if you were born in the US or immigrated here, you were often told that America was a place of equality and justice for all; where all are created equal and born with certain inalienable rights; where the little guy can attain tremendous success through hard work and moxie; where if you played by the rules, you can get a good job, be able to provide for your family and retire comfortably; and so on. However, the aftermath of events as such as the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, the Black Lives Matter movement, Occupy Wall Street, Equal Pay for Equal Work and countless others have reminded many that the America we’ve been told exists is at best an idealistic illusion – and perhaps worse yet, is a reminder that the work of leaders such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gloria Steinem and many others going back to this country’s origins are sadly nowhere near finished. In fact, racism, classism, gender warfare, inequality and xenophobia seem to be more prevalent and much more insidious than ever. As Chuck D presciently said back in the early 90s, “Now the KKK wears three piece suits.”
Now if you’ve been following JOVM for quite some time, you’d likely be familiar with the Ohio-based emcee and producer Vice Soulectric, who produced a great collaboration between Awkword, KRS One, Brimstone 127 and Dug Infinite that in many ways channeled the conscious spirit of Stop the Violence Movement. And you’d be likely familiar with arguably one of the great contemporary emcees, the Detroit, MI-based Guilty Simpson, who the with Philadelphia PA-based producer Small Professor released one of the best and grittiest hip-hop records in recent memory. Interestingly, Vice Soulectric will be releasing the Vice for President EP this year and the EP’s first single “Troublesome” may be the single that all hip hop heads desperately need and have been waiting for, as it’s a hard-hitting socially conscious song that openly criticizes the criminal justice system and racially biased policing practices, racial stereotypes – and brings up the idea that all of that perverts the very ideals that the US was founded on.
You’ll hear Vice Soulectric tell a tale of being unfairly stopped by police – because he just fit the profile of the “usual suspect.” And Guilty Simpson spits a verse that channels Biggie in which he says that for many young blacks, they’re forced to resort to being an entertainer, an athlete or a criminal in order to get out of the harsh circumstances. Sonically, the song reminds me quite a bit of the material on Guilty Simpson’s Highway Robbery, in the sense that it portrays desperate, dystopian, fucked up world of systemic inequality, racism, classism, gender warfare that seems inescapable – unless we all do something to change it.
Real hip-hop with a message and a purpose exists y’all. Shamefully, more of this should be easily found and available but it’s out there, if you’re willing to look for it.