Kanye West is one of the most prolific rappers in modern history modern being 2010 and on. Before that I can only assume people were banging out beats on the back of dinosaurs, mastodons, or other animals and grunting.
In all seriousness though the last mainstream rapper to really address philosophical and political issues died in 1996. Since then we’ve had Mos Def, Common, Lupe Fiasco, and Andre 3000. The only one with real “crossover”, “mainstream” appeal is Andre 3000 and that was only with one of his Outkast albums. Ask anybody who wasn’t black who they were before the love below and you’d get “aren’t they the Scooby Doo guys?” Everybody else who has become millionaires off of merchandising and opportunistic business capitalization have completely sold out any chance they have at making a real statement. Jay-Z actually used to talk about things that mattered, now its all materialistic. Actually today a rapper can garner a huge following talking about the stuff they DON’T have as if they had it. At some point the record labels realized people would pay them to have their rappers put their crap in their lyrics. I was working at a liquor store and I swear Moscato stayed on the shelf until they started saying it in rap songs that they played in the club. Not just black college kids but all races all of a sudden had a taste for this sweet wine meant for desserts. Of course they never drank it in the manner it was supposed to be but alas such is life.
I have long had an issue with the direction rap took. It started off as an amazing way to express an opinion. A way for people to get the word out about what was really going on. Public Enemy, Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, and I must included The last poets in there as well though they were more than rappers.These rappers realized the type of platform this gave them and utilized it in a way that made people think. I’m not saying club music doesn’t have its place but why is EVERYTHING that comes out meant to objectify women or get you to buy something?
I’ve been upset with it for awhile now but what could I do? I can’t rap, all I can do is write a few thousand words on a blog and join the rest of the league of upset guys on the internet who complain. That’s why when Kanye west debuted his two new songs New slave and Black Skinhead my ears perked up. He debuted New slaves on random walls throughout the world. The next day he performed New slaves and debuted Black Skinhead on SNL. These are two hard hitting songs from his new album.
Immediately I could pick up major influences in the style he chose to get his message across. The musical influences being one that has influenced him in the past, Common. Also The last poets were clearly a major influence.
His blasting of even himself when it comes to materialism and exposure of the crooked system that puts a disproportionate amount of blacks and minorities behind bars is just what people need. He took a stand on SNL where they COULD NOT ignore him. Honestly its people who probably didn’t get it, there are people who think what he did is wrong, that he’s trying to quit, give up.
Kanye West is just get started, if you’d been paying attention you’d have been waiting for this moment. When he’d stop making stuff just to seal up his position, one thing about him if you do your research, Kanye has always been Kanye. Even before he was famous he jumped on tables screaming he was the next Michael Jackson. He’s a little crazy yes but in order to do what you love doing and be great at it, you’ve gotta be crazy.
“I know that we the new slaves…
Meanwhile the DEA, teamed up with the CCA
They tryina lock n—s up, they tryna make new slaves
See that’s the privately owned prison, get your piece today
They prolly all in the Hamptons, braggin ’bout what they made”
With new slaves he aired out the DEA and the CCA which operate over the privately owned prisons. At the same time he spoke on how the actual conspiracy theories that people like to follow and quote about NWO and Illuminati are bull and nothing more than distractions from the real problems. The laws that effectively act as new Jim Crow laws, putting more African-Americans behind bars now than were in slavery in 1850. The private prison owners and boards are raking in profits at rates never before seen while the leaders in the minority communities fight to keep their children from going behind bars. The truth is though, everything right now is set perfectly for this to happen. They (prison owners) don’t want immigrants and minorities out of jail. In recent SEC filings, CCA admitted that drug law reform and reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes are “risk factors” for them that could hurt their bottom line. Corporations never play about their “bottom line.” Unfortunately for all of America, their bottom line means the destruction of our youth, many missed opportunities. Just one glimpse inside a prison and you will see several extremely intelligent people who perhaps because of this intelligence found themselves looking for ways of expression that may have led them to hang around the wrong people. Maybe they didn’t even do anything, (people are being released after going back through cases and being proven innocent at a growing rate)who knows, the point is when you are living in a system designed to make you fail its going to be hard. Especially when that same system also makes darn sure that you think its completely your fault that you failed. Any mention of unfairness and its “no you have the same chance as everyone else, quit whining and get your act together.” Really? Because when you’re saturated with media telling you to hate yourself because you’re dumb and evil, self worth and will power kind of wanes. Here’s an experiment that’s been done probably a few times every decade with African-Americans, with the same results.
“Y’all throwing contracts at me
You know that n**** can’t read”
The irony and sarcasm in this one line alone from “New Slaves” makes it one of my favorite. In it he is showing how quickly he would turn down a chance to sell out in order to put forth better music and a better image. Anything that can be put into the media to counteract this mess you saw in that last video is a positive thank you Kanye for at least putting forth a strong black image in your music.
Black Skinhead is more geared towards the perception of blacks when they are proud of their race and doing well as well as when they are acting wild. It is also very good and insightful. He’s not afraid to put his own life on the chopping block and this allows for him to put everyone’s mess on display.
I’ve always listened to his music but I’ve never been excited to see a new album drop like I am for this one. He’s got the world listening right now, he’s dropped two amazing singles already, what is he going to do now? More importantly what are we as minorities going to do now?
Thanks for reading, Viva la revolution’ Entertainment Industry!
Brian Bell-Wiseguy Industries