COMPOSITION BOOK Issue 1 : Music & Activism 100 SHEETS
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Music & Activism
This Issue’s Contributors:
Nathan McCarthy Adali Schell Madeleine Miller Zoë Casdin Lucas Kando
Ida Beckett James Vaughn
Jane Godiner Caroline Meade Asha Lawrence
Victoria Brooks Creator, GenZine
So... What Is GenZine? Our generation needs a voice; We need a platform to express our opinions.
We’ve got lots of social media, but social media doesn’t lend itself to all forms of communication: Twitter’s 140 characters Instagram’s a picture and a caption Snapchat’s useless & Facebook’s dead ...
So where do we go to share our art, our opinions?
Here of course! our generation, of rs be em m e th t en res rep to is ion At GenZine, our miss on Generation Z, in an “all media” magazine: print, digital and social media. (get it: Generation Zine like a Generation Z magaZINE)
.. Become a GenZiner by. - Reading this issue -Contributing to GenZine -Talking/thinking about the content in this zine & how it relates to what’s going on around you - Sharing GenZine with your friends -Following our Instagram @ Generation_Zine for updates!
e ion_zin .com t a r e n e gmail am: @g Instagr nerationZine@ Ge s) Email: hought t , g n i t : i s, wr t us to Contac ute (art, photo l ib de - Contr viewed or mo there is going to be a fee for r e t y n paper copies until we have r cop - Be i e p a p a st sponsors/funding - Reque
re d. Befo . e s s e r p p s usic culture to the o M t d n n n a a a t c r s i o r n Ame Down, f religio lly imp o o a r i i y c G e r “ e h t o p t s ey is rom se to conv music f a, and i e c f A Brief H ckett i to work c o r n d e s a e e d c m c r e A d i o f n p o a t se l st e g By Ida B lways been integra ericans used son f America’s greatepe invigorated tho of protest: s Am as a me o of ho ssages e d n m f which a o n t t s e Music h lers, indigenou ples created so a e d t e d o b i r h e h fp d singing ed p eo songs, t songs o often containe l of sett l v e a e e a s l s v p i e s e s r n h o r t e Th a g f ;” a, y. s the ulture o r slaver Chariot Americ se song c e e l t a e ft h e i t e a h n f t w h o o t l S o r t , o ity In Co ing Low n the N later translated piritual i w s e S e f “ artists i l o n Th t i o . s ” s l d , s r a e n e o t fi s o i i b bu pl la tat Mo thm of c, exem r death a’s plan i y e c s i h ft u r r a e e m e f m h t i t s t every s e d t yl o l o n n on A r a m l o p r t A o y o . s s ar re ad was n e oppre olution any mo v h t e m r f as “Bre f o d Heaven o h n k c s a c t u i , t s n l n s i s u l e song d th rank musica g amo F d n e w a i n a h s m o t l i e e n p r emulate urches. m sio wh ,A ent cha d “One Depres ch aw over rie, Bob Dylan r t m s k o a e c e y ff v a r r a l o u b G o t M e in r i et h cen f Amer dy Guth ngs. The Labo setts. Th only being abl o o u s o h The 20t e c i W a t i s , l s y a a o da t a man ut the harsh re ill in M has its s u lie Holi t m l o i n e b e l B corded a i e t s m g r a x e n o e v d t h o b o n c s a a a u m t ’s , s g r a protest u Singe lues son l, a Jewish man nown protest a strike n o b a d L a c e i , e r t n k i e i fi l u e r d F k, po Am t-k ,” which tongue in chee Strange by Abel Meero ica’s bes s r e e e k s i o l m , R s A Woody u f t y i o o n i b f e and r e t ” o t e n i d s e r o n e f o or La g) w an ck, som creation s Land is Your much m fically lynchin e e h rote of pushba t m w o w s e d i a i i d r s c n h 0 e Th t ll,” a : Gu n (sp usive an r. 194 ists: “ l n o t e c i o r g i t n a s i a n s i c n l s e i l Meatba fi r i a z z s ol rim the Dep rican Ja ntry wa r, whos ial disc most pr e m e u c s o g a o t m r i r e c f A e f e n g S o a n h n c ,a ft gi ne ete m Holiday erformed by o ca emer s view o had created. P i i e r i H e l A Ham l . i d m e t B a i A h l H p e by a I w d d e f n ca as id “I ritten a ious de as well ch also , wrote nted an v i t k e e h n c s r e e a w p l r , m b e t p e , songs w h n e ov ng ch at t Movem e,” a song . The so or as well as ri -War M s gash th i e t t i l r h n a g r h i A t u t u R e l l G u m po hts to th ed by the Civi c and c Overco i g for all, i l l r m a a l c o i her co h i n v r S i n o e t i c e c p y e t o W m i e Am “ l d o a th d fr ua quickly f topics o mend amn” an ly called for eq s t o d a e y d w t v o e o g i r G r t n i s o oman. s va p s u w p a e i o e s d s h m i Th e t a s . h f s o g i ve n uc power t nt, culminatin Frankli r and lo na Simone’s “M e songs to e a h t h w t o e e v r p i e t g .A m bou s Ni song to Franci irituals r move p a ’s n