I was thinking about the title “Higher Learning” for this article because of the John Singleton’s movie about race relations at the fictional Columbus University in Los Angeles (Fuck Christopher Columbus btw!), but decided to change it to “Home Invasion”, the title of an album by Ice T.
And no, I’m not mixing up Ice Cube and Ice T, the cover to this Album basically is the story of my life. But let’s get into that when we talk about Ice T sometime in the future.
The title itself signifies how your safe space is invaded. For me, my safe space was invaded when I started listening to rap. Suddenly, it’s not sunshine and rainbows anymore once you put on your headphones and hear first hand experiences about injustice that you were not aware of.
This basic idea for this article was born last year, in June of 2020, but the topic meant too much for me to just write it down and cope with my feelings that I wanted to express by just saving it on my MacBook. I knew that one day I will release it and I am more than happy to have found the right outlet.
It was summer of 2020 and people were angry. People, well most people, were not surprised by what happened because we read about it before. We either listened to what our friends experienced or we had the “honor“ of experiencing racism first hand ourselves. Shout out to all my survivors reading this.
Sooooo, I was watching Dave Chappelles 8:46 Special on Netflix.
These are fuckin weird times… he said. But he also said that “we“ talked about that for a long time. A lot of people did. And a lot of musicians. That’s what we are going to talk about today.
I was on sick leave and stayed in bed all day only getting up to go to a doctor’s appointment. Did not read Hypebeast, did not check Instagram, no socials.
But I read the news and what the news cut out (Cops torturing and killing people, Cops driving their cars into protesters, racist violence…) and that fucked me up. It fucked me up so hard. Whenever I’m down I usually fill that hole in my heart by buying myself something nice to wear but this time I decided against it and donated the money. Fuck Fashion right now. Fuck it from the bottom of my heart. That’s bullshit. We don’t need that when people are dying. I cried and talked to my friends who were crying as well. I was angry and so were my friends.
We shared memories and even though my father is brown and their parents
are yellow, black and even white, we shared the same memories. Feels good to have somebody to talk to while the world is on fire.
The thing is that it has always been like that. I, now in my 30s, remember Lichtenhagen, Mölln, Alberto Adriano, NSU. For me, that’s not just some news, not some facts I see in the papers and forget. For me, the son of a “bi-racial“ couple, that’s my history. That affects me. Every day.
My mother called me to talk about that one time I visited them back when I was a student. It was around 2013. We started watching movies together, so, after some binge watching I decided to crash in my old room and drive straight to university in the morning. After a nice breakfast around 9am, I left and returned fifteen minutes later in a police car. They stopped me at the end of the cul-de-sac where my parents lived because I looked suspicious. They searched my car and found nothing but my uni books. So they asked for my piss. In public. In the street where I grew up (a nice neighborhood, everybody has a garden). Neighbors started looking out their windows. After I refused they drove me 100 meters down the street in the car to my parents house and accompanied me to my parents’ bathroom to watch me piss. They parked their VW bus in front of our house with one of them standing at our door while the other ones were watching. Then, after half an hour they told me I was clean. That’s being lucky. Shit like this happens on a regular basis.
A German girl in my Afro-German Literature class (read some May Ayim my friends) once told my black professor that she would never let the police treat her disrespectfully.
“You’d end up torched to death in a jail cell“ is what my professor told her.
Rest in Peace, Ouri Jalloh.
What always made me cope with this was music. As a child, I knew no other
non-white children. There were none at my school. I met my first black friends when I visited Hip Hop Jams. And I got my first Hip Hop CD from my brother because this German band mentioned Che Guevara in a song. Through the first “Freundeskreis” album I learned about Mumia Abu Jamal.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always looked up to Tupac and Ice Cube. I guess because with them, being movie stars too, they were “available“ on VHS as well…
Rap always held me down. When I had nobody who listened to me I had Tupac, Chuck D, and Ice Cube.
I think you’re starting to understand what this is all about: The power of music. The power of feeling understood.
Let me show you some essential songs that shaped my mind and made me aware of topics that are more relevant today than ever. Something we should make a regular column, right?
Let’s start with Ice Cube.
With him splitting from NWA, Cube became political. Which even shows when you remember that his first solo album “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” was produced by the Bomb Squad who produced “Public Enemy”. In the NWA biopic, Cube recorded “No Vaseline” in their studio. That’s when his music changed. He dropped knowledge. Angry knowledge.
Ice Cube released his third album “The Predator” in 1992, just after the Rodney King Riots.
Rodney King was stopped by police and beaten severely by the arriving officers.
A resident of the area noticed and filmed it on his video camera. You could see the unarmed King on the ground being beaten by four policemen. The incident was covered by the news. They were not found guilty when they were put on trial. Then the riots happened. From April 29th to May 4th, 1992, Los Angeles was burning. 63 people died. 2,383 were injured. 12,111 people were arrested.
