We’re only a couple of months into 2020, but Detroit rap legend, Royce da 5’9″, has dropped a gem in a project which would undoubtedly add to the list of rap albums of the year. Released February 21, The Allegory, which is 22 tracks long, is not just thought-provoking, but also very insightful.
Inspired by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave theory which explains “the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature” as well as renegade rap pioneers Ice-T and Ice Cube, the album touches on several sensitive topics. From African American history to institutionalized racism and black influence in music, the rapper takes us on an educative journey.
What makes the press play album particularly intriguing are the skits and interludes which offer perspectives into various topics, both past and present – perfectly summing up the album title.
In the Ice Cream interlude, the rapper takes us on a history lesson where he exposes how the famous ice cream truck song which some vendors play out loud is racist.
It starts with a child asking his mother the meaning of “Allegory” to which she defines as: “A story with a subliminal meaning that has a political message based off the writer’s mind.”
With the ice cream truck song playing at the background, signaling a vendor in the neighborhood, the kid and his mother make their way to go get some. The vendor, who asks the kid what he wants when it’s their turn to be served, is given a history lesson on the tune he is playing out loud by the lady:
Now for as long as I can remember, the ice cream truck been playin’ this same song.
I bet you don’t even know the origin of it, do you? Do you, Mr. Ice Cream Man?
She continues after the ice cream man asks what she’s talking about:
Allow me to enlighten you, Mr. Ice Cream Man
A white man named Harry C. Brown made a racist-a** song called ‘N***r Love A Watermelon’
That was in 1916 on Columbia Records
And here you are, a 100 years later, comin’ through your neighborhood playin’ the same f*ckin’ song
Way to go Mr. Ice Cream Man
The ice cream man replies and asks her an unrelated question before the next track plays.
Another interesting skit on the album is Perspective, where friend and long-time collaborator, Eminem, talks extensively about hip-hop, its black origin and influence and how some pioneering black musicians aren’t given the deserved credit, among other things.
The Grammy award-winning rapper says:
But you got people of all races
Like, coming together and, and
Helping shape this from the ground up
So now you got little white kids growin’ up with black idols
And you got black kids growin’ up with white idols
And you got, it-it’s just this whole mixing pot
Nothing has brought more races and more people
From all different walks of life together than hip-hop
No music has done that
I don’t think anything has done that as much as hip-hop has
So, in the same token
I can understand the frustration being that, you know
Damn near every form of, of music, period, was created by black people
And rock n’ roll is starting to get some attention, but then along comes Elvis
And people are acting like, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen this before”
You’ve seen it before, but you might not have seen a white person do it to this level
So now, he sells the most records and people are callin’ him the king of rock n’ roll, right?
But on the flip side of the coin
If I’m a black kid, growin’ up in, let’s say the 60s, 70s, 80s, whatever, right
And I’m lookin’ on TV and nobody looks like me
And it’s very stereotypical
And I’m lookin’ at f*ckin’, I’m lookin’ at toys
And they’re, and everything is white
The f*ckin’ action figures are all white
The, the f*ckin’ superheroes are all white
Like, maybe there’s one or two, uh, black superheroes mixed in there with mostly white
I don’t know how I’d grow up and not have a chip on my shoulder
On the other flip side of that coin
We don’t get to choose our parents, we don’t get to choose what color we’re born
It’s more about, at that point, it becomes
You’re born here, you are, you’re what color you are, you’re what nationality you are
And then it’s what you do with it, right
To make a difference
Give the album a spin if you haven’t. It’s worth the listen.