First of all, I love when an artist spits conscious lyrics, which Kanye certainly does on his new song, “New Slaves”. I especially like when he references CCA and how they’re really making new slaves:
“Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), now the nation’s largest private prison company, was founded just over 30 years ago in Nashville. Since then, it has become a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business with more than 60 facilities across the country. Meanwhile, the U.S. prison population has grown 500 percent.”
The larger question is, now that we have this knowledge, what are we gonna do about it? Kanye’s GOOD music imprint is part of Universal Music Group, a huge corporation that also distributes Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, 2 Chainz, and many others. Also there was this picture tweeted by his soon to be baby mother Kim Kardashian, that showed Kanye’s album cover next to what is rumored to be his new “Air Yeezys” produced by Nike. Kayne even supposedly watched one of the 66 showings of his video projection of the song from the comfort of his new Maybach.
So is Kanye gonna go independent? Is he gonna stop promoting rampant materialism and consumerism, especially brands poor folks can’t come close to affording? Is he gonna start speaking out against Mass Incarceration? I ask because the same weekend Kanye took over social media with his SNL performance, legendary rap group Public Enemy was being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Chuck D and Public Enemy is a group that use their fame to speak out on numerous issues, including recently organizing a concert on Skid Row in Los Angeles to call attention to the growing problem of homelessness.
Legendary singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte gave the induction speech for Public Enemy and talked about artist’s responsibility to our community and specifically referenced the growing problem of Mass and Child Incarceration. Mr. Belafonte has garnered controversy with his strong stances, so it will be interesting to see if Kanye gets any pushback for his song. People like Minister Farrakhan have been saying for years that athletes and entertainers were slaves and has been highly criticized. Also don’t forget the storm NFL running back Adrian Peterson stirred up when he said the NFL was “modern day slavery“.
So although I’m happy that Kanye came with some real substance on his new single, it’s not enough to just recognize we’re the “New Slaves” it’s time to get free.