s g a a song a d songs such a W S d n i i n t n d a i n d e ic A ld one ival, he pel mus d Otis R ne during the t s e s t o e r f g The Bea e l champi l e v o t o k n i i l o k R t e c s s a d h d e s n il an h ing b ch ding, ba y Rocka new m in whic l d t ” harken d e t n e yrics su c R a l h e s n c i g i p t a s n e i e m O r t o t R , s “ d u in c g re ng Song, nis Jopl the son cal and . This p otest so a i m e J r a n v , p y n o x l t c i a L e r i c h f d i t (V en ro wi Polit to die” helped Summe from Jimmy H etnam, g i s h n V i c u i o i o h t g n l m w ( e al ces gly a ld-fa g hangin” ee! we’r C p the wor red performan tival was stron a o Burnin ( e o r s h A d a W y “ e s e u H fe at nd Times Th de the Talking 1967, fe nd others. The dead” a e ’s t a Th “ h t r si fo ne s, a s along known is the o 0 , 8 e Zombie i n e a akur (2 l h m h t y S m o D t o c c a n b i p o u B st od d prote apper T t”, a song ab only go e Fish). n R h a . t g c i & n s o e u s ie m y Jo through k women. “Qu ried his t Countr r s a e as cha c t , o w ) r e d p c z n i a r l i r a e b P l y ch th o a Nobe faced b n’s Mar o voice e s t e l m d g ca’s hist e o i g u r W u e n r i 7 t t m s 1 n . A 0 ) e o 2 o th ec House d at the ortant t rote of nd lyr e ans hav p a w c i m s m d r r i e i e n o y f d a l r m l o e e l A ta and rac s, was p st in me been vi y n e s t t o r y i o l e a r l v i p w l o m d a e fp ong has ted with ave voic issues o S a h . n t s o n s n e e a r c m i er ve e. that Too mo ent, Am rations to com female e m M e # v o e e of th ti-war m for gen n a c i s e the rise u h t m avery to reated inform from sl have c y e h t s k wor
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Photo by Victoria Brooks
The next few pages focus on some of the songs from the playlist Music & Activism by GenZine on Spotify. You can access this playlist by going to our Instagram @Generation_Zine where you’ll find a link in our bio to the GenZine Spotify profile with this issue’s playlist: Music & Activism and a playlist of Bonus Tracks.
I thought of this issue’s theme “Music & Activism” over MLK Weekend this past January, so this playlist is especially focused on American music, specifically protest songs or songs with political lyrics & messages. Something that interests me is the intersection between listening to music and listening to people. We are so quick to call music “bad” or say that we don’t like it, just as we can easily judge others for their opinions and beliefs. As you listen and read, try not to skip songs, but instead try to engage with the music and the text, maybe even look up the lyrics or the story behind the songs and the artists.
by victoria brooks
This Land Is Your Land
“This land is your land, this land is my land From the California to the New York island From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf Stream waters This land was made for you and me” But was this land really made for you and me? When listening to Woodie Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land,” it seemed awfully naive and simplistic to me. Maybe it was or maybe I’m just cynical, but this land is the land off of which Native Americans were forced, the land where segregation was enforced (that was “this land was made for you or me”).
Print by Madeleine Miller
Our country, founded by immigrants, is now casting immigrants away to be “made great again”. If immigrants are not what made this country great, how can we make this country great again with restritcted immigation? This land was made for you and me as Americans, but does this country still stand for the beliefs written in the Constitution close to 250 years ago? Has the mentality of this country (on a national, not individual scale) really changed in two and a half centuries? What can we do to make our country reflect our beliefs more accurately?
Did slaves appropriate Judaism/Christianity in spirituals like “Go Down, Moses”? In Lower School we would sometimes sing “Go Down, Moses” on MLK Day and sometimes around Passover. As a kid, this would confuse me. I knew Moses as a Jewish figure not a Christian or metaphorical one. No one ever explained the history to me. Moses brought the Jews out of slavery in Egypt, and later, with more knowledge of American history, I was able to infer that leaders of the Underground Railroad, people like Harriet Tubman, were seen as “Moseses” who would lead American slaves out of bondage. Listening to this song today, I am reminded of the border crisis: “oppressed so hard they could not stand, / Let my people go!” Where is Moses now?
