Fighting racist stereotypes with gangsta rap

kudzai

I don’t know how well thought out this strategy is:

The video for KUDZAI’s 4 Deep In The Suburbs starts off menacingly — a police siren wails, and four figures clad in black walk down a quiet street.

When the lyrics to the Melbourne rapper’s new track — featuring his friend Tjay Gonera, aka Papi — kick in, it seems like the kind of nod to indulgence and violence that crops up often in hip hop.

“I see you got it all and I want it, fast cars and your woman,” Kudzai Chirunga sings.

“As soon as you fall asleep I’m coming, and if I see lights I’m running.”

But then there’s a break, and you hear audio snippets of commercial TV news reports about the much-debated problem of crime in Melbourne and whether young African-Australians are overrepresented among offenders.

That’s when Papi — who, like Chirunga, is Australian but was born in Zimbabwe — flips the perspective from the stereotype to what it’s actually like to live as a young person of African descent in Melbourne right now.

“They love to judge by your colour, clothing and name,” Papi raps.

“No matter what we are all perceived as the same.”

The song was written as a response to what the pair see as the racist scaremongering that has targeted their community since news reports about African teens involved in crime began appearing last year.

OK, now, if you see the problem in that people “love to judge by your colour, clothing and name”, you probably won’t convince them otherwise when at the same you rap “I see you got it all and I want it, fast cars and your woman / As soon as you fall asleep I’m coming”. I feel for any community that gets broad brushed due to the behaviour of some of its members, but you can’t fight “racist scaremongering” by penning fantasies about violent home invasions involving theft and rape. Apart from that, a nice tune.

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