Right after 9/11, Davey D, a longtime hip-hop journalist and radio host, remembers rappers throwing benefit concerts for firefighters and cops. "I remember Canibus joining the army, and Eminem penned some words about Bin Laden, wanting to get him."
But hip-hop has a long tradition of distrusting authority, and the War on Terror was no different.
Some rappers focused on American foreign policy that they said contributed to Islamist terror; others began to doubt the official account of 9/11 itself. Immortal Technique's 2005 song "Bin Laden" produced with DJ Green Lantern includes the chorus:
Bin Laden didn't blow up the projectsIt was you, tell the truthBush knocked down the towers
Jake Paine, editor of HipHopDX.com, says hip-hop has always loved conspiracy, "but now with 9/11, it is a little different because it is such a sensitive issue." Immortal Technique told Studio 360, "My only point in making music which is sometimes incendiary is to make people realize that there is a back story to all of this. When people are like, 'why are you so distrusting of the government?' my response is always, 'Why are you so trusting?'"
Paine says rappers deserve credit for asking tough questions. But he also thinks the embrace of false conspiracy theories hurts hip-hop's credibility. "I worry that someone who is not watching CNN or reading the newspaper, and is only listening to MP3 hip hop are running with scissors with some of that information." Davey D insists that rappers are simply reflecting their audience. "Hip-hop records or not," he says, "that conversation was already in the neighborhood. It still is in the neighborhood."
Video: Immortal Technique's "Bin Laden" (explicit lyrics and images)
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