Capturing the culture that makes Detroit what it is.

Lyrical Breakdown: Living Proof (Young Black Youth)

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Living Proof (Young Black Youth)

Written by K. Frazier // Vocals performed by Khary WAE Frazier // Produced & Composed by Joe Black // Mixed by John Brown Jr. // Recorded at Sights & Sounds Studios Southfield MI & John Brown Jr. Studios //From the ‘Broken English Ideologies’ EP 2015

 

VERSE ONE
Kids looking up to me I don’t know what to tell them
Ain’t no options out here cause Detroit done failed them
. . .So I try to just listen
And offer them some love if they make a bad decision
Though I wish things was different
Hard for me to justify still living where I’m living
Doing what I’m doing and getting what I’m getting
In Detroit skies I can clearly see a ceiling

Performing hip-hop it’s many assumptions made about the benefits of the art form. One of the biggest I’ve always received from friends and strangers is that there is a collection of groupies connected to rap music. For my artistry I have not found anything close to that. Often then women who approach me have sons, nephews, or mentees who are young males they’d like me to meet. These younger artists are seeking ways to use hip-hop as a platform of opportunity. I have no map for success in hip-hop. At a younger age I believed in the market of hip-hop and music. Today I think a career as a music artist is a testament of virtue. Financial sustainability in music is dwindling more by the day. So I often challenge all younger artists to study the music and be creative.

Antiquated thoughts and old ideas
Of assembly lines and unionized men
Everything that’s left for the past 40 years
What the politicians say they can bring back here

I was born in 1982. During, and before my infancy many of the manufacturing plants that established the culture of Detroit in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s were leaving the city limits. The impact of globalization of industrial jobs leaving America impacted Detroit first with surburnization (I’m coining a term Dr. Cornell West style). Most plants inside Detroit’s city limits closed and were relocated to places further from the city. This reality limited the access for work in Detroit. My whole life changes in public service residency laws, manufacturing plant closures, and retail outlet closures have consistently led to underemployment, unemployment, and lack of employment in Detroit for residents.

I’ve always found the idea of politicians ‘bringing jobs’ preposterous. It’s sad I think most politicians will say anything to be elected. I believe ‘jobs & careers’ are circumstantial variables based upon a business’ viability connected to that job/career. Michigan politicians have built political legacies upon the idea of ‘bringing back jobs.’ It’s tragic because Michigan’s prominence as the wealthiest state in the America throughout the 50’s and 60’s was built in the industrial age. The industrial age no longer exists.

Packard Plant, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Good Times cast
Packard Plant, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Good Times cast

And I wanna believe but its hard when you see
A college grads options just like a GED
And I wish things was different, . . .it ain’t up to me
I accept the worse, . .  it’s just what I think

VERSE TWO
Life ain’t fair and its worse if you Black
It’s the land of the free but the ghetto is a trap
it’s a state of mind not a place where we at
That don’t trust people but it will trust cash
we don’t understand how this philosophy is born
Evans family here what Plato was to Rome

I believe race is the most polarizing dynamic in America. The role of Black people in America initially being enslaved and discriminated against for centuries still impacts America. Many of the divisive policies, laws, and opportunities have equaled empowered and hurt America. I think race is a cultural reality that is embraced and rebuked dependent upon the situation. In Black America it’s impact of achieving the dream has always been to assimilate.

The Evans family is the family from the 70’s television show ‘Good Times.’ The premise of the TV show was to follow a family in Chicago’s Cabini Green Public Housing Project Unit. The Evans family struggles from episode to episode with earning enough money to sustain a viable lifestyle. The ‘Good Times’ theme song of makes reference to temporary lay-offs, credit rip-offs, and waiting in chow lines which ties to the idea of urban survival. Conceptually the idea of surviving related to money in America is prominent. Rappers, athletes, scholars, and politicians alike culturally have accepted this philosophy as the overwhelming oppressor of the Black community. This makes my analogy to Plato clever to me. Plato’s book ‘The Republic’ built the system Rome and now America has used as the blueprint for society.

So I brush it off with the books that I read
to shake off the laziness, jealousy and greed
with notes of Marcus Garvey thoughts of Fuad Muhammad
quotes of Dudley Randle and Assata’s sonnets

Here I acknowledge a series of my favorite writers and the father of the Nation of Islam. Marcus Garvey is the original leader of Black Nationalism. His ideas of Black empowerment in business, residency, and education are phenomenal. Considering the timing of his philosophies and actions are humbling. Garvey’s UNIA organization stands today as one of America’s largest. Tragically it also was infiltrated by J Edgar Hoover and the FBI.

Fuad Muhammad is the master teacher of the honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. Fuad’s teachings of eating, learning, business, and family have created one of the strongest groups in the Black community.

Assata Shakur is the writer, revolutionary, and leader who has the Black Panther Party and more. Assata’s writings are humbling. Her takes on transforming state of mind to community empowerment are fundamental for my progress.

Dudley Randall was the leader of Broadside Press. Broadside Press was the publisher of many Black poets throughout the Civil Rights movement till today.

Dudley Randall, Lil Wayne, and Assata Shakur
Dudley Randall, Lil Wayne, and Assata Shakur

cause without knowledge slavery’s not abolished
and I find myself even shackled to a dolla
//Hard places makes rocks get softer
Can’t find work? streets got job offers
Why young kids even robbing and shooting
And we blame parents, teachers, and music

VERSE THREE
I got a little homie who just graduated
Ex-dropout alternative education
As he thinking now that he can just make it
His alternative prison and basic training

Rap Technique:
Starting this verse I play on the harmony of the ending rhymes for the introductory stanza. This technique I’ve always found intriguing. My favorite rappers to use this are Slick Rick, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Wayne. I rarely use this technique but effectively done I feel it brings attention to the rest of the verse.

My favorite song using this technique is Lil Wayne’s “Hustler’s Musik” from his album Carter II. He subtly uses the harmony to mix his words with the music production.

It’s a harsh reality but a sad truth
When you can barely read college not you
You ain’t got no money college got you
You ain’t gotta plan life stops you
Things stack up as time moves on
thinking what’s next, not right or wrong
Why I make decisions that might risk it all
life is a hustle I can flip or I fall
On a high wire I’m Dominique Dawes
With my information that’s of value when I talk
Coming together everything’s in my palms
To catch all the snakes that fatten up the frogs

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