It’s No Longer Smart to Be Dumb

On July 17th, I will drop my seconnd solo album, Wise Intelligent iz…The Talented Timothy Taylor and I sincerely appreciate for giving me this opportunity to connect and build with you. Now conventional wisdom would say I should use this forum to exclusively promote my new album, but me being me I thought I […]

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On July 17th, I will drop my seconnd solo album, Wise Intelligent iz…The Talented Timothy Taylor and I sincerely appreciate for giving me this opportunity to connect and build with you. Now conventional wisdom would say I should use this forum to exclusively promote my new album, but me being me I thought I would use this time to speak on some of the critical issues facing not only Hip-Hop but the Black Community as well. I’ll offer a few solutions…The title of this article is also the motto and slogan of Wise Intelligent, Intelligent Muzik and the INTELLIGENTNEWZNET. The slogan speaks to my position that we as a community (Hip-Hop/Black) have succumbed to the idea that ignorance is not only bliss, but profitable. It was Jay-Z who said “I dumb down for my audience and doubled my dollars / They criticize me for it yet they all yell ‘Holla.'” The focus of this article is not to determine whether or not ignorance or dumbing down lyrics is profitable, rather to demonstrate why such an idea is counterproductive, self-destructive, anti-Hip-Hop and ultimately – anti-Black. When we consider the fact that Black people and the Black community (worldwide) are the leading victims of nearly every life threatening disease, assault, injustice and/or circumstance (be it consequence or contrived), the INTELLIGENT man, woman or child must ask themselves why for the past 15 years have the overwhelming majority of mainstream MCs/rappers (whichever you prefer) NOT addressed some of the more substantive issues and concerns with anymore aggression than a Public Broadcast Station PSA? And when you do find a mainstream MC/rapper who steps up and tries to give us a little more substance the overwhelming majority of the mainstream press down plays the whole thing. I mean Nelly should be just as known in our community for his “Jes Us 4 Jackie” organization that raises awareness about leukemia and bone marrow donor programs across the country as he is known for his “Tip Drill” song and controversy. It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!I mean, take HIV/AIDS for example: Of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV, the AIDS virus, in 2003, 47 percent were African-American, even though Blacks account for only 12.3 percent of the U.S. population. In 2004, Black men were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS at a rate 603.7 percent higher than that of White men. Black women were diagnosed in 2004 at a rate 1,993 percent higher than that of White women. Even in the face of such decimating statistics, it seems that all we hear from mainstream Black Radio, Video networks and Black artists is “Pop Lock and Drop it,” “I’m a Flirt,” and countless other recordings that perpetuate promiscuity and inevitably the spread of HIV/AIDS? Please tell me why they (the media) are not aggressively pushing the fact that Common has linked up with the “KNOW HIV/AIDS” campaign and program? How many HIV/AIDS infected inner-city kids would have greatly benefited from knowing about his connection to this organization just like the GAP financially benefited greatly from his connection to Hip-Hop? It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!Then there is the Homicide rate: From 1996 to 2000 in a single neighborhood in Trenton, NJ, homicide rose 154% amongst teenagers. Between 1999 and 2003, Blacks in Summit County, Ohio, were killed at a rate of 14.6 per 100,000, compared with 2.7 per 100,000 Whites. At the moment that I am writing this article Philadelphia is rapidly approaching its 200th homicide in just a little over six months. Still, I have not heard any mainstream rappers dealing with this issue with any level of understanding and urgency? It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!Now I know a lot of you might be saying at this point that if your favorite mainstream MC/rapper puts those types of socially and or politically relative themes on his or her albums or projects they won’t sell CDs to the same degree. Well if that’s the case then we really should start dealing with the deeper reasons behind that, because artists in other genres and communities are not suffering any financial backlash for being activists and spokespersons for social causes, as a matter of fact their careers are often enhanced because of it. Take for example, Drew Barrymore, Meg Ryan ,Salma Hayek, Sheryl Crow, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Bono, Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio, and countless others who have all stepped up and used activism to strengthen their careers, and call attention to issues ranging from the environment, poverty, education, animal rights, to the genocide in Darfur. My point for bringing these other entertainers and what they do into this discussion is to show you that it is NOT professional suicide or “old school” to make your art socially relevant and representative of ideas that would push us past our current state of confusion and self-destruction. I mean if George Clooney can speak about the issues in Darfur and his movies still go over $100,000,000, why can’t I expect to be financially secure by speaking about the same things? It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!Now what I do see from us are Hip-Hop artists and organizations galvanizing and mobilizing their manpower, wealth, resources and fan bases to vote for some bulls**t politicians who will continue in the long standing American