This is obviously an empowerment album, based on the writings of Dr. Joy Degruy, who appears on the album in extended samples–much in the same way Public Enemy used to weave raps around Minister Farrakhan and Professor Griff. But today, mainstream culture is less defensive and is capable of hearing about the effect of slavery on the children of children who never actually experienced slavery first hand, and how the century-old institution continues to reverberate by creating attitudes and assumptions within white culture (“Big Black Nigga”) and black culture (“when got reveals himself, we hide the shame,” L7 rhymes on “Never Explain).
To be sure, this is an album that is designed to be provocative, and it is deadly serious from the jump and all throughout. Not much humor here. But it’s not a lecture. Seven personalizes his PTSD, lamenting the loss of a friend who killed white people without condoning the murders, singing defiantly on “July 4th” that “you don’t control me” and how white folks can’t force him to celebrate.
It’s a tough listen, and for a white guy like me it means accepting that I am part of a culture I didn’t create but do participate in, and being willing to hear an honest, aggressive, but sensitive cry for change.
Oh. And the beats are fire. The lyrics are creative and deft. The flow is fantastic. These are songs not sermons.
This is a powerful rap album–the kind we don’t see much of anymore–and is definitely worth a listen.