Bull City in the Mix Presents: “First Amendment Area: A #BlackLivesMatter Mixtape” by Queen Plz

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by: Laura Friederich aka Queen Plz

This mixtape is a gift to the movement. This mixtape is a response to anyone that says trap music is “ignorant” or “apolitical.” This mixtape is a response to everyone that envisions mediocre folk music when they hear the term “protest music.” This mixtape is another reminder that the streets are political, and the most oppressed often have the most nuanced and comprehensive understanding of overlapping oppressions.

I find myself listening to things like Run The Jewels, Dead Prez, when I am feeling trapped- when I am driving to work or doing whatever alienated lonely capitalistic thing I am doing to make money and survive and I want to feel a little less alone, I want to remember my internal rebellion, I want to feel free for a second. This mix is angry. And I think it is important to remember the usefulness of anger as a motivating emotion. It is easy to feel spiritually defeated by the struggle for survival. So it is important to remember that this system may control our bodies and our labor but it cannot control our thoughts and our desires. Our utopian dreams. Our righteous anger. I made this mix to help us hold onto these feelings of rebellion because rebellion also feels like freedom, rebellion also feels like community, resistance can be very nourishing. Lyrically, sonically, music has the power to transform our mood, to comfort us, to focus us, to teach us, to free us.

I started out with Pastor Troy as a reminder that this shit has been going on forever- this song is fifteen years old, it points to some of the the origins of “trap music.” This song is a reminder that if we as a society are just now grappling with police violence on a massive scale, it is not because the issue is new, it is because we have not been listening.

I wanted to start with a few songs that were rooted in the tipping point, the historical flashpoint, which was #Ferguson- but one of the things that I love about the #BlackLivesMatter movement is how intersectional it is. It has involved the Palestinian struggle from the beginning. It works with an eye towards de-colonialization. So I started out from a place of “Fuck The Police” but then I also wanted to bring in the fact that Latinos are harassed by the cops, and that harassment by the cops takes on a whole different sheen when deportation is on the table- that’s where I brought in the Kap G track “La Policia.” The Invincible track “People Not Places” is a nod to the connection between #BlackLivesMatter and the Palestinian struggle. I went from there to Immortal Technique to make the explicit connection between the struggle in America and the larger capitalist/colonial policies of oppression extending into “The 3rd World.”

I also wanted to weave the connection between older, more established political hip hop artists and newer shit, tracks that have been produced within the last year, so I put a couple Dead Prez songs on there, I put a couple Immortal Technique songs out there, but I also put Vince Staples on there. I put OG Maco. I put Richie Reseda on there- he is in prison, he’s only got one track out I think. I pulled in Durham Boiz, they are local. I definitely had to put Tef Poe in the mix- Tef Poe was in the middle of everything when shit was kicking off in Ferguson, he’s rapping about the local politics in St. Louis, you can’t get a lot more embedded in him. When he says “This ain’t your daddy’s civil rights movement/ This ain’t your momma’s civil rights movement,” I think that is so crucial. This movement is a lot more intersectional, a lot more digitally savvy, it centers queer black women, it has learned a lot of lessons from past civil right’s struggles and it is pushing forward into very new territory, it has a very different sound. I wanted to try to create a mix that captured that feel, that sound.

And then I wanted to kinda end with a track about creation. Right now in Detroit there are struggles very reminiscent of the water struggles in South America, the infrastructure is falling apart, the government is corrupt, it’s a strong example of the chaos and potential that exists in moments of destruction and collapse. There are activists like Invincible (one of the artists on the mix), like Grace Lee Boggs (who just turned 100!) who are trying to create new realities within the shell of the destruction of corporate capitalism.

Where we are going is not going to be easy at all, the overarching governmental structures that we created (or, anyway, someone created) aren’t really taking care of us, the economy is being hollowed out by equal parts greed and simply the design of our particular brand of capitalism, and I think we are looking at places like Detroit and places like Argentina and Greece to try to figure out, like, what the fuck are we going to do next? How do we create our own economy within the shell of one that is being destroyed? How do we create systems of transformative justice without relying on police departments that are getting paid to enforce the desires of The State, which is increasingly indistinguishable from The Ruling Class. Right now we are living in a system that is run by an international corporate oligarchy, so what does it look like to try to invent our way into a new reality, to seriously look at creating what is coming next in the shell of what is dying?

One thing I noticed in the creation of this mix is how many political tracks use spoken word, use news clips, use ambient samples. I expanded on this by bringing in a couple samples of the Millenial Activists United crew saying the Assata Shakur chant because I wanted to mark the mix in time, I wanted to bring in the rhythm of the actual protests. The final clip is of- I believe it is VonDerrit Myers’ Dad? It’s from the #FergusonOctober weekend when there were a series of protests all over the city, and a bunch of different protest marches converged into a huge gathering in the center of Saint Louis University- a really amazing action- it was pretty late, I think like 1am, and there were a couple livestreams that had been going for several hours, a bunch of us online had been watching the livestreams the whole time, and there was this moment of four minutes of silence with thousands of people with their fists up in the center of SLU that to this day gives me chills to think about. It was such a statement, such a moment for me of, “We are many, We are powerful, We are angry, and We are done with this status quo reality. We are ready to fight, we’ve got each other, and we are in it for the long haul.” And then the guy on the megaphone at the end just absolutely nailed it, the whole comprehensive picture- he says “Alright real quick, I want to make sure everybody understands why we are here in the first place. We are here to destroy systematic racism and white supremacy. I want everybody to understand, this does not mean white versus black, Hispanic versus Asian, no, this means the 99% of us people with nothing to pass down, that work hard every day to make ends meet, versus the 1% percent that sit back…. I refuse to have my children grow up in this godforsaken-ass nation, so let’s fix it.”

