|Hip-Hop Historian Touré
at the Hueman bookstore in Harlem, Touré the highly
intellectualized critic, arrived promoting his new book
Never Drank Kool Aid The gathering was well
attended by admirers, fans, and just curious folk who were
interested what he had to say. Touré comes off as
an affable, likeable figure who exudes confidence and an
unusually high degree of familiarity tinged with svelte
appeal. He and fellow author Jeff Chang, who had his own
book on display, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: A History of
Hip Hop Generation , entertained the crowd with an
arsenal of spontaneous and sometimes choreographed yet effective
dialogue that elicited uproarious laughter from the crowd.
Touré fielded questions about 50 Cent's "stupid"
comments regarding Hurricane Katrina to his inspiration
behind the compilation of his latest book. He also found
time to poke fun at the semantics of popular rappers, "An
album and a movie is not a movement... You have a product
to move", was one of many exchanges between Chang and Touré
that the crowd was privy to hear. Touré also gave
the crowd some of his more personal moments in his journalism
career like when he was a passenger in DMX's vehicle and
at the mercy of DMX's reckless and unique approach to driving.
After the showcase, I got a chance to catch up with a Toure
and ask him a flurry of questions.
Live: Before we talk about your latest work, let's carve
to the meat of the interview. What are
thoughts on the current state of Black America i.e. the
recent article that appeared in the NY Times? Give readers
reference who aren't familiar with the article.
Well, I feel like we've read that story in various ways
over the past few decades, but it made me sad to see that
blacks and black men have it so tough right now.
A subsequent Washington Post article called "Marriage Is
For White People" gave me pause just like the state of Black
America story. It talked about how blacks are the least
likely to get married, especially black women. Marriage
is the root of family, so if we're not getting married en
masse, then what's the future of the family in the black
What was the inspiration behind the title, Never Drank
the Kool Aid ?
Drinking the Kool-Aid means believing what someone
else tells you. To say I never drank the Kool-Aid,
I mean I never bought into the philosophies of the people
I was interviewing. I never did the sort of worshipful
coverage you often see in the Source or like Ed Bradley
did with Tiger Woods a few weeks ago on 60 Minutes.
I always tried to look deeper into my subjects. Did drink
the kool aid orginate with the mass suicide w/ the rev Jim
Jones back in the late 70s where they drank cyanide laced
purple kool aid? (Wikipedia it)
HL: What do you hope to accomplish with the release of this
Touré: I love books. To create a book that
others love is amazing.
Bear with me, as we go on a slight tangent...Damon Wayans
attempted to patent the word 'nigga' for use on clothing,
merchandise, and books. What is your initial reaction to
Touré: Damon has been trying to patent the word nigga
(not nigger) and there's a fundamental difference.
I can see why that old pejorative would not be acceptable
to the Patent Office, but to many nigga is not a pejorative,
it's a beautiful word. But I wouldn't expect the
Patent Office to have that sort of subtle understanding.
Nas or Jay? I'm only kidding. I would be insane to ask you
that (lol) ((Again, give reader reference)
Touré: Jay won the battle with the Takeover.
He made the best record, so he won, no doubt. (And
"Super Ugly" smashed Nas, too.) Them working together
now has no impact on the outcome of the battle, doesn't
change it, doesn't it mean Jay won because Nas is "working
HL: You once wrote an article on Michael Jackson for the
NY Times, what do you think of a potential collaboration
between the King of Pop and the Poster Boy of Ignorance
aka 50 Cent? (which by the way is very likely after
DJ Whoo Kid spent quality time with MJ)
Touré: Michael Jackson's recording career is over.
Let it go.
HL: Where would you like to see yourself 10 years from now?
I'd like to have some kids, be happily married, have a good
talk show on the air, and have a few more books published.
I've got a novel almost finished now and another
book about hip hop just being born.
HL: And my last question, will we ever get to hear another
album from Rakim?
No. I highly doubt that.