Last month, the world watched as the city of Ferguson, Missouri transformed into a war zone. As a militarized police force came down on the town’s residents protesting the cold-blooded murder of Michael Brown, mainstream America caught a domestic glimpse of what millions living in war-torn countries experience everyday. For most, it was a wake-up call as both major and independent media outlets captured every angle of the unfolding drama. But who could have guessed that the people of the West Bank would also stand behind these American protesters by using social media to give them tips on how to overcome tear gas? Right then and there, a previously existing “under the radar” alliance became public, thanks to social media.
It’s this very alliance, or unspoken camaraderie, that Talib Kweli, M1 from Dead Prez, and producers Beatnick & K-Salaam are talking about in the new song and video “Checkpoints – Ghetto to Gaza”. The song draws parallels between America’s systemic oppression of people of color and all oppressed people around the globe, especially in Gaza. The chorus, “A check point, a check point, everywhere a check point”, references the various checkpoints erected across Palestinian land as well as countless American inner cities, highlighting the fact that the world’s disenfranchised are treated unjustly and under constant scrutiny, be it by law enforcement, military, or other nebulous forms of occupying forces.
For the MC’s, these issues hit home. A few weeks ago, Talib was a victim of Ferguson’s police attacks when he walked with the protesters. As for M1, the Dead Prez rapper visited Gaza during a previous tour and was able to bring wheelchairs, school supplies, and other materials residents urgently needed.
At a time when so many rap artists seem to have forgotten that Hip Hop music was originally meant to be the voice of the voiceless, it’s refreshing to see and hear the artform used for what it was initially intended – knowledge and unity.
Check out “Checkpoints – Ghetto to Gaza” by Beatnick & K-Salaam ft. Talib Kweli and M1.