Nationalists

Two raps with national and historical references follow. Jay Electronica is New Orleans blood in all of his flows. I heard of him through the Rap Council Member Mauby Bitters. His first mixtape was delightfully reverent and referential. He uses his seminal work to play on ideas of conspiracy, Five Percenter logic, Judao-Christian messianic images (his nicknames: The Lamb, The Messiah). First off, I haven’t heard someone pack in so much religious terminology and allusions since…the second artist, Cavalier. Obviously some of the postmodern patterns that made hip-hop cryptic and beautiful have resurrected themselves in songs like these.

Jay Electronica wrote this as a tribute to T.I. and Michael Vick. In the week after Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor’s brutal slaughter, it stands to reason that he’s shouting out some other famous black men who face the same circumstances as many of their companions. Taylor, murdered in merciless fashion beside his newborn, will be remembered like Darrent Williams before him: a life cut short by violent crime.

“Crop Boys” by Cavalier is part of his Weekly Freestyle series. It explores the idea of house slaves versus field slaves, and perhaps which mentality we espouse by celebrating our allegiance to the money of others. The slow melancholy of this duet captures more the feeling of lonely gangsters than “Roc Boys” does. Although Jay-Z aims for something confident in his message, it seems hollow in the face of what’s praised. First of all, he’d like to thank his connect? Not a lot of self-determination or pure enterprise in doing that. Da Gif opens the song on another note saying “Uncle Tom and Uncle Sam holding hands” which suggests an unhappy marriage of commerce and order, a description that is noticeably absent from the Hovified work.

The Menahan Street Band – Make the Road by Walking (originoo heads)

Menahan Street Band

Jay Electronica – A Prayer for Michael Vick and T.I. (shouts to WMDeez)

A Prayer for Michael Vick and T.I.

Cavalier feat. Gif – Crop Boys

Crop Boys

Crop Boys

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1 Response to “Nationalists”


  1. 1 brandonsoderberg December 3, 2007 at 6:19 am

    Great post. I’m glad someone else is disturbed about Jay thanking his connect. Grotesque is the word I’d use. I find the video for the song kinda gross too, given Jay’s history of fucking over or constantly putting “friends” and label-maters behind him…for awhile that was his persona, but now he’s changed in part to ape the movie version of Frank Lucas, as this homely “gangster”…oh well. Another great Cav song also!


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