Just, yes.

Tracklist:
Pastor Troy – Above the Law
Richie Reseda – 28 Hours
Durham Boiz – Fuck the Police
Tef Poe – WarCry
OG Maco – Riot
Dead Prez – It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop
Kap G – La Policia
Junglepussy – Ready for Action
Trouble – Fuck the Police
Run the Jewels – Lie, Cheat, Steal
Immortal Technique feat. Mos Def – Bin Laden
Invincible – People Not Places
Immortal Technique – The 3rd World
Vince Staples – Hands Up
Dead Prez – Police State
Invincible – Detroit Summer

Jess Dilday is Clarion Content's current Editor-in-Chief and regular contributor. Jess originally moved to Durham to be a part of vibrant communities centered on music, art, and activism. Jess sees Durham as a place where people don’t just sit at a bar and talk about great ideas and rad projects - we put them into action. Their other alias is DJ and producer, PlayPlay. PlayPlay is in a constant musical conversation with the public, speaking across generation, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality to create an all-inclusive dance floor. PlayPlay has opened for Big Freedia, MC Lyte, TT the Artist, Dai Burger, Double Duchess, Le1f, Jubilee, MikeQ, Cakes Da Killa and others. They are also one of the organizers and resident DJs behind Party Illegal (a monthly dance party in Durham) as well as the creator and organizer of several themed parties at the Pinhook, including the Dreaming of the 90's and Dark Entries parties.

2 Comments

  • Reply August 11, 2015

    James Rockefeller Gray

    I’m offended that a white DJ is playing a Mix Tape dedicated to Black Lives, and every song has the word Nigger in it. Lets get a grip! This DJ is also friends with Play Play. I mean c’mon.

  • Reply January 4, 2017

    marcus

    There was a time when Americans believed in freedom.

    The US is dying from a million cuts. Part of the reason the USA is a nanny police state now is that whenever there is a problem, the kneejerk reaction in the US is to call for a new law.

    Nanny state laws are not the best solution, however. Nanny state laws lead to more laws, higher fines, and tougher sentences. Thirty years ago, DWI laws were enacted that led to DWI checkpoints and lower DWI levels. Seatbelt laws led to backseat seatbelt laws, childseat laws, and pet seatbelt laws. Car liability insurance laws led to health insurance laws and gun liability laws. Smoking laws that banned smoking in buildings led to laws against smoking in parks and then bans against smoking in entire cities. Sex offender registration laws led to sex offender restriction laws and violent offender registration laws.

    Nanny state laws don’t make us safer, either. Nanny state laws lead people to be careless since they don’t need to have personal responsibility anymore. People don’t need to be careful crossing the street now because drunk-driving has been outlawed and driving while using a cellphone is illegal. People don’t investigate companies or carry out due diligence because businesses must have business licenses now.

    The main point of nanny state laws is not safety. The main purposes of more laws are control and revenue generation for the state.

    Another reason laws are enacted is because corporations give donations to lawmakers to stifle competition or increase sales.

    Many laws are contradictory, too. Some laws say watering lawns is required, while other laws say watering lawns is illegal.

    Many nanny state laws that aim to solve a problem can be fixed by using existing laws. If assault is already illegal, why do we need a new law that outlaws hitting umpires?

    Nanny state laws are not even necessary. If everything was legal would you steal, murder, and use crack cocaine? Aren’t there other ways to solve problems besides calling the police? Couldn’t people educate or talk to people who bother them? Couldn’t people be sued for annoying behavior? Couldn’t people just move away? Even if assault was legal, wouldn’t attackers risk being killed or injured, too? Do people have consciences? Having no laws doesn’t mean actions have no consequences.

    If there is no victim, there is no crime.

    We don’t need thousands of laws when we only need 10.

    Freedom is not just a one way street. You can only have freedom for yourself if you allow others to have it.

    Should swimming pools be banned because they are dangerous? Hammers? Bottles? Rocks? Energy drinks? Pillows?

    Control freaks might get angry when a neighbor owns three indoor cats, but what did the neighbor take from them? Why should this be illegal? Is outlawing cats something a free country should do? Doesn’t banning everything sound like the opposite of freedom?

    Instead of getting mad at people who like freedom, why don’t people realize that freedom is a two way street?

    If you allow others to paint their house purple then you can, too.

    If you allow others to own a gun then you can, too.

    If you allow others to swear then you can, too.

    If you allow others to gamble then you can, too.

    Who wants to live in a prison?

    Think. Question everything.

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