The Google Versus Debate: Hip-Hop on Trial
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This event took place on June 26th
The first ever global debate on hip-hop: is hip-hop the authentic voice of the oppressed that turns anger into poetry and political action? Or is it a glorification of all that holds back oppressed minorities and hinders them from mainstream assimilation?
In the third of our Versus series of debates with Google we brought together some of the biggest names in hip-hop to debate these questions. Some of the speakers were on stage at the Barbican Centre and others appeared on the big screen via the Google+ Hangout technology. We had rappers such as KRS-One, ?uestlove, Q-Tip and Estelle, and renowned US hip-hop intellectuals such as Touré, Michael Eric Dyson, Tricia Rose and dream hampton. We brought over civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson, once a critic and now in the hip-hop camp.
Hip-hop and all it stands for has moved well beyond its black American roots. We heard from John Sutherland, Victorian fiction expert, who is a hip-hop aficionado, and we brought over the Egyptian rapper Deeb who was involved in the Tahrir Square uprising and thinks hip-hop has fostered revolution in North Africa.
Also flown in for an exclusive London appearance was Jaron Lanier, computer scientist, virtual reality pioneer, composer and one of TIME’s 100 most influential people of 2010; and there were critical voices from Shaun Bailey, David Cameron’s adviser on youth and crime, and Hattie Collins, music editor of i-D magazine.
In our new quick-fire courtroom format, two brilliant advocates grilled our panel of hip-hop fans and critics and built a case for and against the motion. Hip-hop is a state of mind, an attitude of defiance that has been adopted by the oppressed all over the world. But does it help or hinder society?
BBC Newsnight presenter
British writer and campaigner, associate editor of the New Statesman and European editor-at-large for Vanity Fair
Advocate for the motion
Attorney at Courtenay Coye law firm in Belize
Advocate against the motion
Michael Eric Dyson
Hip-hop intellectual and professor of sociology at Georgetown University
Special adviser to the Prime Minister’s office on youth, crime and welfare issues
Egyptian “Arab Spring” rapper
Estelle (via Google+ Hangout)
Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter
American hip-hop journalist, cultural critic and film-maker
Civil rights activist, Baptist minister and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Hip-hop pioneer, record producer and activist
American computer scientist, virtual reality pioneer and musician
Director of Africana Studies and Associate Professor of English at Lehigh University and founder of Hip Hop Scholars LLC
P. J. O’Rourke (via Google+ Hangout)
American political satirist and author
Q-Tip (via Google+ Hangout)
American rapper, producer and frontman of iconic hip-hop act A Tribe Called Quest
?uestlove (via Google+ Hangout)
Co-founder of Grammy Award winning band The Roots, DJ, music journalist and producer
Brown University Professor and author of the groundbreaking books on hip-hop: Black Noise and The Hip Hop Wars
CEO of the charity Generating Genius
Slaughterhouse (via Google+ Hangout)
Rap supergroup made up of Joe Budden, Crooked I, Joel Ortiz, and Royce Da 5’9
Emeritus Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London
Isiah Thomas (via Google+ Hangout)
Former top 50 NBA basketball player and Chairman and CEO of Isiah International
Touré (via Google+ Hangout)
American TV presenter, novelist, journalist and cultural critic
Columnist for Foxsports.com
Dub poet and musician
Speakers and participants subject to change.