By Hillary Crosley, with reporting by Sway Calloway
It’s Black History Month and time for the annual discussion amongst the hip-hop community: Now that Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are gone, who’s leading us these days? Brooklyn MC Talib Kweli stopped by MTV News earlier this week and spoke to Sway about just that conundrum, along with the living legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
“Without trying to disrespect anybody’s beliefs, [Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X] are our prophets for our generation,” Kweli said. “In the scope of history, they haven’t been gone for too long. Someone asked me ’Do you think the spirit of King is in hip-hop?’ And if you think about it, hip-hop wouldn’t exist without King. Our whole movement is based on Dr. King and Malcolm X.”
Kweli is right, while maybe non-violence isn’t the largest professed ethos of rap, the fact that a people can funnel their opinion, stories and experiences through an artistic venue that’s broadcast internationally is proof that King’s work wasn’t in vain. Kweli went on to discuss who he believes are some of the new leaders in the black community.
“Right now, I shouted out Marc Lamont Hill earlier, I really like that brother a lot and what he’s been able to do for our community. He’s been able to plug me in to certain things that I needed to be plugged into,” the Black Star MC said. “I work a lot with Lumumba Akinwole-Bandele and Monifa Bandele from the Malcolm X Grassroots movement, people who are in the business who are also activists as well, like April Silver and Dream Hampton. These are people that I discuss things with that I feel are the new leadership, and even on the political level — I stay far away from politics but — I like that we have politicians like Kevin Powell and Cory Booker, who apply a hip-hop mentality to what they do. Whether or not we agree on everything is secondary, they apply a hip-hop mentality and that goes as far as the president too. I appreciate these brothers and I want to support them.”
Who do you think are the new leaders of the hip-hop community? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!