Hip Hoppers & Occupy -- Are We the Music We Have Been Waiting For?

There is something about the Occupy Movement -- and especially in its recent incarnation as "Occupy Sandy" -- that brings out the best in us. And the best in us is increasingly found in the music we call Hip Hop.
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There is something about the Occupy Movement -- and especially in its recent incarnation as "Occupy Sandy" -- that brings out the best in us. And the best in us is increasingly found in the music we call Hip Hop.

It is difficult not to be aware of the huge, upcoming concert for Hurricane Sandy to benefit the Robin Hood Relief Fund that is scheduled for Wednesday, December 12, at the Madison Square Garden and which will be broadcasted and tweeted widely (#121212concert).

It will feature a monster cast of The Stones, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, The Who, Paul McCartney and Alicia Keys, for starters. It is destined to attract much-needed relief, expected in the millions of dollars.

It will also raise considerable sums for scalpers who are charging up to $60,000 per ticket for choice seats. One can only hope that these predators will also contribute some of this gain to Occupy Sandy -- but, don't count on it.

Another concert that will take place at the Brooklyn Bowl on Tuesday, December 18 will also strive to raise funds. What will separate these two events from each other will not be in the amount dollars -- every penny counts -- brought in, but in the community that has gathered to make it a truly personalized event: a concert by the people and for the people that most reflect those communities afflicted by Sandy.

Hip Hop Luminaries Donate Time & Energy

Three Hip Hop performers in particular will be there to belt out their messages -- Immortal Technique (featured in a podcast interview for the benefit here), Jasiri X, and George Rithm Martinez and the Global Block Collective.

If you know anything about these people, you will also know that their music will be a grounded tribute to person-to-person support and resilience. You can also expect righteous swipes at the business and governmental failings that continue to inflict pain not just Sandy survivors, but America itself.

This would be expected of a person like Martinez, whose credentials include community and union activism and who practices the craft of college professor by day in teaching "The Politics of Hip Hop" at Pace University and practicing the craft of Hip Hop musician in the evenings and on weekends.

Occupy and Hip Hop found each other early on, as exampled by Martinez creating "The Official Anthem for Hip Hop" for Occupy Wall Street, which appears on an album put out by "Music for Occupy."

Don't Forget About the (Our) Hood

Hip Hop Jasiri X's recent music translates well into this moment, as Sandy would fade in memory without constant reminders like this concert. When Jasiri received the invite to participate in the Brooklyn event, his immediate answer was "Sign me up."

Why is he choosing to come up from Pittsburgh to NYC to perform? "I grew up in a socially conscious household. Occupy Sandy is one of the greatest volunteer efforts we've seen in years, and has made the Occupy Movement even more relevant," he declares.

Jasiri feels that Occupy and Hip Hop are kindred. "Our music is the soundtrack for revolution," he declares, and finds the Occupy Movement not unlike Hip Hop in getting out its message in impactful, people-centered, and creative ways.

Music & Occupy - Forever Together

Producer Jason Samel, who is co-presenting the Sandy Relief Concert with Viper Records, was the first to reveal the early collaboration between Occupy and Music. After engaging with the musicians showing up at Zuccotti Park, he put together a colorful Occupy music collaboration called "Occupy This Album" which features "99 tracks by 99 Artists."

He sums up the importance of both Occupy and Hip Hop as they both have evolved -- not only for Sandy Relief, but for an ongoing partnership to serve each other's needs.

"Occupy's largest victory will prove to be in encouraging people to stand up, speak and be heard. Hip Hop has been doing the same for over 40 years. The beauty of the two coming together time and time again - such as in the case of this concert - shows a unity that, without which, we will certainly fail."

He thinks a moment, and adds, "But together, we are unstoppable."

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