Below are annotated selections from an article concerning a childhood experience with NWA and Chuck D recounted by Republican Congressman Trey Radel, which appeared Tuesday, July 23 on the website HipHopRepublican.com.
“Unlike most young, white teenagers growing up in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio, my favorite musicians were hip hop artists, including rappers such as Eric B., Big Daddy Kane and Chuck D of Public Enemy.
[Dear Black People,]
As a young man listening to hip hop in the late 80s and early 90s, I was exposed to what was happening outside of my world of finely manicured lawns in the ‘burbs.
[I, Congressman Trey Radel, understand you.]
Rep. Trey Radel, who represents Florida’s 19th District, also recently tweeted out a track-by-track review of Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, during which he uses the phrases “sick flow,” “pretty slick” and “solid beats.”
“It was 1989. I walked off my school bus with my little brother. I set foot onto one of those finely manicured lawns. A cassette tape was on the curb, the top half cut off and unwound. Being a music lover, I took out my number two pencil and wound it up. We got home, and I played the tape. The opening line was “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.” It was NWA, the hardcore, gangsta rappers that rapped about life in Compton in graphic, graphic detail.
[Don’t you think it’s funny how much white people care about their lawns? I think that’s funny enough to mention twice.]
NWA was doing what blues, folk and rock stars have been doing for generations- they were describing hardship and pain. They described their experience as young, black men coming of age during the crack epidemic, gang wars and violence in every direction. Where else could a sheltered suburban kid hear or learn about these issues in such a graphic way? Not the local library.
[No gangs or crack in the suburbs. Plenty of lawns though.]
Chuck [D] said it best, “our freedom of speech is freedom or death.” This is a message we can all get behind, Republican or Democrat. I find a conservative message in “Fight the Power” because I believe when government expands it becomes a political tool meant to oppress. We see it when Chuck D addresses oppression and the Civil Rights movement or references the Black Panthers. We see it when NWA, or even old-school artists like Paris, address harassment from law enforcement. Targeting and oppression is happening today, from the IRS going after political groups to the government spying on journalists and everyday American citizens.
[What I’m saying is I’m basically one of you.]
I am a Hip Hop Conservative, and that is not an oxymoron. It is the future of many others in my generation of 40 and below.
[See what I did there? The ‘generation of 40 and below’ thing was pretty slick, wasn’t it?]
My goal as a Member of Congress is to connect and communicate the conservative message to people, cutting across cultural, generational and ethnic lines. My love for music has helped me do this, and as much as we may disagree philosophically, Public Enemy and NWA have helped me do this.
[Please pretend that me saying I “philosophically disagree” with NWA and Public Enemy at the end of this article doesn’t completely undermine my point.]“