By Tony Muhammad
“Within each aspiration dwells the certainty of its own fulfillment.” – Wayne B. Chandler
About a week prior to writing this article, I saw several of my Facebook Friends post a picture of Hip Hop Icon KRS-One side by side with a picture of a sculpture of the great Kemetic Ruler (Egyptian Pharaoh) Huni to show how closely they resemble in physical appearance. Immediately I thought to myself, “While they look almost identical, are there any similarities spiritually in their life work?” After doing some research about both I came to the conclusion, “Yes!” Not only are there strong parallels between these two important historical figures, but their messages are key to understanding not only where we are culturally today as a Hip Hop community, but more importantly where we are potentially headed, which lies in a balance in the hands of the people themselves. The Bible puts it this way, “I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” (Psalm 77:5)
According to scholars, very little is known about Pharaoh Huni as a whole. What is confirmed is that he ruled in the 3rd dynasty during Egypt’s Old Kingdom and was the father of Queen Hetepheres I, the wife of Sneferu, his successor and the first ruler of the fourth dynasty. He built a fortress on the island of Elephantine to protect Egypt’s southern border at the First Cataract. He broke tradition by having pyramids built in the various provinces rather than Saqqara, a vast burial ground serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital, Memphis. The way these pyramids were structured may indicate that they were used as more than just tombs. In fact, the pyramid built at Elephantine was not used as a tomb at all, but for ceremonial/religious purposes. Huni is also credited for having a steppe pyramid built at Meidum, which was planned to become the largest steppe pyramid in all of Egypt. The project remained unfinished. It is believed that Sneferu attempted to have the sides of this pyramid smoothed, which failed and led to its collapse. Hence, the pyramid at Meidum today is known as “el-haram el-kaddab” (Arabic for “fake pyramid”). The building of the pyramid at Meidum, can be interpreted in this sense as a “medium” or “means, vehicle or half-way point” as it is noted to mark the transition from the Early Dynastic Period to the Old Kingdom. The name Sneferu interestingly itself denotes “logic.” The name of Pharaoh Huni’s daughter Hetepheres means “satisfied is her face” and refers to the “Daughter of God.”
Pyramid at Meidum
Question: What does this all have to do with KRS-One, the current cultural state of Hip Hop and where the Hip Hop community is potentially headed? To begin with, just as Pharaoh Huni was iconic in the history of one of the greatest and influential civilization known in ancient times, KRS-One himself is iconic to a culture (or sub-culture) known as Hip Hop, which has strongly impacted the world in the past 40 years, especially among the youth. Just as Pharaoh Huni broke with an elitist tradition of the building of pyramids near the capital of Egypt, KRS-One has repeatedly broken tradition in Hip Hop by sharing knowledge with Hip Hoppers (through both music and lectures) that would usually be discussed in elitist academic and religious/spiritual circles.
Coherently, the pyramids that were built in Pharaoh Huni’s time (some used to bury the dead, others used to build and uplift the human being) may reflect the houses of knowledge that exist today and the intention behind building them. The intention of a “house of knowledge” is reflected in how the knowledge taught within them is utilized by its students after graduation. If the knowledge is not being utilized to “build and uplift,” and is just used to follow the decaying pattern of activity of the present society then what is being experienced and produced is death because there is no growth. If new innovative activity is being produced after coming into knowledge then what you have is the opposite, life being experienced and produced, and reproduced as a result of it. The former represents the limited educational system of this present dying world which is meant to maintain the current social order for as long as the rulers of it are able to remain in power. The latter represents a new educational paradigm that is inspired in part by the poets, artists and great thinkers who acquire knowledge in an unconventional way and is demonstrate in their work. The “houses of knowledge” that iconic poets, artists and great thinkers such as KRS-One have sought to build have not begun with an actual four-cornered structure called a school, a temple, a church, a mosque, etc. but rather the mind itself. It’s what is being done and what will be done with the knowledge that we are divinely blessed with through these vessels and the vessels that will come that will determine our longevity.
The human brain itself is designed to compute perfectly. However, it will function only as well as the information that is stored in it. This is the sign we have in Sneferu and his work on the steppe pyramid built at Meidum. He was set (as a “medium”) to transition the work of his father-in-law and teacher Pharaoh Huni which, in a spiritual sense, would pave the way for future generations. But while his thinking was known for being logical he deviated from the intentions of Pharaoh Huni, attempted to give the pyramid a form that was unalike, and as a result the temple collapsed. However, hope still lies in the feminine energy of Pharaoh Huni’s daughter, Hetepheres, which spiritually in name still reflects the divine image and likeness of her father.
