For the stars and the stripes prison bars and the pipe
Young n@%&a rolling weed in a cigar he can light
Bang red either blue selling hard and the white
Live by the gun, never run from a fight
Trayvon in a hoodie, walking through the neighborhood he
Didn’t do s#!t to buddy, he didn’t have to die did he?
I guess it’s because his dad was a judge in the city
They didn’t want him in the pen with the thugs that could get him
A jury of his peers said all was forgiven
But touch one of mine, right or wrong, I’ma kill them
Fill them with the lead like they put in Martin Luther King’s head
Like they killed Malcolm X, Edgar Hoover did that
You can catch me in the hood where they shooting n@!!as at
They don’t know if Neighborhood or the Hoovers did that
Whether Piru or VL’s or GDs wit me we
Down to uprise from the OG’s to peewees
New National Anthem
This is an excerpt from rap superstar T.I.’s new single “New National Anthem”. The song is quite the departure from his usual subject matter. He often narrates about life and the perils of growing upon in the “trap”; a housing project rife with violence, drug dealing, single parent households, unemployment, and devoid of legitimate opportunities of socioeconomic advancement. The song New National Anthem speaks about the injustice and inequities of America and the treatment of African American men by law enforcement, the justice system, and the nation at large.
One of the biggest issues contemporary rap fans complain about is the lack of lyricism, meaning the absence of thought provoking subject matter from contemporary rap artists. Most agree that lyricism is at an all-time low. When the first single from T.I’s new album, “About the Money”, featuring Young Thug, premiered, it was criticized by those who appreciate lyricism as being little more than consumerism and unadulterated materialism. Many fans called for “the King of the South” to use his platform to uplift and discuss the plight that many of his peers trapped in urban America experience on a daily basis via politicized lyrics. Predictably, “About the Money” peaked at number 10 on the Hot Rap Charts.
TI did attempt to appease his more politically astute listeners when he respond to the shooting of Mike Brown and the subsequent riots in a subsequent recording, “New National Anthem.” Unfortunately, the alluded to fans apparently did not support the recording with the same vigor that others supported prior TI recording such as the aforementioned “About the Money” or his other chart topping single “No Mediocre”.
The aforementioned matter is a significant issue within the hip hop community. When politically conscious songs are released, they are failing for one reason or another; most argue that they are not receiving the same promotion and publicity that party songs receive. The affect upon the entire music scene is that socially conscious artists such as Dead Prez, Black Star, Immortal Technique, and Killer Mike are rarely heard on the radio or promoted as less politicized artists. The aforementioned artists are met with critical acclaim by a small segment of the hip-hop community, yet commercial success remains outside of their grasp.
So why would these artists waste time recording these songs if the fans are not going to get behind them. Don’t get me wrong, I love “About the Money”, in my own personal opinion it is one of the best rap songs that was released this year, but in all honesty it has no redeeming values whatsoever. Yet, New National Anthem is one of the best socially conscious hip hop songs recorded by a mainstream artist since Kanye West’s classic single “All Falls Down”. If fans want music that is not full of lyrics promoting misogyny, materialism, and murder they need to support those songs that do not contain that subject matter, otherwise, do not complain about what you hear on the radio.