I did not experience what happened in Los Angeles after the Rodney King beating at the hand of racist police live on TV. I was five years old. But while the city of Angels was burning thousands of miles away, ten year old Yeliz Arslan, 14 year old Ayse Yilmaz, and 51 year old Bahide Arslan burned to death, while nine others were severely injured because some members of the “master race” decided that Turkish houses should be torched. That was close to home. Here in Germany.
The same year, three thousand onlookers applauded Nazis throwing molotov cocktails at a building with one hundred Vietnamese people and even a German TV team inside.
This happened over several days. The onlookers blocked the fire department from putting out the fires. The police were busy arresting Antifa from all over Germany who came to Rostock-Lichtenhagen to defend the Vietnamese. Germany’s pogroms were back.
And let’s not forget Solingen where five Turkish girls and women died in a fire attack, while 14 others were wounded. Germany was on fire. We were afraid. This fear never went away. Whenever I was afraid as a kid I turned to Rap. Rap is the voice of the oppressed. It has power. The fear that ignited that year did not come from scratch. Things like that happend before and after. It’s scary. All day.
Talking about being scared: How scared must white people in the US have been when a car pumping songs like “When will they shoot“ and “We had to tear this muthafucka up“ would pass them?
How fucking afraid must they have been if they heard Cube’s voice coming out of their kid’s bedrooms. Cube wasn’t just rapping. He was angry. He was preaching. He was ready to “tear this muthafucka up“.
In this piece, we will focus on the year 1992, especially the LA Riots and Cube’s album The Predator. We have a lot of other history lessons ahead of us but let’s start here.
So let’s have a look at two of my favorite songs from this groundbreaking LP that even our dear Leonardo DiCaprio calls “the voice of the angry and unheard during the 90s“.
We had to tear this Muthafucka up
(“Peace, quiet and good order will be maintained in our city
To the best of our ability. Riots, melees and disturbances
Of the peace are against the interests of all our people; and
Therefore cannot be permitted.”)
(“The jury found that they were all not guilty, not guilty…”)
(“We’ve been told that all along Crenshaw Boulevard, that there’s a series of fires. A lot of looting is going on. A disaster area, obviously.”)
(“The jury found that they were all not guilty, not guilty…”)
The song brings you straight into the L.A. Riots starting out with a sample of the jury not finding the police officers who beat Rodney King almost to death guilty of any crime. What a way to start a song…
Cube‘s first words in the Song are „Make it rough“. And that’s what this content will be. Rough.
Go to Simi Valley and surely
Somebody knows the address of the jury
Pay a little visit, “Who is it?” (Ohh it’s Ice Cube)
“Can I talk to the grand wizard,” then boom!!
Simi Valley is a neighborhood where most of the jury and the accused police were living. Sounds fishy that they were not found guilty, isn’t it?
Well, Ice Cube is on his way to visit the “Grand Wizard“, which is the highest ranking position in the KKK. You see the connection?
N***** ain’t buyin, ya story, bore me
Tearin up shit with fire, shooters, looters
Now I got a laptop computer
And I know white men can’t dunk, now I’m stealin blunts
And a cake from Betty Crocker, Orville Reddenbacher
Don’t fuck with the black-owned stores but hit the Foot Lockers
Steal, motherfuck Fire Marshall Bill
Oh what the hell, throw the cocktail, I smell smoke
Got the fuck out, Ice Cube lucked out
My n**** had his truck out, didn’t get stuck out
In front of that store with the Nikes and Adidas
Oh Jesus, Western Surplus got the heaters
You’ve seen it over the last year: bUt wHy Do thEY hAve tO LoOT aNd sTeal?!? Fuck you, that’s why.
Centuries of oppression but you see billboards advertising a life that’s not for you?
How can you blame somebody who’s been fed up all his life to act like this? Fuck a store. The people need justice.
But now to my favorite song of the album:
When will they shoot
Will they do me like Malcolm?
‘Cause I bust styles, new styles
Standin’ strong, while others run a hundred miles
But I never run, never will
Deal with the devil with my motherfuckin’ steel – Boom!
Cube plays with a possible outcome of his anger and his position as the voice of the oppressed. Will he end up like Malcolm X? Shot to death because of his fight against injustice?
He even sneaks in a nice little diss directed towards his former crew NWA who released their EP “100 Miles and runnin’” in 1990. Cube won’t run from the police anymore. He will stand.
Media tried to do me
But I was a boy in the hood before the movie, yeah
Call me n****, bigot, and a s****
But you the one that voted for Duke, motherfucker
White man is somethin’ I tried to study
But I got my hands bloody, yeah
Who is Duke?
David Duke, Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, campaigned as a presidential nominee in 1988 and one year later successfully ran in the election for a seat in the Louisiana House.
