Archive for February, 2011

Logic, Agent of Change, Jody McIntyre – For My People [with lyrics]

Brand new! Logic comes hard with an anthem for the growing resistance against British imperialism in the belly of the beast. Intro/outro speeches provided by Jody McIntyre and Lowkey, and blues guitar and production provided by, erm, me.

Please leave a comment on Youtube if you like it! And if you reaaaally like it, you can get the full quality mastered version on iTunes for just 79 of your pence.

Lyrics:

[Jody intro]
I think we all have a duty to stand up and make our voices heard and to fight against what the government are doing

[Chorus]
I get down for my people
Down for my people
Down with the government until we’re all equal
Down with the media
And the corporations
I am not down with invading these nations
Stand up for my people
Up for my people
Fist in the sky until we’re all equal
We need more meetings, more demonstrations
Occupy parliament
This is our nation

[Logic verse 1]
See I’m down for equality
Down to abolish the lottery
Down with all the government’s policies
Silly me to believe no more tuition fees
Nine grand when there’s still soldiers in the Helmland
Lines of division in Palestine and Kashmir
Afghanistan
But who put the lines there?
See we created that
Civil war wasn’t born and we made it a fact
The news releases pictures saying that we’re violent
But it we’re not violent, the media is silent
We’ve still got British soldiers occupying Ireland
And they wonder why we’re still fighting
We’re fighting for the third world and everyone who lives there
Fighting the feds who pulled Jody out his wheelchair
We’re fighting for justice, I’m fighting for unity
Bottom line is I’m fighting for you and me

[Chorus]
I get down for my people
Down for my people
Down with the government until we’re all equal
Down with the media
And the corporations
I am not down with invading these nations
Stand up for my people
Up for my people
Fist in the sky until we’re all equal
We need more meetings, more demonstrations
Occupy parliament
This is our nation

[Logic verse 2]
Cos these are my people and this is our nation
Too many people have died in fed stations
The US, they have got too many military bases
In places, where they’re not welcome faces
It’s gone past racism
It’s imperialism, capitalism and straight hatred
How can we change this?
Ideally we’d take the whole concept of money and erase it
But this is not feasible
But at the bare minimum
All of our people are equal
The rich man’s the same as the poor
But the poor man still gets ignored
And we’re not the same as the law
But the real criminals are the ones that are making the wars
The companies that are funding the wars
Are the ones we are targettng for
Let’s get ‘em

[Chorus]
I get down for my people
Down for my people
Down with the government until we’re all equal
Down with the media
And the corporations
I am not down with invading these nations
Stand up for my people
Up for my people
Fist in the sky until we’re all equal
We need more meetings, more demonstrations
Occupy parliament
This is our nation

[Jody]
We should be fighting for equality of all people, irrespective of race, religion, gender, wealth or physical ability.

[Lowkey]
We must also be 100% clear that while they are talking about cutting spending here, cutting jobs there, cutting benefits here, cutting EMA there, we also have to realise that this country is involved in the occupation of Afghanistan and the full-fledged support of Israel

[Jody]
And this is the central issue at the core of every conflict that is happening. You could not justify killing billions of people in wars around the world unless you considered those people inferior to yourself.

[Lowkey]
But honestly, at the end of the day, we must always take it back to this, and it’s a quote from someone called Frederick Douglass. He said: “power concedes nothing without demand”. So we must demand, demand, demand, demand, demand. Thank you very much.

Follow Logic on Twitter
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Follow Lowkey on Twitter
Buy the track on iTunes

Album review: Saigon – The Greatest Story Never Told

Buy the album on Amazon UK
Buy the album on iTunes UK
Buy the album on iTunes US

I tried very hard not to get too excited about this album. It almost seemed too good to be true – one of the best rappers in the game alongside one of the best producers in the game, on an album that has been in the works for several years and which really seemed like it was never going to see the light of day. Once it finally got a release date, I prepared myself for the probability that it wasn’t going to match its promise.

Turns out I didn’t have to do that.

Accuse me of hyperbole if you want, but here’s my assessment: The Greatest Story Never Told is the best, most consistent, most heart-felt, most radical, most banging hip-hop album since Let’s Get Free. Yup, I said it. You can disagree, and that’s fine, but to me this is a phenomenal piece of music.

For one thing, the beats are *amazing*. Just Blaze never fails to bring the heat. The sampling is impeccable and the drums are banging; the soulful instrumentals provide the perfect platform for Saigon’s penetrating lyrics and emotional delivery.

