Def Jam’s effort lacks purpose

With no serious talk of politics and no serious involvement of hip-hop activists, I have to question how effective Russell Simmons’ voter registration drive will be?

Granted, he will probably catch two million newly registered voters by the November election, but little is being done to educate these voters.

Voters need to be informed about the political parties, campaigns and candidates’ records on black issues. Political awareness should be at the forefront.

You can’t call something a movement, mobilize the people and leave them hanging without a foundation for a plan of action.

On ABC’s Good Morning America, Simmons and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s plans were likened to the registration drives during the Civil Rights Movement. I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at this claim.

Is Russell Simmons now Martin Luther King, Jr.? Is the HSAN the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee?

Not at all.

The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and other forces were activists with a clearly defined cause and were engaged knee-deep in politics.

So, where are the hip-hop activists in Simmons’ campaign if his voter’s registration drive is supposed to be the marks of a “movement”? I refuse to settle for his score of commercialized rappers. What wise words could LL Cool J, P. Diddy or Lil’ Romeo possibly impart concerning voter awareness? Obviously, there are better-fitted groups and advocates out there to fill these positions.

There is no better person than Public Enemy’s Chuck D – the man who called rap “the black CNN” and who has had a long standing commitment to “fight the power.” If he is too revolutionary, how about Bakari Kitwana, the former executive editor for The Source? And if he’s not “gangsta” enough, why not pull in Bonz Malone, writer of The Score?

These people have nothing to hawk or publicize except their desire to move the masses into a real movement.

Most importantly, they have credibility.

I also have to wonder about the timing because this is an election year and Russell Simmons is known to be a staunch Democrat who has funded almost all of the party’s candidates.

It seems more like an effort to rally the 18 to 34-year-old minority vote for the support of the Democratic Party.

Perhaps this is why hip-hop’s real activists are missing in this drive for voter registration.

I applaud the efforts Simmons is making, but it seems more like a rallying of young voters to get sucked up by the Democratic Party vacuum.