I realize Gansta Rap is probably one of the more controversial topics out there, as is Voodoo. They are both raw and unapologetic. I got told in an interview the other day that I sound like an angry person when I talk about my religion. Well, I’m sure this isn’t the last time I will have to say it but experience shapes existence. Even in the most tolerant of situations Voodoo is met with stereotype and disrespect. They regret it. I have had people threaten to shut down my rituals, and other extreme prohibitions based on their fear and paranoia. One event we were forced to move at the last minute, placed miles back further in the woods in case we gained the attention of the police. My response was then, just what it would be now. We are not breaking any laws, we live in a country that was founded on religious freedom and I welcome any challenge that may arise from the police or others against my religion as an opportunity to educate and open people’s minds.
We Will Not Go Away
I started writing about rap music while I was in High school almost 30 years ago. Back then it was new, dangerous, “fresh,” and everyone was scared. The inner city zeitgeist had a voice and it was loud, proud and angry. People prayed that it was a fad. We knew different. For us it was a solution. I put on the tightest tapered jeans I could find and went to watch people battle it out. This was different. Their weapons were word and dance. Rooted in time honored African American traditions of playing the dozens and ritual martial arts like Capoiera. People told stories, worked through problems, were empowered. Rap was magic, and like Voodoo it’s here to stay.
We Will Fight BackThe reason both Rap and Voodoo and by a larger extension Afro-Diasporan Paganism are seen as dangerous is that they don’t advocate passive resistance. They will not go gently into that dark night. They love the night.
We did the Time, We do the Crime
Both Voodoo and Gangsta Rap, as I mentioned before exist because of the oppressive and insane world in which we live.For Heaven’s sake look at rapper 50 Cent, he has bullet holes in his face(well maybe he faked them but that’s even crazier), Snoop Dogg, Biggie, and the rest didn’t grow up with white picket fences and daises either, and neither did any true Voodoo priestess I know. A close friend of mine who is a Babalawo (Lukumi/Santeria high priest) and I frequently comment on how those of us who are in the difficult position of being clergy seem to have lives that are shaped to make us benefit from every extreme situation in order to be able to truly understand and help others. From the hardness of existence come answers, solutions, although they are not necessarily popular ones.
We Will Never Die
You can’t break us. We will never die. Biggie Smalls can live forever. I know I live in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn, the homeland of the Notorious. Voodoo lets us live forever too. We do this through thought, prayer, word, and action. Voodoo cosmology allows for individuals to become literally gods after their death. If enough people honor, remember and pray to them, their spirit gains in strength and eventually if enough energy is put forth in the proper direction they will begin to have power. So let’s raise a glass to those who have gone before, who have triumphed over the pain with a power and a presence.