Locksmith Attacks Racist Agendas In An Incredibly Powerful Video
Northern California has always been a bastion of progressive Rap. From The Coup to Souls of Mischief to Locksmith, MCs from the Bay Area have a storied history of incorporating knowledge of self and social consciousness (some of it no doubt inspired by the energy of the Oakland-based Black Panthers) in their music. That’s precisely what Locksmith has done on “Agenda,” a piercing record that excoriates America and the revisionist history of its past that prevents us from understanding how we got where we are today.
A Tribe Called Quest fans will recognize the “Can I Kick It?” but what follows isn’t referential at all, as Locksmith unloads with raps about what’s really going on. “Bickering back and forth about who controls the premises, but it’s all stolen land from the natives peoples indigenous,” he says, perhaps remarking on the futility of superficial arguments different groups initiate with one another. Another pointed reference seems to speak to Trump’s election as president when he says “turn working class Whites against all people of color” and he also takes on the illusion of race with sharp-tongued faculty. “We suffer the same affliction through economic restriction/focus on skin tone, while their pockets have since grown/It’s been known that the Black and White concept is just a myth/Until they could profit from it, race didn’t exist.” Economic oppression, mental health, immigration, and police brutality all live side-by-side as mentions in the same verse, making this an unrelenting attack on everything we’re doing wrong as a society.
In the video, warriors of different cultures and archetypes representing different forms of battle – tribal, athletic, and criminal – all share the screen in this black and white portrait of American angst. Indigenous peoples dressed for war, a football player preparing to take his fight onto the field, a disheveled but armed Black man, and police officers firmly gripping their batons and guns all get ready to strike at their respective opponents. As the song plays, interactions between these separate identities take place, and they all suggest a master puppet who is pulling their strings, influencing them to interact with and fight against each other for reasons that are not entirely clear to them. But the truth is, those reasons are clear – America’s supremacy has often been based on the oppression of others, from the genocide of indigenous peoples to the enslavement of Africans, and to the sweeping ban on Muslim immigrants that took place – not in the past, but just last week.
“Agenda” appears on Locksmith’s forthcoming album Olive Branch, which arrives March 31. Based on its title, it appears the concept behind it is one based on peace, and songs like “Agenda” prove that, until we are all told the truth about where we’ve been and where we’re going, we can’t ever really come to a peaceful resolution.