British-American tenor Joshua Blue considers “What is America?” in this week’s songs.
Content Warning: All of the songs in this week’s collection contain strong language, and even stronger themes regarding the state of our nation. Content spans topics including, but not limited to: racism, immigration, police brutality, domestic terrorism, white supremacy, and intolerance.
“Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” is from “The Hamilton Mixtape”, a collection of covers and re-imaginings of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical “Hamilton”. The piece speaks to the mistreatment of, and resentment towards immigrants in America, and the performers were handpicked by Miranda as people who he believed “represent all corners of the world, in line with the songs message”. The song forces the listener to wrestle with the notion that “in a country founded by immigrants, immigrant has somehow become a bad word”.
“You claim in stealing jobs/Peter Piper claimed he picked them/he just underpaid Pablo”
“Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” – K’naan feat: Residente, Riz MC, David Diggs & Snow Tha Product
This is a song from the Hamilton Mixtape, which I believe is pretty well known and popular at the moment. (I don’t even totally know, I live in Europe!) It’s a song that is sung by George Washington in the original show and is an insightful, touching song about how history is written.
But in the remix, sung by John Legend and a choir, the song feels, to me, to be more a call to action. More than saying “this is right”, “this is wrong” or “we are better” and “these people are horrible” it asks the question: what will history write about you?
We can all get caught up in the political mess that the US seems to find itself in at the moment. Sometimes voting, protesting, and getting involved seems futile. I get it. But when I think of it in terms of zooming out—wondering how history will view ME—then I feel more pressed to do something. To physically manifest into action what I stand for in spirit. This piece shows to me, in short, the power of song.
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