“Hey young world
the world is yours
hey, young world,
the word is yours ….”
Hip Hop is dead. Thousands of posts across social media will lead many into believing that the creative, say it loud, boom box blasting, artistically graffitied wall, relax to the R&B rhythm’d and politically charged verses of the past have ceased to exist.
Yet, with 45 in office, we all need to pay close attention to what is resurrected. If history is any indicator of what we may repeat during this era in which we face explicit racism daily (not that we didn’t before) it is that narratives will develop, songs will be written and artists who we’ve deemed “legends/goats” will have much asked of them as the discussion of “whose side are you on” grows far past looking for an escape through music and blossoms into desiring awareness while listening to it.
Over the past year, since Trump declared his run for office we’ve seen artists and on-air personalities make bold statements in music, acting, and in their positions as newscasters or sports commentators. No matter what our class level, occupation and/or beliefs are, we’ve agreed that with cheeto-in-chief in office there’s much at stake. Many but not all of us have come together, to join in the struggle of revealing oppression and its systematic function. In recognizing the need to educate for liberation, however, we cannot pinpoint the best way the masses will receive information. Believe it or not, school and at times, home, aren’t the only places where an understanding of culture, society, race, class and one’s position within it are developed. Music is text; it can spark interest, shift focus and bring people together. It is for this reason that music is one of the most powerful tools when building a movement.
And whether White America wants it or not ….. a movement is happening. Not just in the streets but through our beats.
So let’s run down the list of artists this year who have released albums that not only provided club bangers but also tracks to reflect to as we confront the current president’s actions and continuous attempts to undo crucial legislation from Obama’s presidency, while also building up our selves and communities.
- Kendrick Lamar – DAMN
- Jidenna – The Chief
- Long Live the Chief
- White Niggas
- Jay Z – 4:44
- The Story of OJ
- Kill Jay Z
*Please note this isn’t a list of my top songs on each album, although, I can have a discussion on why they are so dope*
The question though, after such an amazing year in Hip-Hop and music is, can I add Snoop Dogg? Probably not but I will pay attention when he announces something new. This past weekend, Snoop released “M.A.C.A.” The song is the title track for his new album that will be released on Oct. 27th called “Make America Crip Again.” The title itself is problematic. The cover art image with a blue cap, bandana back drop and money stacked is pedestalizing the street gang that is directly linked to the death of thousands of Black bodies of which many were children and people who I knew.
Yes, I am from South Central and “Callliiifffooornia Love” would be added to the soundtrack of my life but like some of my friends would say, “you different now.” The way I interpreted the image and the song’s title was with an assumption that the music wouldn’t provide any form of political and controversial lyrics to spark necessary conversations. To announce an album to “Make America Crip Again” is in direct correlation with saying “Make America Great Again” to hear it, is to not just wonder what “Great or Crip” mean within the context but completely be repulsed and request the movement for either to not continue. This same reaction I’d imagine would come from parents eager to prevent all abilities to listen out of fear of the potency of words and infatuation with thug culture.
America, however, was built by and continues to be run by some of the most notorious thugs I’ve ever been forced to learn and teach the history of. They’ve never let up on maintaining a system of complete dominance over Black bodies, minds and futures.
So …. I listened to “M.A.C.A.” especially since it couldn’t be any worse than my current playlist and to be the first song I’ve heard from Snoop in awhile I was surprised by its lyrics. The track is a dis not just to the office of the presidency but also to the current structures holding up the system of violence and internalized racism that plagues our spirits and kills our youth in communities across the nation.
EVERY media station, however, that reported on the song this past weekend and yesterday mentioned nothing about the call for unity, if you aren’t careful they will have you believe “M.A.C.A.” is solely focused on Trump. It isn’t. It is a song to the youth who may say, “nah it ain’t” when you tell them the world is there’s.
Whether you like or dislike the term Black on Black Crime, we’ve been trippin’ y’all. So much so that caution tape and the 10 o’clock news shooting roll call are staples for some students when they return home. There’s a sickening feeling of normalization associated with our pain and the ability to overcome it. We are use to even the most heart wrenching stories of mothers losing their young because they happen almost weekly. Despite the fact that this cycle has become repetitive and detrimental to future generations, I know that no matter how much people want to unite us, they not really tryna come to da hood.
There are many afraid to take the steps into “those neighborhoods” unless they are there to collect a check. This means there are teachers, principals, legislators, senators, and employees in various positions meant to service districts that are crumbling and “they can only do so much” because the thought of living near “thugs”, visiting the parks where “they” meet, completing house calls in “those projects,” and just about getting or being close to anyone who may fall under as being a listener of Snoop, they may never reach.
The tile of this track is misleading. Yes, he used the word “cuz”, I can only imagine how many bloods will flock to his social media sites or create typing wars to rep their sets. Instead of cuz, he could have said nigga 30 times but didn’t ( probably saved them for another song). Either way, the truth is, he spoke facts about the history and development of what is now known as gangs in South Central. Initially, they didn’t develop as a mechanism through which drugs, violence and the objectification of women was filtered into our communities. It was the 60s, we weren’t at war with ourselves, we were protecting each other from White supremacy. Organizations or (gangs) started in Los Angeles to combat the threat of white gangs such as the Spook Hunters who would drive around town, throw cocktails and scream obscenities throughout the neighborhood. the initial gangs were given names such as The Slausons which Bunchy Carter (a founding member of the Southern California Black Panther chapter) was a part of.
When Snoop says:
“Having all that power but you won’t make change
But don’t trip, we Crip and we gang up too
And if I do a count, I’m sure we got more guns than you
Now just imagine if we stopped shooting our own kind ….”
The title should have been, “Bring Back the Panthers Again.” He is tapping into the “fear” that Black America would unite against power and the system. The truth is, although White America would have us believe that somehow we’ve been complicit in slavery or not overly rebellious, we “gang up to.” Matter a fact, they recruit our bodies to fight their wars, it’s no secret we can play defense the question is, against who? “M.A.C.A.” and Snoops reference to the “Willie Lynch Letter” being destroyed are attempts to help listeners discover who the true enemy is.
Will they listen? A few may catch on but his lyrics and the remainder of the album aren’t void of the typical misogyny and violence we’ve come to know. There are some interesting/conscious lines though, right after the above verse he says:
“I’m a crip with no color lines, that means I’m colorblind”
There’s two ways you can process this verse. I assume many will read it and see “colorblind” and say “here we go with that racism is gone” nonsense. In my opinion he isn’t referencing that. He is specifically talking about gang culture. Our black and brown youth are dying for colors. As a crip himself who currently befriends people who would have been potentially rival gang members as friends (The Game, YG etc ) those lines disappear once you’ve attained a certain level of class, profession and realize the struggle of being a person of color in America is painful at all levels.
Do you know who you want to be colorblind in 2017? Crips & Bloods.
As one of my favorite documentaries “Crips & Bloods: Made in America” from 2008 emphasized, the Crips & Bloods were made in America. The blue and red they raise as flags are embedded in the stars & stripes. They were built here and if there ever was a moment for gun violence to cease, it is now, but “thug culture” as so many have named it exist in spaces that few desire to visit, call home and create change in.
That’s why Snoop has to be a messenger. One which hip-hop lovers may say is long overdue. In M.A.C.A, he identifies himself as an “O.G.” (original gangsta) and rightly so. He’s garnered dozens of Awards, led a crip walkin’ wave in the 90s/00s, performed internationally for over two decades and helped as an artist to build Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Records into what it is today. There is zero doubt that he is an inspiration and social media influencer to millions. However, it is arguable whether or not music which has within this generation focused heavily on gang violence, thug culture, drugs and the objectification of women can somehow transform into the root of our culture and become a solution.
I initially didn’t expect the song to be community focused, line by line but it was. So much so that I realized the “Make America Crip Again” anthem was a call to action.
The verses of the song are specifically targeting two demographics. First: the Black, rich and silent. Second, any who disbelieves that Kaepernick’s lack of a current position in this years league isn’t directly related to America’s deadly and racial history. It is also a direct economic threat to the sustainability of the NFL as a predominantly White owned and operated institution. The truth is, if we evaluate our yearly expendable income, along with the position stardom places generationally wealthy celebrities in we can do anything in America, once we unite.
The big homie Snoop out here recruiting the soldiers we have and have always had. Based off history, he needa be careful. The system of supremacy will continue to input strategic plans to keep Black unity almost mythical.
The discovery of the F.B.I.’s “Black Identity Extremist” is the 21st century version of COunter INTELligence PROgram (COINTELPRO). This FBI program targeting civil rights activist who were not only organizing but liberating the minds of people of color has reared its deadly head in the era of Black Lives Matter. Throughout its existence, the program has been responsible for infiltrating organizations such as the Panther Party and causing in-house conflict that resulted in the deaths of many including South Central’s Bunchy Carter on the campus of UCLA during a Black a Student Union meeting.
If we are learning from the past it has been and always will be clear that disrupters of the norm will be watched, blacklisted, harmed and killed. Is Snoop’s song enough, absolutely not. Yet, the thought of waking up to a truce lasting longer than the one in 1992 during the LA Riots was a beautiful thought if just for three minutes.
It would be premature for me to add Snoop to the list of this years albums set out to interrupt the system. However, it is imperative that I continue to evaluate the music released and its implications through a critical lens. This song, from the eight track album listing seems to be the only song of its kind. I can, however, add this to my Woke Cypha: Soundtrack to the Revolution to further students understanding how the stories of the inner-city community connect with those of individuals who are fighting for a better America. As Stokely Carmichael or Kwame Ture has stated before, “it has always been the poor, who uprise.”
Regardless of whether or not you believe rap music today can still provide the messages youth need to become more politically aware or not, one thing is not to be mistaken for those ready for the movement,
“…don’t pretend that I’m
With that bullshit your president been tweeting.” – Snoop
Check it out yourself and let me know what you think in the comments below.