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When Science Peeked Inside The Mind of Hip-Hop

In Education, Hip Hop, Music on December 31, 2012 at 10:40 pm


For many of us in the world of rhymes, beats and ciphers, it comes as little to no surprise to find that art and lyricism greatly impacts the stream of consciousness. But scientists have recently discovered what happens inside of the brain of a freestyle artist as they perform. They’ve discovered that the act of freestyling activates an area in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain that plays a role in self-motivation and a portion of the mind is also accessed that deals with morality and self-reflection.

As this particular area of the brain lights up, the cognitive portion that deals with analyzing (which can result in over-thinking) becomes less active allowing energy from the “upper region” to become dominate and flow-freely. According to lead researcher on the project Dr Siyuan Liu , the increased brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and all along its mid-line suggests that freestylers tap into the subconscious mind.


A “flow” state is entered, which researchers described as a “complete immersion in creative activity, typified by focused self-motivation, positive emotional valence and loss of self-consciousness.”


In the hip-hop world we call this zoning out…. But what do we listeners gain from the experience of ingenious improvisation? Why are we as so inspired and excited to hear words seemingly “formed out of thin air”?  Could this “free-style state of mind” replicate man’s potential to tap into the god within with unfettered access once left uninterrupted by doubt and second-guesses? Fear and over-thinking? Just what all are we capable of when we submit to a higher state of mind? Something to think about..



Minister Farrakhan, Rihanna Controversy, and A Young Voice from Africa

In Education, Hip Hop on March 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm

First of all we’d like to thank the media for providing this unique opportunity that sets the stage for a special and much needed dialogue between both the cultural and spiritual community and for exposing a new audience to a very important and powerful spiritual leader who can give divine insight into the current state of popular culture and it’s effects on humanity. For those who  wonder why it is important for such dialogue to take place you may not have heard the rising outcry of young artists like Jasmine Mann who delivered a heartfelt poetic address on the image of Nicki Minaj or New Orleans rapper Dee-1 who wrote a lyrical plea on artist accountability addressed to jay, 50, and weezy.

dee 1

These are just two acts of many that are now taking place sparking a new wave cultural activism against degrading  images in hip hop reaching all the way to Africa. In a 2001 address to hip hop artists in New York  Minister Farrakhan stated “I do not think it is an accident that music and culture have moved to this time and that the spoken word has become that which is affecting youth throughout the entire planet. In countries where governments do not like western music or western civilization, people are sneaking around listening to the word and moving to the beat of the hip hop generation. – In China, in Japan, in Europe, in Africa, in the Caribbean, in Central America and South America, the youth are following you.”

On Feb 28th we come to see that this statement is indeed true when a youtube video was uploaded of ten year old Watoto From The Nile sending a “Letter to Lil Wayne”. A song  which has been described as a direct statement of justice explaining that people are growing tired and fed up with the constant degredation of Black women inside of Hip Hop music. Children voice thier views and opinions on the melodic track.

During the speech the minister went on to say “When you are a rapper and you understand your leadership role, you must understand that, with leadership comes responsibility. You did not ask for it. It is imposed on you, but you now have to accept responsibility that you have never accepted.” This address took place ten years ago and was heard by many of our popular artists and executives both major and independent. But just who is this man Minister Farrakhan? Who is this ‘Islamic preacher’ who is listened to by millions, and sought out for guidance throughout the world of politics, entertainment, and religion? Who is this man oft times seen with and embraced by many famous Black artists, actors, and musicians?  What did Minister Farrakhan really say at the 2011 Saviours’ Day address in Chicago?

