Posted by Jenna Postler
From Nov. 1-5 the Hip-Hop Alliance sponsored "Hip-Hop Culture Week." As an avid hip-hop fan, I was extremely excited for Tuesday Keynote Speaker Richard "Professor Griff" Griffin of famed rap group Public Enemy.
I was shocked that Griff was speaking on campus, given that he was involved in controversy. Before the release of "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" Griff gave interviews to UK magazines on behalf of Public Enemy, during which he made homophobic and antisemitic remarks. Griff was kicked out of the group, but later invited back. Nonetheless, I was excited to hear what Griff would speak about.
His lecture, titled, "It's Bigger Than Hip-Hop, Beyond Beats and Rhymes: Destroying Hip-Hop's Appetite for Self Destruction" was anything but dull. The artist highlighted the elements he feels are destroying the genre and how current hip-hop deviates from the music that he was a part of in the early-mid eighties.
Griff offered up the following disclaimer: "You aren't going to agree with everything I'm going to say." He then provided the entire auditorium with his phone number, so that we could continue the conversation.
While I understood the initial concept of the lecture, shortly after introducing the title, Griff began to digress from the topic and ventured into a 300-plus slide PowerPoint that touched on sexuality within the media, the Illuminati, the spiritual chakra and blood sacrifices, among many other things. He attempted to link these seemingly unrelated topics into a lecture just shy of two hours long.
Although I have heard some of Griff's theories before, such as Jay-Z being a Free Mason and the Illuminati's subconscious influence on rap music, some of what he presented was just plain absurd. I couldn't contain my laughter when Griff started talking about "demonic people," "witchcraft" and how, "St. Nick is the devil."
At one point the artist contemplated the secret meanings within company logos. During the Q&A following the lecture, when a student asked if some of the things he presented might just be coincidences, Griff responded, "I don't believe in coincidence at all."
Even though most of the lecture was more comical than informative, Griff did express some relevant sentiments shared across the hip-hop community about the current state of the genre. "Hip-hop was the voice of the voiceless, but it isn't anymore. American rap is not helping anyone anymore. Internationally, some artists still have it," Griff said.
Griff lectured that hip-hop used to be comprised of four elements: the DJ, the emcee, the B-Boy and the graffiti artist. Today, he feels that the genre has moved to be solely concentrated on the emcee and, consequently, we are losing three-fourths of the tradition that is hip-hop.
While a certain portion of the lecture was hard to believe, Public Enemy's Professor Griff certainly had opinions on how hip-hop has evolved over the years and provided a night of great entertainment for all those in attendance.