Posted in Hip Hop, Music, Writing

Playlist for the Apocalypse: 06 Upside Down

Royce da 5’9″ is one of the five greatest rappers alive.

Oh! Wouldn’t you like to know? I’m not arguing about my Top Five list with Hip-Hop heads today, haha. Not that I think too many Hip-Hop heads read what I write. But I guess you never know. That I know of, I have a small and very eclectic conglomerate of people who follow or at least check my feed with some regularity: Family or friends I grew up with (mostly, conservative evangelicals but there’s a few exceptions), friends and acquaintances from seminary (progressive evangelicals with a few exceptions), friends I have made in the spoken word and artistic scene in West MI (mostly social progressives from a wide variety of ethnic, socioeconomic, and religious backgrounds). And maybe a few vinyl enthusiasts.

So I don’t know how you’ll feel about today’s song. If you’re white and you think it’s okay to say the N word because you say it when you’re around your black friends and they don’t correct you, you might not like this song. If you’re white and you think it’s okay to say the N word because you say it when you’re drunk and listening to 2 Chainz and all you’re white friends laugh and think it’s okay, you might not like this song. If you’re white and you think it’s okay to say the N word because “they” say it and you think that it’s “reverse racism” when you’re not allowed to say it, you might not like this song.

Some of my favorite passages on Royce’s most recent album, The Allegory, are the skits. I am not a big fa of concept albums in general or skits in Hip-Hop *usually.* But everything works perfectly here; and for one hour and eight minutes, through 22 seamless tracks, Royce takes his listeners on a super woke head trip full of historical tidbits, and social commentary on wealth, investing, American spending habits and some words about how Hip-Hop brings more races and various walks of life together than any other art form or “ism” on earth (with some help from long time collaborator Eminem). By far my favorite of these, are the Ms. Grace Intro and Interlude, where a father and daughter have some candid conversations:

Daddy taught you that you a goddess so you could never be anybody’s what?
Bitch or ho
Who was Huey P. Newton?
An African political activist, a revolutionary who, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966
Who’s coming to save you?
Nobody, I have to save myself
If I die today, then what’s your job?
Pick up where you left off and take care of my siblings
Good job, good job

If you don’t know, Huey P. Newton was the founder of the Black Panthers. A lot of progressives (myself included) are disappointed with a Presidential primary season that started with one of the widest, most diverse candidate pools ever, only to wind up with a party coalescing around a morally unscrupulous centrists. And with Pandemic in the air and people facing enormous financial uncertainties, a lot of people are talking about “revolution.” These days almost all talk I hear of revolution, focuses exclusively on wealth inequality. But I think we need to revisit some of the revolutionaries of the past.

Intersectionality! That term has probably been more overused in progressive circles in the last few years than Karen memes have been this last month. But it is still a very important task to live into. Huey Newton knew that well. He had an all inclusive vision when he spoke about revolution, “When we have revolutionary conferences, rallies, and demonstrations, there should be full participation of the gay liberation movement and the women’s liberation movement.” Maybe we need to talk about more than just money, when we talk about policy reform, domestic and abroad. In the meantime, enjoy the video. Butcher Comin’…