Inspired by the song "Mississippi, Goddam," Nina Simone's monumental and influential clarion against the violence of white supremacy and the whitewashing of white terrorism against Black people, Brother Ali's "Uncle Sam, Goddam" is both a historical narrative rewriting the triumphalist textbook history of US colonialism and a theory of change.
As reported in Jazziz, released in 1964, "She wrote [Mississippi, Goddam] in an hour, out of anger and in response to the murder of Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers in Mississippi on June 12, 1963, as well as the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, on September 15, 1963. It remains today one of her most famous, as well as one of her first protest songs."
Ali's inspired version is also characterized by righteous anger.
"Welcome to the United Snakes
Land of the thief, home of the slave
Grand imperial guard where the dollar is sacred and-
Let's do this shit for real, come on now
Smoke and mirrors, stripes and stars
Stolen for the cross in the name of God
Bloodshed, genocide, rape and fraud
Writ' into the pages of the law, good Lord
The Cold Continent latch key child
Ran away one day and started acting foul
King of where the wild things are daddy's proud
Because the Roman Empire done passed it down".
Ali is a poet, Hip-Hop artist, and member of Rhymesayers Entertainment. A brilliant lyricist,
"Uncle Sam, Goddam" is fire truth that scorches the claim of innocent American victims fighting against tyranny and, instead, reveals the forgery of USian historical narratives about democracy and freedom. "Uncle Sam, Goddam," is history from below. The joint is track 12 on the 2007 album, The Undisputed Truth. The collage of still images and documentary footage in the official video provides a searingly unforgettable visual accompaniment to Ali's rewriting of political history. In this interview, Ali discusses the controversies spawned by the song and video.
Ali's "two-decade resume includes eight critically-acclaimed albums, mentorships with iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim, and performances on late night shows with Jimmy Fallon and Conan O'Brien….When he's not rocking the mic at Coachella or being arrested for civil disobedience in support of marginalized communities, Brother Ali travels the world learning and teaching Islamic Spirituality under some of today's most renowned teachers….Brother Ali recently launched The Travelers Podcast from his new home in Istanbul, exploring life's journey with cultural, spiritual, and thought leaders from across the globe."
For Ali, everyday people transform the world despite and in spite of other people in positions of political and economic power whose policy and legal goals, as well as the narration of history, are directed to reproduce the conditions of their continued domination.
"At the end of the year add
up what they subtracted
Three outta twelve months your
salary pays for that madness
Man, that's savage
What's left get a big ass plasma
To see where they made Dan
Rather point the damn camera
Only approved questions get answered
Now stand your ass up
for that national anthem."
The above link is to the live album recording of "Mississippi, Goddam" from Carnegie Hall. In this version from Sweden, circa 1965, you can see Simone and the band. The effect and affect are mesmerizing and unforgettable.
Click here for an "Uncle Sam" Black Coach Jacket.