Say It Loud?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI went to the Black Star reunion concert on Saturday with the lovely hubby and some great friends here in New York. The show was crazy, if waaaaay too short and I could have gone for a few more Talib songs (y’all know he’s your favorite MC’s favorite MC), plus I was pissed that they didn’t do “Thieves in the Night.”
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One of the reasons I love Black Star so much is that, besides the tight flow, those cats touch on some real stuff in their songs:
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Not strong, only aggressive / Not free, we only licensed
Not compassionate, only polite / Now who the nicest?
Not good, but well behaved / Chasin’ after death, so we can call ourselves brave?
Still livin’ like mental slaves…—“Theives in the Night,” Black Star

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So when Mos started into “Umi Says” and my girl said that he modified a key line when she saw him perform it in front of a white audience in Chicago, I was appalled.

What could he have changed that got me so heated? You know how he says, “I want Black people to be free, to be free, to be free”? Yeah, he changed it to “I want the people to be free, to be free, to be free.” It might sound like a tiny change to you, but to this Black woman, the omission boomed loud and clear. It’s not that I don’t want freedom for everyone, clearly, but this song is specifically implores Black folks to use our talents, live like this is our last day on Earth and unite as one. This is not like ad-libbing a shout out to Cleveland (shouts to Cleveland!); to change that word is to weaken the message of the entire song, in my humble opinion.

(image: allthewaylive.net)

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I was forced to ask myself (and my peoples) a couple of questions: At what point do we compromise our beliefs for commerce? And what did he stand to gain by changing it anyway, as cats had already bought the tickets? Was it simply out of fear of offending them? Or was he trying to give the crowd a rendition they could relate to? Um, hadn’t they already heard the real version on the CD?

Of course after my girl told me that, I spent the entire song waiting for that part, lol. And I was relieved that he said the words as they appear on my iPod; as my friends said, cats probably would have torn the whole damn place down if he hadn’t.

Would it have bothered you if he hadn’t stuck to the original lyrics? Think I’m an “overreactor” who likes to make up words? Were you there and you just wanna share your thoughts on that annoying chick in the hat who was with 88 Keys? Let me know!

—Kenrya

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