Never Had Your Back

From the album: For The FKN Love by Arrested Development

Song produced by Configa.

‘Cause the beats and the lines are so dope
Listen for lessons I’m saying inside music that the critics are blasting me for
They’ll never care for the brothers and sisters

Chuck D, Bring The Noise

Where to begin? Let’s start with the production. It is strikingly juxtaposed with Speech’s lyrical content. The delivery of the music and the lyrics are uptempo, keeping the boom bap soul of the album.

As a parent this is the kind of message rap I would love to play around my kids – they can vibe to the music, even if they weren’t hearing the message (that would drip feed in). Configa and Speech have found a way here of producing a song that could get radio play (assuming they scrap payola) whilst not watering down the hard hitting message.

I think this is why they work so well together. As an emcee Speech has always been deceptive, he is literally that spoon full of sugar vocally disguising the intellectual hard hitting medicine content. Configa mirrors this with his production, boom bap with an upbeat twist. The way they combine is genius.

Now the subject matter. Being a white, middle aged, Englishman I’m probably not best placed to fully understand the pain behind the words. However, I’m also not blind, death and dumb to what Speech is talking about.

Being a similar age to Speech and having a daughter of a similar age to his, I can totally relate to his first verse. My daughter could list 50 modern artists and I’d be “who?” to most of them. Like Speech, all you can hope for is that the foundations you’ve put in place when they were growing up will counter the messages they get bombarded with in the media.

Dropping names like Langston Hughes and Angela Davis, on a track you can play in front of children is where the brilliance of this song is. It opens up opportunity for parents and children to have a conversation, or at the very least gets children re-searching for the history of the names they’re hearing.

Verse 2 is where the message gets hard. Speech pulls no punches here. This verse covers a lot of ground, but can be broken down to three stages. Starting with a firm statement that those who negatively judge black women should check their own history and the way they have treated black women and their children.

In the second act of the verse he covers the abuses of black women and children and the tactics used to divide black people. Highlighting the mental and emotional harm that has done. how that history has caused so much damage in black communities today. But Speech isn’t one to merely present the problems, he finished with very clear ways this can be fixed.

His solution? Separation. Stop trying to divide black people. Oh and stop degrading black women.

The songs chorus is almost an affirmation for black women and a reminder that America really doesn’t care.

Speech finishes with a cutting verse about the hypocrisy of the fascination and craving of the stereotypical black female aesthetic, whilst the same people are dismissive and derogatory of black women.

This is message HipHop at its finest. The only way this gets better is with U.N.I.T.Y era Queen Latifah on a remix.