With the beats out of the way (hey, I’m a producer!), let’s talk about Saigon. To me, Sai is a lot like 2pac in terms of his passion and what he represents. Saigon is most definitely a ‘conscious’ MC in the sense that he talks about stuff that matters and makes an important, radical analysis. However, like ‘Pac, he represents the kids on the corners rather than the intellectuals and the university-educated radicals. He is a voice within the ghetto, encouraging his peers to understand the situation they’re in and to rise above it.

This type of consciousness, so common in reggae, is really only represented by a handful of rappers in the US hip-hop scene (Nas, 2pac, Dead Prez and KRS-One come to mind). Saigon is a very welcome addition to this group.

Saigon talks about ghetto life, about the drugs and the violence that are designed to keep black people down, about the easy route from the projects to the system of modern-day slavery they call prison; he talks about the preacher that exploits his congregation; he talks about the single mothers struggling to feed their children; he talks about the dangers of a life of crime. Essentially, he tells his life story – the story of a kid from the gutter who fell into selling drugs at a young age and who served several years in prison. Unlike many others, Sai doesn’t glorify his life story in order to sell lots of records; he places his life in the context of the brutal racism and exploitation that characterise US society. In doing that, he starts to carve out a path away from the violent nihilism of street life – once you understand the forces acting on you, you gain the ability to act against them.

A few standout moments of the album:

The Invitation. At the moment, this is my favourite track of the album, talking about how the underground economy is society’s invitation for young black men to join the “party in the penitentiary”. Sai’s lyrics are clever and hard-hitting, and the beat is just plain banging – classic noisy soulful blues-sampling Just Blaze (reminding me a bit of ‘Public Service Announcement’).

The party is in the pen and the government is promoting it
That’s the reason I don’t be believing in all this voting shit
They bring the coke in this bitch, ain’t no poppy seeds in the Ps
Please, nuttin but a whole lot of hopelessness
That’s where all the focus is
Making sure the blacks stay in the back
..
It’s a damn shame, we placed in a no-win situation
The party’s in the pen and the blow is the invitation

Q-Tip on the chorus is a nice touch!

Enemies is a deep, wistful track about Sai’s relationship with street life – the attractiveness and destructiveness of a life of crime. Addressing himself to the street, Saigon says:

Don’t flatter yourself, it don’t take a genius to spell Thug
Convince a kid at the mere age of 12 to sell drugs
If you really had cheek you’d have them white kids like you had me
It was their great-granddaddies that created you
They was the ones that flooded you with gats and liquor stores
Match pimps with the whores to trade cash in for intercourse
And of course these young ni**as stay sucking you off
But I know the truth, so pooooff, I’m cutting you off

The title track, The Greatest Story Never Told, sets the tone for the whole album with some amazing lyricism, thought-provoking ideas and fresh production:

I rap about politicians, how money’s their acquisition
To get it they gotta keep us without a pot to piss in
Strugglin’ to survive, 9-to-5, ain’t making it
Turn on the TV, all I see is celebs taking it
Feeling like they got all the bread but they ain’t breaking it
I’m taking it as soon as I find the oven where they baking it

We was brought here to pick the cotton
Now we picking the music for massa to listen to
The clothes in which he rockin’
We don’t drive a hard bargain
All we want back is crack, some more gats
And some more of that bullshit rap
The crime rhyme is still black on black
We need a leader like me to get us back on track
When y’all make them dis records do you know what you’re doing to black community?
Market and promote the fact that we lack unity
Them white people look at you and laugh
You look like a porch monkey boy dancing for cash
Wanna get on a record and talk trash
See him at the awards and don’t do shit but walk past

If I bust a gun in the hood I get Attica or the Cat
I bang a gat in Iraq I get a pat on the back
Best believe I know better than that
This a lesson for all my listeners Ð shit ain’t just regular rap
It’s the greatest story that ever been spat
It’s gonna teach the hood and at the same time make my pockets elephant fat
Go ahead with all the irrelevant rap
Me and my ni**a Just Blaze bring the true element back

Clap, featuring the considerable vocal talents of Faith Evans, is probably the most feel-good track of the album, and has Saigon in optimistic mood:

We gotta start helping each other, quit hurting each other
Money’ll have a ni**a start thinking about merking his mother
How does it feel being slaves to a dollar bill?
I’m giving you something you can feel, are y’all for real?

Do away with the hip-hop police force
Fuck the pigs, I was taught not to eat pork
Clap your hands if you ain’t forget where you came from
Clap again if you ready to see a change come

It’s Alright is another deep track, taking the form of a letter to god, asking why he doesn’t do more to relieve the suffering:

It’s alright, I write a letter dedicated to god
First I thank him, without him I’d never have made it this far
But it’s hard, trying to think of why he not getting involved
There’s a lady with a new born baby living in the car
The police is beating us up, the hurricane eating us up
Katrina floodwater was deep as a fuck
Dear lord, are we ever gonna receive a reward
For all the suffering and misery and pain we endured
It’s like the transatlantic slave trade, the AIDS, the crack
When are we ever gonna get paid back?

