That's famed Pittsburgh hip hop artist Jasiri X in the video above rapping the #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS, a video that is debuting today at http://10friskcommandments.com in affiliation with Brooklyn comedian Elon James White's award-winning web series This Week in Blackness. (You can read Jasiri X's lyrics below the fold.)
The song and video sprang from a conversation White had with Jasiri at Netroots Nation in June. Target: the stop-and-frisk laws of New York City, Philadelphia and some other large cities. These policies allow cops to stop, question and search anyone they think is suspicious. Proponents say such laws reduce crime by finding weapons, especially firearms. Foes argue that they encourage racial profiling and violate Fourth Amendment rights. Stop-and-frisk policies create an atmosphere of martial law and worsen tension between police and citizens. While authorities say police are looking for weapons, mostly firearms, critics have complained that an increase in misdemeanor marijuana arrests has accompanied the stop-and-frisk policy in New York.
An analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union found that people have been stopped, interrogated and patted down on the street in New York City more than four million times in the decade since the policy was imposed. Nine out of 10 of those stopped and frisked have been completely innocent. And nine out of 10 have been African American or Latino. In 2011, for instance, according to the NYPD’s reports, New Yorkers were subjected to stop-and-frisk 685,724 times. Nine percent were white, 53 percent black and 34 percent Latino. Half were between the ages of 14 and 24.
Last month, thousands of New Yorkers turned out for a silent march in the city to protest the stop-and-frisk policy. They were joined by several high-profile public officials, including the Manhattan borough president.
Jasiri X is perhaps best known for his “Free the Jena Six,” the song named 2007 Hip Hop Political Song of the Year, which built support for youth jailed in Jena, Louisiana. He is president of LYRICS, Inc. (Leading Young Rappers In Career Success) and a founding member of One HOOD, an organization of men working against violence in black communities.
White—who Melissa Harris-Perry has called “the perfect comedian for the Obama era, talking race while exploding racial stereotypes”—explains how #10FRISKCOMMANDMENTS came about:
Actually it was at Netroots this year that the idea was birthed. I had just finished doing my radio show on the Exhibit stage and I had joked about my only understanding of what to do when stopped by the cops was Jay Z's song "99 Problems." When I got off stage it clicked in my head that Biggies's "10 Crack Commandments" would be a GREAT way to explain something that's NOT how to sell crack.
I ran over to Jasiri and pitched him the concept. He started to shake his head saying "That could work." I told him if he wrote the song I'd direct and shoot the video here in Brooklyn as soon as possible. He gave me the song last Tuesday and we shot the video this past weekend. Jasiri is one of best rappers out there that's actually TALKING about something. His work on the Trayvon Song, We Are The 99, and his latest Do we need to start a riot? are prime examples of his passion and why the progressive community loves what he does.
I'm so use to it I wrote me a manual
A step by step booklet so you can get
Through your stop and frisk before they cock and spit
Rule Number 1 never carry a gun
Even if ya got a license it might be a crisis
if you make a move for your waist just the slightest
they'll empty every round of they clips till you're lifeless
Rule Number 2 in fact make no sudden moves
Don't you know these bad boys use violence to silence
They'll treat you like ya highness (a king)
I done seen mad kids get they wigs cold busted over nothing
Number 3 never trust no police
These cops will set a brother up gun them up then cover up
Whenever they run a muck and come to bust on one of us
Its never Justice cause it's always just us
Number 4 I know you heard this before
Always comply and pray to God you survive
Number 5 never talk back when they talk smack
If even they call you a nigger man be the bigger man
6 think you can run & jet quick dead it
They'll catch you and beat you so bad you won't forget it
Number 7 this rule is so underrated
Always try to stay in places well lit and populated
Cause when the streets is watching police get cautious
So you might survive without getting beat and hauled in
Number 8 any weight that you carry's a risk
They catch you with a nick they beat you like you hustling bricks
Number 9 should have been Number 1 to me
Every time you get stopped always film the police
Cause if you get a whippin they ain't trying to listen
You be sitting in prison if they don't see it with they vision
Number 10 a strong word called the constitution
Or does it apply then to only white men?
Is being black or brown probable cause hell no
So why do we get stopped rain sleet hail snow
Follow these rules you'll have more days to wake up
If not cops could pull out and shoot ya place up
Slugs hit ya temple watch ya frame shake up
Caretaker did ya make up
When you passed those cops they ain't even break up
No charge they ain't miss a day or get a pay cut
It's only us that get stopped but they say it ain't racist
Gotta to go before the po po come and take us