By Richard Muhammad
NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) – When the leader of the Nation of Islam spoke to a roomful of hip hop industry movers, shakers and star makers, the message was insightful, direct and thoughtful: Hip hop has become a global force, feared by powerful interests who know artists wield potential power to change society, break down racial barriers and challenge injustice.
There is a prophetic opportunity for “enlightened rappers” to especially raise youth for revolutionary change and progress, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said June 13 in a third floor ballroom at the N.Y. Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.
“You may have only wanted to make a good song and make a great impact, but maybe you are not aware that you have been chosen to lead,” the Minister told the audience, as hip hop guru and summit organizer Russell Simmons, Jermaine Dupri, Queen Latifah, Chuck D, Min. Benjamin Muhammad and others seated on the dais listened.
Among those in the audience were Sean “Puffy” Combs, LL Cool J, Weyclef Jean, Redman, Jah Rule, Fat Joe, Luther Campbell, Keith Murray, Crazy Bone, Damian Dash, Kedar Massenberg of Motown Records, Derek “Mad Rapper” Angeletti, Dead Prez, Sistah Souljah, Stephanie Mills, former boxing champ Lennox Lewis, Ron “Amen Ra” Lawrence, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, academics Dr. Cornell West of Harvard and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson of DePaul; hip hop pioneers Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, Kurtis Blow, and Grandmaster Flash, Eric B, activists Bob Law and Viola Plummer of the December 12th Movement, other artists, deejays, Nation of Islam officials and ministers, and recording industry execs.
Most of the media crowded along one wall, while television cameras were squeezed together at the rear of the room.
“The prophets of God who saw all the way to the judgment and end of the present world had to have seen hip hop,” the Minister continued, explaining why an art form and urban culture of music, language, dress and style has worldwide influence.
He was welcomed with rousing applause and a spirited introduction by University Records exec Abdul Haqq Islam, who called the Minister a brother, friend and father figure for the hip hop world
In the Bible, the scriptures say the word was with God and was God in the beginning, then became flesh and dwelled among men, Min. Farrakhan pointed out. “God here means force and power. The word has force, the word has power Ã‰ to move men to thinking new thoughts and doing new things,” he said. (See excerpts on page 20.)
The enemy, which has used young people for war and exploitation, understands that force and power, but artists who wield it have not understood it, the Minister said. There is a need for guidance to complement power to make change, he explained.
“The society says we want the rappers to clean up the lyrics but the society does not want to clean itself up. … At the top of society, it is so filthy that you would be shocked to see how low down and filthy people are who are the leaders in society,” Min. Farrakhan said.
Gangsta rap lyrics are condemned, but gangsterism in the name of government claims millions of live and plots to assassinate and overthrow leaders are justified, when the U.S. government deems it necessary, the Minister observed.
The mind is as sacred as the womb and whatever it feeds helps the growth or deterioration of the person, the Minister said. “So the question is, will you accept your responsibility as a leader, and as a teacher, and lead and guide the youth of the world so that the elites, the governments of the world, will never make merchandise of young people again and use you to fight unjust wars that enrich the rich and aid in the destruction of the weak and the poor?” asked Min. Farrakhan.
He urged the rappers to respect women and eliminate negative words about women from their lyrics.
Throughout the Minister’s two-hour address, the audience sat attentive and responsive, often exploding into applause and cheers. The respected leader also called his message possibly his most important ever because hip hop artists are important leaders.
As the hip hop industry make millions of dollars a year, artists should handle their money wisely to secure their future and help develop their communities, Min. Farrakhan said. He asked the artists to consider supporting the Million Family March Economic Development Fund drive which seeks to raise $1 billion in initial funding. The money would be used to promote economic development, housing, education and other development projects with oversight from a board and from donors, he explained.
Min. Farrakhan is “right on point with what he was saying,” said music video director Little X, who will soon work on rapper Foxy Brown’s new video and has worked with Destiny’s Child and other artists. Artists don’t always understand their role as leaders, so an education process is needed to help them look beyond their personal success, he said.
Rapper Special K also enjoyed the Minister’s message, saying it was the truth and important. “I hope this conference and speech has a great impact on the hip hop community because we need unity in order to progress,” he said.
For Sistah Souljah, the message was wonderful, and it’s time for work to begin. “I think the environment has corroded itself and now there’s a lack of love. I hope what the Minister did was get other people, who haven’t yet accepted their responsibilities to accept it and join others who have … and make it work as one unit,” she said.
(Cory Muhammad contributed to this report.)