Thesong, “We the People….” By A Tribe Called Quest, has symbolic lyrics thatdiscusses the struggles black people faced before the Civil Rights Movement. Constitutionalslavery during the 1950’s failed to bring an end to dehumanization, but blackpeople continued to fight for citizenship rights. Through hardship and extremedifficult circumstances, black people created work songs to lift their spiritsby exuding messages of freedoms and dreams of an escape. Creating songs madework more tolerable and it created a community that opened the door to artisticexpression in the most unbearable circumstances. This song specifically relates to the ideas of the blues, rhythm andblues and hip hop because through strong intensity there were many connectionsdrawn that linked history and relived the struggles black people unfortunatelyhad to endure and later overcome.
Blues music became present after thereconstruction period. The genre of music highlights the broken promises ofcitizenship and the suffering black people experienced through the evil whitemobs. Author James Baldwin states, “work, love, death, floods, lynching’s, infact 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 thesecond 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 gothrough in dealing with the back-of-the-bus experiences and how they don’t needthe higher powers in America to support themselves. This relates to the conceptthat music is a philosophy of life and connects to the three-step process ofthe blues because the lyrics in the song are symbolic for a model of the realworld. Q-Tip can also be seen as a jazz artist because the lyrics are connectedto his own individual struggles, community issues, and a “link in the chain oftradition.” The song continues to mention, “Youin the killing-off-good-young-nigga mood When we get hungry we eat the samefucking food the ramen noodle.
” This relates to Q-Tip pointing out the factthat the government fails to help the people and there is a need for a commonground. Ramen noodles are inexpensive and Q-Tip says “ramen” and “rhymin” torelate to how refuge can be discussed in lyrics and anybody can gain access inlistening to the song. Q-Tip makes another comparison in this line by sayingall humans get hungry, but that some people’s hunger is much different fromothers. “Your simple voodoo is so maniacal, we’re liable to pull a juju.” Inthis context, voodoo is “white” magic whereas “juju” is “black” magic. Thismakes an even deeper connection because in history white was symbolized as goodand 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 theless fortunate people were expected to be held responsible to pay for thehigher taxes. Q-Tip discusses further,”The IRS piranha see a nigga getting’ commas Niggas in the hood living in afish bowl.” This line is significant because Q-Tip is throwing shade at theInternal Revenue Service and also is in relation to the history of tax troublein the Hip Hop Industry.
When Q-Tip says, “nigga gettin’ commas” he’s trulyindicating the fact that the IRS only focuses on a black person when they aremaking money. This connects to the fact that many people who live in the hoodhave an extremely difficult time leaving their “fishbowl” and how the wealthypeople who hold power look at the difficult struggles black people faced asamusement. In Representing: Social Conservatismand the Culture Wars in Hip-Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema byS. 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 andhow black youth has become targets of crime, drugs, rap music, and how thecultures are highly visible. Watkins makes a strong argument how its skepticalhow after many decades of neglect, the film industry suddenly decides to becomeinterested in growing black cinema. Watkins is also saying that the industrymakes this decision now because black cinema has been drawing popular interest,fans, and financial growth. Watkins is extremely honest in his discussions andhas strong connections drawn to help further understand the difficulties blackpeople face as well as the sociology surrounding the subject of Hip Hop.
Awell diverse group of races in the United States viewed hip hop as the mostauthentic medium, “…for the expression of their own resentments anddesires…against their parents, against rules and restrictions, against any formof authority at all.” Not only was Hip Hop a way of expressing struggles in thepast, but it is also a way of showing how little things have changed in today’sera. In 2012 an unarmed innocent 17-year-oldwas shot, his name was Trayvon Martin. Currently in 2018 there is still anuncalled-for uproar where there have been many unarmed black people beingkilled, often by police officers. The media has discussed deaths of FreddieGray, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner which signifies that black people haveovercame many struggled throughout history, but that there is still a fight toovercome inequality and racism.
There have been many links drawnthat connect the experiences of music and the struggles black people faced. Newart forms and new artists emerge as situations change. The world is constantlyevolving are through extreme stress there is a brainstorm of creativity andhope.