Summertime, and the livin' is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high Oh, your daddy's rich and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky But till that morning, there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by One of these mornings you're gonna rise up singing And you'll spread your wings and you'll take to the sky But till that morning, there ain't nothin' can harm you With daddy and mammy standin' by Summertime, and the livin' is easy Fish are jumpin' and the cotton is high Oh, your daddy's rich and your ma is good-lookin' So hush, little baby, don't you cry
I see Louis Armstrong standing, swaying, playing trumpet as if he’s in a black and white film. Then Ella Fitzgerald’s sitting in a rocking chair on a porch like Janie Crawford’s. It’s dusk on a lazy, hazy summer’s day. The sky is a warm grey blue with fading whiffs of pink. She’s singing to a white baby swaddled in her arms. Cooing “so hush little baby, don’t you cry” because you don’t have a care in the world: you’re a baby; you’re white; your daddy’s rich and your mama’s good lookin’ Armstrong’s voice, thick as humid southern air and rocky like a Missippi dirt road, promises that “One of these mornings you’re gonna rise up singing,” but until you find your voice, until you start expressing your opinions, nothing will harm you in your plush, privileged life. Underwater, their warm bubbly scats gurgle to the surface and the ignorant baby sinks into a deep, smiling sleep.
Strange Fruit Billie Holiday
LK er M t v o n tte bou e wri g a lot a ways r e w nd kin ns ectio was thin the US a fl e r I e n Thes d when history i with it n e ify ts d week cution: i ght ident ay’s worl e i d pers hich I m xt of to in w the conte in with
First recorded by the famous jazz singer Billie H of the 20th Century. It was first written as a poem by belonged to the American Communist Party, and he w around 4,000 lynchings between 1900 and 1940, the va people and 1,297 white people lynched between 1882 a increasing suppression of black Americans.
“The song has simple lyrics, that carry a huge str juxtaposition of nature’s beauty and “the pastoral scene The smell of magnolia trees turns smoothely, but “sudd ticulated making it easy to understand the message tha states: “When the meaning of the song is fully grasped,
“It was not easy to record the song, as most reco in America, which at the time dominated the political attracted the attention of the more politically-aware pa New York Post described the song as the anthem and t
“At a time when political protest was not often ex with money and the consumer in mind rather than usi through streaming services and portable devices, song
Lyrics: Southern trees bear strange fruit Blood on the leaves and blood at the root Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees Pastoral scene of the gallant south The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh Then the sudden smell of burning flesh Here is fruit for the crows to pluck For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop Here is a strange and bitter crop
I first heard this song when a friend of mine w not address the author of the song, Abel Meerpol. She American Jewish communist. She was upset about the enough to be put in her essay. A Jew, especially one so press and notoreity at the time was striking to me. As never heard of before.
I’ve always empathized with my friends and peer have told me that I don’t understand, that I can’t under still feel compassion, like Abel Meerpol did for victims from the old country, some of which about pogroms, o committed a heinous crime and that all Jews should in Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire between they could have experienced these pogroms either pers
Holiday, ‘Strange Fruit’ is a song about the lynching of black people in the Sout America in the first half teacher Abel Meerpol and was then was published in 1937. Abel Meerpol was a white Jewish man who wrote the song after seeing a gruesome picture of the lynching of black men. Some speculate there were ast majority in the South, with most of the victims black. The Tuskegee Institute recorded 3,446 black and 1968, with the annual peak occurring in the 1890s, at a time of economic stress in the South and
rength, and haunt you even when the song is over,” writes Virginia Vigliar on wordsinthebucket.com. The e of the gallant south” with “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,” the human life brutally crushed. den[ly]” to “burning flesh” as if that’s a natural occurence. The words of this song are simple and clearly arat the lyrics articulate, exposing the barbarity of racism, especially in the American south. As Viglar , one remains shocked, angry and disgusted by the imagery portrayed.”
ording companies were afraid of gaining a bad reputation with the anti-communists and southern racists scene. However, when it was finally recorded by Commodore in 1939, it quickly became famous. It art of society; intellectuals, artists, teachers and journalists. In October of that year, a journalist of the the anger of the exploited people of the south, if they ever got to voice it.”
xpressed in musical form, the song was revolutionary” and now, at a time when music is too often made ing it as a means of using their voice to address an audience, and when music is so readily available to us gs with messages, like “Strange Fruit,” should be listened to more.
wrote a research paper on Billie Holiday. I remember her telling me that she lost points on it because she did said she came across it in her research, but didn’t put it in her essay. She noted that he was a first-generation points she had lost, but I was upset, as a Jew myself, that she didn’t think Abel Meerpol to be significant o newly immigrated to America and likely not very assimilated to American culture, to be receiving such s was Billie Holiday as a black woman, but she was already a “household name” for me; Abel Meerpol I had
rs when they recount to me stories of times that they have felt discriminated against, but a lot of people rstand, that I’ve never experienced anything like what they have, that “it’s different.” Maybe it is, but I can s of lynching and their families. As the son of Russian immigrants, I bet he heard his fair share of stories organized massacres of Jews in Eastern Europe. Pogroms were often based on falsified claims that a Jew had n the area should be killed to purify the region where this “crime” had occurred. There were waves of n 1881 and 1884, and from 1903 to 1906. I don’t know when Meerpol’s parents emigrated from Russia, but sonally or from hearing family members’ stories.