To the news source that twisted the address and reported Minister Farrakhan as calling Rihanna fans swine, in an attempt to divert people away from a man that you don’t want us to listen to, you have instead provided a platform to expose a new audience to someone that a generation in confusion would benefit very much from hearing. During the Feb 27th address before dissecting images portrayed to the masses throughout popular culture, Minister Farrakhan spoke on the inner manifestation of god that lies within all human beings ” I’m not into condemning you for what you do like I’m the holy one.. we all come out of the same cut.. but I know what I see in you so I’m always trying to pull it because I see God”

He then stated that we are beginning to be ‘swine-like’ in our behavior and  have become numb to indecency and proceeded to speak on what was recently shown on the annual televised award show. “I saw my beautiful sister the other night at the Grammy Awards… my poor sister… and she was dressed.. almost with like a pair of drawers and she got her legs wide open and is just grinding away.  (brief pause) If that didn’t revolt you, you’re beginning to be a swine. When you can sit down and listen to somebody and every third word is “you mf ” this and they start talking about the act that is done in private and bring it out in the public and make it so low down and filthy and you’re sitting there laughing at a filthy damn joke and then the next day you go to church and sing in the choir you are a swine.”

This may be a tough pill to swallow for a generation not used to being checked for it’s behavior to the near point of self-destruction. But we have to ask have the masses truly fallen into lowly state of existence and have come to love more and more extreme and debauched expressions of artistry? Is it true that society is being made to accept and be comfortable with degeneracy?  If so what effect is it having on our youth and civilization in general? So far it is appearing that a movement is emerging that conflicts with the messages being sent out by mainstream machines. Things are gradually coming to a point where you’ll eventually have to choose sides and decide if you want to break away and be a part of what benefits humanity or continue to bask in that which ill-affects us and our future, the youth. Either way you have to think.. even the babies are crying out against the madness.

Before you go check out Casta Stone a young artist from West Africa stepping to the mic to prove that all hope isn’t lost..

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Fresh Daily

In Education, Hip Hop on February 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

We are always on the look out for artists with not only a dope presentation but a dope presentation of SKILL.. And although we at  Music Is Alive believe that dropping knowledge is DOPE, droppin it on the daily is even better.. Take a listen..


Cultural Responsibility Movement Launches at Miami Hip Hop Conference

In Education, Events, Hip Hop on October 24, 2010 at 3:15 pm

For Immediate Release

Contact:          Tony Muhammad

Vice-Chair Difference Makers, Inc.


(L-R Arian “Poetess” Muhammad, Jasiri X, LaGuardia Cross Jr., Adisa Banjoko, Tony “Hip Hop Educator” Muhammad)

Difference Makers Inc. Non -Profit Organization and the FIU African and African Diaspora Studies Graduate Students Association Present

The 2010 Organic Hip Hop Conference:

“Building a National Movement of Responsibility”

October 29th – 30th

MIAMI, Florida – For the past six years, The Organic Hip Hop Conference has become a leading voice in advocating healthy living through Hip Hop culture to the South Florida community.  Just as Hip Hop as a culture and movement was founded under the principle of saving the lives of the youth in the streets of the South Bronx in the 1970s, the legacy continues today, as the message of Organic Hip Hop is oriented towards setting new qualitative standards in the ways that we think, eat and act as individuals, families and communities.

Since 2004, the breadth of the conference has expanded.  It began as a lecture symposium coupled with a vegetarian banquet, conscientious entertainment and cultural venders at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay.  Since then, it has turned into an annual staple experience for the community filled with workshops, film screenings, award ceremonies and concerts.  In recent years it has been held in key cultural South Florida locations; at the Miami Light Project’s Light Box near Wynnewood’s distinguished arts community (2008) and the historic African Cultural Arts Center in the heart of the Liberty City community (2009).  The conference has attracted people of different genres who seek to promote Hip Hop as a culture and force that can positively transform lives.  Past Organic Hip Hop events featured cultural and intellectual icon KRS One, Professor Griff of the famed Rap group Public Enemy, Queen Afua and Supa Nova Slom, Brother J (of X Clan), journalist Davey D, holistic dietician Dr. Laila O. Afrika and community leader Min. Rasul Muhammad.

The 7th Annual Organic Hip Hop Conference will take place on October 29 – 30, 2010.  Unlike previous conferences, it will be a part of a larger national movement of collective responsibility among artists called the MIA (Music is Alive) Campaign.  Congruently, the theme of this year’s conference will be “Building a National Movement of Responsibility.”  Co-sponsoring the conference will be Difference Makers, Inc. Non-Profit Organization and the FIU African and African Diaspora Studies Graduate Students Association.

