I recently made the mistake of calling Jeff Campbell “Apostle” when he walked into my Social Solutions (Social Problems) class at Lincoln High. This was after he told me to introduce him as Jeff… What can I say? The past is slow to die. As guest speaker, Jeff did not spit rhymes or talk about hip-hop. He didn’t even talk about his play. He spoke about Identity, Purpose and Vision, and he had every student identify theirs, loud and proud.
This past Friday, I went to Jeff Campbell’s one man mockumentary of the hip-hop industrial complex: Who Killed Jigaboo Jones? If you have ever been affected in any way by hip-hop, and let’s face it, at this point, who hasn’t… you need to see this play. There are three dates left in Denver this fall: October 17th, 18th and 19th at Shop Works in Five Points. If you’re outside of Denver, I have no doubt national dates on the horizon.
DJ Icewater told me in an Oakland recording studio in 2008 that hip-hop is about taking something old and making it new. Simple.
True to form, artist Jeff Campbell has done so with the following themes:
* Mass media is mind control.
* Hip Hop is Dead. And if you want to know who killed it, you should probably look in the mirror.
* Corporate rap entertainment is modern-day blackface / minstrelsy – practiced by all races.
* You can only know a man by knowing the various faces of a man. Dualities.
* Identity is bought and paid for in the digital age.
With Who Killed Jigaboo Jones, Jeff Campbell proves that every activist is truly a comedian. Laughing your ass off at the smoke and mirrors may be the only way to stay sane. True comedy is tragedy. We like to sing and dance too.
Jeff reinforced recent reflections that there are two types of artists:
* Those who master and perfect a form, so they are known to embody it.
* Those who break it, because they are beyond it.
Hip-Hop artistry is not necessarily about rapping, even for the emcee. Not necessarily about spinning records, even for the DJ… And well, you know the rest…
Following the play, Jeff invites his audiences to talk back and ask questions. I would have left them in the dark…