Photo by Ralf Heid
We routinely talk about the hip-hop generation and how this generation (and its successors) differ from those born before them. Some posit that hip-hop has the potential to generate a new movement (wonder how that plays in Egypt about now?). I did find that there are significant attitudinal differences between rap consumers and non-rap consumers. But there is no “hip-hop politics” per se. There’s just politics…and every now and again someone attempts to deploy hip-hop to support various political causes.

To the extent we’d think seriously about what a “hip-hop politics” might look like, we don’t have to go any further than Kool Herc. There are literally dozens upon dozens of DJs, MCs, b-boys, b-girls, and taggers who’ve given up their body for their craft. Many of them are now approaching middle age without health insurance. And it isn’t a good look. How many DJs do you know with Tinnitus? With bad backs from lugging crates? How many MCs besides DMC have Spasmodic Dysphonia? Some expect people like JayZ to chime in to cover Herc’s expenses. That’d be all good…but it doesn’t substitute for a real political movement to make sure that Herc doesn’t have to trade in on his fame again.

NYC Hip hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc has ‘kidney stones’ but no health insurance, can’t afford surgery.