Thursday, February 07, 2008

Kwame Kilpatrick IS Hip Hop

Originally published at Think.MTV.com


Whether you like it or not, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick IS Hip Hop. The 37 year-old chief executive was famously dubbed “The Hip Hop Mayor” at the beginning of his first term, and while the title was meant as an insult, he embraced the image, and the moniker stuck.

Though he stopped sporting a diamond stud in his left ear during his second mayoral campaign, the former captain of the Florida A&M football team still dons the style and swagger of the hip hop aesthetic. Even the scandals that follow Kwame around like members of his entourage – wild parties with strippers, SUVs, luxury resorts and spas in Cali, infidelity and text messages – seem more akin to the typical lifestyle of a platinum-selling rapper or an NBA All-Star, than it should the mayor of the nation’s 11th largest city.

But Kwame Kilpatrick is Hip Hop. He typifies the young Black man who came of age listening to the sound of the boom bap. As glass ceilings in corporate America begin to open for the men and women who were once called Generation X and those of Generation Y to follow, the nation’s corporate style is changing.

Apple’s Steve Jobs turned heads among the suits over a decade ago by striding confidently through the halls of power in blue jeans and a sport coat. In 2007 former drug dealer Shawn Carter resigned his post as CEO of hip hop’s most storied multi-million dollar brand, Def Jam. For better or worse, Kwame Kilpatrick is the brash, young political leader who has symbolized this shift for the past six years.

Those who have grown up with and love Hip Hop celebrate its triumphs, and are embarrassed by its missteps, and Kwame Kilpatrick is Hip Hop. He is applauded for helping to improve the city’s downtown, for encouraging economic development and working to attract much needed business to the struggling municipality. Beyond the lifestyle scandals, the mayor has been criticized for instituting a $300.00 fee for trash collection in the nation’s second poorest city. He has been accused of providing money for beautification projects in higher income neighborhoods while neglecting less affluent parts of town.

Still it is Kwame’s baller status that makes headlines in a materialistic, hip hop driven media climate. His policy decisions – both good and bad – are overshadowed by his love of bling, money and women.

To his detractors, Kilpatrick represents everything bad about hip hop and everything bad about Detroit. Comments on one message board label the lawyer and former state legislator “a thug”, “a goon”, “a street person”, and “a scum bag”. He is compared to another infamous figure in hip hop, Death Row Records chief Suge Knight.

Among many of his supporters, however, this pejorative language is nothing more than thinly-veiled racism, or still another dose of anti-Detroit Haterade. The animosity of outsiders adds to the feeling among Detroiters that the city is always being dumped on. “Kwame is one of us”, they say, and “good or bad, we’ll stand behind our own.”

Kilpatrick matured during his second term as mayor. His attempts to keep his personal life on the down low have been thwarted by a media intent on digging up dirt that can sell newspapers, drive web hits and attract eyeballs in a competitive news environment. The text messages that were leaked to the Detroit Free Press were created during his first term. The aftermath, plotting to cover up a secret settlement with the cops who were fired for investigating his activities and lying about his affairs under oath, show an older, wiser man trying to hide the mistakes of his carefree youth.

This latest Kilpatrick scandal won’t automatically end the mayor’s career as many of his critics hope, but it has added another layer of tarnish to his tailored Teflon suit. Kwame may survive this row because many of his constituents and supporters are hip hop just like he is. The question that remains is: Will the Hip Hop Mayor chill out and stop flossing so much as he matures, or will he continue to live large like the baller he is?

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5 Comments:

Blogger Paul Hue said...

Well written, but I have some objections. If you listen to Detroit's black talk 1200 AM, or the "Detroit Undercover" website by one of the fired officers (firejerryo.com), you will find no shortage of black Detroit residents calling Kwame a thug and all the other disparaging terms that you here ascribe to "racism".

You claim that Kwame "matured" after his first term. But:

1. He never repaid even 5% of the money that he got caught stealing in the first term from the bankrupt city's "petty cash" credit card. He got busted in the first term for stealing over $150k, but he repaid only $7k, with no explanation.

