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30 Aug, 2010 21:29

Underground hip hop aims to regain its influence

Glenn Beck’s ‘Restoring Honor’ rally took on downtown Washington and in Columbia, Maryland the biggest names in mainstream and underground hip hop ignited a different debate, with both social and political undertones.

Beck’s rally called on those supporting the troops, bravery and bringing America back to a faith based society was integral. This event was attended by those who believe America has strayed away from its founding values, whatever those values maybe.

From its infancy, hip hop became a culture, its music derived from the social issues that carried on from the civil rights and Black Nationalist era. It was music with a message.

"That's what's wrong with the industry today, hip hop with no meaning, that's what it was made for, to tell stories to tell about life," said one young woman attending the concert.

RT sat down with Street Sweeper Social Club member Tom Morello, who also made his mark as the guitarist for Rage Against the Machine.

Morello said, “Its everyday people who have their hands on the wheel of history. That you can’t just wait and cast you ballot into the void every four year and cross your fingers and hope for the best that some magical president is going to sprinkle fairy dust and make everything alright. That is not how progressive, radical or even progressive revolutionary change has every occurred.”

Street Sweeper member Boots Riley was a radical activist growing up. He recalled how the political movements of the 1960s and 70s shaped the music industry:

After all of that, you get progressive, political movement. It’s not going to happen if we don’t have a movement jumping off.”

One man at the concert wore a shirt saying ‘rap minus lies equals rap,’ he explained the message: “Hip hop that I grew up to love has been taken over by the wrong people, it’s dying.”

"Why is hip hop dying?" asked RT.

"Because people are just out to make money," he responded.

Concerts goers at Rock the Bells insist where hip hop once mobilized and empowered the black community, rap music is quickly destroying it.

"We have to be honest about who is being taken advantage of here and the image that is being put out there and the image is not positive because we are not in control of it," said another concert attendee.

Hip Hop tours like Rock the Bells do not fully aim to restore the values of hip hop any more than the Glenn Beck rally made initiatives to restore America's honor.