Should have called it hurricane Georgia.... Bush!

I'm not a fan of his, but Lil Wayne has possibly cut the best post-Katrina hip-hop track to date.

Since the levees blew out and flooded the city, New Orleans' prolific rap artists have been rhyming a lot about the storm, especially about the political causes and significance of disaster. From their imposed perches in Houston, Atlanta and elsewhere many of them have had time to ruminate on the catastrophe. The result is some of the most insightful analysis of its causes and consequences, along with calls to certain programs of recovery. My favorites to date include Dynira's "Spirit of New Orleans," and N.O. Blackboy's songs about his city, and anger at the "land grab.” Master P's 504 Boyz "Bounce Back" album also has some excellent post-Katrina themes, but the gangsterism that infects their politics is unfortunate.

Lil Wayne's track is simply brilliant. Although most of his music is similar to Juvenile's - it's very misogynist and violent and flaunts themes of drug dealing and murder - his Katrina track “Georgia Bush,” captures the crisis of the disaster better than most. And he does so in a way that very much transcends his musical gangsta character. Riffing off of Ludacris’ sampling of “Georgia” by Ray Charles, Wayne dedicates the song to the President of the United States of America. Ray Charles’ voice rings in the background throughout, “Georgia…. Georgia…” and Wayne plays off of it inserting “Bush,” with a perfect cadence, or else lets it hang to explain where many of his people have been forced into exile. Wayne rails against the various politicians who helped create the disaster and whose responses exacerbates the harm. He slams the NOPD who shot “niggas dead in the street” imploring, “I ain’t no thief/I’m just trying to eat.” He condemns the white supremacy that he sees embodied in Confederate flags and operating pervasively throughout the federal government. He asks, “why wasn’t the levees able to control this?” And he saves his final judgment for the “the one in the suit, thick white skin, and his eyes bright blue.”

“We from a town where everybody drownded,
Everybody die, but baby I’m still praying withcha’,
Everybody cryin’ but, ain’t nobody tried, but
Ain’t no doubt on my mind it was Georgia…

Juvenile's post-Katrina songs, by the way, are quite good also, but it's hard to buy his version of the "movement" to retake the city which involves using FEMA money to buy cocaine, to hustle one's way back in, to "take that pyrex," and "rock with it, roll with it." Ouch! Like the 504 Boyz call to action, the individualistic and violent tactics, the hustling, it seems to me that it’s all very much in line with the type of recovery that George Bush and company are promoting. It's a neoliberal program that doesn't give any incentive to collective action or democratic procedure. It’s opposed to the mutual aid that has been so critical, and it’s certainly not an explicit call to political organizing. Perhaps the reality of being a young working class black man in New Orleans is too oppressive to allow for collective action, especially in this time of savage disaster capitalism? Perhaps the conditions are so harsh and terrible for some that survival necessitates individualism and economic means that are predatory such as crack dealing? Perhaps not. Regardless, some young men have embraced the underground "hustle movement" to return and rebuild their lives over the open Right to Return Movement. It's what they know. It's real and possible whereas the politics of democratic collective action might still seem an impossible dream of those like me who've never been forced to stand on the corner in a white T-shirt selling coke to get by, as the 504 Boyz tell us.

Wayne's song departs from his usual themes of hustling and abusing women and lays out the political significance of the storm with incredible clarity. That a gangster rapper could rhyme so powerfully the a politics that at several points implies collective action solutions is a sign of hope that New Orleans’ most criminalized and oppressed young black men might be moving toward a shared will and consciousness that will make a broader political movement possible, one which wins concessions from the state and corporations and makes the "hustle movement" an obsolete thing. Unfortunately Wayne ends his song with yet another call to the hustle movement asking, if you “see us in the city, give us a pound” because, " if a nigga still moving then he holding it down." Contradictions are in everything. A sharp analysis, a scathing judgment, Wayne’s track could politicize and educate many youths in the city, buy maybe it’s best that they look elsewhere for advice about what to do now.

I've pasted the lyrics below. Buy the album, please support NOLA’s homegrown, fuck George Bush:

“This song right here is dedicated to the President of the United States of America. Y’all might know him as George Bush, but where I’m from? The lost city of New Orleans? We call him this…

[Ray Charles sample starts: “Georgia…”]

Bush! Let’s go…

Now… this song is dedicated to the one with the suit
thick white skin and his eyes bright blue
so-called beef with you know who
fuck it he just let ‘em kill all our troops
look it all the bullshit we been through
had a nigga sittin on top of them roofs
Hurricane Katrina we shoulda called it Hurricane Georgia…Bush!

Then they telling y’all lies on the news
the white people smiling like everything cool
but I know people that died in that pool
I know people that died in them schools
now only to survive what to do
got no trailer you got to move
now it’s on to Texas and to Georgia…

They tell you what they want to show you
what they want you to see
but they don’t let you know what’s really going on
make it look like a lotta stealing going on
boy them cops is killers in my home
niggas shot dead in the middle of the street
I ain’t no thief I’m just trying to eat
man, fuck the police and President Georgia…Bush!

So what happened to the levees?
Why wasn’t they steady?
Why wasn’t they able to control this?
I know some folks who live by the levee
they keep on telling me said they heard explosions
same shit happened back in Hurricane Betsy in 1965
I ain’t too young to know this
that was President Johnson
but this is President Georgia…Bush!

We from a town where everybody drowned
Everybody died but baby I’m still praying wit’ cha!
Everybody cried but ain’t nobody tried
there’s no doubt on my mind it was…Bush!

I was born in a boot at the bottom of the map
New Orleans baby
now the White House hating
trying to wash us away like we not on the map
wait have you heard the latest
they saying you gotta have paper if you tryin’ to come back
niggas thinking it’s a rap scene
we can’t hustle and they drop
we ain’t from Georgia…

It’s them dead bodies
the lost houses
the mayor says don’t worry bout it
and the children have been scorned
no one’s here to care bout them
fat shout to all the rappers that helped out
yeah we lucky they called on y’all
but fuck President…Bush!

When you see them Confederate flags
you know what it is
a white cracker muthafucka that probably voted for him
now he ain’t gonna drop no dollars
but he do drop bombs
R.I.P. to they that died in the storm
but fuck President…Bush!

See us in the city man
give us a pound
if a nigga still moving then he holding it down
I had two Jags but lost both them bitches
I’m from the N.O….the N.O….

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just remember, Darwin, Juvenile is better than Bono.

This is Matt Cappiello, by the way. When's the UCSF Regents meeting? I feel like making an appearance with the rest of the rabble. Did I miss it already?