1101-391 Language and Identity.

Brad Griffith


Dr.Carrie Hall

Eng 1101-391

                                                       “Nothin’ New”

   All art, especially music sends a message to the audience that changes their point of view on certain  emotional issues but like a stomach ache, the truth hurts. And because of this revelation, people often choose to reject the information as false news or blasphemy. Although, artist 21 Savage emphasizes the truth and uses it to construct a argument that is too explicit to cast away. Throughout the track, 21 mentioned multiple examples and structured them in a timeline, which laid out the on-going horrors being done to African Americans. Talking about the aftermath of slavery, stereotypes he gets as a black rapper in America and the constant struggle to keep the black community away from funerals. His music as well as his lifestyle, show us how history can repeat itself.

   Some say the truth is a hard pill to swallow. In case of America, these pills are often rejected and replaced by comfort mechanisms designed to alter reality for the pleasure of ignorant human beings. Few like to acknowledge the existence of slavery due to the fact that they can’t allow the minority to be united equally with majority. The physical ropes have been replaced by invisible ropes that only the victims can truly see. The significance of “Nothin’ New” is that it clarifies the invisible rope so the majority can see how they’re still in control. Blackthen.com for example, stated that “In 1982, when the War on Drugs was first declared, less than 2% of Americans even believed drugs were the most important American issue to combat, nonetheless, federal funds for law enforcement were increased drastically as drug treatment programs and education funds were dramatically reduced”. After the civil rights movement made a big step forward in their cause, conservatives and other supporters of slavery banded together to decrease awareness of drugs in the country. This was initialized in order to flood the predominantly black areas with coke and other lethal drugs to create an illusion that black people use/distribute drugs more than other Americans. This information is known to the general public however, African Americans still get discriminated for illusions created by hateful human beings. The “hard pill to swallow” here is that blacks aren’t being suppressed by ropes anymore, but by the hands of politicians trying to reinstate the chains.

   You’d think that black rappers only talk about violence from what you hear on the street but 21 Savage makes it official that this stereotype couldn’t be farther from the truth. “They thought I only rapped about murder and pistols”, “I’m tryna feed my family I ain’t being political.” The two first two lines in “Nothing New”, but yet they mean more than most paragraphs do. If it isn’t a fact that most people believe black rappers only talk about violence, then it’s a frequently stated opinion. 21 savages know this and uses it to make a point. He’s tired of being associated with only violence and wants to paint a different picture instead of thug. Even though, he talks about being a savage, he wants to clarify the difference between making music and his representation as a human being. We all know that white people start clutching onto their belongings as soon as a black person comes near or start getting scared as soon as we raise our voices, even though it’s completely normal for someone to get upset. Black people get reputations as thug just for getting angry so when rappers talk about violence they must be criminals. These stereotypes aren’t only for rappers but for any black person in America. For instance, raprehab.com stats “The day after Sherman’s mini-rant following the NFC Championship Game, ‘thug’ was used over 600 times on TV to reference the star cornerback. When asked how he felt about being labeled with a term denoting criminal behavior, Sherman said it was a disappointing mischaracterization that seems to be the accepted way of saying the n-word.” Richard Sherman was angry that the NFL didn’t record every pass made on the field. He explained and ranted about the unfair system but to “everyone else” he was behaving like a thug. This is the representation black people get for acting normally and 21 Savage is making it known that the name-calling needs to stop.

   If I told you that in the United States black people have the highest death rate would you believe me? Well kff.com statistics show that the number of deaths per 100,000 for black people are 857.2, while white people are at 729.9. The numbers are close but they doesn’t deny the fact that black people die more than any other race in the U.S. This is because of many reasons but there is more information that lead to a conclusion that we’re being targeted. Mappingpoliceviolence.com stats that “black people are 3x more likely to be killed by the police than a white person”. In “Nothin’ New” 21 Savage stats many instances of police brutality but he gets personal when he says “police gunned his brother down, shit too hard to handle”. One of the main messages of the song is police brutality and 21 uses this anecdote to paint a picture his audience to understand that the truth is hard to handle. The truth is that black people are being targeted by racist police, the government system as well as his own so called fans.

   All in all, “Nothin’ New” was 21 Savage’s version of the truth. Even though it was his song, I felt a personal connection to it because it represented a hard pill to swallow for Americans. That black people are still being repressed by racism in the form of stereotypes and actual death by police. He wants the oppressors to hear and see what they’re doing to us and hopefully stop the hate. The main message however is that the people who are doing all these things to black people are the real criminals. From “Nothin’ New” maybe they can see their deeds and work on making America great.


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