Alicia Keys: 'Gangsta Rap' Created to Convince Black People to Kill Each Other
As you read this story about Alicia Keys including the actual Blender article, there are a couple of things to keep
in mind. First and foremost we all know that the tensions stoked between Pac and Biggie which led to the infamous East vs West Coast War was heightened by
publications like Vibe Magazine. Key writers like Kevin Powell who penned some of those inflammatory articles at the time have gone on record to say the
way they covered things was a mistake.
Second we already know that Pac and Biggie were under constant surveillance by police. We certainly don't need to talk about the rogue Rampart Police
division in LA and their admitted street gang affiliations..
Lastly and perhaps most importantly keep in mind as you read this article where Alicia Keys says that she believes the government has hand in some of thse
rap conflicts and that she wishes to start recording more political songs, that Alicia Keys was under surveillance by the government several years ago when
the Republican Convention came to town.
Do y'all remember that? Her, Jay-Z , P-Diddy and LL Cool J were all under surveillance with the
supporting documents from the actual agencies (NYPD) that have been since released and declassified confirming these assertions.
At the time these surveillances took place NYPD stated that Keys and her co-horts came under surveillance because they participated in a protest rally
around the time of the Republican Convention. They feared that artists of her caliber would bring more people out and hence they became a security threat.
In addition the fact that they may have openly talked about civil disobedience or anarchist type actions served as a trigger. Folks need to sit back and
marinate on that for minute.
Once you digest that keep in mind that Alicia Keys says she's been reading books by and about the Black Panthers and other Freedom Fighters including
Couple that with the fact that she's been to China and just got back from Africa and she is now speaking out and saying she wants to start doing
political songs and you can see and understand that she may soon start catching heat.
This morning on Fox 5 News in new York, anchor Reid Lamberty took the extraordinary step to call Alicia Keys ludicrous for making such
remarks after he reported the story. He then went on to quip that even rapper Ludacris would find her remarks ludicrous. He then went on over the
objections of his co-host to try and explain how when and where and how gangsta rap was invented. The biggest irony to this is that it was on that very
same Fox News 5 that I first heard about Keys being under surveillance by NYPD back in 04. How soon they forget...
NEW YORK - There's
another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist.
The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: "'Gangsta rap' was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other.
'Gangsta rap' didn't exist.
Keys, 27, said she's read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck "to symbolize strength, power and
killing 'em dead," according to an interview in the magazine's May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.
Another of her theories: The bicoastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled "by the government and the media, to
stop another great black leader from existing.
Keys' AK-47 jewelry came as a surprise to her mother, who is quoted as telling Blender: "She wears what? That doesn't sound like Alicia."
Keys' publicist, Theola Borden, said Keys was on vacation and unavailable for comment.
Though she's known for her romantic tunes, she told Blender that she wants to write more political songs. If black leaders such as the late Black
Panther Huey Newton "had the outlets our musicians have today, it'd be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself," she said.
The multiplatinum songstress behind the hits "Fallin"' and "No One" most recently had success with her latest CD, "As I
Am," which sold millions.
On As I
Am, during the fem-powerment jam "Superwoman," Keys belts out the caucus-ready refrain, "Yes I can," and, indeed, there's something
Obama-esque about her. She's of biracial parentage, raised by her mom, Terri Augello (Italian-American, actress), after her dad, Craig Cook
(African-American, university chef), left the scene.
She has tapped her mixed heritage to bridge multiple constituencies: She can duet comfortably with Ludacris, John Mayer
or a holographic Frank Sinatra (as she did at this year's Grammys). "I've always been good at maneuvering between
worlds," Keys says. Like Obama, she won a crucial Oprah endorsement early on when Winfrey built a whole episode around Songs in A Minor. And she
preaches a uniting, post-racial vision of humanity. (Remember those "I Am African" ads with Gwyneth Paltrow and David Bowie wearing face paint?
They were for the AIDS charity to which Keys is an ambassador.) In her music, themes of optimism, fidelity and self-actualization are so broadly, rousingly
articulated that nearly anyone can feel their own stories are being belted back at them.
Keys's first mature musical love, after she'd taken down her New Kids on the Block posters, was Marvin Gaye. "He talked about everyday things:
life, the street, the struggle-I was like, Wow, you can just write about what's happening," she says. Nevertheless, Keys scrubs her lyrics of
contemporary references and slang so they'll sound more like the '60s and '70s sounds she reveres. Her insistence on authenticity verges on the
reactionary ("there was so much more good music 40, 50 years ago"), but from the way she sidesteps the TMZ vortex and still manages to sell
"tonnage," there's something refreshingly uncynical about her, too.
There's a knock on the hotel-room door, and a minder enters with a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich: lunch.
We've been talking about Keys's early jones for the Notorious B.I.G.
"My favorite Biggie song is 'Me & My Bitch,'" she says, licking a stray globule of jam
off her finger. "That title doesn't make you think he's speaking about the love of his life, but he is. She throws his shit out the window,
she flushes his drugs down the toilet-she's crazy! But if you grew up like that, then you understood, that was love in that world.
We ask what other gangsta rappers she liked. And that's when Keys drives a steamroller through the wall.
"'Gangsta rap' was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other," she says, putting down the sandwich. "'Gangsta rap'
Come again? A ploy by whom?
