Check It Out:

No One Ever Really Dies by N.E.R.D.
with Pharrell Williams

December 25, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Pharrell Williams, who used to be known for his “happy” songs, has come out with a new album by his alt-rap band N.E.R.D., No One Ever Really Dies, featuring Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna. The Los Angeles Times called it “a rowdy album” and said it “is full of heaving beats and harsh digital textures that catch the day’s chaotic spirit.” In an article in the British newspaper Guardian by Hattie Collins, Williams is quoted as saying as he introduces the record, “I don’t know if you’ve seen the news or who’s running my country but it’s a real fucking shit show. I’ve never seen such desperation in my life.” Talking about his own musical transformation, he told Collins, “I’ve made all kinds of songs in my career. People might say: ‘Oh what about this song?’ Yep, you’re right. I recognize now. I get it. It was fun to me at the time, but the earth changes and the rules change. We have to remember that. Context is important.”

Pharrell Williams asked Collins if she had ever listened to the U.S. national anthem and in particular to check out the third verse. Collins writes, “This, he says, will help me understand where he’s coming from. The third verse is widely read as a celebration of slavery. Although it’s no longer sung in schools or at sporting events, its very existence speaks to the systematic racial injustices in his country. Its very existence, Pharrell insists, means athletes must continue to ‘take the knee’, because racism is inherent, ingrained in the very heart of the American conscience.”

The album deals with a lot of different topics—truth, the life of teenagers, women, the children of conservatives in this country, corporate malfeasance. The song “Lemon,” sung by Rihanna, starts out with “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” But the one song that stands out is the one with Kendrick Lamar about the police murder of Keith Scott in North Carolina in 2016, “Don’t Don’t Do It.”

In talking about this song, Pharrell said, “This was something I saw on the news. We have that crazy, crazy man [running the country] but also they have police that shoot unarmed black people the whole time. It rains and they shoot black people.”

The second verse sung by Pharrell names some of the cities where cops have murdered Black people:

Whoa Ferguson, oh Baltimore
Raleigh, North Carolina
But you know, they’re gonna do it anyway
Wisconsin, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cleveland, Ohio
Montgomery, Baton Rouge, Cincinnati car
Dayton, Ohio
But you know, they’re gonna do it anyway
New York, New Jersey, Phoenix, Minnesota
South Carolina
They gonna do it anyway

In the final verse Kendrick Lamar gets into it:

You better duck, run fast from the mania
Don’t stare, don’t laugh at the media
Brake free, press gas when it enter ya’
Don’t let it go bad when he ante up
Highway, get out the way
Black man do your great escape
Pac-man wanna prosecute you
Raise your hand up, and they’ll shoot ya’
Face off, face off Adolf Hitler
Grandkids slayed off
Niggas, same rules, same chalk
Different decade, same law
Keep focus, you wanna get caught with your eyes open
You wanna stay clear of the prognosis
Pride provoked him, watch demotion
Watch em’ close enough
Don’t let the holster break or roast ya’
Roller coast ride that bitch
Soon or later sides gon’ switch
You know Johnny got that itch
How many more of us gotta see the coroner?
Slain by the same badge, stop, wait, brake, fast!


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