"Hip Hop was stolen from us just like the economy was stolen from Americans by Wall Street," declares famed hip-hop photographer, 'Brother Ernie' Paniccioli.
And, he finds this to be grand theft at its worst. "As close as I can determine, hip hop earns between $250-500 billion a year. This includes ticket sales, hip hop clothing and merchandise, books, magazines and record sales as well as hip hop themed movies, DVD's etc. There is no 'trickle-down.' It all goes to the 1 percent at the top."
Any man who reveres David Lynch, John Coltrane, Richie Havens, The Dalai Lama, Public Enemy and Lee "Scratch" Perry and has done books on Punk, Hip Hop and Collage, is a member of The Universal Zulu Nation and a honorary member of The Black Panther Party is respected as a free thinker, if not a rebel.
Appropriately, he has gathered together a significant number of people who agree with him -- enough to make this movement and his Facebook page "Occupy Hip Hop Ernie Paniccioli," a must-visit site for music activists.
Relentless in his scorn, Ernie sees most of present-day hip hop and rap as being "the voice of the colonizer and the exploiter -- to make people who love hip hop into subservient consumers."
In Ernie's mind, what originated as a "voice for the voiceless" has become just one more way for Wall Street to extract money from people's pockets. "It is a war for the hearts and mind of our children," and he and his adherents are intent in promoting non-violent direct action and he is rallying them to "identify, unite and take action."
"It was first necessary to identify and target that which is wrong in commercialized rap and hip hop and how it is hurting us," Ernie says. (As example, the top 10 rap songs of 2009 were those that glorified the top 10 killers of black people: drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex, etc.)
"If you trace all of these things... follow the money... it all goes down to a certain small clique of criminal-minded people. It is organized, and it is criminal -- it is organized crime. And, we in the community are seriously considering a RICO action against this out-of-balance and out-of-control media."
Pride, courage, consciousness and clarity have been co-opted by people touting pimps and "hoes." "Hip hop was never pure, but it was organic. Today, this stuff is created in a lab by a mad scientist. Throw in a certain amount of profanity, the N-word, 'hate women' lyrics, violence and machismo, and you have a hit."
Ernie doesn't want to see the Occupy Hip Hop movement to become the music police, but a force to bring about a level music field in which everyone has a chance to be heard. Essentially, he feels the community is being subjected to the tyrannical equivalent of the musical 1 percent.
"How come we don't hear the music of the 99 percent?
We're trying to expand the vocabulary, and rap is an oral tradition. What once was used to bring people together now serves to separate them. Hip hop has always been here -- always a native vibe, a spiritual force that came from the people."
Ernie understands the power of social media in this struggle against mainstream media and leverages it in his Internet presence. "The FCC is asleep at the wheel, which is why we need to have our voices heard," Ernie declares. "Media has done all that they can do to suppress dissent and have their way.
This "dumbing down" is not accidental -- the dumbed-down masses are easier to control (and sell to), and we are sick of it."
"You will better understand how to hold Hip Hop... that force that evolved from the outcry concerning the decimation of the inner city... what we have termed the the urban blight."
"Today's blight is the music that attempts to pass for hip hop and rap," Ernie growls.
(You can check out Ernie's Facebook Page here).