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In New York City in the late eighties and early nineties, hip-hop music not only expressed some of the tensions that existed between Jews and African-Americans, but it was characterized in the media as part of the problem. Most of this media attention was focused around charges of anti-Semitism that were being leveled against the hip-hop group Public Enemy, who at the time were among the most popular and critically acclaimed hip-hop artists. In their 1988 song "Bring the Noise," from the It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back album, Public Enemy's leader Chuck D rapped that Louis Farrakhan was "a prophet" and someone "to listen to" and "follow for now," at a time when Farrakhan was coming under media scrutiny for comments he had made in regard to the Jews. (1) A year later, Professor Griff, Public Enemy's "minister of information," implicated the Jews for "the majority of wickedness that went on across the globe." (2) In 1990, Public Enemy revived the controversies over anti-Semitism in their 1990 song "Welcome to the Terrordome," from the Fear of a Black Planet album by referring to the Jews as the "so-called chosen frozen," and rapping that the "crucifixion ain't no fiction. (3) At the same time, a number of Jewish leaders and television and radio personalities were using the media to speak out against hip-hop and Public Enemy by claiming that hip-hop was not music, and did not deserve the critical attention that it was receiving. (4) By the fall of 1991 when tensions between Jews and African-Americans exploded into the Crown Heights riots, hip-hop culture hardly seemed the artistic site to explore relations between the two groups in an inclusive and productive manner. (5) Yet a number of people interviewed by Anne Deavere Smith and later performed for her one-woman play Fires in the Mirror asserted that hip-hop was absolutely the place to attempt an intercultural dialogue. In the Fires in the Mirror monologue entitled "Rhythm and Poetry" rapper Big Mo suggests that with hip-hop rhymes:

Arts & Entertainment
September 22
Comparative Drama
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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