Cornel West is one of America’s most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals and has been described as a man who plays two roles. First, he is a highly regarded scholar of religion, philosophy, and African-American studies. Formerly a university professor at Harvard (a position held by only 17 of 7,000 faculty), he is currently a Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University. Second, he is described as an \"intellectual provocateur\" outside of the academic world, appearing in lecture halls, on television, at protest rallies, on his own rap CD, and on the silver screen.
West’s unprecedented academic achievements include a 1973 degree from Harvard University in which he graduated magna cum laude in just three years, and MA (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) degrees from Princeton University. West’s writing, speaking, and teachings have been known to weave together the American traditions of the Baptist church, transcendentalism, socialism, and pragmatism. He has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. In his scholarly work, his book Race Matters sold nearly 400,000 copies and influenced a national dialogue on race, justice and democracy.
A political theorist who’s worked on presidential bids by Bill Bradley, Al Sharpton and now Barack Obama, West has also been involved with such projects as the Million Man March and Russell Simmon’s Hip Hop Summit. He continues to be an integral part of social change as well as a driving force in pop culture. He has appeared in both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions playing one of the elders, Councilor West, while also providing philosophical commentary on all three Matrix films in The Ultimate Matrix Collection.
With his third CD project, West joins forces with Black Men Who Mean Business (BMWMB) consisting of Sacramento-based writer and producer Mike Dailey and his brother Clifton West along with a who’s who of hip hop and R&B all-stars such as Prince, Andre 3000, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, KRS-1 and the late Gerald Levert among others with the mission of bringing back the essence of Black music with a ‘real’ purpose.
Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations injects an inspiring shift in the music’s emphasis to bring issues, music, ideas, truth and action together in an effort to help resurrect the landscape of Black American music. His current CD project gives an explosive critique on racism and repression in white America, while challenging African-Americans and rappers like 50 Cent, Snoop and the Game to raise their game where misogyny, homophobia and empty materialism are concerned.
West is a widely sought after public speaker and guest commentator on many national television programs and is an integral part of social change. His influences cover a wide gamut of arenas from the Black church to politics to academia to socially conscious music and the urban community in which he grew up. His speaking events have been known to attract people of all educational and socio-economic levels, age groups and race. He has, without question, earned his place in American history as one of the greatest public intellectuals of our time.
Black Men Who Mean Business (BMWMB)
Timing is everything. Many great ideas have been launched into the world and forgotten because the timing of their debut was wrong. Yet, lately it seems all the planets have aligned to create the perfect environment for the introduction of a greater consciousness of ourselves and our purpose in the world. After viewing Oprah\'s Hip Hop town hall to discuss the problems that exist within the music genre and American society in general, I am even more convinced that the time is right for BMWMB.
But what is a BMWMB? No, it\'s not a new model of BMW nor a new television network or sports association. And no, you won\'t see it \"walking it out\" on BET. However, that is not to say you won\'t see it \"working it out\" on the popular network and others. From the corporate office to the barbershop, from the corner store to Ivy League halls of academia, BMWMB can be found collectively or individually making things happen. Still, don\'t get it? Here\'s the answer. BMWMB is the acronym for Black Men Who Men Business.
Black Men Who Mean Business, the phrase alone commands a certain respect and sense of anticipation because Black men who mean business are not only the visionaries but also the reality-makers. With that intent, Sacramento, California based writer and producer, Michael Dailey, gave birth to BMWMB. He partnered with legendary scholar, author, orator, and professor Dr. Cornel West, and his brother, Clifton West, to create the original chapter of BMWMB. The duo serves as supporting cast to the movement of Dr. Cornel West to inform and empower the African American community through hip hop, R&B, Spoken Word and Rap as well as mentoring, uplifting and truth telling in our community. BMWMB is a movement to remember, restore and re-ignite the power of uniting the African American community through love, unity, solidarity and loyalty to one another through mentoring and forums/listening parties in addition to other events.
In August, these three visionaries released, Never Forget: A Journey of Revelations. Debuting on Hidden Beach Recordings\' new label, Hidden Beach Forum, this powerful musical experience places Dr. West in the eye of a lyrical and visual Hip Hop storm. Just as music execs, artists, business leaders, and community activist meet to clean up the misbehavior in Hip-Hop, BMWMB and Hidden Beach will have already constructed a musical template for them to follow. This collaboration of conscious thought and musical righteousness takes Dr. West out of the confines of Princeton classrooms and releases him creatively to share the mic with Hip Hop and R&B heavy hitters like Andre 3000, Black Thought, Kanye West protégé’ Rhymefest, KRS-1, Talib Kweli, Prince, Dave Hollister, and the late Gerald LeVert. Addressing issues of racial profiling, politics, 9/11, war, and a litany of other concerns of not just Black people but America at large, Never Forget is a wonderful example of just what men can do when they mean business. No bitches, no hoes, no misogyny, no homophobia just straight lyrical genius laid over perfect beats. The music and the message transcend generational and racial differences to speak to concerns we all have as everyday people.
And now that Hip Hop appears to be ready to address its problems, this unique project is definitely part of the solution. Again, timing is everything. Hidden Beach founder, Steve McKeever, could not have planned it any better. And the title of the project is so appropriate to what we are facing right now. Never forget that Black music set the musical foundation for this country. Never forget it soothed our souls in the fields and secretly led us to freedom in the north, expressed our woes in shades of blue as we carved out a new existence in a racist society, helped us swing our way into a new cultural and economic existence as we passed trees bearing Strange Fruit. And while the country faced a great depression, we sang a happy song because it was well with our souls, marched to the rhythm of a new freedom song; pumped our fist to the beat of black pride, scratched classic tunes to create a new sound; gave pop music a new king that was a thriller, and ushered in a phenomenal musical combination of all these experiences and history just for it to be reduced to one drunken night in a strip club. People, never forget.