She looks at us like it's the dumbest question in the world. "The government.
Add another line to her résumé.
Alicia Keys: piano stroker, budding actress… and conspiracy theorist? This is the side of her that doesn't square with the media-trained pro-the side
your mom probably doesn't know about when she hums "No One" on the way to Walgreens.
This Alicia pores over Black Panther autobiographies ("I've read Huey Newton's, Assata
Shakur's, David Hilliard's …").
This Alicia says Tupac and Biggie were essentially assassinated, their beefs stoked "by the government and the
media, to stop another great black leader from existing." This Alicia wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck, "to symbolize strength, power
and killing 'em dead." ("She wears what?" her mom asks Blender. "That doesn't sound like Alicia.
No matter how many records she sells or Super Bowls she opens, Keys still doesn't feel she quite belongs in the mainstream. She likes to think talent
transcends prejudice, but she knows that if her skin were darker, she'd have a much harder time crossing over. "I'll always be an
outsider," she says.
This might surprise the Grammy committee: Last year, the New York Police Department declassified documents revealing that they'd put Keys under
surveillance prior to the 2004 Republican National Convention. The department released a statement explaining that they'd targeted "those openly
talking of anarchist actions." Keys, who had spoken publicly against President Bush and donated $500 to the Democratic National Committee that year,
was suddenly labeled an enemy of the state.
"Hell," she says. "Someone's gotta be an anarchist.
Comments like these, even said in jest, reveal the sawed-off passions and intelligence roiling beneath Keys's genteel surface. But, while she idolizes
Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, proclaiming that "some of the greatest artists did their best work when they got political," she has recorded no
"What's Going On" or "Respect." Now, she says, she'd like to find a way to balance the two Alicias. "If Malcolm or Huey
had the outlets our musicians have today, it'd be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself," she says.
She takes a step in this direction on As I Am. She's said that "Go Ahead" is a Dubya body slam: "What have you given me but lies, lies,
lies?" she snarls. But unapprised listeners will hear it as a shimmying rebuke to a dirtbag boyfriend. "Honestly," she says, "it's
easier for me to write about relationships." And it's difficult to imagine her releasing a more explicit song about politics, never mind an
anarchist one, given the resistance she provoked when she tried a different kind of explicitness. Recently, she recorded her "most sexual song
yet"-until now, she's alluded to sex only obliquely in her music and frequently championed chastity. "I'm discovering my sexual side. I
recorded this song-it's supersimple: just piano, Rhodes keyboard and a kick drum. It's so sensual. It moves you," she says, referring to
movement south of the heart. But when she played the song for Jeff Robinson, her manager, he reacted like a squirmy dad: "He popped out of his seat
He said, 'We do not record songs like this!'"
A black Mercedes sedan glides through Copenhagen's narrow, rain-flecked streets, taking us to the Falconer. This is when Keys tells us the
singing-on-a-pyramid story. In late 2006, she was exhausted. A deadline had been set for her new album, and she was pinballing between tour dates and movie
sets-playing Scarlett Johansson's homegirl in The Nanny Diaries and a lesbian hitwoman in Smokin' Aces. "Alicia never liked to say no,"
Jeff Robinson explains. "She wanted to please everyone." When your manager thinks you're working too hard, you know you've got a problem.
"I felt empty," Keys says. "But the last thing you wanna come off as is a damn crybaby.
What the fuck you crying about? I thought you wanted this!"
"I used to say, if you're not gonna be a bitch, I'm gonna be a bitch for you," Erika Rose says. "She needed to get back her inner
bitch." But instead, Keys held in her feelings-loneliness, frustration, anger.
Rose remembers the moment Keys finally broke: "We were at a photo shoot, and she got this look in her eyes I'd never seen before. It was not good.
She asked everyone to step out of the room, and I stayed with her. There was this lone tear coming down her face. It was five years of accumulation just
starting to crack the surface. That's when everything started to unravel.
"As her mom, I'd like to say I knew everything that was going on with her," Terri Augello says. "But there came a time where she
couldn't tell the difference between talking to reporters and talking to her mother. It hurt me to see.
Finally, in a maneuver reminiscent of Dave Chappelle, Keys booked a flight to Egypt. She didn't tell her label she was going AWOL,
just bought a ticket, and 48 hours later she was in a first-class cabin, headed to Cairo by herself. She floated down the Nile in a boat, toured ancient
temples, swam in the Red Sea and, yep, climbed to the top of a pyramid and started singing. "The strength of a place like that," Keys says,
"the stone, what it took to build, the time-it's infectious.
"When she came back, I could see a change in her," Robinson says. "She was at ease. Now when I do something that pisses her off, she
doesn't hold it in. She smacks me in the face.
At the Falconer, Keys heads for a second-floor makeup room. We're asked to wait downstairs. Shortly, walkie-talkies crackle to life: Alicia would like
some grilled salmon for dinner. Francis is dispatched. Also: Alicia is ready for us now.
When we enter, she's wearing a white terry-cloth robe with the hood pulled low, like a boxer prepping for a bout. In an hour, she'll take the
stage, belting her way through a hard-swinging set and shouting, "I'm feeling y'all, Copenhagen!" We tell her it looks like she's
getting ready to pound someone tonight.