Green Hip Hop: Dr. Octagon's "Trees"
In hip hop, we usually hear more about smoking trees than saving them. Enter the inimitable dadaist Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith, aka Black Elvis). As an environmental spokesman, the Dr. may be the anti-Al Gore. His environmental treatise, "Trees," off 2006's The Return of Dr. Octagon, ain't exactly logical, let alone completely comprehensible, but it gets the message across: "Watch your atmosphere and pesticides / Control damaging trees and roots / A bunch of chemicals y'all turnin' it loose." The video, directed by Georgie Greville and produced by MTV for its THINK campaign, has strong, dark, yet fun visuals and lots of those people often forgotten within but central to climate change talk: kids. And with its 80s synth beat, it's much more danceable than a PowerPoint presentation.
Amidst the chorus shout-out "Trees are dyin'!" (which to be fair, isn't completely true) one line stands out for us: "Information is more concealed." In an urban jungle where it can be hard to tell where your meal or your furniture came from—or where government and corporate influence is ever opaque—that problem is a central challenge for ecological living or sustainable development. In China, for instance, government transparency, driven by public participation, is considered as more crucial an ingredient to serious progress than any UN program or government edict. In other parts of the world, unraveling the supply chain that brings us what Octagon calls our "elegance" and discovering the true cost our consumption has on places like China -- or the "elephants" -- is half the battle. He may not have a shot at the Nobel prize, but Dr. Octagon is onto something.
And let us know in the comments about other examples of hip hop speaking to green (as in environmental) issues.