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20 Year Radio Veteran, Sean Anthony is the Host of "Flow of Wisdom Radio." It airs live Sundays 3p-5p EST on the GCN Radio Networks (gcnlive.com.) Call in 877-300-7645. He is also the author of "Conversations With Hip Hop" available on Amazon.com

“Conversations With Hip Hop” Ignites Passion

With the release of my first book “Conversations with Hip Hop,” (available NOW on Amazon.com) feedback is beginning to pour in.  I received a message from facebook from an old high school friend stating, “Yo! I finished reading your book today. Great job! I’m in the middle of doing research for my Master’s thesis and reading your book gave me good reason to take a break. Thanks, keep doing what you’re doing. You also inspired ME to write about what you wrote.”

And this is what Ray Ford wrote:

Notes on Sean Anthony’s Conversations with Hip-Hop

By: Ray Ford

In August 1972, at the Wattstax music festival, held in the Los Angeles Coliseum, Jesse Jackson recited the poem, “I Am – Somebody” in call and response form to a primarily black audience that was anxious to see their favorite Stax recording artists perform. The poem, originally penned by Reverend William H. Borders, Sr. in the 1950s, sought to validate pride, inject self-esteem, and confirm the valued existence of people that were disregarded by society. Jackson’s call, however, would not only echo through the sports complex, it would also resonate across the nation and get its loudest response from the inner city youth of the South Bronx, New York City. However, unlike the choral response of the Wattstax audience, the Bronx’s response manifested itself through a counter-cultural movement-one that fused self-esteem and artistic expression in a way that transposed the cadence and theme of the free verse poem into a lifestyle–what Afrika Bambaataa would eventually call hip-hop.

Fast forward to July 1982, which is where Sean Anthony essentially begins his introduction to Conversations with Hip Hop with a brief, yet necessary, treatise about one of the most important rap songs ever recorded–Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s “The Message”. That Anthony decided to begin his conversation at this pivotal point in hip-hop’s history speaks not only to his knowledge of the culture, but it is also an indication of his unassailable belief in using one’s voice to help triumph over personal circumstance.

When “The Message” was released in 1982, the socioeconomic landscape of the South Bronx was in a state of decay and the bacteria that caused its decomposition were a

lack of employment opportunities, sustainable incomes, and a nearly bankrupt city government that ignored the waning conditions of its inner city citizens. Moreover, the government’s neglect of the South Bronx gave it a war torn appearance that mirrored the destruction of Hitler’s bombing raids in London during World War II.

The dilapidated conditions of the South Bronx triggered a survival mode among the majority of its citizens that was fueled by desperation. As the city’s unemployment rate increased, so did gang activity, crime, and drug usage. Moreover, when Ronald Reagan took office in 1981, he implemented a supply-side economic strategy, also known as Reaganomics that not only removed social programs that aided the lower class, but also helped to widen the wealth gap. The root of the inner city’s angst during the Reagan administration was the feeling of hopelessness, fueled by the reality of being socially and economically excluded by the powers that be.

However, amidst the rubble, wrecked buildings, gang activity, and waves of crime that riddled the South Bronx, another mode of survival began to materialize, a yet to be named way of life that created styles of dance, music, and art–hip-hop culture. In his essay, “hip hop 101,” Robert Thompson said that “…it seem[ed] the young men and women of that much misunderstood borough had to invent hip-hop to regain the voice that had been denied them through media indifference or manipulation” (213). Not only does Anthony pay homage to and highlight the sociopolitical significance of “The Message,” he also uses the song and the environment from which it was created to proclaim his own message to today’s youth–the importance of self cultivation, which he funnels through lessons from the bible.

At first glance, the book’s title seems straightforward and reads as though a simple back and forth about hip-hop culture is all to be expected. However, the book is much more than a modest dialogue about the culture that, for lack of a better word, is Anthony. The book is, in fact, an ideological manifesto that had no choice but to be shaped by the very culture that essentially shaped Anthony. Each of the fourteen chapters is aesthetically tethered, however implicitly, to the survival mode of the South Bronx and Anthony uses that positive and creative energy to inspire his readers. The conversational elements of the book are simultaneously retrospective, extrospective, and most importantly introspective, which gives the reader a glimpse of Anthony’s life and logic on and off the air. As a result, the reader is given the opportunity to meet Sean Anthony the person, which is the key to being a good motivator–to be seen as a human being.

Conversations with Hip Hop gives its readers some of the important tools to maneuver through the rubble of life towards to goal of personal success. Anthony asserts that the journey is not an easy one and that a few mental and emotional bumps and bruises will be sustained, but personal success is always possible.

Works Cited

Fricke, Jim, and Charlie Ahearn. The Experience Music Project: Oral History of Hip Hop’s First Decade: yes, yes, y’all. Boston: Da Capo, 2002. Print.

Thompson, Robert Farris. “hip hop 101.” Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1996. 211-219. Print.

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One Comment on ““Conversations With Hip Hop” Ignites Passion”

  1. QUEBACTUANUFF April 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

    You will discover some fascinating points in time in this write-up but I do not know if I see all of them center to heart. There is certainly some validity but I will take hold opinion until I appear into it further. Great article , thanks and we want even more! Added to FeedBurner as well

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