Music has always allowed those that created it to express their own beliefs, opinions, and emotions while giving those that expressed similar feelings an outlet to find mutual understanding with others. With that regard, the popularity of Hip-Hop and Rap in modern day America has become the outlet for many minorities throughout the United States to express their contempt for the injustices and inequalities that have resulted from systematic racism and discrimination.
We The People by the hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest illustrates the impact that systemic racism and the recent presidential elections has had upon not only the black community but also the hispanic, muslim, and LGBTQ+ communities as well. The song’s hook illustrates just how many from these diverse communities feel with the words and actions of the current president of the United States of America:
All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go
The fears of those not a part of White America have been apparent ever since the election in 2016 with one of the most controversial figures in recent history elected as the leader of the free world. It is in respect to this unexpected outcome that A.T.C.Q. acknowledges the adversity at hand and delivered this song as an anthem against the hate within the nation. Similar to most other versions of rebellious hip-hop and rap A.T.C.Q. does not call for violence against the system, rather it is meant to bring awareness to those impacted by ongoing events and invoke the public to think rather than fight. In an interview with rapper Q-Tip from A.T.C.Q., Q-Tip elaborates on the meaning behind We The People as a way of bringing attention to the systemic and capitalistic exploitation of minorities and how negative perceptions of different races have harmed the nation.
We The People further attacks topics such as gentrifying poor black neighborhoods, the negligence of people with lower incomes, and equal pay for women. The lines:
You bastards overlooking street art
Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts
So motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians
Fuck y’all know about true competition?
That’s like a AL pitcher on deck talking about he hittin’
The only one who’s hitting are the ones that’s currently spittin’
We got your missy smitten rubbing on her little kitten
Dreaming of a world that’s equal for women with no division
illustrates how the minorities and women of the United States feel neglected in a system that continually fails to acknowledge the communities that reside in the lower socioeconomic spectrum as well as the equality for both genders. While the group predominantly emphasizes the injustices and discriminations for blacks and other minority groups, the recent transpiring of political events events have lead them to further their focus to include women, muslims, and the LGBTQ+ community. Similar to most other rap/ hip-hop groups that derived from urban environments, race and ethnic identity have always been a crucial aspect and influence but A Tribe Called Quest goes beyond their own identity with We The People to emphasize and fully demonstrate their belief that the key for the world to succeed is for everybody to unite under a single banner.
Despite the fact the group A Tribe Called Quest had broken up years ago, the group found it necessary to reunite and make one final album. We Got it From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service is the medium in which the group is able to protest the adversity and negativity that many minorities and other social groups now face in modern America. And while We The People has primarily centered around the discrimination of inner city minorities and others who have been deeply impacted by our current president, the entirety of the album has been made to not only give the people a voice to rally with against the rising hate in America but also provide the people with a sentiment of hope for the future beyond these complicated times.