Like many others in the hip-hop generation, as I dissect all these rants and essays, it appears that much of the discussion regarding health care reform and its potential effects—as told by the media and various legislators—is shrouded in that brand of policy legalese unique to the vernacular of Washington insiders. As a result, certain areas of the debate can be rather difficult for many non-policy wonks to understand.
This is why I ask the MCs of the world—mainstream and underground, major label and independent—to please heed hip-hop’s responsibility for being a vessel for socio-political enlightenment, and break down some of the more byzantine aspects of this health care reform business. If hip hop is the no-nonsense voice of the people, then perhaps they’ll give me some real talk on the issue.
Could Drake and Kanye West dish out the most devilish details of the legislation and tell us which plan is truly the best—the best we’ve ever had—to address concerns of aiding uninsured Americans and managing new reform costs: the House-friendly public option or the Senate-friendly co-operative plan to be funded and run by potential members?
To wax poetic on the idea of a nationwide, single-payer health care plan, I suggest a few of hip-hop’s more socially egalitarian artists. Be it Dead Prez, Mos Def or Lupe Fiasco, one of these MCs could sell us on the benefits of a plan somewhat identical to that of Canada, the United Kingdom and even Cuba.
As for the hip-hop conservative right—if there actually is one—I would pass the mic to 50 Cent—who’s publicly allied himself with the GOP and who defended the Bush administration’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. His “get rich or die tryin’” credo could serve as a Rick Santelli-like rallying cry for the most ardent supporters of private care, effusive in their undying belief of free-market philosophies, and who by extension, decry the Obama administration’s attempts at reform as smacking of socialism.
And perhaps 50’s “do for self” motto could spark aspiring hip-hop artists to host their own health care town hall—a health care cipher, if you will—posted on YouTube and livestreamed on Ustream, particularly targeting those unaware of how much they resemble, in mindset, Adam Smith as they do Mr. Curtis Jackson.
Could Jay-Z—a big supporter of Obama’s presidential campaign and a successful entrepreneur in his own right—convince us that the president’s plan doesn’t advocate “death panels.” To prove it, perhaps he could spit a few lines on the remix of “The Death of Auto-Tune”? Certainly this could go a long way with young hip-hop loving, Sarah Palin backers of conservative America, misinformed about the tenor of the end-of-life care options proposed in Obama’s plan.
Is Russell Simmons—another prominent Obama backer—prepared to recruit Def Jam’s hip-hop roster in a compilation backing the merits of the administration’s reform vision?
And would Republican Party chairman Michael Steele—who has gone on record about his desire to have the GOP connect with the hip-hop generation—be able to produce a response compilation of his own, possibly with 50 and some like-minded disciples. Or maybe a few unsigned artists could put together a mixtape?
I know my idea needs to be developed a little more before I slip it to the recording studios and radio stations, tastemakers and kingmakers. But hip-hop has responsibilities.. Plus, we need something to combat the cryptic politico-speak coming from the politicians and the pundits.
Kyle Coward is a freelance media professional and writer in Chicago.