2. Many black Detroiters (on that radio station and website) say that he stuffed ballot boxes to win his second term.

3. He responded to winning his second term by having a groupie/entourage -toting official "club crawl".

4. In his second term he lied through his teeth on the witness stand about his illegally and immorally firing two good cops investigating his buddy crooked cops and his crooked behavior during the first term.

5. He has never addressed the scandalously over-sized police 24-hour protection unit, making him Detroit's only citizen who can count on any protection whatsoever... and he and they continue to wear pimp suits.

6. In his second term he continued hiding behind "god" and "church" when caught in scandal, as well as fears of "racism" and "media bias /profit", just like in the first term, to hide his crimes and other injustices against Detroit.

7. If "the media" is so obsessed with ratings / circulation that they would invent scandal, why didn't they do this for Dennis Archer? And doesn't Kwame have an equal and opposite incentive unjustly hide misdeeds? Why do you doubt media claims because they have an incentive for scandal, but not doubt Kwame's denials based on his incentive to mask scandal?

8. He still talks with his mouth literally wrapped around one side of his face, like a petty street hustler.

9. The number of crimes and serious unethical actions of his first term should exclude any "second chance" of a second term, especially since he's using the second term to mask and avoid responsibility for all those misdeeds of the first term.

10. I believe that his completely unnecessary police body guards in the second term shoved a reporter into a wall in such a way that if I did it to you, I would get arrested for assault.

What a scumbag indeed. One of the black 1200 hosts said: "He's not really a thug; he's a spoiled brat from rich parents who poses as a thug."

Surely Detroit has an excess of young black guys whom people consider "charismatic" who can enjoy the fruits of power (including high living and skirt-chasing) without massively violating ethics, laws, and the needs of the city.

March 05, 2008 12:32 PM  
Blogger Paul Hue said...

You can see in the photo you use here that even his smile is cocked to the side. He is an embarrassment, and just a thief. Imagine, Nadir, if I used my access to the Ben Carson checking account to purchase fancy trips and dinners, then fired an employee who discovered my thievery. Hey, I used the program to get chicks, by impressing them with my position and what I was doing, and just meeting chicks when we would "be out" there as reps of the group. But I never used funds to do this, having employees cart me around "on the clock" to assignations. And the money that he stole is even worse than what I could have done: Detroit is in a massive deficit, so he's stealing borrowed money!

I would still be behind him like I was when he first won, if he would have dismantled his security detail, rather than doubling it in size with his old high school buddies. Then he could have gone skirt-chasing on his own, and I bet the chicks who go for that would have still been "about it", and he could have found plenty of restaurants to pick up his tab.

March 05, 2008 12:45 PM  
Blogger Paul Hue said...

This black Detroit resident hip hop artist has appeared several times on 1200 AM declaring that kwame is NOT hip hop, and he's created a song about the dead stripper Strawberry, entitled "Strawberry Letter 313 / If I Did It".

http://www.metrotimes.com/editorial/story.asp?id=12499

This guy is a very elequent advocate of hip hop, and declares that Kwame is NOT hip hop, he's just a self-serving greed-head, and that this is not what hip hop represents.

March 05, 2008 2:40 PM  
Blogger Paul Hue said...

Here's a utube about the anti-Kwame rap song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-sVLlIgQXc

Nadir, even Kwame's current "special counsel" (forgot her name) before he bought her off with this job (which previously never existed and has no official job description) used to frequently refer to him as a "thug". I can't believe that you believe these characterizations indicate "racism" when so many black residents call him this.

March 06, 2008 10:33 AM  
Blogger dr. mike check said...

great post. and i agree. Kwame Kilpatrick is hip hop.
check out my post at http://reallyrealtalk.blogspot.com/2008/03/dont-worry-if-he-writes-rhymes-he.html

March 30, 2008 1:27 PM  

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