Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies

About Gods, I Don't Believe in None of That Shit, the Facts Are Backwards: Slaughterhouse's Lyrical Atheism

Academic journal article The Journal of Hip Hop Studies

About Gods, I Don't Believe in None of That Shit, the Facts Are Backwards: Slaughterhouse's Lyrical Atheism

Article excerpt

"About gods, I don't believe in none of that shit, the facts are backwards.

Nas is the rebel of the street corner..." - Nas, "Represent"

"Hip-hop was more like the blues that signified religious beliefs than the spirituals that informed the content of my faith. I thought my religion provided liberation, provided an answer to life's worries, but hip-hop raised questions about this assumption."- Anthony B. Pinn, Writing God's Obituary

To me, hip-hop says, "Come as you are." We are a family. It ain't about security. It ain't about bling-bling. It ain't about how much your gun can shoot. It ain't about $200 sneakers. It is not about me being better than you or you being better than me. It's about you and me, connecting one to one. That's why it has universal appeal. It has given young people a way to understand their world, whether they are from the suburbs or the city or wherever. - DJ Kool Herc, Can't Stop, Won't Stop

Hip Hop's origins are complex and multifarious along racial, gender, cultural, economic, and geographical lines. It is comprised of a medley of voices from various communities. But one of the more popular genealogical strands of Hip Hop touts that it stems from Clive "DJ Kool Herc" Campbell, a Jamaican-born American DJ, who is often credited with originating Hip Hop music in the early 1970s in the South Bronx of New York City. While some scholars argue that Hip Hop and a distinct Hip Hop generation begin after DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa, the conditions of possibility for Hip Hop can be pinpointed to 1968: the year of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, assassination and the demarcated end of the Civil Rights Movement, ushering in a "post"-Civil Rights mentality: more militant, more individualistic, and in search of a new cultural ethos. Amidst gang violence, poverty, and a dearth of job opportunities, this brand of Hip Hop festered, fed by the abject conditions of Black and Latino life.

What's often talked about are the four elements of Hip Hop: DJing, spinning and scratching records, providing the musical backdrop for emcees; B-boying, or "breaking," a form of dance in which one would begin upright in "the top-rock, hands up and stabbing like a gang-member in motion, feet moving side to side like Ali in a rope-a-dope," then "explode into a Zulu freeze, tossing in a spin and punctuating it all with a Bruce Lee grin or a mocking Maori tongue"-B-boying was a way for dancers to write their generational narratives through the movement of their flesh;1 emceeing, throwing down rhymes on the mic, rocking the party, and giving voice to those historically erased from the vocal tablet of society; and graffiti, the "outlaw art," an art that blazed trails out of the gang generation and left people's aliases, serving as extensions of themselves, in marker and spray-paint with the inherent message "I'm here" and "Fuck all y'all." Hip Hoppers-the generation of youth born, as Bakari Kitwana narrowly demarcates, between 1965 and 19842-sought to create themselves for themselves drawing from their own lived conditions. They flouted the norms of everyone else: "Hip-hop was not just a 'Fuck you' to white society, it was a 'Fuck you' to the previous Black generation as well."3

But even though these four elements are the most noted aspects of Hip Hop culture, there are numerous others: the way one walks, talks, looks, communicates, and generally inhabits the streets. Indeed, the stylization and mobilization of one's walk for African Americans has long been a means toward liberty-from the Great Migration to those who walked for miles each of the 381 days of the Montgomery Bus Boycott-and reflects the din of footsteps in the political and social sphere-"speak through your feet if I'm who you thinkin' 'bout steppin' to," as Joell Ortiz says.4 Afrika Bambaataa even adds "right knowledge" to the list of Hip Hop's elements, explaining that "right knowledge, right wisdom, right 'overstanding' and right sound reasoning, mean[s] that we want our people to deal with factuality versus beliefs, factology versus beliefs. …

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