This past Sunday, the nation mourned the loss of the nearly 3,000 American civilians that lost their lives in the attacks on September 11, 2001. In the decades since the World Trade Center attacks, Hip Hop has become one of the biggest platforms for discussion about the attacks and the political controversy surrounding them.
Now, in a recent interview with Studio 360, Immortal Technique and Bay Area radio personality/webmaster Davey D recalled how the Hip Hop community responded to the attacks. Tech spoke about his own views on the attacks in politically charged tracks like “The Cause of Death” and “Bin Laden,” saying that he aimed to make his listeners question their government with those songs.
“’I saw them [the Twin Towers] crumble to the Earth like they were full of explosives,’ I didn’t say, ‘I saw them crumble to the Earth because they were full of explosives,’” he said. “There’s a metaphor involved in there…People always ask, ‘Why are you so distrusting of the government?’ And I respond, ‘Why are you so trusting of the government?’”
He added, “My only point in making music like that that’s sometimes incendiary is to make people realize that there is a back story to [the attacks]. Once upon a time, we did fund jihadists. We do fund unscrupulous characters around the world…I love the place I live, I hate the people in charge. [I’m] basically saying what activists on the left back then and what activists…on the Tea Party side are saying now: that I don’t believe my government. I don’t believe you things for my benefit, I believe you do things for your benefit.”
Hard Knock Radio’s Davey D also recalled how many members of the the Hip Hop community’s opinions about 9/11’s culprit changed after San Francisco emcee Paris release his song “What Would You Do?”. He said that the September 11 attacks and result War on Terror and War in Iraq politicized many Hip Hop artists and gave a voice to many communities that lacked one.
“I remember I ran into Naughty By Nature, and they were doing some fundraiser for the firefighters [in New York],” he said. “I remember Canibus wanting to join up in the army. I remember when Eminem and Dr. Dre penned some words about Bin Laden, wanting to get him…[but] Paris put out probably the first anti-war song ‘What Would You Do?.’ He wrote a 10 page paper breaking down all the politics around 9/11 foreign policy…he talked about something when nobody else was talking about it.”
He also said, “One thing that 9/11 did [was] politicize a lot of people. We’re not talking about the Dixie Chicks or any of that, just in Hip Hop. So obviously, when you’re putting out that many songs [about 9/11 and the War on Terror], it’s a reflection of [what] kind of a sentiment is in a community…I think what you have is people that exist in these communities that have these thoughts. Hip Hop records or not, that conversation was already in the neighborhood. It still is in the neighborhood.”
Check out the full interview to hear HipHopDX’s own Jake Paine discuss how September 11 changed Hip Hop music’s outlook on politics.