While the Heal The Hood Foundation-sponsored concert at American Way Middle School (April 20) was what urban youth would call "off the chains," there were multiple panel discussions that were just as "cool" – particularly the one about hip hop and its following.
The words Hot 107.1 FM'S DJ Lomax spoke were not a remix, nor were they commercialized. Every child and adult in the room knew that this was an original perception because there was far too much knowledge in the message for it to have been recycled or sampled.
Dressed in army fatigues, his words carried the weight of a drill sergeant.
"I'm the current A&R for Mizay Entertainment The Brick Squad, where I find artist and mold artist into what can become profitable. ... I don't always agree with what they say. But at the end of the day this is all about money, the all mighty dollar. ...
"I was born into hip hop and many people can't say that. Curtis Blow and African Bambada were the original groups of hip hop, which eventually changed in the late 1980's and early 1990's. People choose to put different titles on it but it was and still is all about money. ...
"I don't go to work everyday not to receive a check. Neither do I go to work everyday to belittle or (degrate) my people. If Wacka Flava raps something that I don't agree with, I tell him, 'I don't like that,' but again it's all about money. The parent that allows their child to listen to it, I say it's their fault. You can stop your child from listening to any old thing that comes out." Kelvin Cowans: Do you have any children sir and if so what do you teach them being that you are indeed in the middle of the music industry? ...
"I have a 14-year-old son and there are some songs you can't play for my son because he doesn't know it. He just simply doesn't know it. He's not playing dumb for me. ... My son can't go anywhere without me knowing it. ... I know who my child's friends are. These are the principles that my mother raised me with. How is it that these trainings are eluding our kids of today? Parents are not doing their jobs.
"As a DJ or a program director our job is to play a record that has been paid for or that the streets are pushing for ... even if that song is about drugs. A molly is a drug that was created in the streets and now they make songs about it. So, if you allow your kids to run wild and run all over you, to listen to these songs or watch whatever video they wish to on television, then that's what you get."
Check out this subsequent interplay from the panel discussion.
Parent: So, are you saying that the parents are the only ones accountable?
DJ Lomax: I'm saying that the parents have to be the first accountable. After that, if you have an artist or group that makes revolutionary music which you know has a positive message like The Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy or X-Clan made, and your child goes and purchases it, then you will eliminate Gangsta Rap. If they are not making money, then they will not record it. They will do a switch over to revolutionary music because they want to make a profit. We all pay attention to what's hot.
Look at our panel up here. These people are wearing certain clothing, they have certain hair styles and they speak in a certain way. All for profit! This man to the left has braids in his hair. That is a bi-product of hip hop. When I was a kid you couldn't braid my hair. I'd have a fit. But because hip hop said it was OK and the music industry confirms it's OK by pushing those artist, we do it.
You wear your pant's half off your behind because hip hop said it was cool. I worked 13 years for The Shelby County Sheriff's Department before I really stepped into this music industry. Wearing your pants off your but is a symbolization of homosexuality in jail, but because hip hop said it was cool, we buy into it. We have to start correction at home. We must start correction and balancing at home.
TSD Publisher/ President Bernal E. Smith II: At the end of the day is art imitating life or is life imitating art? At the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves what happened to our value systems? I love hip hop, all the way back to like he said A Tribe Called Quest, The Beastie Boys, The Fat Boys and RUN DMC. I'm a product of hip hop as well. This is how we grew up. Kelvin aka Six~Four, that young man Thacker Boy, we all listened to these artist as well. But when NWA came along we liked them better. We were done with the old way. It's influential.
Parent: They are the ones who started all of this, these rappers.
DJ Lomax: You guys have to understand that when you grew up and you listen to and see these things, such as the drive-by shooting, that was based on the art that was being made. You didn't grow up around drive-by shootings and neither did I. I didn't grow up around it. People make their lives worst because it sounds better. Now it's better to be worst. When I grew up we wanted to get out of the hood. Now you got people saying that they in the hood and they're not ever leaving. Are you serious?
TSD's Smith: So tell me this, how do we have these top artists in the world, such as Jay-Z, Little Wayne and Rick Ross to name a few, making multimillions of dollars and all they're talking about is what kind of drugs their using or selling or how much money they got? The songs stay the same, it's just worded a different way.
DJ Lomax: Because we buy it. Jay-Z ain't selling drugs no more. Rick Ross ain't never sold drugs.
TSD's Smith: Exactly.
DJ Lomax: Only because we buy it. Even Little Wayne, he hasn't sold nothing. I don't care how good the story is, he hasn't sold nothing. Experiment with all types of drugs yes, I'm sure, but he hasn't sold nothing. We buy into dramatics; great movie, great dramatics. We buy into the best story.
TSD's Smith: I know that and you know that, but for the parent's here, how do we relate the real story to our kids?
DJ Lomax: We have to use better parenting. It's amazing to me that the stripper is the role model for many of our little girls now. How did we come to that?