y Mad Photography b
In the Ghetto: Elvis’s sweet voice singing a lullaby about life in the Chicago ghetto I remember when the term “that’s so ghetto” was something people just threw around. I think it was late lower school to early-middle school. I remember hearing people saying “don’t say it; it’s offensive.” Because of this I never said it, but I didn’t know why it was offensive. I’m not sure how or when exactly, but eventually I learned the meaning of “ghetto,” but my attitude toward the phrase stayed the same; it still didn’t click with me exactly why calling someone “ghetto” was offensive. Listening to “In the Ghetto,” I revisited this memory. I liked the song, but something still felt off. It seemed wrong to hear Elvis, a white, southern man, sharing the story of a presumedly black “mama” and “child” in a song that by contemporary standards is overly simplified, typecasting, and, frankly, demeaning. Just read the lyrics: As the snow flies On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’ A poor little baby child is born In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his hunger burns So he starts to roam the streets at night And he learns how to steal, and he learns how to fight In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And his mama cries ‘Cause if there’s one thing that she don’t need It’s another hungry mouth to feed In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
Then one night in desperation A young man breaks away He buys a gun, steals a car Tries to run, but he don’t get far
People, don’t you understand The child needs a helping hand Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day? Take a look at you and me Are we too blind to see Do we simply turn our heads, and look the other way?
And his mama cries As a crowd gathers ‘round an angry young man Face down on the street with a gun in his hand In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
Well, the world turns And a hungry little boy with a runny nose Plays in the street as the cold wind blows In the ghetto (in the ghetto)
And as her young man dies On a cold and gray Chicago mornin’ Another little baby child is born In the ghetto (in the ghetto) And his mama cries (in the ghetto) (In the ghetto) (Aah-aah)
It’s a fictionalized story, so that needs to be taken into account when looking at the lyrics. And Elvis does say “The child needs a helping hand,” but then he continues “Or he’ll grow to be an angry young man some day,” perpetuating negative stereotypes. I think that there’s nothing more important than using the voice you have to share what you believe in--which is what Elvis appears to be doing in this song: raising awareness for defacto segregation and racial injustice--but there’s just something about his appropriation of living in a ghetto that really gets to me. It is interesting though to think about this song, released in 1969, as a comparison to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On which would be released two years later and also addresses themes of family and violence : “Mother, mother There’s too many of you crying Brother, brother, brother There’s far too many of you dying You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today, eh eh
Father, father We don’t need to escalate You see, war is not the answer For only love can conquer hate You know we’ve got to find a way To bring some lovin’ here today, oh oh oh”
Picket lines and picket signs Don't punish me with brutality Talk to me, so you can see Oh, what's going on What's going on Yeah, what's going on Ah, what's going on
In the mean time Right on, baby Right on brother Right on babe
Photography by Adali Schell Model: Mathieu Wilson
Mother, mother, everybody thinks we're wrong Oh, but who are they to judge us Simply 'cause our hair is long Oh, you know we've got to find a way To bring some understanding here today Oh oh oh
Picket lines and picket signs Don't punish me with brutality C'mon talk to me So you can see What's going on Yeah, what's going on Tell me what's going on I'll tell you what's going on, ooh ooo ooo ooo Right on baby Right on baby
Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots I give a holler to my sisters on welfare Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care And uh, I know they like to beat ya down a lot When you come around the block brothas clown a lot But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up And when he tells you you ain’t nuthin’ don’t believe him And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him ‘Cause sista you don’t need him And I ain’t tryin’ to gas ya up, I just call ‘em how I see ‘em You know it makes me unhappy (What’s that) When brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy
Keep ya head up, ooh, child, things are gonna get easier Keep ya head up, ooh, child, things’ll get brighter (x2)
To all the ladies havin’ babies on they own I know it’s kinda rough and you’re feelin’ all alone Daddy’s long gone and he left you by ya lonesome Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want ‘em
‘Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I’m sure And if you fall, stand tall and comeback for more
