Open Letter to Ant, Ali and Slug: The Tossable Humans
I don’t know what tossable humans are. I just know that I am one. I know that I often look around and wonder where the hell I am because it all looks so damn alien to me, always has. The world places no value on me, I know that, too, know it to the core of me, been taught it so many times by so many and in so many different ways. So sometimes, like lately, I think I should just toss myself, ya know? I’m tired. I’m tired and I hurt too much.
My whole life has been a certain kind of struggle, one that I know is alien to most. You see, I don‘t care about the things the world tells me I should care about, the things it says are important. I’ve always looked around me and thought people and the world didn’t make any real sense, always, always. And I’ve often felt crazy because the very things that the world holds up as good and pure are the things that I see as downright evil. And the things I love, that I fight for, are so often the things that the world says are bad. So I’m tired and I hurt and I feel alienated from the world, isolated. But sometimes, not very often, but sometimes, I run into others like me. Then I feel validated, a little less crazy, less “bad.” And I get some renewed energy. You guys all do that for me.
I’ve been listening to “The Undisputed Truth” nonstop since I got it. It has got some of the best protest songs I swear I’ve heard in decades! (Think my favorite is “Letter from the Government,” but I’m not even sure because others are great, too.) And of course Ant’s beats are always hard to put down or get out of the mind-body. I relate to this album so much because part of my lifelong struggle has been not just creating myself, but poking and prodding at the world, trying to force it to look into the mirror and change toward what it pretends to be. So that hopefully less innocents get hurt and/or killed by “the good.”
Our culture has gotten so incredibly sick and twisted—more and more of late. I’m not sure how to say what I want to say to you, or even if I have the right to do it, but I’m gonna anyway. Because I’m pretending to myself that you guys are part of “my people.” (Yes, I’m claiming you!) One thing that’s so exciting—and even downright healing to many of us—about the Rhymesayers is that you’re turning the culture on its head by saying no to the gold and glitter, to the ego and taking orders from “The Music Masters.” You are saying—when almost no one else is—“Hey, people, this is NOT what it’s really all about.” And reminding us of the forgotten things. And you’re all not just saying it. You’re putting everything you’ve got on the line to back it up.
Thanks for all that. Thanks from many of us.
But now can I pick one small bone?
I’m sure you guys know that it’s not “conspiracy theory” to recognize that Madison Avenue types get paid lotsa $ to work images for politicians and corporations and yes, even countries. One thing that has truly peeved me much over the past couple decades is how successfully they’ve been working this idea that if there are any problems in our lives, it’s all our own fault, no one and nothing else’s fault. The economy has nothing to do with it; governmental policies and choices have nothing to do with it; environmental toxins have nothing to do with it; the educational and medical systems have nothing to do with it; racism and sexism don’t even exist . . . Well, you catch the drift.
So we’ve all been spending a lot of time obediently gazing into our navels to see what crap is in our own intestines. (I did NOT say your name, here, Sean ;-)) And certainly there’s a time and place for that. But what is SSSSOOOO missing right now for us are virtuous leaders, leaders with integrity who aren’t afraid to tell it like it really is for so many of us. And to toss that lying image back in their faces with power. To not be afraid to be laughed at by the majority culture for seeing other truths and speaking them loudly, unashamedly.
I love the song “The Puzzle” and feel it so deeply, BUT… “Who’s to blame for the state I’m in—yours truly.” Those last two words almost sabotage the song for me. And I know even more of Atmosphere’s songs do that same kind of thing. Despite feeling freaky and isolated, I know there are many, many others like me—people who’ve spent much of their lives already blaming themselves for everything. Who need to remember that there ARE real enemies to fight outside of ourselves, to point more of our energy toward actual social change and justice. Who need to remember that it’s OK to give ourselves some validation and respect, too, especially if the world doesn’t.
Ali, what is so rare about you is that you embody virtue and a very masculine, raw power at the same time (I love that roar on “Whatcha Got”). We almost never see those together in our culture. Oh, we see plenty of the fake masculine virtue. I think you already know that it’s not really you yourself that people are responding to, but something deeper that we can see through you. (Same goes for you Atmosphere dudes!) Just keep on letting that shine through, please. For all of us “Tossable Humans.”
“We say we are the hard-hearted/Been discarded from everything we ever been part of/They just robbed it/Unguarded, tormented and tortured/Got nothing but scars and gray hairs to show for it.”
But, hey, like you all, we're also . . .
"back to wreak havoc/Never retired, retreated or recanted."