January 20 is a day that many hip hop lovers remember fondly. Twenty-five years ago on that day, Compton rapper Ice Cube released the classic hip hop song “It Was a Good Day.”
Over a sample of “Footsteps In The Dark” by the Isley Brothers, Cube describes a good day as not being harassed by police, not having any robbers approach him, winning big in a dice game, finally getting the woman he long pursued, no helicopters looking for murderers, and the Lakers beating the Sonics, who at the time had an all-star starting line-up of Michael Cage, Shawn Kemp, Ricky Pierce and Gary Payton.
January 20, 2017, coincidentally, will be remembered as a sobering day for many in the U.S. and in other countries who protested the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States Donald Trump. He is considered by some to be one of the most divisive political figures in modern history.
To exhibit a form of protest through music, the Universal Movement for the Advancement of Hip Hop (UMAHH) sponsored a Twin Cities anti-Trump march and rally, and hosted the 25th anniversary celebration of Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day.”
UMAHH is a local group with a collective of conscious critical-thinkers, activists and artists creating solidarity through hip hop. Their mission is dedicated to community engagement, social and youth justice.
The event, which took place at Nomad World Pub in South Minneapolis and organized by Neil Taylor, consisted of a community forum to discuss resistance and community-building tactics, followed by a “Resist Trump from Day One” after-party.
“Today has been a tragedy for a lot of us,” said Reies Romero a.k.a. DJ Francisco. “I was listening to Nekima Levy-Pounds the other day and she’s actually happy this happened. Now this means we really have to work; we have to come together. This is a wake-up call.”
Mel Reeves, a 30-year veteran of community activism, was one of the speakers at the event. Reeves addressed numerous issues, including capitalism, the history of U.S. presidents and their policies, and the current state of America.
“It is an issue of the system that we live in. A system where we believe people deserve to be poor, deserve to be in debt, deserve to be on the brink of poverty. That is not a system we need to inhabit.”
“This is like an old film,” said Reeves. “I’ve seen this after [former president Ronald] Reagan. People were flipping out, but with good reason.”
He stated that the inauguration of President Trump is disappointing, but the struggle has always been there. “If you are in the third world, if you’re in Iraq or Afghanistan, or one of these [impoverished] neighborhoods in the USA, it was already bad.
“However, what we are about to experience is a real hustle. The Democratic Party is going to present themselves as the best party in the world. They’re going to promise everything they never wanted to give you before: free education, that they won’t invade another country or [that they will] clean up the water in Flint.”
From the standpoint of Reeves, it’s not about the president in office; it’s about the abuse of power and oppression. “This thing is immoral and it didn’t start with Trump. We have to oppose capitalism. If you want to get rid of Trump, you have to get rid of the system that put him in place.”
Robin Wonsley with Socialist Alternative, a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against exploitation and injustice, is a native of the South Side of Chicago. Wonsley said her experience in the Windy City motivated her to organize.
“Living in a predominantly Black poor neighborhood, it brought the reality to me that something is not right in this country. Why is it that police can heavily surface around my community? Why is there a lack of affordable housing [and] the complete desolation of business and vacant lots? Why do Black men see their only way to move up is through sports or a gang?”
Wonsley has also been a part of many marches and protests, including the anti-Trump protest, which shut down I-94 a few months ago after the election results came in.
“It is an issue of the system that we live in. A system where we believe people deserve to be poor, deserve to be in debt, deserve to be on the brink of poverty. That is not a system we need to inhabit,” Wonsley said.
She also expressed that the power of unity from the people is what will motivate us to get what we need. “No politician has ever given us anything — it’s a misconception. The Affordable Care Act was because of us organizing in the streets. Standing Rock didn’t happen because Obama felt good one day. That’s been us from day one.”
The after-party followed the panel discussion. William “Truth Maze” Harris, with UMAHH DJs SciPreme and Francisco helped bring good vibes in honor of Ice Cube’s “Good Day,” on an otherwise disappointing depiction of the direction of the country.
All the classic West Coast tunes were spinning, from N.W.A. (individually and collectively), Too Short, DJ Quick, Cypress Hill, Snoop Dogg, and Xzibit. A few cuts were played, Nipsey Hussle as well, one in particular was an anti-Trump statement called “FDT,” which features fellow Compton rapper YG.
The event also showcased performances from 15-year-old DJ prodigy Mickey Breeze, Excel, Wash Your Dome, and headliner OSP a.k.a. Fidel Hasflow, showcasing the intergenerational of hip-hop excellence and activism.
Ivan B. Phfer welcomes readers to email@example.com.
Ivan B. Phifer is contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org