‘Cause ain’t nothin’ worse than when your son Wants to kno’ why his daddy don’t love him no mo’ You can’t complain you was dealt this Hell of a hand without a man, feelin’ helpless And since we all came from a woman Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman Because there’s too many things for you to deal with Dying inside, but outside you’re looking fearless I wonder why we take from our women While the tears, is rollin’ down your cheeks Why we rape our women, do we hate our women? Ya steady hopin’ things don’t all down this week I think it’s time to kill for our women ‘Cause if it did, you couldn’t take it, and don’t blame Time to heal our women, be real to our women I was given this world I didn’t make it And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies And now my son’s gettin’ older and older and cold That will hate the ladies, that make the babies From havin’ the world on his shoulders And since a man can’t make one While the rich kids is drivin’ Benz He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one I’m still tryin’ to hold on to my survivin’ friends So will the real men get up I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up Keep ya head up, ooh, child, things are gonna get easier Keep ya head up, ooh, child, things’ll get brighter (x2)
Aiyyo, I remember Marvin Gaye, used to sing to me He had me feelin’ like black was tha thing to be And suddenly tha ghetto didn’t seem so tough And though we had it rough, we always had enough I huffed and puffed about my curfew and broke the rules Ran with the local crew, and had a smoke or two And I realize momma really paid the price She nearly gave her life, to raise me right And all I had to give her was my pipe dream Of how I’d rock the mic, and make it to tha bright screen I’m tryin’ to make a dollar out of fifteen cents It’s hard to be legit and still pay your rent And in the end it seems I’m headin’ for tha pen I try and find my friends, but they’re blowin’ in the wind
*Bob Dylan Last night my buddy lost his whole family It’s gonna take the man in me to conquer this insanity It seems tha rain’ll never let up I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin’ wet up You know it’s funny when it rains it pours They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor Said it ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is It ain’t no hope for tha future And then they wonder why we crazy I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby We ain’t meant to survive, ‘cause it’s a setup
And even though you’re fed up, ya got to keep your head up
And it’s crazy, it seems it’ll never let up, But please, you got to keep your head u
Lyrics from Keep Ya Head Up, by 2Pac Photo: Keep Safe, by Victoria Brooks
Photo by Victoria Brooks
Print by Madeleine Miller
America! Hahahahaha we love you How many people are proud to be citizens Of this beautiful country of ours, the stripes and the stars For the rights that men have died for to protect? The women and men who have broke their necks For the freedom of speech the United States government has sworn to upholdâ€Ś or so we're told (Yo, I want everybody to listen to the words of this song) I never would've dreamed in a million years I'd see So many motherfuckin' people who feel like me Who share the same views and the same exact beliefs It's like a fuckin' army marchin' in back of me So many lives I touched, so much anger aimed In no particular direction, just sprays and sprays And straight through your radio waves, it plays and plays 'Til it stays stuck in your head, for days and days Who would've thought, standin' in this mirror, bleachin' my hair With some peroxide, reachin' for a t-shirt to wear That I would catapult to the forefront of rap like this? How could I predict my words would have an impact like this? I must've struck a chord with somebody up in the office 'Cause Congress keep tellin' me I ain't causin' nothin' but problems And now they're sayin' I'm in trouble with the government , I shoveled shit all my life, and now I'm dumpin' it on
hook White America! I could be one of your kids White America! little Eric looks just like this White America! Erica loves my shit I go to TRL, look how many hugs I get! White America! I could be one of your kids White America! little Eric looks just like this White America! Erica loves my shit I go to TRL, look how many hugs I get!
by victoria brooks
Look at these eyes, baby blue, baby just like yourself If they were brown, Shady'd lose, Shady sits on the shelf But Shady's cute, Shady knew Shady's dimples would help Make ladies swoon, baby (ooh, baby!) — look at my sales! Let's do the math: if I was black, I woulda sold half I ain't have to graduate from Lincoln High School to know that But I could rap, so fuck school, I'm too cool to go back Give me the mic! Show me where the fuckin' studio's at! When I was underground, no one gave a fuck I was white No labels wanted to sign me, almost gave up, I was like "Fuck it," until I met Dre, the only one to look past Gave me a chance and I lit a fire up under his ass Helped him get back to the top, every fan black that I got Was prob'ly his in exchange for every white fan that he's got Like damn, we just swapped: sittin' back lookin' at shit, wow I'm like my skin is it startin' to work to my benefit now?
The posterchild, the motherfuckin' spokesman now, for— White America! I could be one of your kids White America! little Eric looks just like this White America! Erica loves my shit I go to TRL, look how many hugs I get! White America! I could be one of your kids White America! little Eric looks just like this White America! Erica loves my shit I go to TRL, look how many hugs I get!
