Lessons From Hip-Hop, Vol. 2


I'm a thug, the conditions I'm living,
It's got me condition for prison, the condition for killing.
The condition that we put kids in, often poverty stricken;
And even they education becomes a pipeline to prison.

One of the most underrated verses ever in Hip-Hop came from a man who routinely kills every single track that he's on. Early in 2015 rapper Glasses Malone dropped a track called Thuggin'. Then it only featured Kendrick Lamar and was still buzz worthy around it's release because of what Kendrick Lamar did on the song. Then later in 2015 Kendrick managed to snag Killer Mike for the official remix and it further cemented Killer Mike as one of the absolute best in the game right now. Further more the verse itself stands to be that of something of both political education and an MC checking the mic so hard that it was literally ashes when he got done. Keeping in line with my first entry into the series, this verse is aimed at educating and opening folks eyes to what's really going on around us every single day.

The first part of the verse basically lays out how black men are bred for crime and prison due to the fact there are no real opportunities to stray away from that style of life. He's not calling himself more so representing the black male and saying that we are all in that position. The conditions that most African Americans live in and face on a daily basis is that of poverty and crime. Even though there are schools in the hood, they don't do too much of any good because most end up failing and going back to the street life. Thus continues the cycle of black men eventually ending up in jail due to the environment that we are force to grow up in.

Simply a tool used for mass incarceration.
Call it the new plantation, call it new era slavery,
Call the court system racist, call it just what it is:
A plot and plan for paper that punish the poorest kids.

If we grow up in a environment where it's impossible to escape from, then it's the doing of the system that seeks to hold us down. Basically the second part of this verse talks about how the cash for kids prison system exists in this country. There's no secret that the private companies that run the prison system in the United States benefits from all kind of grants and tax breaks when their prison is operating at maximum capacity. In this particular verse he's talking about how the court system basically sets a lot of black men up for failure with offenses that should have never landed them there in the first place.

When he says "simply a tool use for mass incarceration" he definitely means that hood is the new farm system for the rich to take advantage of the disenfranchised just as how they did it during slavery era. This time they're baiting black folks in these poverty stricken neighborhoods because no one is going to put up a fight for them as long as they are seen as criminals and trouble makers. It's all an elaborate system made up of keeping folks down until they have to make a bad decision just to keep from being at wits end. Just like Mike said in this part of the verse, "call it the new plantation, call it new era slavery" because that's just what it is.

In the end they don't mind sacrificing young black lives in order to fill their pockets with money they will never get to spend in their life. Simply because they think it's translates into true wealth.

O'Reilly, Hannity, Limbaugh, Geraldo know what it is,
But they be on that fuck boy shit, blaming your kids;
Don Lemon too, Wolf Blitzer three.

This part of the verse says clearly what it means to say: the media chooses to turn the blind eye to the real issues at hand. Rather looking into the root of all the issues they choose to make this about what African Americans should have done better. This is just another way for the system to keep African Americans at a disadvantage. The general public just consumes rather than making their own sound judgement. When those uneducated Americans who live in those tiny shacks that are housed in those backwoods of Mississippi and states like that, the media simply prays on their willful ignorance and fear that they have something to lose by letting African Americans prosper in some form for or fashion in this country.

All of those "journalists" listed above routinely go out of their way to depict the African American community as nothing more than a group of people who are lazy, wanting to live off welfare and hand outs, all the while causing violence to peaceful citizens in harms way. The use words like Thug to cover up the fact they want to call them niggers in this new day and age. And another reason for what they do, ratings. Just like those men in the private prison business, they think that ratings equal some form of power and importance. They'll do anything to keep themselves on top, even if it means being willfully ignorant for their target audiences consumption.

The media has never and will never be a friend of the African American community.

I often wish I can have a sit down with every C and every B,
And help them see we not enemies,
And that includes fraternities with their college degree.

In the closing parts of the song Killer Mike point blank says that we, as a community, need to cut the shit. A lot of people talk about the black on black violence as soon as a police officer related shooting occurs in this country as a means of saying "hey you guys kill each other, why should we care"? This verse is meant to say "hey, we need to chill out on all of the killing and start working together to find an answer to our problems". The violence in the street is all pretty rhetorical seeing as how it's just another part of the system that's meant to keep us down. When a black man kills another one it effectively ends two lives: that of the one who pulls the trigger and goes to jail and that of the one who doesn't get to live up to his full potential. Like I said, it's pretty cut and dry, cut the foolish stuff out, we're just doing what they want us to do to each other so they can keep on living on top.

Then the second part of the verse is meant to say to the African Americans with degrees that we all are apart of the same struggle from now until it's resolved. No matter how much education you have, along with wealth, you'll still be looked at in this country as no more than a stupid nigger. While gaining an education and providing for your family is the end result of the American dream, we still have to recognize that we can go back into the bucket and reach in and help someone that isn't afforded the same opportunities that you are given. By alienating yourself from the rest of your people you're only adding to the problem in the sense that you are turning your back and letting the people that didn't even want to give you an education in the first place, win at tearing apart the very community you have running through your veins.

This part of the verse is a call to unify all fronts against those that want to see us fall and look weak in the public eye; just so they can keep on doing what they're doing. It's been proven time and time again in history that there is nothing more dangerous than the African American community when unified.

I'm part drug kingpin mixed with Booker T.
I'm whatever Blacks need me to be,
I'ma muthafuckin thug.

And the final part of the verse says what it is, he's going to do whatever it takes to help the cause. Whether that means being a well versed and educated man that speaks up for the community or he's going to be a full fledged rapper that lays down bars that seek to inspire and tell stories of the struggle. He's not saying that he's a thug, he's saying that he will now and forever be a black man, and in the eyes of the rest of the country and those that seek to keep our race down, he's a thug.

This is one of the greater verses in recent memory for the simple fact that he's a mainstream artist that's not afraid to get in front of the camera and talk about the things that are going on in this country while being unapologetically black. There aren't too many people period willing to risk life and limb for the struggle and who has high enough visibility to blow the whistle against what's going on in this country. This verse just shows how Killer Mike is able to flip a lot of the things that's going on in this country into a smooth and crisp flow that sounds great. 

This is just another example of how a great Hip-Hop MC can change the culture and views of Rap by being fearless and talking about what's going on in our communities today. If you want to hear the verse that I covered in this post, just check out the video below from Glasses Malone's YouTube page. You can also buy the song here from iTunes and here from Google Play.

Until next time.


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