In 1992, Paris Made A Tribute To Black Women That Endures Today
While Gangsta Rap was at its height with acts like N.W.A, Geto Boys and Ice-T leading the charge, other crews such as A Tribe Called Quest, Ultramagnetic MC’s and De La Soul were intriguing listeners with cerebral wordplay and quirky, inventive rhyme patterns. Somewhere in between, stood Rap revolutionaries like X-Clan, Public Enemy and Queen Latifah. Out West, it was San Francisco, California’s Paris, with his Black fist held high in the air, kicking facts on wax.
Known for his leveled pitch and stone-faced delivery, Paris often approached the microphone as seriously as a groom at the altar on a wedding day. Something about his disposition told listeners that he meant every word he said and his delivery was no different on 1992 video single, “Assata’s Song.”
An obvious tribute to the New York-born fugitive – Assata Shakur – who escaped prison and fled to Cuba in 1979, Paris’ take was one of a handful of songs recorded in Shakur’s honor. Public Enemy’s Chuck D, the first rapper to shout out Shakur, did so on “Rebel Without A Pause,” while Digable Planets, fellow revolutionaries Brother J and Common, joined the support train as only they could.
Interestingly enough, “Assata’s Song” fails to mention the heralded heroine in the lyrics. Instead, Paris chooses the moment to uplift all women. He seemingly uses Shakur’s name to symbolize the respect, honor, and love one should have for Black women, generally.
“Thinkin‘ of you, and how the perception came to pass / Of a queen bein’ just a piece of ass / So I ask you how that sound / That’s for the sisters I missed the last time ’round / Because I can’t forget what you been through / I can’t forget the hardships and what you do / So I’m payin’ you the ultimate respect / Because I love you and that’s what you should get…”
In the second verse, Paris acknowledges his lust was once something he fed into, but later realizes the error of his ways, finally devoting himself to a better tomorrow with his Queen: “The time had come for me to break away from that / Don’t you know there ain’t no future in hurtin our own / It’s bad enough that the trust and love are gone / So I strive for, one to provide for / And hold and take and elevate and guide for / So many people wanna destroy / But I can’t / And I won’t stop ever bein’ true to Black woman…”
Visually, the piece is unsurprisingly inspiring. In one scene, an elderly Black woman is seen scrubbing floors on her knees. A few frames later, the same elderly lady is leading a discussion in the same hallways, while being flanked by three men. As the scene shifts, he spits: “And I’m raised right so ladies still first / But smooth with the groove for the fools that doubt ya worth / Still thinkin’ of a master plan / To protect and respect ’cause the fact is I love the Black woman.”
Given Paris’ sociopolitical charged platform, the pledge of support for Assata made perfect sense on 1992’s Sleeping With The Enemy. In addition to being heralded by Hip-Hop for her rebellious stance against the government, she was Tupac Shakur’s godmother. Assata Shakur was convicted for the first-degree murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in 1973, despite the fact that she denied ever handling a weapon at the incident, and there had been a previous conviction of another suspect. In 1979, Shakur successfully escaped Clinton Correctional Facility For Women. Since before 1984, she has been living in Cuba where she has been granted political asylum.