The systematic barriers, social obstacles and controversial oppression of African American people is seen to be one of America’s all time malfunctioning characteristics since its beginning roots, yet growing out of the concrete, there have been great leaders and voices throughout history. Still today with a much larger platform, singers and rappers- turned activists continue to fight the negro problem as it has only become a more prevalent issue in our society. One such artists facing the issue head on is rapper JAY Z, in his dynamic new album, 4:44. He not only focuses on aspects of his relationship with Beyonce, but the much broader and deeper issues of the systemic racism and downplayed supremacy in the world. Specifically, the second track on the album, “The Story of OJ.” It’s a dynamic song mixing JAY Z’s Brooklyn style rap with 1960’s artist, Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” and a music video depicting 1920’s urban life and prime racial discrimination era. This captivating piece of work by one of hip-hop’s greatest artists make the point of his message very hard to miss. “Skin is, skin,” the first words of Nina Simone, reworked by producer No ID, could be comprehended by the listener to have a equality reference, but as the song continues it is just a reference to how African Americans are grouped together no matter how light or dark, “Still Jigga, Still Jigga.” The lack of positivity on this song not only sets the tone that the problem was a historical weight on the country, but it still is a weight and has virtually not gotten any lighter. References to the KKK, share cropping, mass incarceration, and the ghettos of America plunge into the heart of the true issue leaving people, especially African Americans, to ponder; Whats next? When will it end? Can it end?
Photo Credit: thesun.co.uk, Rustam Hasanov