Posted in Headlines, Hip Hop, Music, Politics

Playlist for the Apocalypse: 07 Reagan

When my wife and I entertain guests, you know, back in the days when we could have gatherings at our house without worrying about somebody’s grandma dying because we wanted to gather together in community and eat tacos and listen to music and discuss things with like minded people. Anyway, when I make playlists for company, I try to place similar genres together in small sets, so hopefully everybody gets to hear a little something they like. We are at the pinnacle of a Hip-Hop set in our Playlist for the Apocalypse.

Killer Mike embodies so much of what I love about Hip-Hop. When I was 12 years old, I listened to NWA because that’s what rebellious white kids listened to in the late 80’s and early 90’s. But I fell in love with Hip-Hop later, after Ice Cube went solo. In 1992, when his third solo album The Predator was released, it offered me a completely different commentary on the LA Riots than what I got from my parents or the NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw. As I say in a spoken word piece I often perform

I learned about Rodney King, Dr. King, my white privilege and Malcolm
I fell asleep every night for a year listening to that album…
I’m not kidding when I say
I sit beneath the lilac tree in the cool breeze
While Ice Cube spit hot ash
And that’s why I sought a seminary degree
Because despite a thousand sermons
He was the very first person
I heard preach about Justice

Killer Mike and Ice Cube are kindred spirits. Killer Mike is a self described “Pan Africanist Gangster Rapper, Civic Leader & Activist.” Just the kind of guy I’d like to hang out with, or at least listen to on a frigid May afternoon during quarantine. Some days I go a little bit insane staying in the house. Today I set up my deck chairs and furniture for my outside listening area on my front porch. The plan was to listen to the playlist, drink coffee and write outside. But I decided it was too cold outside today here in West Michigan. So Killer Mike’s music will have to help me transcend these four walls.

When I feel helpless about how comically sad our society is while people protest not being able to get their nails done, Killer Mike’s music reminds me of the true priorities of protest: taking on systems of power. Today’s Apocalyptic Playlist track, “Reagan” uses the imagery of the Beast from the book of Revelation and likens it to the American government, particularly Ronald Reagan. And don’t come here with that Fox News, Geraldo Rivera, “hip-hop has done more damage than racism” bullshit either. Mike’s not having it! He offers an in house critique of some of the themes in Hip-Hop that at times seem like “advertisements for agony and pain.” What Mike offers is a meta-critique of sorts. It is one in which, governmental and world powers might be held to closer scrutiny because of their enormous power and responsibility. In the end, we all carry the burden of our collective responsibility, even if some people with their great and terrible abuses of power shoulder more of the guilt. But nobody is spared in Mike’s prophetic critique of American politics

Ronald Reagan was an actor, not at all a factor
Just an employee of the country’s real masters
Just like the Bushes, Clinton and Obama
Just another talking head telling lies on teleprompters
If you don’t believe the theory, then argue with this logic
Why did Reagan and Obama both go after Qaddafi
We invaded sovereign soil, going after oil
Taking countries is a hobby paid for by the oil lobby
Same as in Iraq, and Afghanistan
And Ahmadinejad say they coming for Iran
They only love the rich, and how they loathe the poor
If I say any more they might be at my door
Who the fuck is that staring in my window
Doing that surveillance on Mister Michael Render
I’m dropping off the grid before they pump the lead
I leave you with four words: I’m glad Reagan dead


Writer. Poet. Music Lover. Vinyl Enthusiast. Currently working on Playlist: A Memoir Writing and performing as much as I can in Grand Rapids, MI

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