I thought they was buggin’
‘Cause to us, Uncle Sam is Hitler without an oven
Burnin’ our black skin
Buy my neighborhood, then push the crack in
Doin’ us wrong from the first day
And don’t understand why a n**** got an AK
Callin’ me an African-American
Like everything is fair again, shit
Devil, you got to get the shit right I’m black
Blacker than a trillion midnights
Don’t Believe the Hype+ was said in ’88
By the great Chuck D, now they’re tryin to fuck me
“ ‘Cause to us Uncle Sam is Hitler without an oven“.
Woah. Is there a more hardcore sentence in Rap?
But think about it. Remember the genocide of the native people. 500 nations with a rich history reduced to being “indian“. Their culture being destroyed, their children taken away, their people poisoned with “firewater“. Around 11.7% of all deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Natives are alcohol related. Compared to that about 5.9% of all deaths worldwide are related to alcohol.
Think about that.
Think about Japanese-Americans in camps during World War 2. Think about the children detained by ICE who are being put in cages right now. Children of my color. The age of my nephews and niece.
Remember 400 years of slavery… and now you wonder why people carry AKs.
“But hey, let’s scrap the term colored and call them African-Americans. Now we’re square, ok? Everything good again?“
While listening to the song again, I thought about some stuff I saw over the last weeks. Nice that old TV shows are being taken off streaming services for being insensitive. Nice that politics kneeled for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Racism solved. Thanks for nothing.
Cube will stay blacker than a trillion midnights. People should definitely listen to Chuck D more often.
It’s a great day for genocide (What’s that?)
That’s the day all the n***** died
They killed JFK in sixty-three
So what the fuck you think they’ll do to me?
But I’m the OG and I bust back (Boom, boom!)
Fuck a devil, fuck a rebel, and a Yankee
Overrun and put the Presidency
After needin that, I’m down with OPP, yeah
Cube again plays with the thought of being killed. He compares himself to John F. Kennedy. We know how everything worked out for JFK. With a bullet in his head. Cube knows that him speaking out might lead to his death.
“Fuck a devil, fuck a rebel, and Yankee“. Whether it’s open racism in the South (The Confederates identified themselves as rebels) or the racism happening in the North (the so called Yankees), Cube doesn’t see a difference. Is somebody less racist because he’s not saying it out loud? Hell no.
The KKK has got three-piece suits
Daryl Gates got the studio surrounded
‘Cause he don’t like the n***** that I’m down with
Motherfucker wanna do us
‘Cause I like Nat, Huey, Malcolm, and Louis
Most got done by a black man’s bullet
Give a trigger to a nigga and watch him pull it
I’ma dig a ditch, bitch, and throw yo’ ass in
When they shoot, no, it won’t be a cracker
They use somebody much blacker
What I do? I called up the Geto Boy crew
‘Cause my mind’s playin’ tricks on me, too (Yeah)
Darryl Gates was the chief of police during the riots. Cube knows he’s after him because of his views. Views sharped by Nat Turner, who led a slave rebellion in 1831, Huey Newton, who started the Black Panther Party with Bobby Seale in 1966, Malcolm X and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam (fyi: Farrakhan is a racist and antisemite. Fuck him).
Nice Geto Boys reference, btw.
Never died, surround my crib
And FOI makin’ sure nobody creep when I sleep
Keep a nine millimeter in my Jeep (What?)
Peep when I roll, I gots to roll deep
Ain’t goin out cheap
Met the MADD Circle on Cypress Hill ’cause it’s so steep
They’ll never get me, they’ll never hit me
Motherfuck that shit, J-Dee
Now I’m relaxed
Grab the St. Ides brew so I can max
Sittin’ by the window ’cause it’s so fuckin’ hot
And then I heard a shot, boom
At the end of the day, Cube now relies on the protection of the FOI, the Fruit of Islam, the paramilitary wing of the Nation of Islam. He also keeps a gun on him. Remember the photo of Malcolm X with a rifle watching out of the window? He knows how he will go out. Assassinated by his window. Just like Martin Luther King on his balcony.
Like all brave people who want change go out like this.
How does listening to these songs and reading the texts make you feel? KRS-One always talked about “edutainment“. Education through entertainment.
Let everything sink in and think about the fact that “The Predator” was released in 1992, that was 29 years ago. It could have been released today.
Let’s hope that this time, juuuuuuuust a little bit will change when people who are fed up stand up.
We’ll see. But now, I hope that you learned a little bit and that you know that whenever you are down and fed up your comrade is just a click away on Spotify.
Get active, my friends. Fight the power. Together we can be the change. And if you ever feel worried, just put in your ear phones and Cube will be marching right by your side in his “big, black boots“.
Welcome to HOME INVASION with Caiza.