Hip Hop Leaders: Jesse Jackson’s Time Up

By Jonathan Adams Jul 16, 2008

Kevin Powell and Nas both think that it’s time for a guard change among Black political leaders. Calling it a generational shift made most noticeable by the success of Barack Obama’s message within the Hip Hop generation, both men think they are members of this next wave of leaders to take the torch from older Civil Rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Kevin Powell is writer and activist known to some for his early 90s appearance on the first season of The Real World who is running for Congress in Brooklyn and Nas, born and raised in Queens, is arguably one of the greatest emcees in the history of hip hop who is has been stirring up lots of controversy leading up to his latest album, Untitled (formerly the N word). Powell says:

I certainly acknowledge and appreciate what the Civil Righters have done, but we younger African Americans are saying now, loudly, the jig is up and it is time for you to go, especially if you have not created hope and plans of action for our communities. The days of marching and protesting without a clear purpose are over. The days of voting for someone just because they are Black are over. Indeed, the multicultural legion of young Americans who’ve flocked to Obama’s campaign suggest that we want leadership that builds bridges, not be stuck in the rhetoric and realities of the past. I have witnessed this as I’ve been campaigning. Yes, I must represent the concerns of Blacks and Latinos in East New York. But I cannot ignore the Hasidic Jews in Williamsburg or the young White professionals in Fort Greene. They are all my people. Until we have Black leaders who understand that the America we need now is one where an Obama can be president and a Nas can make a rap song like "Black President," both condemning Obama doubters and reminding everyone of the inequities that still exist, then we will continue to have leadership that is operating as if it is 1968 instead of 2008.

Nas seems to echo Powell’s sentiment, and he says that he and other rappers have already begun taking their place within this changing Black political heirarchy (Listen to audio):

His time is up. All you old n—as, time is up. We heard your voice, we saw your marching, we heard your sermons. We don’t wanna hear that sh– no more. It’s a new day. It’s a new voice. I’m here now. We don’t need Jesse; I’m here. I got this. We got Barack, we got David Banners and Young Jeezys. We’re the voice now. It’s no more Jesse. Sorry. Goodbye. You ain’t helping nobody in the ‘hood. That’s the bottom line. Goodbye, Jesse. Bye!

Hip Hop’s leaders are definitely riding the wave of momentum created by Barack Obama’s campaign, and they want their turn at the mic. Do you think Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should "grab nuts" and be out?