Professor Griff to speak in Detroit
By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen
On Nov. 10 at 3 p.m., Professor Griff will deliver a seminar to audiences at Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe, 12511 Woodward Ave., Detroit, about commercial hip hop music and the negative messages. He warns that hip hop culture has been stolen from the communities where it was born. The Detroit hip hop group 5 ELA will open the event with a performance.
In September, Professor Griff gave a full audience at Nandi’s a stark lesson about the hip hop music industry and the reason why immature lyrics and destructive behaviors are promoted through the radio, music videos and Internet. He warns that corporations control the business of popular artists and do not have the people’s best interests in mind, leading to messages promoting materialism, crime and violence against women.
“(At) the first talk, I talked about this entity that has taken over hip hop and has made these things standard in hip hop,” says Professor Griff. “I showed people the plan and the problems, and then I let the people know that these are the ancient artforms that we used to practice. In order for us to get that right we’ve got to go back to these ancient artforms in order to counter the madness that’s going on in hip hop today.”
Professor Griff’s 2011 book “The Psychological Covert War on Hip Hop” is a bold look at the state of the mainstream hip hop music industry and how corporations have allowed commercial music to become a negative influence on audiences. He warns that without involvement from the communities, children will be affected by the images and ideas they consume through the media.
“From the perspective of the artist,” says Professor Griff, “as long as we allow it to go unchecked and we don’t press the cultural reset button in hip hop and check it, we don’t know what to expect from our children when it comes to handling this artform, handling this culture called hip hop. We can expect anything, and really we’re not in any position to say anything, because when it was up to us to change the dynamic of it, we didn’t.”
Professor Griff has maintained a strong relationship with Detroit over the years, and has been engaging the people of the city in recent years with discussions about his books and experiences in the music industry.
Khalid El-Hakim of Detroit has worked with Professor Griff through the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, which he owns and operates, beginning with their first lecture and presentation together in 2006.
“Everytime Griff has come to Detroit,” says El-Hakim, “people have always come out and supported. I think the main reason why is that he’s so accessible, and he speaks to things that mainstream media is not going to speak to, truth that hits home for a vast majority of people.”