Mos Def X Malcolm X
“You’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I for one will join in with anyone, I don’t care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. Thank you.”–Malcolm X
Mos Def uses the above quote in the intro song, “Super Magic,” off his latest album, The Ecstatic, which actually is dropping Tuesday, July 9.
Not the first, or last time a rapper will quote Brother Malcolm, the statement is the conclusion of his speech at The Oxford Union Debate on November 23, 1964. The topic of the debate was “Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue,” with Malcolm speaking for the affirmative position. [more after video]
Mr. Def, a Muslim, has never been one to mince his words when it comes to his politics. Black Dante’s mention of “tall Israeli is running this rap s**t” on “The Rape Over” from his The New Danger (2004) album is only one of those examples.
It’s probably coincidence, but the release of Pretty Flaco’s new album is almost 50 years since The Hate That Hate Produced, a 5-part look at the Nation of Islam (NOI) originally aired (July 13 – July 17, 1959). Co-produced by the esteemed Mike Wallace (60 Minutes) and the inspiring Louis Lomax (an African-American excelling in TV journalism in 1959? Incredible), the documentary offered an inside look at the “gospel of hate” being preached by the NOI. The entire documentary is on YouTube and thoroughly worth watching. [more after video]
The issues raised in the The Hate That Hate Produced, whether implicitly or explicitly—Black vs. White, Muslim vs. Christian, Jews vs. Gentiles—are still present today, contrary to anyone claiming some nonsense about the U.S. being post-racial thanks to our President being a Negro with the middle name Hussein. The fact that yesterday (June 2) Barack Obama made a speech in Cairo attempting to begin mending strained, to put it lightly, relations with the Muslim world is a testament to that reality.
Thanks to shady business like Donald “Halliburton” Rumsfeld seeding Biblical quotes into top-secret White House briefings, it won’t be an easy road. But we’re at least on the path.
By the time Malcolm made his speech at Oxford in ‘64, he had formally split with the NOI in March of the same year and made his pilgrimage to Mecca a month later. While his Hajj made Malcolm essentially rescind his divisive—or empowering, to many—rhetoric of years past, with hope that Islam would be a means to unify different people, the underlying themes of even his most fiery and incendiary of speeches remained. The disenfranchisement and oppression of the weak at hands of the powerful was unacceptable and could only by remedied “by any means necessary.” That’s the language they get. Word to KRS-One.
Mos Def Reads Malcolm X Speech [via Urban Daily]
1959: Sex, Jazz, Datsuns [via NY Mag]