The Green Movement
KRS-One and Hakim Green bring the Stop the Violence Movement to Austin
By Thomas Fawcett,
11:59AM, Wed. Jan. 21, 2009
Two decades ago, KRS-One organized Chuck D, Kool Moe Dee, MC Lyte, Doug E. Fresh, and other all-stars in the booth to cut “Self Destruction,” hip-hop’s classic anti-violence anthem. The posse cut was part of the Stop the Violence Movement, and 20 years later KRS is back at it again. He recently recorded the follow-up, “Self Construction,” featuring an insane amount of MCs, including Method Man, Redman, Nelly, Busta Rhymes, David Banner, 50 Cent, the Game, Talib Kweli, Ne-Yo, and, once again, Doug E. Fresh.
Not content to simply cut a record, KRS tapped Hakim Green of Channel Live to head up the newly incorporated Stop the Violence Movement, a certified non-profit organization. Green performs with KRS-One Saturday at Mohawk, along with a slew of local MCs. Bump & Hustle caught up with the Channel Live wordsmith to talk about the new movement, the truth about Obama, and sparkin’ "Mad Izm."
Bump & Hustle: You’re now heading up the resurrected Stop the Violence Movement. Why bring this back after 20 years?
Hakim Green: Honestly, it never really went anywhere. Around the country there are a bunch of different Stop the Violence organizations – one in Chicago, one in Jacksonville, Florida., and Silence the Violence in the Bay Area. KRS-One and our team decided to focus more intently on it because hip-hop was in desperate need of another platform. There has been a lot of criticism in the last few years over the Don Imus incident and the misogyny that exists in hip-hop and of course the violence. There’s been school shootings, the Jena 6 case, the war, and other episodes of violence. It was time for us, hip-hop, being the cultural leaders of this nation, to create more awareness around peace and stopping the violence. We need to start sending out more positivity, for the health and well-being of hip-hop, but also for the health and well-being of our world.
B&H: The first Stop the Violence Movement in 1989 focused mostly on black-on-black crime, correct?
HG: Yes, let’s say violence within hip-hop culture. I don’t like the concept of black-on-black crime because violence is perpetrated by people that are next to one another. People generally don’t go outside of their culture or area to commit crime. So if we say black-on-black crime we should say white-on-white crime and we don’t. So it’s just crime.
B&H: I’m wondering if the focus of the movement has changed at all.
HG: No doubt. Hip-hop is pushing this movement but it’s bigger than hip-hop, to steal a line from Dead Prez. It’s much bigger than hip-hop when we look at this war in Iraq and we look at what’s going on between Israel and Palestine. The nature of this current world needs healing, it needs more self-reflection in how to discover the peace within ourselves. Dr. Martin Luther King said you should be the change you want to see, you should be the peace you want to see. That cuts across racial boundaries, gender boundaries, cultural boundaries. Everybody has a place to play in this new Stop the Violence Movement.
B&H: What specifically are you doing with the movement? Is there gonna be a record? Workshops?
HG: We created a non-profit called Stop the Violence Incorporated and we’ve been making some strategic partnerships with organizations like Educational Lyrics. They put out a curriculum called H.E.L.P. – Hip-Hop Educational Literacy Program. What they’ve managed to do is teach young folks literacy skills using hip-hop. We’ve connected with the Malcom X Grassroots Organization; they do a wonderful conflict resolution workshop that we’ll be taking on the road. KRS-One does a phenomenal hip-hop workshop and I do an identifying leadership skills workshop using hip-hop. There’s a concept called culture freedom. Let me back up. The word education comes from the Latin educare, which literally means “to bring out.” So the process of education is getting young folks to tap into who they are naturally and then bringing out the best in that young person. It’s not something that’s placed on you. So when we say hip-hop we’re talking about young folks looking inward for whatever questions they have in their lives. Hip-hop tends to be very transformative because it shows the value in one’s self and when you identify with that value you are able to transcend other problems you may be experiencing in life.
B&H: You have a song called "Mr. President" where you air your grievances with the Bush administration. What do you think Obama’s election means for the country?
HG: Do you want the politically correct answer or do you want the truth?
B&H: I want the truth.