Day 1 of the conference (Friday, October 29) will be held at Florida International University’s Modesto Maidique Campus.  From 9 am to 3 pm, both public and private school educators are invited to partake in workshops demonstrating how to incorporate the empowering voice of Hip Hop in day to day classroom activities.  Workshop instructors include Organic Hip Hop Conference co-organizer Tony Muhammad, Hip Hop Chess Federation co-founder Adisa Banjoko, national recording artist behind the “Free the Jena 6” anthem Jasiri X. Smith, MIA Campaign founder Arian Muhammad AKA Poetess and PATH (Preserving, Archiving & Teaching Hip Hop History) founder Brimstone 127.

Workshop instructors will convene again at 7:30 pm for a panel discussion on the importance of “Building a National Movement of Responsibility” within Hip Hop.  Immediately following the panel discussion there will be a live band local artist showcase featuring J Phonnix; Laguardia; Mecca AKA Grimo; Lip, Tongue and Ears founder Shamelle Jenkins; Kimani Kenyatta; Big Babatunde; Orion and Lox the Rippa.  To attend please RSVP the AADS GSA by calling 305-348-4264.

Day 2 of the conference (Saturday, October 30) will be held at two locations.  The first portion will be held at the historic African Heritage Cultural Arts Center in Liberty City.  From 10 am to 2pm, youth as well as families are invited to participate in interactive workshops oriented towards healthy eating, thinking and living.  Workshop topics include “A New Diet for the Hip Hop Generation,” “Kemetic Yoga 101,” “The Value of the Spoken Word” and “Chess and the Martial Arts.”

On Saturday evening, MIA Campaign organizers will gather at Catalyst for a “Build Session” with Miami Hip Hop community leaders for the purpose of discussing how to develop and expand educational and cultural programs both locally and nationally.  Shortly following the “Build Session” attendees will engage in games of chess, checkers and dominos while local DJs spin smooth grooves and artists display their talents open mic style.

For more info, visit

For Colored Girls who feel like Black Bitches after watching BET

In Poetically Speaking on May 30, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Who says women aren’t stepping up and fighting back?  We came across this no holds barred poetess and had to share this one for the sisters..


“For Colored Girls who feel like Black Bitches after watching BET”

Got me feeling like maybe
I am just a bad bitch or buss-it baby
Nothing more than a D cup and round butt
Face down and ass up
Dropping it low for he with the biggest bankroll
Cause she on TV looks just.. like… me
In red lip gloss, a corset, and lace weave
Ready to suck it off or get laid
Oversexed and underpaid
Am an all week freak
All blonde streaks
And ass cheeks
To rap beats

Am a consumer
Compulsive buyer
All I do is shop and bop
Off these tricks or the gov’ment
Compulsive liar
See me on Maury, yelling, “Sorry!”
“This gotta be wrong!”
And still pop that P for the theme song

A loudmouth bitch
Checking his email, voicemail
Facebook, and Twitter
And if I see another chick picture with some glitter
Imma get wit her
His space is MySpace –
I’m all in his face
And if it’s a problem, I’m running up behind him
Wynita Bynum
Yeah, I know you HEARD me!
Fat, Black, and insecure
Martin Lawrence, Eddie Murphy
I deserve to get fucked on the floor like Halle Berry
Cause that’s the game, girlfriends,
Kelsey Grammer, Tyler Perry
Hell to the naw
And you can’t get wit it if you can’t follow this ass in the mall
And if they wanna be like Mike and go White
Or like Tiger and rather find her Caucasian bussing tables
Than Black with an education
I’ll go dyke
Like Nicki or Eve –
I am B.E.T.
And you can’t change me
Unless you change the station.
© 2010 Nikala Asante


In Education, Hip Hop on May 3, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Jasiri X is a MC, Activist and Entrepreneur. He burst on the scene with the controversial hit song “FREE THE JENA 6” which was named “Hip-hop Political Song of the Year”.

He followed that up with the groundbreaking Hip-Hop news series “This Week With Jasiri X”. Each Episode features Jasiri X reporting the National news over the hottest beats. As President of LYRICS Inc.

Jasiri successfully navigates communication with youth and adults showing the pros and cons of this growing phenomenon called Hip-Hop.

Towards Response-ability Within the Culture: Are YOU on board?

In Education, Hip Hop on May 3, 2010 at 6:11 am

The MIA Music Is Alive Campaign for Hip Hop Service

The Hip Hop Day of Service is a call for Hip Hop to reflect on the direction of the culture in the spirit of examination and revitalization.  It’s about accountability and collective responsibility of artists to their communities and will serve as a time  for artists, activists, and youth to unite and collectively perform humanitarian and charitable services within their local cities. It is not a singular event or 24 hour day it is the dawn of a new era. Spearheading this much needed day in hip hop history, is a national campaign that launches this fall. This campaign is an arts movement that emphasizes that if we all were to unite under one umbrella within our respective organizations we can become more powerful and be in a better position to challenge current trends that are destroying our communities.
The visionaries and and participants of this movement are everyday artists and activists who want to make a difference. We are teachers, students, independent artists, grassroots activists, humanitarians, parents, sons, and daughters. We are the response to a worldwide cultural epidemic on a quest to  mobilize and galvanize our intellectual and creative minds in an effort to regain control over all facets of our creative expression. Its bigger than hip-hop though hip-hop’s influence and true cause is a phenomenal component in this mission.
This campaign is about recognizing the power of the arts on a massive scale that transcends far beyond ‘the block’ into the poverty stricken villages of Africa all the way to the graffiti stained alley ways of China. We are they who recognize music as not only the art of organized sound but as a universal language inseparable from the human condition.

Cities on board :

Pittsburg, PA

Miami, FL

Flint, MI

Chicago, Ill

Phoenix, Arizona

Indianapolis, IN

Los Angeles, CA

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

New York, NY

Get involved!

contact us @

Trials of a Hip Hop Educator: Promoting Proper Education in Our Communities

In Education, Hip Hop on April 29, 2010 at 10:17 pm

By Bro. Tony Muhammad

Now let me tell you folks just exactly what I mean
The way they try to lower, the black man’s self esteem
Put us in their schools and I call em mental graves
When they teach us bout ourselves, all we learn that we were slaves

It amazes me that it was almost 18 years ago that Grand Puba of the legendary Hip Hop group Brand Nubian uttered these lyrics in the song Proper Education. Despite the growth in the development of Black, Latino, Native American, Asian and other cultural history curricula throughout the country, if we take a look at the current state of education and how it affects our youth, we can safely say that we are in the same state that we were back then, if not worse. Yes, there are now classes in high schools all throughout the country that have been developed specifically for the instruction of African and African American History, Latin American History, etc. Yet, we have truly not experienced significant advances in the overall consciousness of our communities. The youth and hence grown adults continue to confuse or lack even the vague notions of critical recent events in our history (i.e. Confusing The Civil Rights Movement and The Civil War because they both contain the word “civil” and The March on Washington with The Million Man March because they both took place in the nation’s capital). In truth, those of us that are most aware of this problem are no longer in a position where we can simply blame the system for not properly teaching our true history in a public school setting because we have even taken for granted the value of teaching our history itself. The process very intricately involves the cultivation and nourishment of the self-esteem of our youth of color, but it is not merely limited to this. KRS-One put it best 22 years ago in the song You Must Learn:

I believe that if you’re teaching history
Filled with straight up facts no mystery
Teach the student what needs to be taught
‘Cause Black and White kids both take shorts
When one doesn’t know about the other ones’ culture
Ignorance swoops down like a vulture

Emphatically, as a Social Studies educator who has made the decision to play a role in shaping young minds in an inner-city public high school for over 10 years, I will say that we can no longer expect the system to do for us what we can do for ourselves and our local communities. Signs of this critical hour are found in the manner in which cultural curricula is treated in two principle states that play a strong role in the development of textbooks; Texas and Florida. (and a host of other websites) recently ran an article entitled “Texas Board Of Education Declare Hip Hop Is Not A Cultural Movement.” In the article it states that Members of the Texas State Board of Education have given preliminary approval to eliminate significant areas of the curriculum pertaining to Civil Rights and global politics and replace them with “conservative historical figures and beliefs.” These conservative forces also “approved to have a sociological focus on institutional racism and its presence in American society banned from the books,” in addition to removing references to important Latino contributions throughout history – this is in a state that contains over 8.9 million Latinos (roughly 37% of the population). In addition, Hip Hop History which is filled with many stories of personalities playing integral roles in working to eliminate violence in communities by way of the arts will also be deleted from the curriculum. A final vote on this measure will take place sometime in May after conscientious voices in the community have had the opportunity to voice their opinions. What I will say in short about this is that what the Texas School Board is attempting to do is eliminate any ray of light from the past that may serve to inspire the hope for change in the lives of poor Black, Latino and even White youth. By eliminating such critical elements of history from the curriculum is contributing to factors that will land more of our youth in Texas in prison.

In Florida, African and African American History is a state mandate which requires school systems throughout the state to implement it throughout the curriculum. While it has been a state law since the early 1990s, the mandate and the seat that oversees its implementation has continued to be unfunded by the state and it has been proven time and time again that there is no true penalty for school systems that are not in accords with its guidelines. In February I had the opportunity to be the only educator present at a meeting between curriculum specialists representing three of the largest school districts in Florida, which are regarded as “exemplary” in their implementation of African and African American History; Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade. I was invited because of my work in reforming the African American Voices Curriculum for Miami-Dade County. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how the three school districts can work together so that we can more successfully educate students in the area of African and African American History. While engaged in this dialogue, there was an attempt on the part of two White curriculum specialists from Broward to derail the focus of the meeting and turn it into a plead for more funding from the state for the purpose of increasing professional development for teachers. I commented in response that while more funding is definitely needed, ultimately “Enthusiasm is not determined by funding.” I said in the presence of a state education official in that very room that if the state has not adequately funded the African and African American History mandate as of yet, it is not going to be doing it in these troubled economic times. The state of Florida has proven that it does not really consider the African and African American History mandate a priority, but rather keeps it as a law as an attempt to keep conscientious voices quiet. I proposed as a strategy instead to scope out enthusiastic teachers in schools throughout the three counties to become advocates not just to teach classes in Black History, but to transform the whole school culture through programs oriented in Black History. The two White curriculum specialists interrupted me and accused me of proposing a “pep rallying” agenda. I closed the meeting by saying that the need for proper implementation of Black History goes far beyond teaching a class and goes far beyond mere pep rallying around its content, but in essence, it is about instilling a sense of responsibility in the hearts and minds of the youth that it is being taught to so that they can become effective community leaders when they grow up and are in a position to give back and serve the community. In truth, it has been Black people in the history of this country (and I will also say this world) that have been the prime catalysts for change and inspiring change whenever it has been deemed necessary for a change to take place. If Black History (and really any history) is not taken and put to heart in this manner, we end up ineffective in what we seek to accomplish educationally.

As educators that hold certified degrees in the field as well as those among us that do not hold certified degrees in the field, the solution does not lie fully in state educational mandates, but in the level of responsibility that we are willing to fill our hearts with and the level of sacrifice we are willing to commit to in providing service to our communities, especially in respects to the next generations that are coming up under us. The process must involve proper role modeling and a thorough teaching of our true history, for, as Marcus Garvey put it himself “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” In truth, no school systems have any real power to determine what knowledge is best for our youth to learn for their growth and development. As conscientious communities we hold that right!

As a note, while the work that will be required to impact a significant change in consciousness a reality may entail much volunteerism, let us bear in mind that no good work is ever left unrewarded. Our first reward comes in the form of us actually witnessing the transformative effect of our work. If worked in a proper way through networking and the pooling of our resources, it will guarantee opportunities that will garner further success for many of us.

More discussion on this very soon through the will of God!

Tony Muhammad teaches Social Studies at an inner-city high school in Miami and is currently involved in The MIA (Music Is Alive) Campaign for the development of the National Hip Hop Day of Service on August 11th . Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference. He is also a member of Difference Makers, Inc. and FLASC (Florida Africana Studies Consortium).