So to the parents of America, I am the Derringer See, the problem is I speak to suburban kids Aimed at little Erica to attack her character Who otherwise woulda never knew these words exist The ringleader of this circus of Whose moms prob'ly woulda never gave two squirts of piss worthless pawns 'Til I created so much motherfuckin' turbulence Sent to lead the march right up to the steps Straight out the tube, right into your livin' rooms I came of Congress And kids flipped when they knew I was produced by Dre And piss on the lawns of the White House That's all it took, and they were instantly hooked right in To burn the flag and replace it with a And they connected with me too, because I looked like them Parental Advisory sticker That's why they put my lyrics up under this microscope To spit liquor in the faces of this Searchin' with a fine tooth comb, it's like this rope democracy of hypocrisy. Waitin' to choke, tightenin' around my throat Fuck you, Ms. Cheney! Watchin' me while I write this, like, "I don't like this note!" Fuck you, Tipper Gore! All I hear is: lyrics, lyrics, constant controversy Fuck you with the freest of speech this Sponsors working round the clock to try to stop my concerts early Divided States of Embarrassment Surely hip-hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston After it bothered the fathers of daughters startin' to blossom will allow me to have! Fuck you! So now I'm catchin' the flak from these activists when they raggin' Actin' like I'm the first rapper to smack a bitch or say "faggot," shit Ha ha ha, I’m just playin’, America Just look at me like I'm your closest pal You know I love you...
Model: Mikhaela Ryder, portraits by Victoria Brooks Background by Zoe Casdin
“In conversation I have a really hard time being vulnerable. I can get insecure when I’m just speaking. But I take on a totally different persona when I sing. I still have really bad stage fright, but it’s so much easier to express my feelings through song. Having the song Travelin’ Soldier since I performed it with my school a capella group the B-Naturals, and just singing in general have provided such a good outlet for my emotions as I’m able to express myself as openly as possible. I’ve never taken lessons, but I’ve practiced a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot, and now singing one of my favorite things in the world. You get such a rush from singing that is completely unparalleled. That’s why I’ve always been singing and why Travelin’ Soldier was such a special experience for me.”
“When I went to Alabama with my school over the summer, we went to a black baptist church [the 16th Street Baptist Church] and I’m white and I’m Jewish, so I was expecting to have absolutely nothing in common with the people there and I remember we came in and I think they were singing “How Great is our God” and even though I knew we didn’t believe in the same God, I was so overcome with emotion. I just remember silently crying in the back of this church, and it was in that moment when music became bigger than me. I was connecting with these people and they were connecting with me because of this music. The preacher did a sermon and, yes, it was moving, but that didn’t make me cry. It was the music that they were singing that caused me to immediately empathize with them and feel like I belonged. When songs have specific subjects that you don’t relate to [like Travelin’ Soldier or the Christian songs being sung in the 16th Street Baptist Church], it’s the music that gives you empathy. Music in general, but especially singing, is such an agent of empathy because when you hear someone’s voice it gives you insight into their emotions. And at school, when I was singing Travelin’ Soldier for the first time, just seeing people crying in the audience I was just like ‘oh, I’m reaching them, they understand me’ even though I wasn’t singing about something that was my own experience.”
“Understanding -- I just think music is such a great device for that. ”
Photo by Adali Schell Illustration by Victoria Brooks
Meet Purple Ink! Courtney Burnett, Sofia Kouklanakis, Maya Rosefsky, Shae Campbell & Alex Angrist At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Courtney Burnett and Sofia Kouklanakis started jamming together in a small music room during their free periods. A music teacher took an interest in their music and suggested that they ask Shae Campbell to join as a vocalist. A little while later, Alex Angrist walked in and started harmonizing with Shae, and, shortly after, Alex officially joined the band. Purple Ink’s first performance was that winter at a school assembly. After the performance, the band realized they needed a guitarist and Maya Rosefsky joined Purple Ink as both a guitarist and a singer. In the fall of sophomore year, Purple Ink became an official school band with weekly practices and guidance from music teachers. Truth be told, our band began as (and still kinda is) a jam-out session. After all, it all started with some impromptu improv in the fourth floor mini music room. As much as we love practicing and working together on music, jamming out was the start of our band and continues to be a fun way for us to relax and enjoy each other’s company. In our band, we have members from all different walks of life, such as race, religion, sexuality, etc. Like the current generation, we are a melting pot of different backgrounds and interests, but it is in fact our differences that bond us together as bandmates and help produce a blended sound. One of our short term goals is to write some of our own music. We’ve been collaborating on all of our arrangements so far, but we hope to take our sound to the next level by playing some of our own songs.
