Political, conscious and ridiculously gifted are a few adjectives used to describe veteran MC Talib Kweli. And for almost two decades, he has continued to inspire masses of Hip-Hop heads who feel slightly nauseous whenever Nicki Minaj starts mumbling about “stupids hoes” and Lil’ Wayne says he wishes he could “f*** every girl in the world.

With his latest gift, “Prisoner of Conscious,” blessing us this month, Kweli took the time to speak to Huffington Post about his appearance in the documentary #ReGENERATION,  typecasting in Hip-Hop, why he doesn’t vote and internet activists who forget that the revolution will not be televised — or webcast — it will be live.

“Being called a conscious rapper is quite a compliment,” says the Brooklyn native who dived into the game head first with friend Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def), as one half of the groundbreaking duo Black Star. “It’s a great thing to be. But as an artist, my nature is to not be in a box. Once you attach such a limited description of what I do, it shuts off a whole audience of people. I work to make sure that when I’m being described, all of it is being described, as opposed to just one thing I do.

“…A lot of fans of mine think that hip hop’s ultimate responsibility is to critique social structures,” he continues. “Good art paints an accurate picture of what’s going on. But the responsibility of an artist is not to be a politician or have a message. The responsibility of an artist is to be honest with themselves.”

Kweli stands at the forefront of a generation of people who realize that the “right to vote” at its core is the right to choose — and sometimes that means choosing not to let slick “politrick-ans” take his vote for granted.

“…it makes no sense to vote without knowing who or what you’re voting for,” Kweli tells the Post. “Citizenship is participation. I’m someone who has placed myself directly at the center and at the heart of things that are going on in my community. As I get older my stance on voting has shifted from saying “I refuse to participate” to “How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?” We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”

When discussing the “Me” generation of youth who are so plugged into technology, they often forget the real change requires more than “Liking” or “retweeting” something, Kweli reiterates that activism and social media are not synonymous. More bluntly: Kids today are talking loud, “but they ain’t saying nothin.’”

“..this generation wants to help out other people and wants to be involved in the world in a big way,” he speculates. “I think you saw that with the Stop Kony thing, where people felt like they could just click a button and automatically become an activist. People want to do that. People want to help. They just don’t know how. They don’t have the tools.

“You can’t just sit at a computer and be an activist, ” he schools the “Me” generation. “You have to get out there in the streets. I don’t care if you’re on Pinterest, I don’t care if you’re on Tumblr, I don’t care if you’re on Twitter, you have to physically get up there and get your body on the line and put your life on the line to express your thoughts and what you believe.”

Read the entire interview at HuffingtonPost.com.

While I understand, and agree, with Kweli’s larger points about authentic activism and citizenship, it can not be denied that social media has played an integral role in disseminating information that mainstream media refuses to cover. There is also something to be said for encouraging people to vote — even if it’s not for those candidates who expect it, and instead for those candidates who don’t fit into the two-party Pandora’s Box.

What do you think, Clutchettes: Does the answer to change lie in less internet activism and more foot soldiers? And what do we stand to gain by not voting?

 

  • jamesfrmphilly

    nihilistic loser…….

  • Srenda

    Love Talib Kweli! I read this article and watched the video and I dont’ think he’s saying that internet activism and voting are pointless at all he’s saying it doesn’t make sense to vote if you don’t know what’s going on if you don’t know who you are voting for and like he says in the interview he remains fascinated by the spirit of the 60′s, working class people taking to the streets, etc. so to me his main point is to get more educated about what’s going on so your decisions can be more informed. Or in other words, voting is one thing but what are you DOING? Not sure I understand where jamesfrmphilly is coming from (maybe he didn’t watch the video or was misled by the title of the article?Or just plain trolling? SMH, cuz I dunno) with the negative, dismissive comment above about this positive brother, conscious rapper who has been in the game a long time and continues to try to educate and elevate through his art. We need to be drawing more attention towards rappers like Talib because he offers an alternative to a lot (not all, but a lot) of the mainstream rap out there that doesn’t elevate us at all or doesn’t encourage us to think critically about who we vote for, who we listen to or who we support.

  • lattelicious

    It is irresponsible of him to say that voting and social activism is pointless, because it is not pointless. Things actually do get done via the web and every black person should vote in every election, because our votes do count!!! That is the only way we can actively change our environments!!!! He is a fool if he believes otherwise!!!!!!!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    I am in agreement with him. ACTivism, is not about retweeting, it is about ACTING on that retweet. Getting involved. Too many folks are out here calling themselves activists, and when you challenge them, with what are you actually doing, they go on the quick defensive of “I’m voicing my opinion. Everybody has a vice, few act on that opinion, and therein lies an activist and a big mouth.

    His vies on voting have shifted, which is great and have matured to this:
    “How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?” We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”
    He is not telling folks to not vote, all he is saying is to get politically involved in the process from the grassroots level of raising up a generation of worthy candidates in the future!

    THIS was a great read. I respect folks like him in hip-hop. So gotdamn intelligent.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    he looks like he eats fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables……so why are you going in on him?

  • tina

    Critical thinking and reading go a long way! I am right with you on this one. Before we comment we should read the huffington post interview first.

  • tina

    did you read the interview in the huffington post, at one time he didn’t vote, but now believes one must be educated about the political proces in candidates in order to make an informed choice, not blindly follow the next man/woman.

  • The Comment

    I wish he were “conscious” enough to know that black people already have low voter turn out rates. To even suggest voting is pointless is reckless and ignorant espcially during the most highly contentious and most expensive presidential race we have ever seen. If he were really “conscious” he’d avoid all this political ponificating on YouTube and put his support behind Barack. And maybe he should run for some sort of political office. I’d like to hear his views about civic duty then.

