Dee-1 Achieved The New American Dream. He Paid Sallie Mae Back…(Video)
Hip-Hop is at its best when it carries a message of authenticity that is relatable to the masses. And, while some might enjoy flying in private jets and owning multiple time pieces, many more are struggling to make ends meet. Ironically, one of the greatest contributors to financial woes is student loans. The cost of college education has far outstripped the annual rate of inflation, making many question whether a higher education is even worth it. In fact, according to a 2015 report from CNBC, “after decades of expanding enrollments, applications have begun tapering off. College enrollment peaked in 2011.”
Dee-1 has captured this grim reality perfectly with his song and video “Sallie Mae Back.” Rather than boast about the baller lifestyle he is living now that he’s signed a recording contract, he rejoices at the fact that he was able to pay off his student loans and stave off nagging phone calls from debt collectors and a plummeting credit rating. “No sir, I don’t drive a Maybach. But, guess what I did? I finished paying Sallie Mae Back!” he raps. It’s a stark commentary on how the American Dream has shifted from going from rags to riches to just trying to get back to the point where one started before college.
In speaking to the Washing Post about the song, Dee-1 said ““I wanted to restore some balance to hip hop. I come from the perspective of a young man who grew up in the hood and could relate to the experiences rappers often glorify, but who could also speak to the fact that I’m a man of God, I’m a college graduate. I’m proud of that.” The New Orleans MC also acknowledge that his good fortune in being able to pay off all of his loans at once is not shared by most. “Everyone’s journey to repaying their loans is different,” he said. “Some people just ride it out and make the minimum payments the whole time. Some people can’t make the payments at all and struggle. Some can knock it out in chunks. But we all have the same destination to reach, which is when we can say: I finished paying Sallie Mae back.”
Much as Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” became an anthem for the struggle of a generation against violence and racial oppression, Dee-1’s “Sallie Mae Back” might be a similar anthem for the fight against financial oppression.