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One of our more long-term goals is to record music. As much as we love the adrenaline and excitement of performing live, we want a recording of our music to share with the world! In addition, it would be nice closure for us as we exit high school to have a physical memento of all the hard work and time we devoted to the band. Our band is a perfect example of how music has brought together not only the five of us but also all of our supportive friends who come to see us play, creating a community centered around music and we’re going to try to use it to reach as many people as we can. At the end of the day, it’s music that brought all of us together and we couldn’t be more grateful to call each other bandmates and best friends :)
Photo by Victoria Brooks
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Photography by Lucas Kando
Caroline Meade “There are some artists that I listen to that make me think: “Oh my God, I should just quit now. How am I supposed to write something as good as that?” [How do you think you’re going to break that mold? Or how are you trying to?] Hmmm how can I say this. I’ve never really been trying to emulate anyone else’s sound. I don’t say this to be annoying, but I really have always just written exactly what’s come into my head (which are probably just ideas that come from things I’ve been subconsciously influenced by), so it’s been hard to get stylized. Even though I’m beginning to develop some sort of a style, I don’t think I’ve settled in one yet. Last year I had my song “Streetcar” in the New Music Winter Show at my school, and after that, my teacher was like, “You gotta write more rock, you have to write more of that,” and that had me stumped. Thinking about writing in a style completely messed with me and I had writers block for months. Anyway, my style is probably alternative pop/rock. I don’t wanna call it alternative pop cause it doesn’t sound like that Brooklyn-rich-kid-bedroom-pop thing that’s going on. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to it too, because I wanna know what kinds of music people are into right now. I’m very open to other peoples’ tastes because I understand that not everyone has my taste. Lately I haven’t been on my listening game, but ever since middle school I’ve listened to all different types of music, because I want to learn new things and constantly develop as an artist.
Who influences you?
I listen to a lot of R&B which is funny ‘cause I don’t write R&B. Kanye West. I’m gonna be real, my sister and I are really big Kanye West fans. He really knows how to make an album. Sometimes I think, yeah you did that just ‘cause you care about this album’s vibe, but I just really respect that he makes albums. There’s not a lot of work put into making albums anymore, instead they just write songs. I think an album is like a gallery and a song is just a piece in it. We’re all so politically correct that a lot of people won’t be as politically active in their music as people like John Lennon or Bob Dylan. Everyone is so careful not to offend that basically no one does that anymore. We’re so divided that we can’t make politically charged music without half the country hating it. Music can connect people, but I think everyone is just so stubborn at this point that it’s almost impossible to get people to listen to your views. The radio doesn’t even play music that isn’t instantly digestible. Songs that are about nothing are convenient to the brain. Like, I don’t have to use that many brain cells to listen to Cardi B
Everything is about speed. Take the time to slow down.
Asha Lawrence, Brooklyn Technical High School Class President, Class of 2021 I can’t name a definite time I got involved in activism. Politics has never been a taboo topic in my household and my parents have always made sure I am aware of issues going on in the world. Since I moved to NYC about 5 years ago and especially since I started high school, my activism has become a much more tangible part of my life with focuses on women’s rights, combatting racism, and gun control. I have some incredibly inspirational friends who motivate me to stay passionate and, because of the current political climate, keeping quiet isn’t an option. Our generation is powerful. Living in New York City, my perception of teens may be different, but I am constantly in awe of the passion we collectively hold. I think teens of all generations have cared about politics and social justice in their own ways, but with Gen Z’s access to social media, the platform on which we can voice our views is unprecedented. I am so excited for the future. I have been involved in the arts since, well, forever. Until recently, I was a part of a Shakespeare group in my neighborhood. Acting means a lot of different things to me: while it is in some ways just a break from reality and the stresses of school, it’s also a powerful tool with which I can learn things about myself I wouldn’t otherwise know. Sometimes it takes getting into someone else’s mind to help me realize things about myself. Art and music, for me, represent the complete rawness of humanity. They can be personal and be used to convey knowledge, hope and strength to the public. In political climates like our current one, music and art are some of our most valuable resources.
Photography by Nathan McCarthy My connections with both these artists happened over social media; whatâ€™s more GenZ than that!?
By James Vaughn Let’s start off with a confession. I don’t know what is and isn’t cultural appropriation. The term just seems like a large gray area. Let us now move to a request. Please stop asking if this or that is cultural appropriation. I don’t know. Where is the line between appreciation and appropriation? I cannot tell you that. However, I can tell you about things that make me feel weird. Overcooked eggs. Elongated small talk. White people blasting rap music with an overt social justice message. I cannot tell you why, exactly, but I’m going to try to explain it as well as I` can. Race issues have always interested me since I was young. Maybe it’s unavoidable as a black person, maybe it’s because I can’t let myself feel too happy. I mean, did a week even happen if you didn’t feel hopeless at least once? Just me? Anyway, my parents made sure that I was aware of my black ancestry as began to attend The Collegiate School, a place still striving to be fully welcoming to kids of color. I learned about enslavement and Jim Crow and The Civil Rights Movement and its fallout. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve delved further into race issues in America because I guess enjoy the feeling of Damnit! Again?! As high school began, I began to try to connect how the racial history of America influenced everyday interactions. I also began to get into music at the same time. I noticed that rap and trap music were really popular among the white kids I went to school with. Songs about things barely relatable to anyone— 2 pints of lean is A LOT of lean— blasted through the halls and on school buses. The songs that raised the most questions for me (“water on my b****, keep her wet like my cellphone.” What the hell is this supposed to mean?) were the songs with the overt social justice message that I mentioned before. Three songs that really made me think were Meek Mill’s “What’s Free” (ft. Rick Ross and Jay Z), Joey Bada$$’s “Paper Trails,” and Vic Mensa’s “We Could be Free” (ft. Ty Dolla $ign). All of these songs are undeniably about the history and present day context of black struggle in America. Yet, they were being blasted by people would would claim that Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown and Philando Castille and Freddie Gray and Eric Gardner were all isolated incidents. By people who claim that “obviously black people must be doing something wrong if they go to prison so often” (paraphrased quote). By people who still are unclear on when they can say the n-word (I’ll take “Never” for 500, Alex). Some of the kids blasting the music don’t believe these things, and really do appreciate the struggle even if they never will totally understand it. My issue is that nobody is playing this for the lyrics, yet each song revolves around the words. Each song has a simple beat and the words are very easy to hear, but it feels to me as though people don’t get the songs. The songs are an attempt to force conversations that have been delayed for decades and centuries. As I explained before, I’m anti-uncomfortable-conversations, but this is an exception. Lives depend on these conversations. But, my many of my classmates listen to these songs like the black struggle is cool with no intent to actually take the lyrics to heart and reflect. In “What’s Free?” Meek Mill explains how, no matter how successful he is as a black man— ask James Blake and Lebron James— he’s still a thug to some people, “Seein’ how I prevailed and now they try to knock me back.” He somehow doesn’t belong where he is. One thing my classmates could do to take this lyric to heart is to try to make “melanated” kids feel welcome in the school. That means changing traditions older than America. Changing the way the school looks to reflect the way the country looks.
Photography by Nathan McCarthy
Paper Trail$ is a much different song than “What’s Free?” The song is revolutionary in ways that make white people uncomfortable (see: The Black Panther Party for Self Defense; see: Malcolm X). The one verse of the song basically chronicles the history of race relations in the US with mixed in references to the ahistorical Henny and Balenciaga. He starts off the verse “jottin’ information on my nation” because he, like me, knows all happiness must be balanced with a healthy dose of despair. The next lines essentially build to him telling white people to watch out “Watch your tradition and please play it safe/ Cause your position on the top is switching right in front your face.” *cough* tradition *cough.* Please excuse me, I’m allergic to bullshit. Where was I? Joey Bada$$ threatening white people, word. He then moves to threatening the police, “He duckin’ down, got some issues now, headed for your house/ So put the pistols down, got that red dot on your nose/ Who put the clown on lock, jaws like the blue knows/ Froze, keep your mouth closed or you can see the soap, dog.” Now, if anyone can answer this next question I will buy a t-shirt with your face on it and wear it everyday. Why do these four lines appeal to the “some bad apples,” “isolated incidents,” “well, what was he doing to be in that position?” crew? Joseph Bada$$’s threats are not some sort of “fuck the police, fuck white people” threat. These are, “I’ve been looking at my notes on my nation and so have a bunch of my homies and, not gonna lie, we super tight at y’all so watch out, ‘cause these notes looking like y’all deserve a lot y’all ain’t get yet’ threats.” Some of the people I go to school with— people who bump this song— are the people Mr. Bada$$ is putting on notice. Vic Mensa’s “We Could Be Free,” is the third song that really stuck out to me, because the song is more of a poem or a spoken word then a heavy beat-first song (@ Travis Scott). The entire song is just Vic Mensa talking about how he’s pissed off, but he still has hope. His anger really culminates in the second verse, which is structured in a way that feels like it was supposed to be much shorter but then got carried away like pastor who’s feeling their sermon. The verse starts with him talking about how he does not want to be another martyr (i.e.: Trayvon, Mike Brown) because he doesn’t want there to be a need for another one. One mention he makes is a “Mama cryin’ at an open casket,” which is a clear reference to Emmet and Mamie Till, the most infamous open casket in American history. What frustrates me about hearing these lyrics among some of my classmates is that they don’t understand that I could be in that casket any day now for reasons beyond my control. Is that something I have figure out? Should that make me uncomfortable? I wouldn’t be writing this if I had answers. But I don’t. The part that really makes reflect, though, is when he says, “You fools, saying ‘all lives matter’/ But it’s black lives you refuse to include/ Blocked from the polls/ Locked in the hood, trying to stop you from voting and stop you from growing/ And cops keep blowing and blowing.” Honestly, I feel like you already know what I think about this. I’m not sure I have to say much. Usually at the end of something like this, there’d be some sort of resolution. Some sort of recap maybe. I didn’t write this article to make any points though. I still have just as many questions as I did at the beginning, possibly more, and I still know zero about what cultural appropriation is. If I’m being honest, I hope this has made you feel a little weird.
Art by Madeleine Miller
Photography by Adali Schell Models: Mathieu Wilson and Joey King
photo by zoĂŤ casdin
photo by victoria brooks, model clara grudberg
by Madeleine Miller
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