My friend Danny recommended that I listened to Pusha T’s new album today, and that I did. Looking for decent rap suggestions in 2016 isn’t an easy feat by any means, and all of the suggestions given will be a let down if you have ever binged a month of the origins of hip hop and rap from the likes of Doug E. Fresh and Afrika Bambaataa. Pusha T started in a rap group by the name of Clipse, and co founded his own record label “Re-Up Records” with the other half of the group, his brother. With songs featuring artists from Birdman to Pharrell, the group went on to sign with Kanye’s GOOD music imprint of Def Jam Recordings. Quite impressive. In November of 2015, Pusha T took over as president of GOOD Music in place of Kanye. No matter what status you rise to in the rap industry, many modern rappers tend to use music as an expression of America’s blatant ignorance of racial issues taking place. Listening to Pusha T’s newest album, “Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude,” Terrence Thornton throws his own flavor on racial issues and liberty in today’s society. One solid quote struck me with the curiosity to look further. The verse is as follows:
“They’ll never rewrite this,
like they rewrote history.
The fact that the Statue of Liberty was black
is a goddamn mystery.
And so it goes,
every truth don’t get told.”
After hearing this, how could you not start to think about if the Statue of Liberty was originated for the major role that black soldiers played in the Civil War, or that the original model was a black woman that signified African American liberty? 45% of listeners today won’t recognize or put any thought into the poeticism of these lyrics, instead just becoming fixated on the beat of the song, while 50% would jump to social media and post about “how the government has lied to us once again” without once considering fact-checking the information. I tell myself that I am in the remaining 5% to make myself feel good. So here goes:
A Brief History of the Statue of Liberty
-The originators for the idea of the statue of liberty were Edouard de Laboulaye and Auguste Bartholdi. Laboulaye was a French abolitionist who believed that the end of slavery marked the realization of the American democratic ideal embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Bartholdi, on the opposite end of the spectrum, was an apolitical artist who achieved any race-related mindset through the impressions of his friends in America.
-Bartholdi had an earlier concept for a colossal lighthouse in Egypt that was modeled after an ancient Egyptian women who was a peasant. This concept was the main influence for the Statue of Liberty that stands today, with the broken shackles and chains in her left swapped for the tablet engraved with “July IV, MDCCLXXVI” to represent the adoption of American independence. This came at the request of Laboulaye, who wanted the statue to emphasize a broader vision of liberty for all mankind.
-Both men, being abolitionists, realized that slavery was the cause of the Civil War, and the Statue of Liberty was built to signify the ideal of liberty; not solely the end of slavery. The project was meant to broaden the reach of these ideas, hopefully encouraging France to take part in similar activities.
All in all, the Statue of Liberty may have had some sort of Egyptian influences and African Americans also played a role in the history of the monument. The monument has quite an interesting background if you have the chance to look into it, and putting race aside, the ingenious and creative design that went into the statue does a great job of representing the broad category of liberty, along with holding underlying meanings that were important for all parties involved in its creation.