LIBERATION MUSIC: Whether you're a "real HipHop music" loyalist or a commercial rap fan, at one time or another you'll inevitably end up being drawn into a discussion about HipHop and rap music's impact on the kids (Oh no not the kids!).

The prevailing opinion amongst non-HipHoppers seems to presume that the course language and often violent lyrics create verbally abrasive, violent kids.

While I don't agree with that assessment, I tend to apply a philosophy I learned in college with regard to the media. A journalism professor told me, "The media doesn't tell people what to think, it tells them what to think about."

I believe it's the same with HipHop in the sense that the music is so powerful and carries so much weight within the popular culture that it doesn't necessarily dictate behavior, but it does give clues as to what is important, at least from a HipHop perspective. Therefore, I believe the masses view HipHop as a reflection of the prevailing opinions and attitudes it extols and act accordingly; treating its hedonism, materialism, and misogyny with appropriate disdain, or by accepting and adopting the messages as the definition of what HipHop is.

For example, I remember back in the day Stetsasonic (the original HipHop band, sorry Roots fans) dropped an anti-Apartheid song called "Free South Africa." I was in jr. high or high school and memorized all of the lyrics and the hook, "A-F-R-I-C-A, Angola, Soweto, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Mozambique, and Botswana, so let us speak about the Motherland." Although at the time I didn't know Apartheid from a partridge in a pear tree, I knew that it was something I was supposed to be opposed to, based largely on that song. I also learned a little something about sub-Saharan Africa.

At the time, thanks to the prevailing pro-Black themes and wide-open artistry running through the music, the experience I had with the Stet song was more the exception than the norm. As a result of those repeated and collective experiences, I came to define HipHop as an artistic medium with the power and potential to give voice to and shape the consciousness of generations of young people.

I wanted this piece to capture that rebellious, pro-Black, anti-social, in-your-face vibe that HipHop wore so proudly and prominently before money and corporations banished original thought, artistry and political consciousness to the underground. And what better way to convey all of that than with the boom box (aka the ghetto blaster) whose only purpose was to bombard everyone within earshot with lyrics of fury and def beats a la Radio Raheem.

The original inspiration for this piece came while I was listening to X-Clan's "To the East Blackwards," so the only appropriate lyric for the piece came courtesy of Professor X: "Vainglorious! This is protected by The Red, The Black, and The Green, with a key, Sissyyyyy!"