“Mental pictures, stereotypes and fake history reinforces mystery?”
—From the song “Why is that?” by Boogie Down Productions
From birth, we are taught to believe myths. We start off believing fables about tooth fairies and an old fat dude in a red suit ridin’ around the hood in a red sleigh pulled by a red nosed reindeer. As we grow older and enter the mis-educational system, we are indoctrinated by stories about a lost sailor named Chris “discovering” America and an “honest” opportunist named Abe “freeing the slaves.” We are also programmed to believe the urban legend that the Hip Hop of today comes out of the ‘hood.
It may come as a shock for some but the Hip Hop that is played on the radio today owes more to the campus of Harvard than it does the streets of Harlem. Most Hip Hop fans can recite, verbatim, the often parroted propaganda about how Hip Hop started in the parks of the Bronx in the late ’70s and went on to become the global enterprise that it is today. Like most myths, there is a shred of truth in this hype, however, the whole truth is hidden from the masses.
One flip through the pages of books like “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop” by Dan Charnas and one sees how quickly the focus on Grandmaster Flash spinin’ in the Bronx switches to stories about Maury, the mild mannered accountant thinking of a master plan to have his multi-national company exploit the talents of “ghetto” youth.
Contrary to the popular belief that commercial Hip Hop is the brainchild of mix masters in the ‘hood , in reality, much of the credit goes to the masterminds at Ivy League schools.
While it is, indeed, true that Hip Hop originated in the Big Apple, the moment that “Rapper’s Delight” was played outside of the five boroughs, the corporate takeover of Hip Hop began. Later, as interest in Hip Hop spread throughout the world, the people who were largely responsible for defining what Hip Hop is or is not were not the neighborhood scribes but Ivy League brainiacs who interpreted the street lingo of the Chocolate cities for the Vanilla suburbs. Although, rap is promoted as being the voice of the streets, it is interesting that the founders of Hip Hop’s premiere magazine, the Source, Dave Mayes and Jon Schector, as well as early members of “The Mind Squad” formed the magazine while they were students at Harvard during the late ’80s.
Also, in 1993, Keith Clinkscales, who received an MBA from Harvard Business School, was named CEO of Vibe Magazine. It was under his watch that the magazine heavily promoted the East Coast/West Coast Beef that resulted in the deaths of Tupac Shakur, Notorious BIG and many others. Which adds to the theory that all the “Hip Hop” beefs are just a part of a diabolical marketing scheme to sell CDs.
Also, although rappers such as Waka Flocka Flame have said in interviews that they purposely dumb down their lyrics to “keep it real” for their homies in the ‘hood, according to a 2006 article in New York Magazine, one of the hottest producers at Bad Boy Records was Ryan Leslie who scored 1600 on his SAT, entered Harvard at 15 and graduated at 19-years- old.
It must be noted that Harvard’s connection to Black music did not start with Hip Hop but goes back to the early ”70s with “A Study of the Soul Music Environment” aka the Harvard Report. According to Yvonne Bynoe in her essay “Money, Power and Respect: A Critique of the Business of Rap Music, “the systematic colonization of Black music began in 1971 when Columbia Records commissioned the Harvard University Business School to conduct an investigation about how they should better benefit from soul music.” Later, according to a May 1996 article in the Harvard Gazette, a more Hip Hop version of the study, the “Harvard Report on Urban Music” was compiled by the Harvard Consultation Project.
Besides the money aspect, Hip Hop’s influence on the minds of our youth and the strange behavior of some artists cannot be denied.
Ironically, Harvard is also famous for experiments in mind control. Dr. Timothy Leary, a professor in Harvard’s Center for Research in Personality, in the early ’60s conducted mind control experiments involving psychedelic drugs. According to Alex Constantine in his book “The Covert War Against Rock” Adophus Huxley, a visiting professor at Harvard asked Leary to “form a secret society to launch and lead a psychedelic conspiracy to brainwash influential people.”
Although Harvard has produced some of the most influential African Americans in this country’s history including scholar W.E.B. Dubois, who was one of the founders of the NAACP, Soledad O’Brien, host of CNN’s series “Black in America” and President Barack and Michelle Obama, the institution has also been affiliated with some who believed that Black folks are genetically, intellectually inferior to Whites. William Shockley received his Ph.D from Harvard and Arthur Jensen’s “How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?” was published in the 1969 Harvard Educational Review. Also, one of the authors of “The Bell Curve,” a 1994 book that also questioned the intelligence of African Americans was co-authored by Harvard professor, Richard Herrnstein.
So, is it possible that the current “dumb down” movement in Hip Hop is a self full-filing prophesy orchestrated by those who will stop at nothing to prove a point?
That Harvard should produce those who feel that African people are inferior to Europeans should come as no surprise to those who have researched Harvard’s dark hidden history. A February 1999, edition of the student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, reported that buried “deep within the annals of Harvard” there is a file HUD 3502 that reveals information about the Harvard chapter of the Ku Klux Klan that was formed in 1921.
Of course, there are some who will still believe the “Hip Hop hood myth” in the same manner that some people will fight you if you try to tell them that WWE wrestling is fake. No matter what, some Hip Hop heads will still be in denial.
Whether you want to believe it or not , the next hot rapper may not come out of the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn but from some top secret science project in a lab, hidden away deep down in a basement in Harvard.
(Truth Minista Paul Scott can be reached via e-mail [email protected] or (919) 451-8283.)