Photo Courtesy of Unasahamed Imaging Photography
The following is a guest post, written by Anesha Collins, a long time Wade-O Radio listener and supporter. Anesha Collins’ bio and contact info can be found at the bottom of this post. If you’re interested in guest blogging, please contact our managing editor, Mikaela.
Easy on My Ears
Much has been said about “Chapter Nine: Jim Crow” on Sho Baraka’s latest album Talented Xth. Whether it’s the delivery of “explicit lyrics” articulated within the hook, or the lyrical content of this song as a whole, many people have expressed that listening to this track may not be so…easy on the ears. Any follower or listener of Sho Baraka’s previous projects is well aware of his unique ability to artistically deliver lyrics with a metaphoric finesse that most try to imitate, but can’t reproduce.
Previous projects featuring Sho Baraka, like High Society Collective: Circa MMXI, have made it more than clear that Sho Baraka stands firm in bringing forth truth to the ears of his listeners, when it comes to raising awareness about the struggles and undoubted level of ignorance (whether pure or deliberate), when it comes to the mindsets of mankind. While Sho Baraka makes a point to also deliver biblical knowledge, he is just as passionate when it comes to rapping about the “untouchables”; better known as the topics that most artists tend to avoid, although they may be very well aware of them.
The name Jim Crow, as listed on the back of Sho Barka’s newest album Talented Xth, refers to an era of struggle, ignorance, violence, destitution and discrimination that occurred within the 1870’s & the mid-1960’s. Under the Jim Crow law many African Americans were classified as second-class citizens under a racial caste system. In other words, African Americans were viewed as low valued; a lower social group. This “social classification” forced those affected by it to challenge this system of segregation, which occurred mostly, but not solely in the South.
Research has also revealed that many Christian ministers and theologians (during that time period), taught African Americans that Caucasian citizens were valued as the “chosen” people, and that African Americans were simply people “cursed to be used as servants.” Most of these ministers and theologians supported their teachings by stating that, “God supported racial segregation,” while other individuals (in support of the Jim Crow law) fought to promote and enforce it.
The Issue: Jim Crow Truth or Vulgarity?
The issue with the track is not necessarily that this truth is being shared, but the fact that most people are having trouble grasping and accepting the vulgarity used in this track. While most artist within Sho Baraka’s same genre of music don’t or won’t use vulgarity in their music, there have been instances where lyrical material (from artist that have used vulgarity in their music), have been featured or used by artists that fall under the same sovereign authority as Sho Baraka.
It may even be fair enough to say that Sho Baraka used the terminology “n*gga” in reference to “being ignorant; an ignorant person,” although if meant to be used in a derogatory sense, it does make it quite hard not to make a connection to the vulgar description of a dark-skinned individual, which has often been associated with African Americans. In reference to the other terms used within the song such as “b*tch” and “h*e,” there seems to be no other use for these terms other than the point of being straight forward as opposed to being metaphorically blunt or clever, which may have sat better with some of the listeners.
Having listened to both the explicit and non-explicit versions of this song, a key point is the fact that Sho Baraka is “classified” as a “Christian rapper,” and that is why most are having trouble accepting a track that contains forms of vulgarity. Metaphorically speaking, Chapter Nine: Jim Crow is like a painter that uses a blank canvas, caresses it with a deep stroke of low octave symphonic instruments, and top coats it with firm strokes represented by intense lyrics that blatantly express the message of the song with no ounce of sparkle or “sugarcoating.” Sho Baraka’s tact in delivering truth through his music will always be criticized on a different level of scrutiny unless he changes his whole make up as an artist. Will that happen?
Highly doubt it…
Was the ‘Jim Crow’ track easy on your ears?