  • http://www.myblackfriendsays.com myblackfriendsays

    We don’t stand to gain anything by not voting. People have died to give us the right to vote, so it irks me when I hear Kweli saying that he doesn’t do it. If you don’t like the major candidates, write in somebody’s name. Especially in local elections, voting can have a major impact on your day to day life.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    ^5

  • jamesfrmphilly

    naw, that’s a cheeseburger eater……look at that fat face

  • Chica

    OMG. People who keep saying that it’s a shame that Talib Kweli thinks voting is pointless, reread the article! This is what he ACTUALLY said: “Citizenship is participation. I’m someone who has placed myself directly at the center and at the heart of things that are going on in my community. As I get older my stance on voting has shifted from saying “I refuse to participate” to “How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?” We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”

    Seriously guys (specifically @The Comment, @myblackfriendsays, @lattelicious). Read more than the title before you make uniformed comments

  • Chica

    OMG. People who keep saying that it’s a shame that Talib Kweli thinks voting is pointless, reread the article! This is what he ACTUALLY said: “Citizenship is participation. I’m someone who has placed myself directly at the center and at the heart of things that are going on in my community. As I get older my stance on voting has shifted from saying “I refuse to participate” to “How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?” We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”

    Seriously guys (specifically @The Comment, @myblackfriendsays, @lattelicious). Read more than just the title before you make uniformed comments

  • https://twitter.com/#!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    Hold on am I reading the same article as you people? I know the author played slick with the title, yet again, and totally butchered the quote completely out of context, but yall could have read that for your self. At no time did he say voting is pointless he said not informing your self about who you are voting for it pointless, which it is and has been proven so over and over again. He wants people to take it a step further than just making a vote off of sound bites blind party loyalty, and having other people put thoughts into your head, (see this article), and thinking your job is done. This article proved his point.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Chica,

    THANK YOU! Selective reading is a disease, that I too have sometimes! It’s like a cold once you have it, somebody else is bound to gerr it.

  • Nati

    @ Chica

    I totally agree with this! At first glance, I was already ready to comment that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain, and then when I actually read the article, he said nothing about voting being pointless. It wouldn’t have hurt if the author hadn’t put her spin on his comments in titling the article either.

  • Dalili

    “How can we participate in a way that’s smarter and conducive to our community?” We have to raise candidates that are worthy of our vote.”

    Well said Talib Kweli! We get the leaders we deserve.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Sissy!!!

    *waving*!!! Long time! Hope you good hun, Have a blessed Sunday, pray for me!

  • grateful

    aaaaawww African Mami you made me miss home, i can’t remember the last time someone called me ‘sissy’!

    *goes into corner to cry*

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    *hugs)))))))*

    is this my sissy?! u changed ur name, or is this another sissy?!

    Welcome to the fam!!!

  • grateful

    no i’m another African girl!

    *wipes tears and hugs you back*

  • omfg

    people who eat healthier diets and/or workout can always tell who takes care of themselves. but, it’s not always apparent to people who don’t.

    it’s in the clarity of the eyes, the skin, the lips, etc.

    of course his puffy face, from eating all of that fat and probably hormone-filled meat is a giveaway.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    awwwww!!!!!!!YEAH!!!!

    nice to meet ya!!! Comment more and more and more.

  • Renee

    i agree with talib. it’s naive to think that votes matter, no, it’s what the people who are in charge who matter and their decisions are what determines our “liberties.”

    i’m not saying that if we all were united that our voices wouldn’t matter – because then we could actively work on mobilizing and rectifying the corruption of the government but… presidents are picked, not elected by the people.

  • Dalili

    @African Mami: Hola Sissy! You keep missing my greetings, I’ve left you a couple on some threads but you must be in and out pronto! I am good love, no complaints! I think of you often and pray that you are well! XOXOXO!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    @ Dalili,

    I’m sorry for not being apt in replying!!! Chei. Forgive me!!!

    awww, so nice of you to think of me! Muah. That’s why you are big sissy!!!!

    MUAH!!!!!!!!

  • apple

    I choked on my food Lmfao

  • http://changecomesslow.com/ Nikesha

    internet activism is good to get a movement going. because it’s more likely for the word to spread via twitter, facebook, tumblr, pinterest, google + etc… than it is through chain letter emails.

    but with that said the revolution can’t stay on the internet it will have to be live and people must get involve.

    the same goes with voting. you have no right to complain about politics if you didn’t participate. even if you don’t vote for a major party candidate as one of my friends refused to do, as long as you vote and make your voice heard through that vote then you are being a civil participant in your country and the shaping of it.

    activism and voting are one in the same. and require people to get up out of there homes, from in front of there computers and televisions and go outside and participate in what is going on around them.

  • Wow!

    In other words, he is saying voting for the person with the most “swag” and best singing voice /sax solo is not going to cut it anymore.

  • Tameeka M.

    WOW, I really hate it when people skim and don’t read a full article. Had most folks read the entire piece, they would see that Talib stated how his stance has changed on voting.

    He also stated a truth about social network activism that many of our forefathers and grandparents agree with, online revolution and actual revolution is not the same thing.

    Getting the word out is fine via social media networking, but what happens next…..

  • black_feminist

    “Kweli stands at the forefront of a generation of people who realize that the “right to vote” at its core is the right to choose”

    Says who? This does not seem to be consistent with what Kweli is saying at all.

  • Pingback: ART.CULTURE.MUSIC.LOVE » Blog Archive » Talib Kweli Talks Voting and Internet Activism: Both Are Pointless

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