custom of handing down shallow policies and signing in rhetorical laws, that only serve to cool down our revolting spirit, but are never intended to honestly address the root of the problems. We can “Rock the Vote” until the b***h tips over, but using voting as our main and in most times ONLY viable strategy for change, I’m sad to say, is a tragic mistake and will never fix the core and central problems that keep popping up over and over again. The only thing we haven’t tried since the Black Wall Street days is to establish a solid infrastructure, which in all reality is our ONLY true protection from the racist policies of  both Jackasses and Elephants, and if you don’t believe me just ask the Jewish, Chinese, and Amish Communities! It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!Hip-Hop, to prevent not only the death of itself, but to prevent the death and extinction of the very people from which it came, must look back into its root and rediscover the ACTIVISM of its founders; Afrika Bambataa in particular. To affect change in his Bronx, New York community, Afrika Bambataa who was a member of the Black Spades street gang, organized the youth in a way that would motivate them towards positive attitudes and lifestyles through artistic expression; namely MC/rapping, deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti art. This newly organized outlet for urban expression deterred many youth from the violence of ghetto life and gave birth to the multi-billion dollar industry that is Hip-Hop. It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB! This ACTIVISM is wherein Hip-Hop’s true power exists. And not only Hip-Hop’s power but the power of the Black Community is only demonstrated when all its members are active. As I often say “Black people did not get the right to vote, by voting.” It was the activism of its members that made this possible. Black radio, the Black church, the Black artists, the Black politicians, Black athletes, actors/actresses, entrepreneurs were for the most part active in the struggle to liberate the Black community from injustice, poverty and ignorance. It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB!Unless we, the members of the Hip-Hop and/or Black Community are reconnected to the power of ACTIVISM we are in effect powerless! The MC is only as powerful as she or he is active. The same can be said of the DJ, Graffiti writer, politician, pastor, teacher, entrepreneur, parent, mentor, etc. Metaphysics teaches us that the powers or qualities of an entity (human or Divine) are distributed through all its parts and that only through the connection with the entity are these powers released. The entity in this case is activism; and as long as we are not connected to that source we can not release its powers and get about the business of healing our communities. It’s NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB! Although the causes of most of the problems we face are much more inconspicuous these days, the effects of them are evidence of their existence. As stated above we are the leading HIV/AIDS victims, Homicide, etc. and when we add Incarceration rates, Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer, Obesity, Infant Mortality, single parent households, high-school drop out rates, poverty and illiteracy to the list it becomes apparent that Nas was not so clairvoyant when he surmised that “Hip Hop Is Dead.” Hip-Hop is merely a microcosm of the Black Community and reflects in real time, the Black community’s feelings, attitudes and struggles. Knowing this, we can deduce that, it is not Hip-Hop, but rather the Black Community that is DEAD!  It’s dead because it refuses to take the necessary steps toward saving its children and their future and maybe the future of the collective BLACK WORLD! Considering the current state of the Hip Hop/Black community we can not in the words of a fellow MC be an “MC first, and an activist second,” we must develop a social theory that requires that every individual regardless of his vocation, be an activist first and what ever his occupation, vocation or office is, it should facilitate that activism! We the Hip-Hop/Black community and all of our members were and still are born into aversive conditions, be they apparent or inconspicuous, which require an active effort to attack, escape and free ourselves from them. Until we begin to develop a social theory that determines the behavior and direction of the Black community and its future; until this social theory is predicated on the development of Black infrastructure that facilitates the desire of poor people to do the right thing; until we stop giving the highest value in life to making money; until we 187 our anti-intellectual, anti-theoretical and A-Historical behavior we can convincingly argue that THE BLACK RACE IS DEAD!  We must start stepping up in mass numbers to address our issues, because if ignored these problems and plagues will continue to multiply and be inherited by our children’s children! I promise you that Activism will NOT take away from you skill, your beats, your reputation, your swagger, your ability to have sex, or your bank account; in fact it will only strengthen your career and give you the freedom to express more than just one aspect of yourself! The Hip-Hop and Black Community must immerse ourselves in more INTELLIGENT DIALOGUE, more INTELLIGENT BEHAVIOR, more INTELLIGENT MUZIK, and more WISE INTELLIGENT because, It’s absolutely NO LONGER Smart to be DUMB! Thank you for giving me this moment to build with you, and remember my new album Wise Intelligent iz…The Talented Timothy Taylor is coming out on July 17th on Intelligent Muzik and Shaman Work Recordings….For information about Wise Intelligent, Intelligent Muzik, the INTELLIGENTNEWZNET, and Shaman Work Records please hit us up at,