HG: I think what Barack Obama symbolizes for black people or African-Americans – whatever term we're rolling with this year - is very inspirational and shows that you can overcome prejudice and bias and racism and people of all cultures and ethnicities can come together in unity to make a change. What that change will be we have yet to see. Ultimately, if the people on the street, the people in the communities, and the people on the grassroots level organize themselves, that is the true power of the change that Barack spoke of. It is not Barack Obama. Barack Obama cannot change anything. There are powers above him and if things don’t go the way that benefit their end game, it don’t happen. The inspirational factor is very special and what happened over the last year with the campaign. Showing that white people, black people, Christians, Muslims, Jews can come together and collectively say to a faulty administration, "We’ve had enough, you have got to go," is really beautiful and powerful. Now the real work starts. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get it done and that’s where the Stop the Violence Movement comes in. It’s not the end all be all but it’s a piece of the work that we can do in our own space, in our own world. We can stop the violence and learn to love one another, be kind to one another, learn to smile at one another and support one another. It doesn’t always have to be a protest. That’s the change we’d like to see. In the last 15 or 20 years hip-hop has been very materialistic, misogyny has had a very high profile. I think people are just tired. The economy is tore up, people are losing their jobs, and they don’t have the money to do all those frivolous things that we’ve doing over the last 15 or 20 years. Now people are looking for some substance in their lives and the real warriors and soldiers need to step up and make that change Obama alludes to.
B&H: Will the Stop the Violence campaign be doing any organizing around the shooting of Oscar Grant in San Francisco?
HG: I’ve actually been communicating on a daily basis with DJ Davey D from the Bay Area. I’m in Florida now and I’ll be in Texas for the next week or so. There was a police shooting in Texas last week. A brother by the name of Robbie Tolan was shot in the chest in Houston. The 5.0 thought his car was stolen and followed him to his house. They pulled up in front of Robbie’s house and had him on the ground. The story is that his mom came out and the cop shoved the mother. Robbie gets up and the cop shoots him in the chest. They do a search and there are no weapons, the car wasn’t stolen, it was registered in his name. It’s another tragedy and it speaks to a major platform that I’m going to push and that’s one of value. We tend as black people not to value ourselves. The system does not value us and we have internalized that lack of value and now we don’t value each other. The police do not value young black men. First, we must value ourselves and the police will be forced to respect our value by maintaining our money, not supporting certain businesses. We pay taxes, we pay your salaries. And for politicians, if you’re not representing the people we will get you out of there. But that starts with valuing yourself and knowing what role an individual plays in the larger society and then being active to make the change that you want to see. The Oscar Grant case is really tragic because from what I hear Oscar was trying to keep the peace. The police officer didn’t value Oscar’s life enough to make sure he was following proper police procedure. Whether it was a mistake and he meant to grab his taser or whether he was reaching for his gun doesn’t matter. The brother is handcuffed laying face down on the floor and from that point he didn’t pose any threat as if there was one from the start. But if the officer had valued Oscar Grant as a tax-paying citizen, an American citizen, he would have been a lot more careful in that situation. So I think it all goes back to value.
B&H: Well said. Switching topics to music, you made a pretty big splash when you first came out in 1994.
HG: That’s right, the first single was ’94. "All we do is spark mad izm.” And I’m still sparking mad izm in case you wanted to know.
B&H: I was gonna ask if you were still sparking mad izm!
HG: Of course, it’s natural so it’s all good.
B&H: You didn’t put out any music for a while after that, correct?
HG: No, we were part of the One Million Strong soundtrack that the Nation of Islam put out for the Million Man March. We had a single called “Is It a Dream” off the album that BET played all the time. We had an album called Armaghetto on Flavor Unit [in 2000]. But because of the nature of the industry, hip-hop music in general became very materialistic. It was discouraging for us so we fell back and did the behind the scenes thing. I started a company called IBC entertainment with my partner. I started a company called Guerrilla Slicks and we did Nas’ video for “Got Yourself a Gun.” I’ve done stuff for Nelly and I produced a documentary to go along with the 20th anniversary edition of Scarface. So I’ve been working behind the scenes. You gotta, like they say, diversify your product.
B&H: You have a new album coming out called A Revolution Televised.
HG: The name of the single is “Hip-Hop Nation” and the name of the album coming later this year is A Revolution Televised. It’s a tribute to the Stop the Violence Movement.
B&H: The title is clearly a Gil Scott-Heron reference. What are you trying to say with that?
HG: Gil Scott-Heron said the revolution will not be televised and I totally agree – it’s gonna be on the Internet. I say A Revolution Televised because my music is very political. I’m a conspiracy theorist. There’s a lot of information that the masses are not privy to so with music I’m trying to touch on those issues to give people a better understanding of where they stand within this one world order. Doing so is a revolutionary act in and of itself. Going against the grain when everybody else is trying to pop bottles, wearing diamonds and gold, and smacking bitches and hos. So I say, “You fuck with hos I’ll fuck with queens. I’m trying to see what’s in the head you’re trying to see what’s in the jeans.” That’s a revolutionary statement in the midst of where we’ve been over the past 15 years. It’s something as simple as that, that said the right way can change the perspective of young people. That’s a revolutionary act, A Revolution Televised.