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Letters to 'Mad Mike' Banks

Posted Feb 24 2007

Students in the music and social justice class at my high school in Oakland recently did a unit with a techno focus. Among other things, they watched a documentary featuring Underground Resistance founder "Mad Mike" Banks and read a recent interview with him. As one assignment they wrote letters to Banks in response to this interview. Here are some letters with more on the way! Hopefully I'll be posting Mike's response as well.

Dear Mike,
There’s a part of me that has a great deal of respect for you. Do you know why? Because, you aren’t another African-American mainstream rapper. It’s not that I hate rap music, but so much of it is negative that I don’t want to hear any of it. These artists on the T.V. screen portray a lifestyle of the rich and famous, with gold in their mouths (I bet their breath smells like pennies; there’s so much metal in there) it’s really a fantasy life. It’s also misleading to a lot of young people. These artists are selling themselves!

You’re also independent. You’re not letting a publicicst or a manager tell you how to make your music. I think that’s great. Again, thank you for being an example of a product of determination.

Sincerely,
Zakiyah M.

Dear Mike,

I think that the article that you wrote is really interesting. I think that you answer some of the questions that I had in mind, but not all. I think that Techno is a great genre because I personally like Techno myself. I think that the people who you should target are from the age of 15 to 30 years old because those are the ages that people listen to music.

I also think that when you make a hit on techno, it gets stuck to you cause I just started to hear techno and everyday I hear techno and I’m stuck with it. When I read the article, I had some questions about it. I agree that techno is more than music. I think that in techno, there is a message and it makes you think. The questions that I have are: What age are you targeting? Does the bad influence of hip hop affect your message that you have to change people? Overall, I think that your article was really great.

Alejandro G.

Dear Mike,
I have learned a lot from you just by reading the Underground Resistance article. I agree with you in some things but I also disagree with you in others. For example, I don’t agree that once someone gets famous they don’t represent were they came from. I agree that some artists go out of their community because they don’t get support from them and once they get famous the people from the community start to admire him/her. But why didn’t they admire them when they were fighting to be famous at least they should support them and not wait until they get famous somewhere else.

I also think that it’s racist for people to say that people who actually make techno and house music don’t listen to it. I think it’s really messed up that there is no interaction with the community unless you have the luxury of a car which a lot of people can’t afford. I don’t understand the companies who for a few thousand of dollars would license the music with world rights chose to not even try selling into your communities. All they care about is making big money and they think that by selling it to your community they won’t make big money. Those are people who don’t care about music they just care about where to distribute the music to make the most money.

Sincerely,
Daniel B.

Dear Mike Banks,
There were some very interesting things that you said and there were also some things that made me think a lot. One thing that makes you guys look good is that you follow your parents' steps and are anti-violence. Another thing is that it’s true how the media portrays African Americans as people who just want big diamonds and shiny gold. But maybe deep down in their heart that they know that they are trying to be someone that they aren’t and that’s affecting how the world sees African Americans.

Another fact that is true is that most of the people that make music, when they are offered a chance to make big money, leave their town and families behind just because they want to make a lot of money. The truth is that this happens to every artist that wants or that gets persuaded by the riches of this world. Overall everything is good and keep up of the things that you guys are doing.

Sincerely,
Edwin S.

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