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United We Stand - TIP Supports Unity Whilst Admonishing Hashtivism

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He goes by TIP now, but you might know him better as T.I., the Atlanta hip-hop artist who helped usher trap music into the limelight, whilst also assuring everyone that he's "wild as the Taliban". He's courted his fair share of controversy in the past, not least for his involvement with Robin Thicke's grotesque, reprehensible lawsuit-magnet - 'Blurred Lines'.

What he doesn't get anywhere near as much attention for, sadly, is his activism. He gave away 200 bicycles to underprivileged children via his nightclub, has participated in special events for community service volunteers, done outreach work with troubled youths, went to New Orleans to help them recover after Hurricane Katrina and he has talked two suicidal men out of jumping off high vantages, one of whom was Scott Stapp, lead singer of Creed.

As it turns out, he's just as interested in the way positive messages are spread as he is in spreading them, and he has his crosshairs set on social media, particularly hashtivism. At the Triumph Awards in Atlanta last Saturday, a ceremony which recognises humanitarian achievements, TIP performed a poem entitled 'United We Stand'. Primarily, it was about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, but it also decried social media activism as shallow and ultimately more damaging to the cause than helpful.

The example he uses is Sandra Bland, and the way that some people might perhaps have been less interested in fighting for justice and more interesting in increasing their follower count. Her story is an excellent example of this phenomenon, Twitter flew into a rage after the mysterious, disturbing circumstances of her death were made public, but the story quickly yielded to the next thing before any satisfactory conclusion was reached. TIP has raised issues like this before, both in his music and, ironically, in social media rants.

Look at us....America has created a monster. The result of ignoring & mishandling an already fragile spirited, recently enslaved, presently oppressed race/generation of people. Look at us. We're the monster that now refuses to be dismissed, overlooked,& ignored. We were brought to this place,unaware of our own cultures,religion,&traditions therefore,we created our own. Now look at us. For years we've been crying out for the nation to address the substandard education systems & disparaging treatment of our citizens in communities across America. Our people have had an increasing lack of opportunities for generations. There have been homes broken,lives shattered,and futures lost on your watch....unanswered. Look at us. How long can u expect a nation/race/generation of people to be blatantly disrespected? Spoken to and treated with arrogant tones of insignificance. Our fathers,uncles,brothers& role models were killed& Imprisoned more often than educated. Now look at us. Our friends,& relatives Murdered and cast aside without thought,as though your human life is more valuable than ours. How long can that go on without consequence? Now Look at us. How long can u continue to pass the buck & make excuses of why u can't do today what should have been done yeste-year? Although I DO NOT support the negative responses & actions of my people in light of dis tragedy....I WILL NOT condone your lack of effort to show any urgency to improve the treatment of our people, nor the living conditions in our communities. Your refusal to address these life altering issues makes events such as these seem inevitable. Although I too am at fault to a degree & I admit that I may not have all da answers... I do have a fun fact for you. Insanity is...Going about things the same way,expecting a different result. U wanna different result? U must take different action. What else do u expect? Look at us!!!
A photo posted by TIP (@troubleman31) on

He definitely has a point, the whole concept of trending topics is ephemeral by its very nature, things only matter as long as they stay popular, and their popularity depends on people promoting them, when most of the time they're only doing that to draw attention back onto themselves. TIP's decision to frame this argument as a spoken word piece is a great way to illustrate that, since it allows him to not only spread an important message, but employ an art form that doesn't get anywhere near as much attention as it should.

Every once in a while a spoken word artist or poet appears on YouTube with a rhythmic, rhyming point to make and people pay attention, but for every one of those there are about 1000 'poems' doled out by some random Tumblr user and almost immediately lauded as some kind of incredible artistic achievement, mostly by people who probably think Saul Williams is that guy from Breaking Bad. In a way, then, hashtivism is as much an enemy of poetry and spoken word as it is an enemy of true activism, making TIP's performance all the more poignant. Hopefully people will actually listen this time.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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United We Stand - TIP Supports Unity Whilst Admonishing Hashtivism Reviewed by Unknown on Wednesday, October 07, 2015 Rating: 5

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