Q-Tip Explains How the Economics of Racism Inspired ATCQ’s Latest LP (Video)
With “We the People,” A Tribe Called Quest shared their most political single to date, but it’s just one facet of an entire album whose content deals head-on with serious issues. We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service tackles racism, poverty, and struggle but “We the People” is the most explosive example on the track list. As a guest on last night’s episode of The Daily Show, Q-Tip spoke about the song’s inspiration, sharing with viewers more than just a philosophical statement about the role of protest music. Rather, he delivered a lesson on the role of capitalism as it pertains to oppression, and it’s eye-opening.
After playing a clip of “We The People” and remarking on the song’s political message, host Trevor Noah asks his guest why the song (and the entire album) is so politically driven. In response, Tip says much was born out of the political rhetoric in the country today, and the fact that it seems there are “disposable people” in our society, in the eyes of those in power. People, he says “may not add to the true economic gains,” which becomes particularly troubling in a system based on capitalism. “In this society [of] capitalism, the bottom line is truly money. And then you have all of us as citizens, here we are – we’re coexisting. In order for someone to truly capitalize on a situation, there has to be something that’s weak. The tenets of capitalism is that there has to be something or someone that you take advantage of, or that you kind of expose and exploit,” he explains. But it ain’t nothin’ new.
“It’s a concept we’ve been dealing with for a while,” he continues. “Cheap labor, you know? And then the epitaphs of true, deep, in-the-gut racism – ‘I hate you because of your race’ or ‘I hate you because of your sexual preference,’ or ‘I hate you because of your religion.’ It’s easy to float that and to cause this kind of dissension amongst all of us, so those who are truly the aggregators of power and who have the true interest of high wealth, can come in and subdue, you know, the citizens.” Tip also shares his thoughts on the electoral college, saying it came about because those in power didn’t trust the citizens to wield any real power. “We felt like, in the group, that we really wanted to try to pose this scenario; rather than be heavy-handed and straight-forward, but within music and within song, within art, we’re able to present this tapestry that really shows the truth that we’re all kinda joined together.”
We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service reached #1 on the charts. This is the second Tribe album to do so, since 1996’s Beats, Rhymes & Life.