Black Pope: Prophetic Lyrics

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Born in the South Bronx, The Black Pope was raised by the best in the game of Hip Hop culture. Coming up in the Morehouse projects in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx during the late seventies planted fertile seeds in the mind of the very perceptive and ingenious Pope.

[Music Review]


The Black Pope represents a beacon light of hope in the wilderness of the Bronx.

Pope is an M.C. who truly and eloquently tells the story of the environment which he knows so well.
After hearing Pope for the first time in person in Crotona Park a few weeks ago I was left spellbound by the precision of his message. Not only does he tell the story about the chaotic nature of the South Bronx environment he knows so well, he offers practical and crucial solutions to the major problems that this current generation is facing today.

Performing before a large audience in the rain, his spoken introduction prepares you for his remarkable song in one summary: “This song is for all the people who don’t listen to their family, this is for the youth.”

His carefully-crafted song begins with him first giving you a little introduction about himself which enables the listener to understand why he is qualified to give solutions to the many problems we face in the hood in the first place.

After his brief but powerful introduction, he then briefly described some of the many results of not listening to your family and not properly preparing the youth for this multi- faceted complex world we live in through a hook that immediately and firmly takes roots in your mind and heart: “Nobody got love no more, it’s hard to keep your family in position when they don’t listen, everybody is just snitching and bitching everybody is on a mission.”

The family forms the foundation of any nation, Hon. Elijah Muhammad of NOI once declared. Brother Pope’s song called Nobody Got Love No More accurately describes the perils of not listening to your family and building a strong unity base.

One of the things that pretty much drives the point home in the listeners’ mind is the words of the last part of the hook of the song “Everybody on a mission,” meaning that everyone pretty much is on a selfish crusade that leads to confusion and destruction.

The number of African American families living in poverty has grown by 1.5 million in the past five years, according to Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. Where there is no unity folks are a simple prey for the pitfalls or their enemy – police brutality, joblessness, and other woes.
 
The Great thing about the Black Pope is he never leaves you in mid air without an option; he asks the essential question in his brilliant song “what happen to family, and love was the key every body show me.”

Although Brother Pope only performed a portion of one of his songs from his recently-released C.D., I could feel the impact that he had on the crowd that rainy Thursday when I heard him at the annual Crotona Park Jam series. I was not only intrigued by the lyrical content but the mood and spirit of the mellow and uplifting music that provides the perfect support for his strong voice was exhilarating. The medium tempo of the rhythm with a beautiful backdrop of what sounds like an introduction to a Delfonics melodic harmony provokes the perfect atmosphere for contemplation and reflection. This is the most important Hip – Hop song that I’ve heard in a very long time.

Born in the South Bronx, The Black Pope was raised by the best in the game of Hip Hop culture. Coming up in the Morehouse projects in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx during the late seventies planted fertile seeds in the mind of the very perceptive and ingenious Pope.

His maturity profoundly belied his years as he started his career in the world of African Sound System culture at the age of nine. Before he even started his career as a Mcee toaster over the many Sound System that flourished during the early eighties he constantly toured the Bronx with the L – Brothers Sound System, and Crew during the late seventies. He recalls watching the Legendary Kevie Kev and Brother Master Rob in 63 park from behind the ropes at jams. At this time he went by the name of Tip Ski. As he recalls: “I did not try to do anything at the time because I felt like I wasn’t ready”.

After about a year of rehearsing in his house and around the Morehouse Houses during all of 1980 Pope made his debut on the party scene of 1981 at the age of 10, with the Supreme Masters of the John Adams Projects which are in the same 149th street proximity.

The Supreme Masters crew featured about Four D.J.s and 10 M.C.s. They did many house jams as well as jams outside in the John Adams yard. Some of the members of the Supreme Masters crew were: Capricorn, Mike Ski, Shane, and Shamrock. At only ten years old he was rolling with guys who were much older than he was. When I asked him why the older brothers took such a liking to him he recalls: “It was my swagger; nobody could flow like me.”

At around the same time that he was rocking with the Supreme Masters he had become so popular within the community that he started to rock simultaneously with the legendary Pete DJ Jones, Mean Gene (from the L – Brothers), and DJ Magic Mike. By 1982 he was rocking in three to Four clubs a night. He had become a favorite with many crews, Sound System owners, Club Proprietors and patrons alike.

Some of the places he rocked in at the time where the Webster Avenue Pal, the Audubon Ballroom, The Forest Houses, the Davidson Houses, and his home base the Ecstasy Garage. The Ecstasy was the home of the battle where many crews honed their skills. It was at the Ecstasy that the Legendary Tip Ski created a tremendous reputation with his own M.C. crew called the Tantalizing three with the Amazing Mean Gene as their D.J. The other in the Tantalizing three were Tricky Vick and Tony Rome. Tricky Vick and Tony Rome were brothers whose mother adapted the Black Pope as their third brother. Together with the great Djay skills of the Legendary L – Brother Mean Gene they tore up the Bronx. At this time he also did parties with the Cold Crush Brothers, Tski Valley and the Fantastic Five M.C.s. He became a mainstay in the Ecstasy Garage until in closed around 1983.

Brother Pope rocked all through out the Bronx from 138th street and Alexander Avenue – all the way up Boston Road to Co – Op City with the various crews he rocked with in the early eighties. He recalls having an influence on two young rappers at the time from the Morrisania area of the Bronx who later became superstar recording artists – Big Pun and Fat Joe.

Brother Pope Stayed committed to The Sound System Party movement of the 1970s and early 80s until the point where it came to a close around 1984. As the music shifted and started to move in a different direction brother Tip Ski became involved with two recording projects before taking a break from the music.

The first was a recording he did in conjunction with Cut Master D.C. and the Maniacs along with Eric b. and Rakim on the Sekia records label. The second project was a recoding he did for 25 west which was located in the back of the library on 42nd street.

During his break up North, away from music, this living legend relates that “Tip Ski died;” he became more aware of his spiritual powers and started to raise his level of consciousness. He started to read the Holy Quran, The Bible and the Hadiths of the Holy Prophet Muhammad.

Upon his return, he resumed his interest and natural gifts for music. His late father, his wife and his daughter provide him lasting inspiration. Three Mcees that had profound impact on him; Grandmaster Caz, Rakim and Naz. He views these men as giants that have carved out a positive path for themselves.

This is the way he defines what he does: “My music is me, my music is you, the shit you see in the street, the soda can on the floor, I’m every element, I’m every element that you see; I’m the sea; I’m the water, I’m the soap, I’m the fish, I’m the wash cloth, I’m everything that you see, so as you absorb me, your going to get to feel me real hard”. Having been at that performance, I can I bear witness. 

The Black Pope’s C.D. is on the independent label, Moore House Music. He has a live performance on September 1st 2007 at a live Jam where Russell Simmons will make free school supplies available for all the children in attendance. The jam will start at 12: noon on 147th street and St. Anne’s Avenue in the Bronx.


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