PT masthead
Go to Home page divide Go to Past Issues divide Subscribe divide Go to Links

Members of Hip-Hop community.
By David Chang Schulman

“Manifest Destiny.” Two words that virtually sum up the paradigm of the United States of America, coined in the context of westward expansion but exemplified in domestic and foreign policy throughout history and to this day.  Embedded in the belief of a natural Anglo-Saxon superiority, this mindset is especially devastating for two groups: Native Americans and Blacks in the form of indigenous holocaust and slavery. Theorists have used the term “manifest manners” to describe methods used to reinforce cultural, social, and economic barriers leading to the continuation of existing power structures and social hierarchies in the United States. These methods include the ironic adaptation of minority culture in popular discourse.

This adaptation serves multiple cultural functions. Indigenous culture was key in forming national identity, not only at the conception of the nation, but throughout industrialization, the counterculture movements of 1960s, and the New Age movement, as Philip Deloria explains in his book Playing Indian. In an attempt to overcome the changing landscape of American society in the late 18th and early 19th century due to industrialism, Americans created their own fictional characterization of Native Americans. They embraced what they found useful in their own pursuits for national as well as individual identity while using what they considered harmful to reinforce the “manifest manners” paradigm.

Like this misuse of indigenous cultures to reinforce stratification, the adaptation of Hip Hop culture has similar implications. Hip hop, a multibillion-dollar industry, was derived from the music, dance, style, and fashion of Blacks. In mass media’s ruthless quest for profits, it created and marketed an apparently genuine African American culture that made the ghetto and the problems that come with poverty seem glamorous. Hip Hop Congress board member Bakari Kitwana traces the socio-economic conditions leading to the commoditization of Hip Hop in his book Why White Kids Love Hip Hop, pointing out the alienation of the middle-class in the ‘80s and ‘90s as the key catalyst.

When put into conversation with Deloria, important parallels can be drawn. Both Deloria and Bakari are in essence talking about white middle-class tensions over the exploitative nature of capitalism. Deloria calls it anti-modern anxieties, while Bakari calls it middle-class alienation. The key difference between both authors lies within historical context.
Indigenous authors have historically worked to deconstruct “manifest manners” through “trickster hermeneutics,” using the very language of popular discourse. Deloria coins the term “post-Indian warriors” to explain this phenomenon among indigenous authors, saying they “found themselves acting Indian, mimicking white mimickings of Indianness.” Trickster hermeneutics not only let Native American writers identify with their audience, but also invert the idea of manifest manners. Such trickster hermeneutics can also be found in the cultural text of Hip Hop.

Mos Def is a prominent artist engaging in trickster hermeneutics. In “Mathematics,” he lists statistics about social issues and asks the audience to question them, using trickster hermeneutics in the chorus by sampling various lyrics from popular songs. This engages an audience who most likely has heard all of the songs, forcing them to compare the messages found in popular music. Rapper Immortal Technique’s “Dance with the Devil” attempts to show the damaging effects of the mentality found in popular gangster rap songs by using the same language that makes gangster rap so appealing to its audience.

Despite the power behind Immortal Techniques’ work, the fact remains that he is an underground artist unable to reach as wide of an audience as his popular counterparts, a struggle shared by a broad network of hip hop artists reaching across the world.  However, methods such as trickster hermeneutics empower these artists, giving them a significant opportunity to combat manifest manners for this generation.

The full version of this paper can be found on, and

By Tina Wright and Shamako Noble
Network theory gives Hip Hop the ability to understand how it passes information along through a song, an event, or an initiative. It also provides Hip Hop with a concrete methodology for identifying gaps in communications, best practices, and allies in the struggle. It allows us to connect what is local and regional to what is national and international without compromising integrity. Further, it gives insight into what makes the collective knowledge of a group grow, and why best practices can improve simply by adjusting the flow of information in the network.

Local networks in Hip Hop tend to be based in area codes, zip codes, and travel proximity. They are at youth centers, educational institutions, streets and hoods. They include crews, records labels, dance groups, arts collectives, etc. They also includes family, extended family, and friends. It is at this level you can find the most focused community building activity. Regional networks in Hip Hop tend to be names that may include more than one area code: The Bay Area, Chi Town, The Northwest, So Cal, The DirtSouth. These include professional associations, record labels, youth and cultural organizations with more formal with less focused community building.

National networks tend to be decentralized in most cases, with headquarters typically based in East Coast (Zulu Nation, Hip Hop Caucus) or the West Coast (Hip Hop Congress, Hip Hop Chess Federation). Some networks are based on chapter/affiliate models. Some networks based on dues systems and associations. Many networks are informal but professional. Still other networks remain more underground. Often these national networks are connected to local work, but are often failing to connect local work to each other.
When we apply network theory we can look at the examples of the Umojafest P.E.A.C.E. Center in Seattle, Silicon Valley Debug in San Jose, and J.U.I.C.E. (Justice by Uniting In Creative Energy) in Los Angeles. All of these centers represent different phases and different parts of the same struggle. Each is a center committed to youth, community development and culture. Each is both supported by and limited by its own social network. They are strong in their local and regional, but not as connected to what is happening nationally, in many cases by choice. Hip Hop Congress and Urban Teachers Network as national institutions have a presence in each of these regions. The presence varies however, and while it has college campuses and artists networks available, its work in each area has led it to each of these centers.

The common challenges faced are youth programs and centers being cut, violence in black and brown communities, educational quality diminishing, less opportunity for students and people of color. Silicon Valley Debug specializes in police accountability. J.U.I.C.E. specializes in consistent, quality Hip Hop programs, and the Umojafest P.E.A.C.E Center specializes in effective youth leadership and violence prevention and intervention.

But what happens when not only do they not know each other exist, but their networks don’t even cross wires? The solution is an additional network, or set of network nodes that must redirect the flow of information and organization to force the group to reconcile the existence of each other. The Urban Teachers Network and HHC by networking artists, educators and organizers through these institutions begin the process of cross community pollinations. This provides the opportunity for these centers and the communities they are a part of to see their struggles in each other, and in so doing identify causes of the problem that may exist beyond their immediate communities, as well as solution that exist in their communities.

The future of networks in Hip Hop center round an increase in activity between national networks and youth centers based on mission integration, mutual survival and at its core, network and community development. The approach to network development will include the use of technology as well as the importance of in person meeting

In addition, more importance will be placed on the individual as an actor node, and there will be continued increased pressure to influence your own network as indicated by the growth of social network technology and increase in social entrepreneurship. Networks and individuals become “smarter” theoretically and in real time, have the potential for greater efficiency and impact and an increased capacity for mission success. In the end, networks properly embraced and utilized lead to greater capacity for shared accountability and responsibility.


Jacka is a Rap Phenomenon. From breaking to rhyming with crew The Mobfigaz reppin’ Pittsburg,CA: “The Jack” has become an Underground Superstar. Having 2 albums under his belt including “The Jack Artist” & “Jack of All Trades” he’s set for the world stage with album “Tear Gas,” Lately he’s murdering the airwaves with singles “All Over Me” & “Glamorous Lifestyle”. Jacka won WestCoast Artist of the Year in 2008 at OzoneMagazine Awards & has been in XXL & other publications due to rigid work ethic, a Diehard fanbase & GoldenMean Management. Jacka goes far back in HipHopCongress, performing at HHC NationalConferences/Youth Events & participating in several community movements.

More Info Check


This article originated in the People's Tribune
PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654, 773-486-3551,
Feel free to reproduce unless marked as copyrighted.
Please include this message with reproductions of the article.