To all the ladies having babies on they own
These ni**as ain’t shit, ma, for real, you better off alone
If he ain’t smart enough to know why he should stay
Then what could he possibly teach a seed anyway?

Raise your kid, you don’t need no man
Especially one that need to be deprogrammed
Type of brother that think he righteous cos he don’t eat no ham
But he keep playin’ and fuckin’ wit some kilogram
Girlfriend, you know what you doing, the time is right
You tell your little one that it’s alriiiight.

The track ends with a shout to the political prisoners rotting away in US jails – each of them incarcerated on trumped up charges; each of them victims of, and fighters against, an unjust system. It’s a great touch that the prisoners get shouted out individually, including Mumia Abu Jamal, Herman Bell, the Cuban Five, Leonard Peltier, Sundiata Acoli and Dr Mutulu Shakur (Tupac’s godfather). Sai’s message to the prisoners: “Peace! Hold your head, soldiers.”

Promise offers some great insight into the hypocrisy of the music industry:

The rap figures throwing money in the air like it’s pizza dough
People in the hood ain’t eating, no
I try to help the label see the vision
But they lowered me to a subdivision, you gotta be fuckin kidding
They’d rather me pretend to be something I’m not
I’m the new Public Enemy, I’m different than Young Jock
And nah, I ain’t dissing, this ni**as’s up in the falls
Shit, I ain’t made a dollar tryna rap for the cause
But in these next four bars, I’ll tell you about malevolent laws
They enforcing off America’s shores
Dawg, if they can have rifles on their farm
Then I can’t see why they knock TI for trying to bear arms

There are a few off moments, I can’t deny. ‘Promise’ starts off in unexpectedly misogynistic fashion which definitely doesn’t match the pro-unity vibe of the album in general (“I caught a bad case of smack-a-bitch-yitis / I came home and my wife got my daughter in shitty diapers / The rice is still raw and the meat is in the freezer / I hate that I’m too close to her to leave her”). But a couple of cringe moments shouldn’t spoil the album. Part of Saigon’s appeal and effectiveness is that he is a victim of the same issues he exposes. He is not perfect and doesn’t claim to be perfect (again reminiscent of 2pac).

All in all, it’s a beautiful album. If an album of this quality came out every year, I’d be more than happy with the state of hip-hop. Buy it, listen to it five times over, and let me know what you think (leave a comment!).

Buy the album on Amazon UK
Buy the album on iTunes UK
Buy the album on iTunes US
Follow Saigon on Twitter

A few thoughts on the Wiley and Jay Sean beef

Wiley

Wiley

Twitterland seems to be full of people talking about Wiley and Jay Sean’s little online exchange, and a lot of people are accusing Wiley of racism.

I’ve no idea how the beef started, but the “racial banter” (as Wiley called it) started when some Asian Jay Sean fans sent Wiley abusive tweets. “Asian people tried it with me I’m allowed to talk back”.

Wiley’s retort to the Jay Sean fans unfortunately included some pretty silly playground taunts (which, as a half-Asian, I am all too familiar with).

- “i will throw Bombay potatoes on you”

- “your mum makes a dodgy korma”

- “Stop chewing beetle nut on the bus it smells”

Not exactly the kind of brilliant inventiveness that Wiley used to create the grime scene, but there you go. For the record, my house *does* smell of curry right now, cos I just made a very tasty aloo gobi.

In response to accusations that he was racist, Wiley explained that he had love for Asians and was just engaging in a bit of “racial banter”, which, he correctly pointed out, is not uncommon in London.

- “come on you know me i wouldnt wait 32 years to be racist”

- “lol at you idiots getting over excited instead of understanding the meaning of ethnic banter”

- “I love the Asian community minus Jay Sean trust me bug up Preeya she is so special”

Wiley finally pulled the plug on his 24-hour rant this evening, phoning into the Bobby Friction show, and later tweeting: “hold tight the jay sean fans you love me really lets get some unity going on im ready to chill out now its all love and banter racial banter”

It’s important not to blow Wiley’s rant out of proportion. People labelling him as a racist and likening him to the far right is unhelpful and only feeds into the lack of unity in our communities.

Wiley reveals the root of his grudge pretty clearly when he says: “im sorry but your race do act like they are above black people no lie”.

Frankly, he’s right about this. Many Asians *do* act like they are above people of African origin. I know from personal experience that there is deep-seated prejudice against black people in the Asian community, and this is a very real problem in terms of creating the unity that we need to move forward against oppression.

