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Rock Street, San Francisco

Joyner Lucas, I’m Not Racist

This rap video is a very harsh conversation on race coming from both sides, the white man and the black man. The white man uses stereotyping right off the start saying the black man is lazy, aimless, shiftless. Then the black man talks about the white man only being interested in money. The white man in the video is portrayed as a common old country boy and the black boy with dreadlocks is the common young black guy, giving the impression that this is the normal scenario that both races feel. This song really shows the state of our world when it comes to racism and plainly compares the vastly different views of the white and black man. The white man puts down black man concerns like Black Lives Matter, the NFL anthem protest and even some black musicians. The Black man comes back putting down white man concerns like political figures. Yet, throughout, they keep saying “I’m not racist” as they continue to “face off” over racism.
“I wish we could trade shoes, or we could change lives” and “I’m not racist, but there’s two sides to every story and now you know mine” are great lyrics that clearly explain what this song is about. Two different races with two different points of view and two different backgrounds trying to explain their lives. After listening to all the harsh banter back and forth, it ends powerfully with an act of love – “I’m hoping that maybe we can come to an understanding. Agree to disagree we can have an understanding” and then they hug and smile. Although harsh, both sides actually listened to each other. We are all humans, we can’t let racism separate us.
Kendrick Lamar, Humble

In this hip-hop rap video, Kendrick Lamar talks about how our society has shifted away from being humble and have become fakes and counterfeits. He encourages men to be aware of their humility, just like the bible tells us to “humble yourselves”. The scenes keep switching from white to black – religion to sin. One scene is a copy of the last supper where the so-called disciples are gorging and acting disrespectful, while Jesus, portrayed by Lamar, is trying to restore focus. Another scene talks about how pictures of girls are fake with photoshop, bring back the natural stretch marks on the female body. “…tired of the Photoshop. Show me somethin’ natural like afro on Richard Pryor.”
Many of the verses in this song speak of Kendrick’s successes, yet he keeps saying to be humble. Kendrick’s portrait of him riding his bike in his old neighborhood appears to reflect his connection to “the hood”. It gives the impression that he is connected to his old life style. This gives the audience a sense that he is not “too big” to remember the real life of the real people in the hood. This could be a message stating he will remain humble, no matter what money he makes in his music career.
Aside from the religious implications this video displays, another impression from this video is a message that the media tries to humble the black person. The media portrays the black people in different angles as the video focuses in on different angles in many shots. The chorus states to be humble and sit down, being grateful for what you have. The funny comparison I found was the two cars parked next to each other, expecting to see them pulling off a drug deal or something and they end up exchanging Grey Poupon, a white commercial from years ago. This appears to be a poke against the white people and how they perceive the black people. This could be the reason Lamar boasts about himself so much in this video, all the while speaking of being humble, to rise above the limits the white people try to enforce.

Logic, 1 800 273 8255 ft. Alessia Cara, Khalid

The suicide prevention hotline!! This is a powerful hip-hop rap video of a young man who is on the verge of committing suicide. “I’ve been on the low. I been taking my time. I feel like I’m out of my mind. It feel like my life ain’t mine.” Powerful picture of someone in pain and suffering. Needing help. Reaching out to anyone who can help. “I don’t wanna be alive, I just want to die today” painful outcry and you feel the pain.
The operator on the other side is reaching out, trying to give him a message of hope – “I want you to be alive, you don’t gotta die today. Now let me tell you why.” All the reasons why this person has to live, all they have to give. Trying to reach out and let this guy know this too shall pass, it will get better. There is so much to be grateful for, yet we center on the negative parts of our lives.
“I finally want to be alive, I don’t wanna die” – this person has now found hope in their despair. There is someone to help change tragedy and isolation to hope and meaning. No one has to be alone.

Childish Gambino, This Is America

This rap video is a very harsh message on the culture of guns in America as experienced by the African American people. Gambino uses subtle moves and gestures to vaguely remind viewers of African American experiences like Jim Crow moves and a black church massacre. This reflects how this is all normal in America. It was uncomfortable to see how gentle he handles the guns after he blew away humans. The white horse riding in on one of the scenes appears to be a biblical symbol of the end times riding in. – the ultimate end to the life we know. The young kids with masks could symbolize the violence in our youth – gangs. The very obvious pause in the video was clearly intentional and I had to research what it meant. I would like to think that it is truly in honor of the 17 people who died in the Parkland school shooting while also denouncing gun violence. The dancing throughout the video helps the viewer enjoy the dancing and not concentrating as hard on the crude violence throughout the video, kind of like how we are accepting how violent the world around us is getting.
I believe Gambino only wears pants in this video to show and highlight that he is a black man, sharing a black man’s story. Throughout the video it appears like all the violence you see around the fun and dance is just normal – this is America. The dancing throughout the video helps the viewer enjoy the dancing and not concentrate as hard on the crude violence around them, kind of like how we are accepting how violent the world around us is getting. The final scene with him running as hard as he can brings memory of all the black people that have had to run for their lives, likes the slaves did to escape slavery.
Jain, Makeba

Jain’s story is one that comes from someone with a true love of the music she produces. Her electric style comes from her first memory of music, watching her parents dance. From that memory comes her love to keep the dancing beat going, that is important to her. Add to that her God given right as a teenager to be opinionated and she bursts into the music world with a bang.
Her music is influenced by all the places she has lived. Before I even knew where she lived, I could hear “Congo” in her music. She is very artsy so hearing that she studied at an art school makes sense. Drums were the first instrument she learned, and drums are a strong sound in her music. However, I was most amazed to hear her music and realizing that she was producing her sounds electronically and by herself. She studied with a beat-maker who showed her how to create these great sounds that she can put to her own words of her life experiences and opinions.
This young girl had a passion to keep people dancing, to have the freedom to express her experiences and opinions and to make multicultural music that connected all the areas she lived, thus producing her ethnic expression. Her mother is part Malagasy, so she was raised listening to African music and it has always moved her and is a part of her. All of this has influenced Jains music and allowed her to accomplish her goal, producing music she is passionate about that tells her story in a form that keeps everyone dancing.

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