The phrase “thoughts and prayers” is reflexively uttered by elites, who desperately hope acknowledging tragedy will be enough to avoid doing anything to meaningfully address carnage and destruction.
And for every tragedy that demands “thoughts and prayers,” there are many more examples in the United States and throughout the world that do not receive attention from politicians.
On Canadian hip-hop artist Lee Reed’s latest album, “Before and Aftermath,” he deconstructs the common political expression, exposing how it reinforces a status quo that benefits Western capitalism and empire.
The opening mentions mass shootings while noting that shootings by cops or “public executions of young black dudes” do not lead to similar calls for “thoughts and prayers.”
There are no prayers for the “bomb victims,” people who are killed by the U.S. as it uses force to “secure resources.”
“Thoughts and prayers for white despair. It’s right there,” Reed raps. “No thoughts, no prayers for the kids who’ve been killed by our fiscal affairs at the will and the behest of Western billionaires and their heirs.”
There are no prayers for “folks living behind broken borders,” but there are plenty for “folks stuck too long in an airport in a bad storm.”
Reed adds, “Thoughts and prayers for America or the victims of terrorists from white Euro heritage. No care for the daily despair in the places, where terror is born with Western endorsement.”
“Thoughts and prayers are useless. They’re impotent, toothless,” Reed declares. “They’re insignificant and fruitless. Truth is, you dudes already knew this. Thoughts and prayers are no solution for what consumes us.”
The hook for the song stops and starts, sometimes punctuated by the words of President Donald Trump saying he wants to “take a moment” to send “thoughts and prayers.”
It is like Reed is constantly pressing a reset button. In essence, this is a 3-minute deprogramming effort. If one example does not get through, maybe the next one will resonate.
For over 20 years, Reed has created music. He was noticed by hip-hop artist Sage Francis and invited to produce this latest project with Francis’ label, Strange Famous Records.
Francis describes Reed’s “fiery anti-capitalist rant-hop” as “functionally mean.” (He means that in the best way.)
“Political hip-hop can often come across as a put-on or as if the emcee is pandering to certain niche groups, but Lee Reed is the genuine article,” Francis adds. “He raps as if he’s showing great restraint in order to not go fully off the rails—as if he’s got his teeth clenched the whole time in order to say what needs to be said before his overall disgust causes him to burst into flames.”
Listen to “Thoughts and Prayers” by Lee Reed: