Thursday, May 01, 2008

75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)

*Warning: if you are disturbed or remotely bothered by (a) angry black men or (b) excessive use of the term, niggaz, then you may very well be the type of person this song is directed towards.

Rising Down, The Roots' follow-up to the highly-acclaimed 2006 album, Game Theory, came out this week, and after just a few listens it's safe to say that these dudes are pissed. And I don't mean pissed like some Brit-rock boozehounds get pissed. I mean Angry. In fact, the first track / Intro of the album - "The Pow-Wow" - is a recording from the 1994 meeting between Black Thought, Questlove and former Roots manager, AJ Shine, after they got threatened with being dropped from their record label. Needless to say, the fellas ain't happy. Throughout the majority of the album, Black Thought and an array of guest MCs (middleCoast faves, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Common, to name a few) let the listener know with urgency and immediacy exactly how they feel about everything from the climate (both environmental and cultural) being in a downward spiral, to pharmaceutical companies' justifiable drug trade, to the state of the entertainment industry eating itself, to the struggle of poverty-stricken Americans getting no help.

One of most impressive (and rage-filled) rhymes is "75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)" in which Black Thought spits fire for 75 bars. Seriously. In one take. Find me another MC that can do this. I dare ya. Unfortunately, it's the video that is getting most of the attention, as it features a white man being held captive by the band. What? What's the big deal? Check it out first...

The Roots - '75 Bars (Black's Reconstruction)'

Now depending on your personality (or perhaps the color of your skin), you probably have differing reactions to seeing that. However, read the lyrics now and see if you can figure out why the video exists as it does...
I’m from the land of the straight razor face beard niggaz
with hammers on their waist, yeah ta waste weird niggaz
and erase scared niggaz, them snake head niggaz
the take care o' niggaz who don’t break bread wit us
niggaz make dead niggaz, and hate black niggaz
brown niggaz high yellow niggaz and them red niggaz
no telling when that bullet comin be prepared niggaz
cause when it do its comin land sea and air niggaz
that’s everywhere niggaz am I the mutherfucking legendary? yeah niggaz
make it very clear niggaz, been looking at y’all in my rearview
mirror niggaz, wanna be a millionare I’m already there niggaz
I’m a debonaire nigga, a bear taking more than my share
Looka here yeah I know it aint fair nigga. neither is a bald eagle wit a hair trigger
haystack try to find a needle up in there nigga leave u up in there nigga
show me the puppet that don’t need a puppeteer nigga shed another tear nigga
I’m the field with a shield and a spear nigga,
I’m in your girl with her heels in the air nigga
I am such a rare nigga, You in a battle telling me you not ready
like u figured imma bare wit cha! I don’t care nigga!
you now listenin to the sounds of the money makin jam trillionares nigga
gentlemen of an extraordinary league, you never see me blowin on no ordinary weed
what I’m smoking aint a product of no ordinary seed, your boy is heavy treed
I’m feelin merry as a Tyler Perry scene mad monetary gangrene
We tried to launder the cash, it never came clean
So now I’m in the story with all them cats before me
in smoke pergutory for doin the same thing
And them niggaz aint change, them niggaz cant change
your moms shake her head say it’s such a dang shame
the train to the bus and then another dang plane?
my stage and my government they aint the same name
I’m a rockstar loving it my wallet chain hang
Im a rider they was sayin, I’m a modern day kang.
My definition I can finally explain, cold smooth like that dude Sean Connery was playin
I just gotta be the man I’m the father figure and
when I spit it its something like a psychology exam,
if you stand where I stood you can probably understand
how that mic feelin like a million dollars in my hand
its the silence of the lambs, go and cop another gram ta twist with your zanny, percoset percodan what's your networking plan?
you better look alive cause them niggaz outside looking desperate again nigga
and the blunts and liquor killin my lungs and liver
the athsmatic drug addict I function wit it
I put a rapper in a hole where the dunce was sittin for spittin a played out pattern that once was hittin
I got news for you all, let me show you how to ball
See the legendary fall? I aint heard of that
Yall niggaz is off the wall like arsenio hall
I’m a put you right back where the dirt is at
450 farenheit pon the thermostat
somebody stalkin like da white jawn Bernadette
but she's not an earner yet, she couldn’t put in no work for Nat Burner yet
the black microphone murder vet, im in a class of my own
if I got beef with you you're the last one to know, I arrive on time I’m never fashionable you late I’m already internationable
I done twirled Berlin banged in Bejing
you never seen nothing cant say the same
tell somebody black thought yeah you know the name ring
so give him the game ring, for bringin what them niggaz cant bring
my hutsle is long my muscle is strong my man put the paper in the duffle I’m gone
yall still a light year from the level I’m on
just a pawn stepping right into the head of the storm
you've been warned, I will blow you niggaz into centigrade
I’m a rebel, renegade must stay paid

Now the speculation: Obviously Black Thought has something to say, and most likely feels very strongly about it. He wants you to LISTEN CLOSELY. The seemingly kidnapped white man in the video represents a certain population of white America that are NOT listening. Now, if you've been to a Roots show in the past decade, you'll notice an overwhelming number of white kids in attendance. Artists like The Roots and Talib Kweli have spoken out before on what it's like to make black music with a black audience in mind, and yet have a white audience embrace it as they do. For a black artist, this can present a dilemma. What Rising Down seems to want to do is grab hold of the person listening by the collar (or the jugular) and make them pay a-fucking-ttention. Black or white doesn't matter. Perhaps the harder sound, the sheer force of the album is designed to get black kids to switch off the Lil Wayne for a minute; and, simultaneously, get white kids to do more than noodle-dance to their beats at whatever summer festival they're at. You must pay attention now.

Well when all is said and done, Rising Down remains one of the best releases of 2008 as The Roots continue to be the greatest Hip-Hop band on the planet. Plain and simple.

{Go get Rising Down}

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