The Black Panther Party: Returning For Rap Pt. 1

If you open a textbook and read the history of the Black Panther Party, you will see how prevalent they were in the social movement. For almost 40 years, they have been on the frontlines, tackling and confronting America’s most important issues with action as their weapon. This elite group of black men and women […]

If you open a textbook and read the history of

the Black Panther Party, you will see how prevalent they were in the social


For almost 40 years, they have been on the frontlines,

tackling and confronting America’s most important issues with action as their


This elite group of black men and women have

time and again stared in the face of adversity and laughed hysterically. This

isn’t to say that there have not been many mountains to climb along the way.

Primarily known as an organization of action

and resource, the Black Panthers have begun to utilize music as an alternative

tool to get their message to the public.

With the inception of Black Panther Records,

they are finalizing several projects, most notably their debut album, "All

Of Us," which features the three-man group, Black Panther Fugitives. had an opportunity to speak with

CEO Dorion Hilliard and BPF member Jamiel Calhoun about continuing the legacy

of the Black Panther Party and the challenges that may lie ahead. First and foremost, let’s talk

about Black Panther Records. Who came up with the idea, who is in charge of

the operation, etc?

Dorion Hilliard: Basically, what we are about

doing is representing the legacy of the Black Panther Party. Music is one of

the vehicles that we utilize to do that. Me and my father had been talking about

it for five or six years. He encountered Jamiel at his mother-in-law’s bookstore

looking at a CD Jamiel had put out. We talked to his wife about the project,

and come to find out, Jamiel was a Panther child. So, we’ve been doing our thing

ever since then. It’s really a proud time for us to just come together as former

Panther child members, sharing our wits with our generation, because we are

Hip-Hop. This is putting that revolutionary twist, coming from the bloodline,

on Hip-Hop. We are bringing that real perspective. Me and my father had been

playing with ideas and trying to come up with more effective ways to get this

history to the generation that seem to have lacked politics in their action,

and to give them the opportunity to embrace the Panther legacy that was proven.

One of the broadest mediums was this Hip-Hop culture that has taken this world

by surprise. I’ll always believe that Hip-Hop

is the final relevant voice of Black people, and the most powerful tool to make

an impact, whether it is positive or negative. With that said, how challenging

is it to bring a strong message in a time where strong messages are lacking

in the music industry?

Jamiel Calhoun: The studio aspect is really not

that hard, because it’s our diet of ideas, it’s the way we sing, and it’s the

way we get down anyway. The hard part actually comes in trying to implement

to the mass media, the public, and those who are too busy shaking booties and

popping Cristal. We’re not preaching to you, but at the same token, there’s

so much more going on around you, and the decisions and the things that you

are doing are now affecting how it’s going to be brought about. We use music

to gather them around and get them feeling the beats first, and then we try

to loop them back in with some content.

DH: It isn’t to say that commercial Hip-Hop is

bad, because through commercialism, you gain a level of success. It allows you

to convey your message, your product, or whatever your constituent base is.

So, we are OK with the commercial aspect. We are trying to bring some level

of respectability and responsibility. Hip-Hop has influenced a couple of generations

of our youth. We as former Panther children give ourselves to the youth. We

are not trying to go out there and pretend to be hard; we are just who we are.

We are former Panther children that have become adults and have been a part

of this Hip-Hop generation. This is what you call the true essence of revolutionary

music. We are the blood of that struggle.

JC: Exactly.

DH: We are looking to galvanize some Black pride

and some cultural pride, and create some ideas for this generation through our

music. With the images that you have

chosen to bring forth over the years, do you think there will be any sort of

backlash that can come from that? Over the years, the image that was set of

the Black Panthers was Black men and women wearing dark shades, sporting big

Afros, and toting even bigger guns. Are you going to bring back that image or

are you bringing forth the Black Panther Party in a lighter sense?

JC: What we are doing is in no way what Nike

would do or is in no way what IBM or Apple has done. We ain’t changing nothing.

Ain’t nothing about our history that we are ashamed of, and if that’s the image

that they want to portray, we can’t stop that. That was a part of the Panther

history, but if you’re going to know Panther history, know it all. The guns

were just a self-defense phase, which was first. Then we had the program and

community building. We had the international connection going on with 47 chapters

going on across the country. We are going to make sure that it’s understood

on all levels.

DH: What’s important is that you and the public

understand that we are not posturing no image. It wasn’t about posturing; it

was about solutions and finalizing things by action. It ain’t about those images.

That’s what this generation of Hip-Hop has been about. Taking images and old

music, sampling and not utilizing their inept creativity, their God-given creativity.

So, we are not pushing images, we are pushing ideology and practices that show

a greater level of success as individuals.

JC: I also want to point out that the term "revolutionary"

doesn’t mean nothing anymore. You got all these cats running around claiming

it, but it doesn’t have the same weight that it used to. We are not here to

put down those cats. We are here to do what we’ve been doing for 37 years.

DH: Revolutionary means to bring change about.

In order for change to come about, there has to be action. These are the practices

that we began to take because we stand on the back of that legacy that is one

of practicality. Our thing is to first become a part of Hip-Hop. It’s a process,

and this is the revolutionary process that we can take Hip-Hop to by our bare

existence within Hip-Hop. We have a legacy to uphold and some integrity to stand

on, and that’s what Hip-Hop has missed out on. It hasn’t had a collective foundation.

It’s had a "me, me, my, my" sort of deal. Therefore, there’s a decisive

edge put forth for those who’s simply been in it for personal aggrandizement.