INTROSPECTIVE: Kanye’s “New Slaves” (Lyric Breakdown)

Last week, I decided to play Kanye’s YEEZUS album. It was haunting, irritable, fearless and strikingly creative. But it left me wanting, and I think that’s a great thing.

I am a more than mild fan of Mr. Yeezy. I fell IN LOVE with “College Dropout” and since then, my heart and mind has always had a place for the controversial lyricist. His messages crafted my taste for politically charged music. With that said, my efforts here are not to persuade you to like him, but try to understand him.

On “YEEZUS”, the song “New Slaves” stuck out the most. Unlike Kanye’s other tracks, there was a clear display and execution, and in no form was his message faded by his braggodacious demeanor. I should mention that this is one reason get upset when criticizing Kanye’s work, because along with his politically charged messages, there is sure to be some brutalizing puff of ignorance; It’s expected, but unneeded. “New Slaves” had a direct voice and mindful reflection that quickly deemed it my favorite. And because of that, breaking down the lyrics would provide some insight while explaining Ye’s role and place in society as a true threat and righteous rebel to America.

DISCLAIMER: This is my perspective and my translation. It is not to offend, it is just to educate. This is my method, and I will display what I believe is valuable content that can be used to start a discussion about some complicated topics.

“My momma was raised in the era when
Clean water was only served to the fairer skin
Doing clothes you would have thought I had help
But they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself”

Ah, the first stanza. Surely, Kanye wastes no time getting to the point. Just for reference, Ye started out in a middle class background with a journalist as a father and an English College Professor as a mom. Imagine the influence?  His mother experienced segregation, and later became an instructor. That comes with a knowledge I’d imagine passed down to her only son.

Anyways who is “they”? Maybe a Corporation, or a Fashion brand. He’s known to get in arguments with prestigious, wealthy people. But the last line. Picking Cotton? Wow. Kanye, a rich man (net worth:145 million), A rich black man referring to the fact that “they wouldn’t be happy unless he was picking cotton.” He’s referring to white people; wealthy, influential white people.

You see it’s broke nigga racism
That’s that “Don’t touch anything in the store”
And this rich nigga racism
That’s that “Come in, please buy more
What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain?
All you blacks want all the same things”

 

“Broke nigga racism” vs “Rich nigga racism”: Deep, what Kanye is referring to is the system created against a black man, but he simplifies it so well and with vigor. If you’re rich, ‘they’ want a black man to consume and contribute to the wealth of the powers that be. But if this man isn’t wealthy, he is disregarded. And then proceeds to explain what these white people are thinking and that is that they make money off of black folks by selling luxuries to them and that is their method of control.

Used to only be niggas now everybody playing
Spending everything on Alexander Wang
New Slaves

Mostly black people were victims of the control corporations and institutions rendered but Kanye realizes that now it is targeted to everyone. Anyone who relies on the value of brands and luxury is a new slave. There is a new method of control.

 

You see there’s leaders and there’s followers
But I’d rather be a dick than a swallower

With some clever baiting and taunting, Kanye is declaring his purpose. He knows he’s hated, but he doesn’t mind that because his listeners need to understand his message. He’s a leader and accepts the shame to be different.

I throw these Maybach keys
I wear my heart on the sleeve
I know that we the new slaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I see the blood on the leaves
I know that we the new slaves
I see the blood on the leaves

He’s genuine. He has a glimpse into the future and as a rich man is knowlegable on how corporations take advantage of people. He can see the exploitation and isn’t afraid to call it out.

They throwing hate at me
Want me to stay at ease
Fuck you and your corporation
Y’all niggas can’t control me
I know that we the new slaves
I know that we the new slaves
I’m ’bout to wild the fuck out
I’m going Bobby Boucher

He wants the power that be to know he can’t be controlled. He has influence and can change their plans of exploitation. He will not participate with leeching off of people.

 

 

I know that pussy ain’t free
You niggas pussy, ain’t me
Y’all throwing contracts at me
You know that niggas can’t read
Throw ’em some Maybach keys
Fuck it, c’est la vie
I know that we the new slaves
Y’all niggas can’t fuck with me
Y’all niggas can’t fuck with Ye
Y’all niggas can’t fuck with Ye

He’s re affirming his stance as well as taunting both his listeners and the powerful people he despises. He will not be apart of the New Slavery. And he makes it direct.

I’ll move my family out the country
So you can’t see where I stay
So go and grab the reporters
So I can smash their recorders
See they’ll confuse us with some bullshit
Like the New World Order

Kanye is  verbalizing how serious and dedicated he is to exposing the agenda. He knows many people including the wealthy, white and powerful want to expose him. And also how laughable and cowardly it is to hit below the belt and undermine his knowledge.

Meanwhile the DEA
Teamed up with the CCA
They tryna lock niggas up
They tryna make new slaves
See that’s that privately owned prisons
Get your piece today

This is one of his more important stanzas. Kanye blatantly exposes what he believes is the corruption of America’s Justice System. These corporations invest in prisons to make money and it is rigged because the DEA (Drug Administration Agency) arrests people at their own discretion.

They prolly all in the Hamptons
Braggin’ ’bout what they made
Fuck you and your Hampton house
I’ll fuck your Hampton spouse
Came on her Hampton blouse
And in her Hampton mouth
Y’all ’bout to turn shit up
I’m ’bout to tear shit down
I’m ’bout to air shit out
Now what the fuck they gon’ say now?

Hitting with personal jabs, Kanye leaves a narrative of how the wealthy live off of the exploitation of others and no one can stop him.

Stay Woke. #KEEPONVIBING

 

 

 

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