You would rather have a Lexus, some justice, a dream or some substance? A
Beamer, a necklace or freedom?
From Hip Hop by Dead Prez
You've probably never heard of Dead Prez before. That's because though they are fantastic artists, they aren't terribly marketable (i.e. they don't sound canned and contrived like most hip hop artists on the radio) so they don't get much love. And unlike Common or Mos Def, they haven't even been able to get that fringe recognition in indie circles and on college campuses. But before you rush out and buy the complete Dead Prez anthology, please know that they are an uneven package. Lyrics with depth, but also with a little more salty language and racism than most of us really find palatable. They are pretty militant in their stances on race, so it might be best that they haven't garnered mainstream success because the strife they would cause would probably outweigh the fact that their music makes other very valid points.
Anywho, this rhyme has been bouncing around in my head for the better part of two months. I think because, though the statement was made about hip hop, it really transcends that discussion and can be applied to most institutions in Western Society. Hip Hop? Check. Art? Check. The Church (look, you knew I was going there)? Check. And therein lies one of the main truths behind why Dead Prez has not garnered mainstream success. They bite the hand that feeds it because they see that the hand is weak and feeble and not doing what it has the potential of doing. There are many lessons in there about why it's risky to speak out against the establishment, and how sometimes we need to find the most constructive paths to reformation available to us so that our voices can have maximum impact.
Mostly, I'm just glad that Hip Hop is deeper than Fergie would lead us all to believe. You just have to dig to find the depth.