Wiley brings up another touchy subject when he says: “you all are starting to act blAck talk black fuck off tho cos I am black so I see who tries to be like us and ur haircuts are so swag and they way you wear ya hats deadout”

That is: not only do you look down on us, but you do it at the same time as biting our music and culture (and, in Jay Sean’s case, getting rich in the process).

Without necessarily meaning to do so, Wiley has brought out some very deep issues that need to be addressed. The fact is that the Asian community does pride itself on its economic success and the fact that Asian children tend to thrive in the education system. Many Asians see that African Caribbeans have not had the same economic and educational successes, and put this down to some kind of racial inferiority, without seeing the systematic racism, victimisation, criminalisation and prejudice that is designed to keep the descendants of slaves at the bottom of the heap.

The whole situation is strongly reminiscent of the media storm that happened in the US when legendary rapper Ice Cube (formerly of NWA) made the track ‘Black Korea’, in response to the brutalisation of black customers in Korean groceries.

Every time I want to go get a fucking brew
I gotta go down to the store with the two
Oriental one-penny-counting motherfuckers;
They make a nigger mad enough to cause a little ruckus.
Thinking every brother in the world’s out to take,
So they watch every damn move that I make.
They hope I don’t pull out a Gat, try to rob
Their funky little store but, bitch, I got a job.

So don’t follow me up and down your market
Or your little chop suey ass will be a target
Of a nationwide boycott.
Juice with the people, that’s what the boy got.
So pay respect to the black fist
Or we’ll burn your store right down to a crisp.
And then we’ll see ya
‘Cause you can’t turn the ghetto into black Korea.

The lyrics were obviously problematic and divisive; but nonetheless they brought out an issue that actually existed and needed talking about. Meanwhile, the reaction of mainstream US was to label Ice Cube as a murderous racist and to push for a ban of his music (thus conveniently avoiding the issue of racial disunity and how it can be overcome).

The best response to Wiley’s rant is not to chastise or alienate Wiley, or to label him as equivalent to the far right; it is to reflect seriously on the issues that have been raised and to move forward in the spirit of unity. While we fight amongst ourselves, the power structure of this country (which is overwhelmingly rich, white and male) laughs itself silly and enjoys the thought that nobody is going to seriously challenge it any time soon.

Jasiri X and M1 – We Shall All Be Free

Wooooiii! Check out the new banger from Jasiri X and the legendary M1 from Dead Prez. With the Middle Eastern masses rising up against brutal regimes and the even more brutal western regimes that back them, this track is as relevant as it gets: “Let our forming be a warning to every brutal regime”. Militant lyrics backed by a militant beat from Drum Gang Productions. Give me this over some pretend-gangsta-just-watched-Scarface corporate rap any day!

Lyrics (via Allhiphop):

Jasiri X

Revolution’s not an act it’s an actual fact
an idea that burns until it turns blacker than black
the truth bearer new era like the back of ya hat
the true terror who’ll scare ya without packing a gat
through the barrier one carrier then it spreads like malaria
bury us with no fear of oppression every tear is a weapon
When God hears it a blessin’
Every tyrant is destined to die that’s connected to violent aggression
if arrested remain silent when questioned the wisest lesson
Freedom’s the highest expression of life in the present
that’s why worldwide the riots are spreading
A righteous message like God set the fires from heaven
Uprising we done crying the young riding
when people get the power dictators go run hiding
we just trying to live like human beings
when we protest in peace police shoot up the scene
look at your computer screen you can see it right through the stream
Let our forming be a warning to every brutal regime

M-1

It’s a simple math equation it’s scientific OK
you put the power in the hands of the people its liberation
and even if you take it away its multiplication
repression breeds resistance and this is our situation
I’m an expert on exploitation master of ghetto misery
a miracle of modern enslavement given our history
the fire through the wire bullets bombs and the liars
the snitches the counterinsurgency mad vicious
they kill us the freedom fighters but can’t kill the revolution
they put crack in our community laughing like it’s amusing
but I don’t see nothing funny the crackers that’s on the money
they only wanna keep us mis-educated like Sonny
They see how we never give up and wonder just how we do it
f#ck a roach we’re the scarabs the beetle up out the ruins
you can hear it in our music is resilience part of our experience
you can call it the freedom experiment
you hear it but do you feel it
either join with it or fear it
but I want it in my lifetime period.

Follow Jasiri X on Twitter
Follow M1 on Twitter
Check out Jasiri’s Bandcamp page
Download Dead Prez’s latest mixtape, Revolutionary But Gangsta Grillz

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