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In a Wikipedia article on “Hip Hop Music” cites Scott Crossley “Metaphorical Conceptions in Hip Hop Music” (501) to suggest that hip hop gives a “voice for the disenfranchised” living in impoverished African-American neighborhoods, referred to as “the projects,’ “the crib,” and the bricks,” all metaphors for cell blocks. Todd Boyd “The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop” in an interview with Scott Simon of NPR (2003), states that “hip hop, emerged from a uniquely African American disposition, and like the blues, jazz, and soul before it, give voice to those who tend to occupy the lowest rungs of the American social ladder.” Boyd goes on to stress that contemporary hip hop is “much more active, much more aggressive, much more militant.” (NPR: 1178621)

Rickey Vincent, in his discussion, “Music on the Front Lines of the Black Revolution: The Story of the Lumpen the Black Panthers’ Band,” on his Panel “Black Fantastic Freedom Dreams” at the EMP POP Conference 2014, would disagree with Boyd that contemporary hip hop is more militant then protest music of the 60’s.  He argues that the Oakland based Black Panther Party R&B band, the Lumpen (name derived from Marx’s “lumpenproletariat”), were singing “the praises of revolution” during the 60’s Civil Rights Movement. The musical revolution began at San Jose State and Oakland, CA, where they performed at the Fillmore district rally in San Francisco.

Black Fantastic Freedom Dreams” at the EMP POP Conference 2014

Lumpen Black Panthers LA

Band member Michael Torrance recollections in the “Black Panther Party’s Legacy and Alumni” speaks to the bands militant origin and contribution to the Civil Right Movement.

Throughout history, oppressed people have used music as a means to not only document their struggle, but also to educate, motivate and inspire people to resistance. The Lumpen singing cadre grew out of that tradition. The purpose or mission of the Lumpen was to educate the People…to use popular forms of music that the community could relate to and politicize it so it would function as another weapon in the struggle for liberation

Liberation on behalf of Bobby Seale, in a cell block, serving 4 years for contempt of court, took place at Merritt College. The auditorium “was packed for the kick-off concert which was recorded live. The whole audience sang along with “Bobby Must Be Set Free”.

The Lumpen are a major revolutionary influence to the contemporary Hip Hop Movement.

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