The difficult circumstances, black people created work songs

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The
song, “We the People….” By A Tribe Called Quest, has symbolic lyrics that
discusses the struggles black people faced before the Civil Rights Movement. Constitutional
slavery during the 1950’s failed to bring an end to dehumanization, but black
people continued to fight for citizenship rights. Through hardship and extreme
difficult circumstances, black people created work songs to lift their spirits
by exuding messages of freedoms and dreams of an escape. Creating songs made
work more tolerable and it created a community that opened the door to artistic
expression in the most unbearable circumstances.  This song specifically relates to the ideas of the blues, rhythm and
blues and hip hop because through strong intensity there were many connections
drawn that linked history and relived the struggles black people unfortunately
had to endure and later overcome. 

            Blues music became present after the
reconstruction period. The genre of music highlights the broken promises of
citizenship and the suffering black people experienced through the evil white
mobs. Author James Baldwin states, “work, love, death, floods, lynching’s, in
fact a series of disasters which can be summed up under the arbitrary heading
‘Facts of Life.’ Q-Tip who produced the song, “We the People…” says in the
second line of the song, “Are still here in the rear, ayo, we don’t need you.”
This indicates that Q-Tip is comparing the experiences black people had to go
through in dealing with the back-of-the-bus experiences and how they don’t need
the higher powers in America to support themselves. This relates to the concept
that music is a philosophy of life and connects to the three-step process of
the blues because the lyrics in the song are symbolic for a model of the real
world. Q-Tip can also be seen as a jazz artist because the lyrics are connected
to his own individual struggles, community issues, and a “link in the chain of
tradition.”

            The song continues to mention, “You
in the killing-off-good-young-nigga mood When we get hungry we eat the same
fucking food the ramen noodle.” This relates to Q-Tip pointing out the fact
that the government fails to help the people and there is a need for a common
ground. Ramen noodles are inexpensive and Q-Tip says “ramen” and “rhymin” to
relate to how refuge can be discussed in lyrics and anybody can gain access in
listening to the song. Q-Tip makes another comparison in this line by saying
all humans get hungry, but that some people’s hunger is much different from
others. “Your simple voodoo is so maniacal, we’re liable to pull a juju.” In
this context, voodoo is “white” magic whereas “juju” is “black” magic. This
makes an even deeper connection because in history white was symbolized as good
and black was looked at as evil. One can also make another comparison to
“Voodoo economics” which means that there is a lower tax on the rich and the
less fortunate people were expected to be held responsible to pay for the
higher taxes.  Q-Tip discusses further,
“The IRS piranha see a nigga getting’ commas Niggas in the hood living in a
fish bowl.” This line is significant because Q-Tip is throwing shade at the
Internal Revenue Service and also is in relation to the history of tax trouble
in the Hip Hop Industry. When Q-Tip says, “nigga gettin’ commas” he’s truly
indicating the fact that the IRS only focuses on a black person when they are
making money. This connects to the fact that many people who live in the hood
have an extremely difficult time leaving their “fishbowl” and how the wealthy
people who hold power look at the difficult struggles black people faced as
amusement.

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            In Representing: Social Conservatism
and the Culture Wars in Hip-Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema by
S. Craig Watkins, I gained a lot of insight to understanding the song I chose.
Watkins the proliferation of “ghetto centric films” like Menace II Society and
how black youth has become targets of crime, drugs, rap music, and how the
cultures are highly visible. Watkins makes a strong argument how its skeptical
how after many decades of neglect, the film industry suddenly decides to become
interested in growing black cinema. Watkins is also saying that the industry
makes this decision now because black cinema has been drawing popular interest,
fans, and financial growth. Watkins is extremely honest in his discussions and
has strong connections drawn to help further understand the difficulties black
people face as well as the sociology surrounding the subject of Hip Hop. 

                        A
well diverse group of races in the United States viewed hip hop as the most
authentic medium, “…for the expression of their own resentments and
desires…against their parents, against rules and restrictions, against any form
of authority at all.” Not only was Hip Hop a way of expressing struggles in the
past, but it is also a way of showing how little things have changed in today’s
era.  In 2012 an unarmed innocent 17-year-old
was shot, his name was Trayvon Martin. Currently in 2018 there is still an
uncalled-for uproar where there have been many unarmed black people being
killed, often by police officers. The media has discussed deaths of Freddie
Gray, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner which signifies that black people have
overcame many struggled throughout history, but that there is still a fight to
overcome inequality and racism.

            There have been many links drawn
that connect the experiences of music and the struggles black people faced. New
art forms and new artists emerge as situations change. The world is constantly
evolving are through extreme stress there is a brainstorm of creativity and
hope. 

Categories: Artists

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