February 22, 2017

mozzy

Justin Carroll-Allan bought five copies of 1984 just in case.

Mozzy’s new video for “The People Plan,” a song that breaks down systemic racism more powerfully and efficiently than any Salon article you’ve ever read, is an example of one thing that the Trump camp can’t spin: the honest experience of what it means to grow up as a person of color. Hailing from Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, Mozzy has made a name by bearing testament to life on his block. He’s not your average street rapper—his lyrics are thoughtful and filled with a nuance you don’t find in most trap songs.

Mozzy focuses more on the sobering realities of being stuck in street life and less on celebrating it. The subject matter of his songs, up until now, have dealt almost exclusively with the struggles he’s walked through personally, but “The People Plan” looks at the issues his music focuses on with a wider lens. This is Mozzy’s most blatantly political song, and it arrives just when it’s most needed.   

The video features Mozzy pacing back and forth in a warehouse, interwoven with a collage of news clips, with one overarching theme: the devastating consequences of systemic racism and the crimes that accompany it. We see Michael Brown, the footage of Oscar Grant getting shot, and Treyvon Martin’s killer’s acquittal, then we see roll after roll of crime scenes, marked by yellow tape and weeping bystanders.

Mozzy knocks us down with scene after scene of the devastating effects of violence, then he punches us in the gut with this line: “The dream died/ Dr. King got blammed tryin’ to stand up for us/ now look at where we stand.” This video perfectly portrays what it’s like to be marginalized in our country, and Mozzy doesn’t flinch when pointing his finger at who’s to blame. At the end, we see footage of Reagan, Bush, and Trump, along with Richard Spencer’s speech where a crowd of white supremacists shouted “Hail Trump” and gave the Nazi salute, while Mozzy growls, “Black on black crime’s part of them people’s plan.”

 

On some campus, in some English department, a professor (I picture an old man with beard dandruff peppered across his black turtleneck) is lecturing on the power of imagery, how images have the power to change minds. In these hellish days, I keep thinking of something Orwell said about euphemisms: “Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.” And that’s where Mozzy’s video takes its power: no amount of Trump’s pettifogging or euphemism or bragging about The Apprentice’s ratings can wash these images from people’s minds. With “People Plan,” Mozzy delivers a song so potent and compelling, you can almost hear James Baldwin hollering his approval from the grave.