Q-Tip & Phife Release Their Most Political Song Ever & It Ain’t Nothin’ Nice (Video)
It’s been a heavy week for America. Donald Trump is President-Elect, a stark reality for the millions who have found themselves in the crosshairs of his vitriolic campaigning. Just three days into his new position, Trump has already inspired protests across the country waged by people who are literally fearing for their own well-being and the well-being of others. Women are organizing a nationwide strike to protest Trump’s misogyny and vows to dismantle our reproductive rights. Muslim Americans are banding together while already reporting themselves as being victims of hate crimes in the wake of his election. Black and Brown Americans are now having to envision their longstanding suffering in the light of a Trump presidency, and nearly every American who defines themselves as “other” has a justifiable claim for deep, deep pain.
But also this week, A Tribe Called Quest released a new album, and for that we rejoice. Today (November 11) brings with it the arrival of We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service, the group’s first in nearly two decades and its first since the passing of Phife Dawg earlier this year. For those reasons alone, it has already become an instant classic for many Heads, with millions taking to social media to voice their overwhelming glee at finally having some new music from the group of young Black kids from Queens who helped shape our collective worlds. One would be remiss, however, to not acknowledge the LP’s timeliness within the context of the political climate in America (and much of the world) today. As many of us try to cauterize the wounds left by shock, sadness, anger, and utter disorientation caused by Trump’s success, Bob Marley’s ever-prescient words ring truer than ever. “One good thing about music – when it hits you, you feel no pain,” and today, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi are quite literally healing us all.
“We the People” is A Tribe Called Quest’s most political record, ever. It’s a page of a diary torn out of our own psyches, a deeply pained attempt to make sense of the world around us. But it’s also the epitome of resolute strength, as it minces no words in addressing murderous police (“you in a ‘kill a good, young n**** mood'”), the devastating effects of gentrification (“n****s in the hood livin’ in a fish bowl/gentrify here, now it’s not a shit hole”), the media’s role in obliterating the contributions of people of color (“the fog and the smog of the the media that logs false narratives of gods that came up against the odds”), and equality for women (“we got your missy smitten, rubbin’ on her little kitten/Dreamin’ of a world that’s equal for women with no division”). The song’s hook is delivered from the perspective of White Supremacy, and it boils down all of the blatant and nuanced racism in America: “all you Black folks, you must go/All you Mexicans, you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways/All you bad folks, you must go.”
That lyrical content needs not much by way of visual amplification, which is why the song’s newly released lyric video serves it perfectly. Heads are treated to the instantly recognizable red, black and green motif found throughout Tribe’s discography, with Bonita gracing the screen as the drawn lines of her body become the canvas for the rest of the visuals. Notably, “We the People” is scrawled in the same font as in the Constitution, making it clear this is an attempt to differentiate the ideals of the founding fathers from the stark reality of living in America.
Sadly, Phife is not here to see the song’s message in light of Trump’s election. However, there are things we can do to ensure that his obvious desire to uplift his people is brought to fruition, and that’s through political involvement and direct action. One such opportunity is presented by #Our100, an initiative launched by women of color who serve as leaders in communities across the country in direct response to Trump’s win, and who encourage us to join them “over the next 100 hours, at community events across the country as we come together to affirm our unity.”
Rest in power, Phife Dawg.
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