Jasiri X is not your ordinary rapper. The revolutionary MC and activist is known for using his platform to raise awareness about institutionalized racism and police brutality, and his latest song, “Strange Fruit (Class Of 2013)” sears the soul as he pays homage to 3 Black youth killed in the United States this year.
Dedicated to the memories of Renisha McBride, Jonathan Ferrell and Kendrick Johnson, “Strange Fruit (Class of 2013)” Jasiri grabs holds of your consciousness from the first bars and never lets go:
They say Jasiri X you preach too much
I’m like Black people we asleep too much
A Black President but he doesn’t speak for us
Another Black body lynched is not unique to us
Meanwhile Kanye’s rocking confederate flags
Jay Z and Barneys going half on sweaters and bags
It’s not their fault it’s ours all we measure is swag
They getting money get money what’s better than cash
Forever in last riding in Berratas and Jags but don’t crash
If you do and need help don’t ask
Cause all Renisha got was a shotgun blast
Just for knocking on the door left rotting on the floor
Half her face gone but no one was locked up like Akon
Black life comes with no insurance like State Farm
Race wrong black people better put ya brakes on
As previously reported by Hello Beautiful, 19-year-old McBride was slain on Nov. 2 on a porch in Dearborn Heights, Michigan while seeking help following a car accident. Homeowner Theodore P. Wafer, 54, who was arraigned on second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearms, said that he feared for his life and his attorney called McBride’s shooting “justified.”
“I want to thank the community for speaking out for justice on behalf of my daughter,” said Renisha’s mother Monica McBride. “I know her father called him [Wafer] a monster. I’m not going to call him a monster. You [Wafer] said it was an accident. When you accidentally do something to someone, you say you’re sorry or you apologize. You did no accident. You took a life. You took a beautiful life that was starting to blossom into a beautiful woman. And for that, I hope you stay in jail for the rest of your life. Because I have to go on for the rest of my life…and her father…for the rest of our lives without our daughter.”
If this case sounds tragically familiar, it’s because it is.
As previously reported by Hello Beautiful, former Florida A&M football player Jonathan Ferrell,24, was shot dead on Saturday, September 14 by Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Randall Kerrick, 27, while seeking help after a serious car accident.
Kerrick, who has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, claimed that he ordered Ferrell to stop, but his version of events has been disputed by the victim’s family attorney, Christopher Chestnut:
“From our review, the only sounds were the sounds of gunshots, Chestnut said. There were no commands to stop. There were no commands to freeze; stop or I’ll shoot, police. I think this is a young man who probably was going toward the police officers, the same way if you were injured in a car accident and you saw red or blue lights, you’d run to help not death. He ran to help.”
In January, Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead in an upright, rolled up wrestling mat at Valdosta High School in Valdosta, Georigia. State medical examiners ruled his death accidental, but his family, finding the circumstances extremely suspicious, pushed for a second, independent autopsy and had his body exhumed. That one suggested Johnson died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Not only did the second autopsy prove that Johnson died from blunt-force trauma to the head, Dr. Bill Anderson discovered that the teen’s brain, heart, lungs, liver and other organs had been replaced with newspaper.
“I’m not sure at this point who did not return the organs to the body,” Anderson said. “But I know when we got the body, the organs were not there.”
Kendrick’s mother Jacquelyn Johnson, who was devastated that her son was “stuffed like a trash can,” vows to continue to fight against the cover-up perpetuated by authorities in Valdosta.
“That’s my child, and we’re going to fight until it’s all over, until we get the truth,” Johnson said.
In an exclusive interview with Hello Beautiful, Jasiri X said that he couldn’t remain silent; he had to speak his truth as well:
“I’m just not the type of person that can hear about tragedies that happen on our community and just keep it moving,” X said. “When I first heard about the senseless murder of Renisha McBride, I couldn’t sleep. Here was another young Black person who was shot and killed after a car accident, just for trying to get help, like Jonathan Ferrell a few weeks earlier. At the same time more information came out about the murder of Kendrick Johnson, about how the video footage his school released was tampered with and that when his body was exhumed for a second autopsy his organs were missing and replaced with newspapers. The more I read about these cases the angrier I got. The constant devaluing of Black life has to stop.
“I began to write out of pure frustration, because I really don’t understand why we aren’t more outraged as a community. I knew already what some people would say, which is why I started the song with the line, ‘They say Jasiri X you preach too much.’ My frustration also comes from the fact that we put so much stock in celebrities, pundits, and rappers, who never seems to speak to the most important issues in our community.”
X doesn’t just focus his anger at celebrities and rappers; he opens the song also taking lyrical aim at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and his reasons are clear:
“I say President Obama doesn’t speak for us because he has clearly stated time and time again he speaks for American citizens as a whole. But if we are still being denied justice in 2013 then that can’t mean us.”
But Jasiri X is speaking for us — for our children, for our communities and for Hip-Hop.
Watch the video for “Strange Fruit (Class of 2013)” below: