needs to find the next subject. Politics and social stuff
- those are going to be the next real subjects groups get
-George Clinton, Detroit Free Press, summer
of Me," 50 Cent featuring Mary J. Blige
talk about politics at square one, between a man and a woman
in a relationship. Fifteen rounds of intense negotiation lead
to the kind of "win win" outcome music manages best.
Mami," Fat Joe
A tribute to his mother and, just like
Tupac, it resonates beyond the individual situation because
our mothers are held up as subhuman by the media and by the
masters of puppets in the White House. Here it's also about
unconditional love for one's family and support in the face
of physical illness and the sickness of the system.
and Brown," Xzibit
"80 per cent of inmates are black and Hispanic/They're
trying to wipe us off of this planet/Dammit... That's why
we've got to sit down/And talk about the black and the brown."
A love song to brothers thrown against brothers in Los Angeles,
nationwide and worldwide, with a dream of what could happen
if we learned to focus on our real enemy.
the World," Young Buck
"My rent due/Baby need food and shoes/I'm flat broke/Still
I refuse to lose." A song about reaching the breaking
point and choosing life anyway, changing a "Fuck the World"
goodbye to a "Buck the World" throwdown.
A rap that follows the money at the root
of a young woman savaged by a dehumanizing job then by unemployment,
of a kid locked into a losing street hustle and of an Iraqi
family facing guns and bombs.
Jungle," Jim Jones, featuring Max B, Rell, Dr. Ben Chavis
There's power to Jones's shout out to his "political soldiers"
behind bars - without romanticizing the streets, he's dreaming
of the world that can come out of making the culture of those
streets work for us.
Your Time," Ludacris with Beanie Siegel and C-Murder
roll call of friends and loved ones locked down by a justice
system "fucked up," bolstered by details of life behind bars,
suggestions for how to support these brothers and sisters
and contemplating what MLK would think of how far we have
King's dreams again, asking us to contemplate
what they have in common with those of Huey Newton, Easy E,
Marshall Mathers, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Jackson, Aaliyah and
Left Eye Lopez.
Rap Made Me Do It," Ice Cube
Lays waste to the logic that blames rap for everything from
selling crack to college shootings, in fact arguing that gangsta's
the loudest voice against everyday violence. And the reason,
Cube explains, "Lyrically I'm so lethal... Just to feed
all my people."
Bush," Lil' Wayne
Sums up the first year after Katrina,
calling the President out for ongoing genocide. A sample of
Ray Charles's "Georgia" not only emasculates the president
but restores the power of that refrain free of nostalgia.
Ya Hustle On," Juvenile
Life after Katrina's a lot like life before Katrina, "your
mayor ain't your friend/he's the enemy," your friends
are behind bars, and there's no government for the people
just a hustle to stay alive. But this song's not about defeat
- "It's crunch time," Juvenile declares, "It's the
Arab Remix," Ali B featuring Yes-R & Akon
for worldwide unity features Morrocan rappers Ali-B and Yes-R
joined by R&B singer Akon, who has his own roots both
in St. Louis and West Africa.
On (My Song)," Chingo Bling
Biggie rapped about contemplating
suicide, here it's the terrorism of the immigration police
that puts a man in that mind state.
Out Here for a Pimp," Three 6 Mafia
Oscar or not, this song stands strong on its own, deromanticizing
the hustle of "seeing people killed and seeing people deal
and seeing people live in poverty with no meal."
It or Love It," The Game and 50 Cent
"The underdog's on top, and I'm going to shine, homie,
until my heart stop." Summons Rakim and Marvin Gaye to
remind listeners that playa hatin' avoids the hard work of
dealing with the power structure.
Hop Police," Chamillionaire featuring Slick Rick
Cites Snoop Dogg's "Murder Was the Case" to suggest hip-hoppers
not let themselves be turned against each other but, instead,
stay focused on the real sources of injustice.
Twista and Faith Evans
Twista wishes, "I could go deep in a zone/And lift the
spirits of the world with the words within this song."
He does just that and so much more, calling for his brother
to get out of jail, his grandmother to get well, an end to
drug dealing, war and poverty. Faith's refrains make it easy
to "take this music and use it, let it take you away."
Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and D'Angelo
In this world without hip-hop, there's all the same poverty,
sickness, madness and death except no music to bring people
together to fight.
Get This Paper," Rich Boy
May be the angriest, hardest-hitting
political statement anyone's made about the war against the
poor, here at home and over in Iraq.
Up," Lil Kim
In English and in Spanish, Brooklyn's self-proclaimed queen
of rap serves up this reggaeton-flavored rap for unity, "no
matter where you from."
