Saturday, August 08, 2015
"White People on Twitter:" The First Single from the New Guante & Katrah-Quey Album, "Post-Post-Race"
“White People on Twitter” is the first single from the upcoming album “Post-Post-Race,” the debut collaboration from the Twin Cities’ Guante & Katrah-Quey. Over Katrah-Quey’s disarmingly subtle, contemplative beat, Guante (a two-time National Poetry Slam champion in addition to a critically-acclaimed MC and social justice activist) lays out all of the common complaints and evasions from white people whenever the subject of racism comes up, building from a clever, laugh-to-keep-from-crying deconstruction of #AllLivesMatter tropes to a devastatingly serious look at the consequences of those attitudes.
Music: Katrah-Quey: @kqbeats | Words: Guante: @elguante
Mixing: Evan Bakke and Graham O'Brien
...so that's the official blurb. A few more thoughts:
My biggest worry with releasing this song isn't trolls or that white kids might "un-like" my Facebook page. It's that the song is very much part of the album, and the album has a specific thing that it's trying to do. This is the first track, so even though it has its own self-contained "breezy-half-funny-intro-transitioning-into-a-serious-point," it's also very much the setup to a larger arc.
I actually had no plans to release an album this year. But then I got a folder of beats from Katrah-Quey, spurred by a relatively random Twitter exchange between us and Lydia Liza. While brainstorming song ideas, I found myself only being able to write about race, based on all of my Twitter conversations, real-life conversations, and the work that I do as a touring artist/facilitator. The danger in that, of course, is assuming that "writing about race" is automatically a good thing, especially coming from someone who looks like me. I've written songs about race before (like "The Invisible Backpacker of Privilege" and "Other"), but never an album-length analysis/deconstruction/exploration/whatever.
So I decided to run with the impulse to write songs about race, racism, whiteness, and racial justice activism in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, but did it only under two conditions. First, it had to be a platform for multiple voices, and not just me. So there are a lot of guest artists on the album, each bringing their own perspectives to the project. Second, it couldn't just be "songs about race." It had to have something more specific to say, something deeper to contribute to the conversation.
Which brings us back to this single, which doesn't necessarily illuminate those two important points. What it does, hopefully, is set the stage for them. We don't have a release date yet (just trying to record a couple more guest appearances and finish the mixing/mastering), but this is work that I think is as conceptually grounded, as lyrically focused, and as musically engaging as anything I've done yet. Excited to share it. Lyrics after the jump:
White People on Twitter
White people on Twitter are angry
saying “why does it always have to be about race?”
They never owned slaves and they only say the n-word
when they’re drunk and never to anyone’s face
White people on Twitter are offended
by the fact that anyone anywhere’s offended
The outrage about the outrage when it’s about race is endless
White people on Twitter are defensive,
playin’ devil’s advocate in your mentions
and they’ll probably check out before they empathize
‘cause white people on twitter don’t like to be generalized
That’s the greatest sin you can commit;
groupin’ people together is at the source of all of this--
or so the white people on twitter say:
just stop talkin’ about racism and it will go away, right?
Love and light, it’s not complex
like a Martin Luther King quote out of context
Yeah they got a lot of quotes
lined up like dominoes arguin’ with Ta-Nehisi Coates
White people on twitter have feelings
White people on twitter have FEELINGS
so many FEELINGS, so it’s doubtless
that every conversation is in orbit around them
And I can hear ‘em sayin’ right now:
whatever dude, you’re white too, I’m like true
I ain’t full-blooded but I am a little bit
enough that white kids still listen to my shit
White people on Twitter are my fanbase
White people on Twitter self-deprecate
But this is bigger than saying the right things on the right platform;
this is about how we transform
When police kill a black child,
white people on twitter stay quiet
Funny how they got so much to say
soon as you mention a racial bias
or soon as a protest turns to a riot-
that’s when they’ll talk about violence,
but not a peep for the blood in the street or the ave
when it’s drawn by a thug with a badge, and I know
white people on Twitter aren’t evil
Racism’s bigger than bigotry; it’s a history,
but white people on Twitter tell me all lives matter
the newspaper disagrees
the nightly news disagrees
the statistics disagree
the lived experience of millions of our neighbors disagrees
so who do you believe?