This is the case today, in 2012, with Hip Hop as a culture and a community. On a surface level, we are living in times when it appears that Hip Hop is under complete corporate control as its content, frequency and vibration on a popular level integrally contributes to the overall poor quality educational system of the society that is increasingly producing a nation of unintelligent consumers whose labor is being exploited through corporations, commercial academia and the prison system. Fulfilling the roll of “Sneferu” in the midst of all of this are the popular Hip Hop artists, moguls and connoisseurs of today whose activities in the realm of Hip Hop may have started off with good intention and have experienced personal successful as a result of applying wisdom that they may have learned from communities such as The Nation of Islam and The Nation of Gods and Earth. However, as business and overall lifestyle integration (even as far as having intimate intercourse) with those who hold high positions in corporations and banking institutions that are greatly responsible for the ignorant state of the society through pop culture increases, the more the measure of success becomes limited and empty. It becomes an activity that is merely for financial and material gain. Consequently the moral principles and the Knowledge of The Time that they learned from the righteous communities that they came up under become compromised. This is despite witnessing in present time the very things that these communities said would happen to America in its final days (i.e. erratic weather patters and the dilapidation of the economy and educational system). Likewise compromised is not only the vision that the pioneers, architects and builders of Hip Hop culture have had for almost 40 years to save lives through the movement, but also the idea to transform it into a constant medium of influence that sustains life itself. Essentially, the “steppe pyramid” designed in the 1970s in The South Bronx by Founding Fathers such as Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc is now being turned into a smooth pyramid by demonic mainstream forces and is about to collapse along with their overall system of death. Victory is with those who continue to work to save lives, standing firmly on the foundational principles of the movement and growing and expanding based on it. Many of those working in the cause may have never produced a “platinum album” or have been the cover feature of a popular magazine. They may be presently unnoticed actively working among the multitudes in classrooms and community centers, known temporarily by civilian names and civilian titles, planting little seeds of knowledge. However, because of their great work in the culture in the not too distant future they will become immortalized and recognized through their divine names and divine titles as their seeds bloom into large fields of vegetation that nourish and sustain life. Just as Hetepheres, the hope lies with them as through their work they maintain the image and likeness of the Founding Fathers of the culture for the benefit of future generations.
Founding Fathers of Hip Hop, Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa
KRS-One gave insight to this in a lecture he gave in London in 2007 recorded by jumpoff.tv:
“Some of our founders and those that hold secret knowledge and ancient knowledge about how things really clicked, they’re still reading books or writing down. Our Abrahams are still walking around … Well, it’s going to happen. We’re all going to drop off one at a time. And as that happens in Hip Hop there will be no more voice. And what we leave as in books and DVDs and in your minds and in discussions like this, what we leave behind is the history … This piece of technology here (pointing to the camera) will outlive me, will outlive all of us …. In fact 2100 will have this tape. We in 2007 are 2100’s ancestors today. We are not our present selves today. We are ancestors and when you realize that you are an ancestor right now in Hip Hop you and Afrika Bambaataa are identical. You and Grandmaster Flash are identical. … But it’s a realization that you need to come to. I know that I’m being recorded and I don’t know where this might wind up but I have a reflex that I’ve gained over years and that reflex is every picture I take … every DJ drop that I give or every shout out, every camera is going to outlive me. So it’s not about who I am today. That’s for the fans … But for you who come out to these kinds of meetings after the show … Oh, this is a chosen group. And you’re on the tape as well … Some of the information I want to leave on this tape will actually save lives. … What is the role of Hip Hop? What should we as a community be doing? Well that question is not for me to tell you first and foremost. This is not a dictatorship. Hip Hop is not even finished yet. Too many times we think that Hip Hop is finished … It’s like we’ve created it, it’s Breakin’, Emceein’, Graffiti, DJin’, Beatboxin’, Street Fashion … No! Hip Hop won’t be created for another hundred years. We need at least a hundred years on this. At least … before we have created a definitive culture that can be repeated over and over again into infinity. We’re still creating it. Recognize this number one, you are the pioneers of Hip Hop right now … No holy place wanted us! We were Breakers, B-Boys, B-Girls … God came to us directly! … Hip Hop is a Divine culture. I know we may not think about it in this way today but I invite you to think about your culture in this way that our parents, your parents as well, prayed and hoped that a divine strategy would save their children from the oppression that they faced even here in The UK. … Every institution rejected us… No help from nowhere! … Our parents, The FBI, The CIA, Everybody else is like you’re not going to make it, we’re putting roadblocks in front of you, we’re sending all of you off to jail, we’re killing the rest of the half of y’all, no father, your mother’s crazy, the whole nine, we had everything against us. Now there is a saying in all holy books that says that the last shall be first. In all holy texts across the globe and across time there is a Force in the Universe that seems to look out for the bird with the broken wing, for the one who is downtrodden, for the one that no human will help. That Force in the Universe we call it God, we call it Christ, we call it the Mahdi, we call it Mercy, we call it Salvation. Whatever we call it, this Force came to us in the Bronx … really, it hit the whole globe. But for some reason, us in the Bronx, we got hit with this mentality … hitting specific ones in the Black community … This Force was specific!”
The Teacha, KRS-One
As KRS-One vividly points out presently things seem like they are at a standstill in Hip Hop. But, in Truth, there are forces that are actively working that will ultimately bring about the change we have been long yearning for. While many do not understand how he moves, KRS-One is in line with these forces as he takes time to not just perform for audiences as they normally do, but literally teach audiences while in the process. In the song “Hip Hop Lives” (2007) KRS-One says “Every year I’m expanding/Talking to developers about this city we planning.” The developers” is not speaking about the kind that typically invest in real estate, but rather the ones that must become awaken to the reality of themselves so that they can change their current state and allow “The City” or “Pyramid” or “Temple” of God to form within themselves, advancing the culture for generations to come. Those like KRS-One, Chuck D, Professor Griff, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc and many, many others in Hip Hop who have gone through what is known scripturally as the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10) and today working in the name of God so as to save lives are doing the work of The Messiah, which let’s us know the True Identity of The Hip Hop Generations.
More to come next time, Allah (God) Willing.
Tony Muhammad has been teaching Social Studies in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for over 10 years and is currently involved in The MIA (Music Is Alive) Campaign for the development of the National Hip Hop Day of Service. Tony is most noted for his work as publisher of Urban America Newspaper (2003 – 2007) and co-organizer of the Organic Hip Hop Conference. He currently serves as a student assistant minister to Student Minister Rasul Hakim Muhammad at Muhammad Mosque #29 in Miami, Florida.