Again," Yin Yang Twins
Dirty South bad boys contemplate
the quiet agonies of women forced out of their homes and into
the streets, taking off their clothes to feed their kids and
hoping for a second chance at life. D-Roc bemoans the fact
that the schools don't prepare these women for the world they
face, and the preachers don't give them refuge, so their hopes
and dreams only find voice in rap.
Me Better," Fabolous and Ne-Yo
A Brooklyn rapper joins
forces with a sweet voiced refrain to show just how much we
need one another.
Eightball & MJG
A rally cry for unity among all the
hoods of the Mid-South, calling upon the region's rich musical
history and pointing toward a future where all the ghettos
nationwide come together.
Hood," Young Jeezy
"Everytime I do it, I do it for my hood/And everytime I
do it, I do it for your hood/and everytime I do it, I do it
for they hood/It's understood..."
Story after story indicting a justice system out to put every
young man in the hood behind bars, asking such pointed questions
as "how in the fuck can four birds get you a life sentence,
but give a cracker seven years for money launderin' millions?"
and Over," Nelly
Even without the video of a day in the
parallel lives of Tim McGraw and Nelly, these blues suggest
the strong ties that bind Nelly being "country" to country
Norte," Calle 13
This rap about the political vision of
an immigrant to El Norte ran in heavy MTV rotation after its
album knocked Jennifer Lopez off the top of the Latin pop
charts in 2007.
A tribute to the Undeground Kings's "Ridin'
Dirty," this huge hit is the catchiest, boldest protest of
racial profiling yet.
Love," Ludacris with Mary J. Blige
Just what it sounds
like, a love song to children fleeing violence and a dream
of a future those kids can live for.
A working man's blues that runs through the details of a hard
scrabble life, growls at the wealthy, tells the President
to just shut up, and then stops and contemplates the abyss.
"Troops gone and we still at war/Nobody even knows what
for/Even more I'm scared to find what the world really has
Lil' Kim featuring Denaun Porter
"Fuck the law, the whole system's corrupt," Kim declares
as she describes just what's universal about the dog-eat-dog
situation that landed her in jail.
David Banner featuring Akon, Lil Wayne & Snoop Dogg
West Coast and Southern unity "busting out of your speakers,"
relishing a sense of power and self control that comes with
others at your side.
Up," Eightball & MJG
A call to the South, East, West
and Worldwide for rappers to talk straight, stay true, stand
up for each other, go the distance and forget those who've
got nothing better than do than hate on other artists.
Girl (Dollar Bill)," Wyclef Jean with Lil' Wayne and Akon
redemption song for a high school sweetheart all but lost
to that same mess that threatens to take us all down.
Message," Styles P
To each member of his family, to his hood, to his crew, to
the poor, to the jail, to the kids, to the ladies, to the
rich, to the world, the messages P leaves vary in specifics,
but they're tied together by "one is all and all is one/I'm
going to see us all rich before all is done."
Morning News," Chamillionaire
After the enormous success of his debut album, this Houston
rapper opened his second album with this attack on the emptiness
of television news, where Rosie debates the Donald and the
latest gaffes by Paris Hilton and Michael Jackson are worth
more time than the reality that your tax dollars just "pay
for classes," CEO's are "slavemasters... and if you
ain't upper class/then your opinion is irrelevant."
Way I Live," Baby Boy Da Prince
An appreciation of life
in Marrero, one of the neighborhoods spared by Katrina's floodwaters
but not New Orleans' neglect and devastation before or after.
Takin' Over," DJ Khaled (with Rick Ross, T.I., Lil' Wayne,
Fat Joe and Akon)
Exactly what it sounds like, blasting off with tympani and
some kind of outer space choral/keyboard part that says, think
big and then think bigger. Arab-American, West African, Latino
and African-American voices plan a takeover, "one city
at a time... with enough work to feed the whole town."
A manic Lil' Wayne vocal promises that those who polite society
most fear will soon be heard.
Going On," Remy Ma with Keisha Cole
A heartbroken prayer
to an aborted child from a young mother, without money or
even support from her family or the father of her child, waiting
for an answer.
We Thugs," Ice Cube
The original gangsta still standing spells out the tough questions
gangsta's critics either don't think hard enough to ask or
willfully dismiss. "Call me an animal up in the system/But
who's the animal that built this prison?/Who's the animal
that invented lower living?"
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Jello Biafra: RIAA Reminds Me Of The Mafia
CD Liner Notes Of The Distant Present
The Pirate's Dilemma
When Pigs Fly, by Rob
Demonoid Aftermath: An Open Letter To The CRIA
Die, Greedy Swine! Die! Die!, by Little Steven Van Zandt