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Protest Song Of The Week: ‘T.H.U.G.S.’ by Mysonne

The “Justice For Flint” concert benefit was exceptional counter-programming to the Academy Awards on Sunday night. From Janelle Monae to Vic Mensa to Ledisi to Robert Glasper, there were some incredible performances.

It also featured young poets and local residents, who came up on stage to share their stories about the struggle for clean water in Flint, Michigan.

There is plenty of music from this event put on by filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler to share. Let’s go with Mysonne’s “T.H.U.G.S.” for this week (and in the coming weeks other songs from the benefit will be featured).

Mysonne is a rapper from The Bronx. He spoke at “Justice Or Else,” the 20th anniversary event for the Million Man March. He performed “T.H.U.G.S.” during his set at the “Justice For Flint” benefit.

The rap song revolves around what President Barack Obama, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Blake, and CNN said after Baltimore police killed Freddie Gray. They referred to the looters and rioters as “thugs.”

As he says in the chorus, “Thugs/We the ones they make crack for/The ones that’s in the traps/The ones they set the traps for/Disposable blacks that fill quotas they make stats for/Ones y’all left and never came back for.”

In the first verse, Mysonne raps about black children growing up without fathers because they are incarcerated in prison. He addresses how a young teen would find the kind of support he was looking for in life by joining a gang.

Mysonne’s words reflect the experience of people in cities like Flint, who are essentially in human sacrifice zones. People of color are, as he raps, “welfare recipients.” They are put through an education system “full of ignorance.” They are “surrounded by abandonment” and in “broken-down tenements.” The logical conclusion is, “We was birthed on Earth for imprisonment.”

“We the children they abandoned/Left in the jungle/It’s either life or death in the struggle,” Mysonne raps.

In the second verse, Mysonne adds, “We the children of the poor/The sons of the whores/The smoke all in our lungs/Dirt all in our pores/The cries they ignored/The effect, not the cause/The laws ain’t correct/There’s no respect for the law.” It is an expression of the experience of life under environmental racism, as well as structural racism.

Mysonne truly takes his bold political anthem to the next level when he addresses Obama in the song.

Excuse me, Mr. President
There’s evidence you’ve never been
Uneducated on welfare
In the tenement
The elements that led to this
Totally irrelevant to you
Unless you’re trying to get elected in

Then we matter
Then we not thugs
Brothers and we sisters
And you got love
And you understand our plights
And you guarantee our rights

You marching down our blocks
And you joining in our fights
Day and night
We ain’t right
For that looting
And that mayhem, right?

But they can execute us
It’s okay
That’s what you’re saying, right?
Then say it right
They the ones that draw the blood
And walk away
They the motherfucking thugs

It is a powerful deconstruction of how the Democratic political class handles issues of social injustice, which most impact minorities in the United States. Democrats need minority voters in elections until they are elected, and then they compromise away their rights, their health, their justice, and their livelihoods and claim to protect their best interests.

Black Americans were disposable in the 1990s when they were viewed as “super-predators.” Today, the word political leaders use is “thugs.” That is the term used to dehumanize and look the other way when criminal acts are perpetrated in communities and against entire communities, especially poor or working class neighborhoods where people of color live.

Watch the music video for Mysonne’s “T.H.U.G.S.”


Are you an independent artist who has written and/or produced a protest song that you would like featured? Or do you have a favorite protest song? Submit a song to protestmusic@Shadowproof.com

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."