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.”
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