slogan for the times – is Dead Prez’ fourth album (after the superb Let’s Get Free, 2000, and two excellent ‘mixtape’ CDs – Turn Off The Radio, 2002, and Get Free Or Die Tryin’, 2003 – the latter playing on 50 Cent’s fashionable NY gangster rap nihilism in Get Rich Or Die Tryin’). Stic.man and M-1’s latest release continues their hard-hitting juggling act – translating their political activism into commodity form without losing the plot or pandering to commercialism.
RBG’s production fits the best NY hardcore hip hop’s compositional minimalism (Wu Tang Clan, Gangstarr, Nas, Mobb Deep, Black Moon, etc.). Whether mournful or fierce, the vocal and instrumental backdrops are set against punchy percussion, heavy bass, staccato lyrics and smoother refrains. This sonic layering encapsulates hip-hop’s sophistication – energising and exhilarating body and mind by conveying the complexity of feelings, thoughts and musical resonances. Multiple levels of meaning cross-fertilise – yielding surprising juxtapositions and hidden (or not) implications in a parallel manner to the wordplay, referencing and rhetoric in the rap poetry. ‘RBG’ itself milks these African Signifyin’ traditions – including as ‘Rider’s Basic Guidelines’ (no snitching; protect self, family and community at all times; each one teach one; be organized; be productive).
‘Dead Prez’ refers to pictures of dead presidents on banknotes, and the need to buy the basics. Or it could mean to ‘kill the president’ – to abolish the system which distorts humanity in this way – going beyond capitalism from the perspective of the most oppressed. The understanding of class and the state comes from the Black Panther emphasis on daily life, community and the potential for transforming collective self-defence into revolutionary action. So, for M-1, “the critical part of revolutionary struggle is taking power out of the hands of people who stole it from us all these years and returning back those resources … a conscious worldwide struggle with decisive victory won in the area of defeating capitalism and imperialism”. Or, to Stic.man, “Revolution is based on the victims of a certain society – government – that recognizes that they are being used and abused by the system and it’s not in their best interest … seizing control over the institutions that are oppressing the people such as the court system, police department, military system and educational system all together. Food and all the things needed for life are being exploited and people recognize that you have to have control over these things, so revolution is the process in which you seize that power” (www.thetalkingdrum.com/rbg.html).
As in this quote, a political weakness is in failing to critique the institutions rather than who controls them (although that’s implied throughout). However, the strength of Dead Prez – as opposed to many other prominent political rappers as well as many well-known radical US traditions – is their rejection of vanguardist charisma and personality cults. They refuse to posit themselves as leaders, or even as ‘revolutionaries’ per se – though aligning themselves with revolutionary struggle and regularly paying tribute to individual and collective sources of inspiration. They see their role as musicians to carve out space for revolutionary messages – not imagining that hip-hop itself is intrinsically political. So thankfully there is none of the immature subcultural elitism that, for example, has plagued the anarchist movement over the past few decades – where one’s individual petty tastes are mistaken for ‘identity’ and/or ‘politics’ and presented as morally superior. Dead Prez are both deadly serious and humble with it. Picking lyrics almost at random, in one of the strongest tracks, ‘W-4’: “… I been working all my life but ain’t got nothing to show / I ain’t telling you nothing you don’t already know / … like this world just don’t want us to grow / … my j.o.b. is just like a plantation; they owe me … / Let the boss man pimp me …” That last line reinforces the theme of the single ‘Hell Yeah (Pimp The System)’, with its tales of sabotage, theft and workplace insurrection: “… Modern day slave conditions got me flippin’ burgers with no power / Can’t even buy one on what I make in an hour / … Ain’t nobody in the ‘hood got hope / In this fucked up system, that’s why we don’t vote”.
‘Hell Yeah’ (with a remix featuring multi-millionaire gangster rapper Jay-Z) openly links the limited lower-class self-determination possible under capitalism (the real gangsters) with its criminalising of us if we don’t accept hopelessness and starvation wages. The narrow horizons of modern industrial capitalism and its labour movement now begin to look like a historical exception rather than a rule of linear progress – even if its lessons are still crucial. But the functions of culture take on extra importance in the production and reproduction of both society and resistance – because all the forms of barbarism and colonialism live on, those of the ancient world through to feudal serfdom, plantation slavery, industrialisation and external imperialism, right up to today’s globalising peripheral and marginal McJobs under military absolutism. Within anarchism, Alfredo Bonnano drew attention to these trends nearly twenty years ago (in From Riot to Insurrection), but all sorts of ideas – from Frantz Fanon to Paul Gilroy, and E.P. Thompson to James C. Scott – need closer attention. For example James Kelman’s work on lower class Scottish idiom in the context of English hegemony, and the connections made with African culture, are very thought-provoking, as is the ‘new abolitionism’ of Race Traitor. In political practice the legacies of the Black Panthers stand out – not least in Lorenzo Ervin’s writing, community organising, the Black Autonomy network and the international campaign against the death penalty, and in the recent APOC (Anarchist People of Color) conferences. Over here, Class War may have broken all sorts of cultural moulds in the 1980s, but their populism blinded them to how restrictive and parochial their vision actually was. For revolutionary cultural politics, Dead Prez, Talib Kweli et al are worth checking for the inspiration, imagination and instruction that’s hard to find elsewhere. You never know, you might like the music too.