A short while ago, I took some much deserved/undeserved backlash by a few clients of my son’s barber for my position and comments on Mr. “Hop-Hop’s Savior” May Owe Us A Few Favors parts 1 & 2. I kind of expected it, so it really shouldn’t be any surprise that some may have missed what I was trying to say. In an attempt to bring about some much needed clarity to the posts, and my position as it pertains to rap “artists” lack of consciousness due to their adoration of wealth, crime, ignorance, etc., I will present a few different artists’ lyrics with a different perspective as to what messages ought to be delivered, reflected upon, and reinforced through positive actions. After the next 3 posts that I plan on submitting, I (more than) likely will not be posting anything about the subject of the constantly reinforced negative attitudes and influences of/in music, entertainment. However, this does not mean that I will completely abandon my position and not state relevant evidences where these things back certain proofs and/or positions in the future. Also, I cannot/will not fully support each of the following artists and their craft due to certain agendas, initiatives, practices, lifestyles, and beliefs that these artists may have that would conflict (or contradict a lot of times) with my own. This is not the same as hypocrisy, due to the fact that I believe in a good portion of the message(s) and intent of these lyrics that further support my position. The most intriguing aspect in all of this, is that the following lyrics (for these 3 posts) are all from the mid or late nineties. This truly speaks large volumes because it shows how much, and/or how little has really changed in the messages and lifestyles that were/are promoted, encouraged.
The first group of artists are a duo that separated after their first CD. Mos Def and Talib Kweli came together to form “Black Star” in the late nineties shedding light on many problems within the African-American community, the music industry’s backing and promoting negative stereotypes of African-Americans, and educating many fans of hip-hop music and culture. The track “Thieves In The Night” is a reflection of their agenda from their only CD released in 1998. Although this album was the only collaboration, from beginning to end, they have had tremendous success as solo artist, and have been nominated for several awards from Tonnies to Grammies. Reflection and clarity about certain aspects of the following lyrics will appear in the next post, Clarity Part 2.
Thieves In The Night
(Talib Kweli verse)
“Give me the fortune, keep the fame”, said my man Louis.
I agreed, know what you mean, because we live the truest lie.
I asked him, “Why we follow the law of the bluest eye?”
He looked at me, he thought about it. (He) Was like, “I’m clueless, why?”
The question was rhetorical, the answer is horrible.
Our morals are out of place and got our lives full of sorrow.
(And) So, tomorrow coming later than usual.
Waiting on someone to pity us while we finding beauty in the hideous.
They say money is the root of all evil, but I can’t tell.
You know what I mean? Pesos, francs, yens, cowrie, shells, dollar bills.
Or, is it the mind-state that’s ill? Creating crime rates to fill the new prisons they build.
Over money and religion there’s more blood to spill?
The wounds of slaves in cotton fields that never heal… what’s the deal?
A lot of cats who buy records are straight broke, but my language is universal (because) they be reciting my quotes.
While R&B singers hit bad notes, we rock the boat of thought, that my man Louis’ statements just provoked.
Caught up in conversations of our (own) personal worth.
Brought up through endangered species status on the planet Earth.
Survival tactics means “bustin gats” to prove you (are) hard.
Your firearms are to short to box with God.
Without faith, all of that is illusionary. (I’ll) Raise my son, no vindication of manhood necessary.
(Mos Def) Not strong.
(Talib Kweli) Only aggressive.
(Mos Def) Not free.
(Talib Kweli) We only licensed.
(Mos Def) Not compassionate, only polite.
(Talib Kweli) Now, who (is) the nicest?
(Mos Def) Not good, but well behaved.
(Talib Kweli) Chasin’ after death so we can call ourselves brave?
(Mos Def) Still living like mental slaves.
(Both) Hiding like thieves in the night from life. Illusions of oasis making you look twice. (Repeat)
(Mos Def verse)
Yo, I’m sure everybody out listening (would) agree.
That everything you see ain’t really how it be.
A lot of jokers out running in place, chasing the style.
Be a lot going on beneath the empty smile.
Most cats in my area be loving the hysteria.
Synthesized surface conceals the interior.
America, land of opportunity, mirages, and camouflages.
More than usually, speaking loudly, saying nothing.
You confusing, losing me.
Your game is twisted, (you) want me enlisted in your usary.
Foolishly, most men join the ranks cluessly… Buffonishly accept the deception, believe the perception.
Reflection rarely seen across the surface of the looking glass.
(While they are) walking the streets wondering who they be looking past.
Looking gassed with those imported designer shades on.
Stars shine bright, but the light rarely stays on.
Same song just remixed, different arrangement.
(They’ll) Put you on a yacht, but they won’t call it a slave ship.
Strangeness, you don’t control this. You barely hold this.
Screaming “brand new”, when they just sanitized the old s***.
I find this distressing, (because) there’s never no in between.
We either n***** or kings. We either b****** or queens.
The deadly ritual seems immersed in the perverse.
Full of short attention spans, short tempers, and short skirts.
Long barrel automatics release in short bursts.
The length of Black life is treated with short worth.
Get yours first, them other n***** secondary.
That type of illing that be filling up the cemetery.
This life is temporary, but the soul is eternal.
Separate the real from the lie… let me learn you.
(We are) Not strong only aggressive, cause the power ain’t directed.
That’s why we are subjected to the will of the oppressive.
(We are) Not free, we only licensed.
(We are) Not live, we just exciting because the captors own the masters to what we writing.
(We are) Not compassionate, only polite. We (are) well trained.
Our sincerity is (well) rehearsed on stage. It’s just a game.
(We are) Not good, but well behaved because the camera survey most of the things we think, do, or say.
We chasing after death just to call ourselves brave, but “everyday” next man meet with the grave.
I could give a d*** if any fam’ recalls my legacy. I’m trying to live life in the site of God’s memory.
Like that y’all.