These are difficult times indeed. And this is not an opinion. It’s a fact. In the aftermath of the George Floyd killing, indignation persuaded me to brush up on my stats. Specific stats. Stats about police brutality. In the process I stumbled on a website that maps police violence, and the first headline that caught my eye read – “There were only 27 days in 2019 where police did not kill someone”. The second one read – “99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime.” The third summed it all up – “Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.”
So when someone like John Ivory – an independent Hip-Hop recording artist living in Charlotte, North Carolina – comes around with a song entitled “Gotham”, dealing with police brutality, we need not be surprised. It’s just where we are right now…and have been for an eternity it seems. To back up my theory, this song was originally released in 2016, and even according to its writer, it seems more relevant today than ever before.
“Gotham” is artistic and outspoken, in a time when the genre needs it more than ever. I generally try and distance myself from the fatalism of the hip-hop is dead camp, opting for a hip-hop is different stance. But these have been undeniably barren years for the genre, with artists more geared towards personal advancement than social narratives and community issues. It is in this environment that John Ivory re-emerges with “Gotham”.
John Ivory is one of modern rap’s loyal disciples of classic hip-hop, conjuring up memories of a generation of Black youth spitting their powerful statements to the world. His true strength is in finding a way to call attention to an issue that should be glaringly obvious to all, yet somehow remains buried under all the boasting and backslapping. Some brothers are stacking paper and driving lambos, while others are being pinned to the ground and forced not to breathe.
Luckily artists like John Ivory keep a watchful eye on events. He has responded loud and clear shining his spotlight on where rap will be needed most in the next decade. This is thrilling and almost dangerous in a police state.
John Ivory is a hip-hop artist who is undeniably gifted, he’s not just hanging onto the mic to brag and talk shit, he’s turning up the dirt and planting seeds for different future. John Ivory punches you in the face with his intentionality and explicit focus on the issue at hand.
If you’re an African American, you are simply just not treated the same as if you were the exact same person, except with white skin. And if for some unexplained reason you have never experienced this feeling, dare to be pulled over by the police as a black man.
John Ivory forages a way for listeners to engage, listen to, and absorb his narrative and pivotal meaning; he is not simply rhyming, and we need to be listening. “Gotham” is a reminder of the importance of each of our individual voices. “If you don’t get involved, you’re part of the problem,” warns John Ivory.
OFFICIAL LINKS: SOUNDCLOUD