Illustration by Michael White. Words by Mike Voss.
This week’s “Inside the Lines” quotes “I Can”, the second single off of Nasir Jones’s 2003 album “God’s Son”. In this inspirational song, Nas up lifts his people by giving them a history lesson over a sample of “Fur Elise” by Ludwig Van Beethoven.
This lyrical Black history crash course can be a lot to take in, that somehow still leaves the listener wanting more from the legendary emcee:
“Be, be, ‘fore we came to this country
We were kings and queens, never porch monkeys
It was empires in Africa called Kush
Timbuktu, where every race came to get books
To learn from black teachers who taught Greeks and Romans
Asian Arabs and gave them gold when
Gold was converted to money it all changed
Money then became empowerment for Europeans
The Persian military invaded
They learned about the gold, the teachings and everything sacred
Africa was almost robbed naked
Slavery was money, so they began making slave ships
Egypt was the place that Alexander the Great went
He was so shocked at the mountains with black faces
Shot up they nose to impose what basically
Still goes on today, you see?
If the truth is told, the youth can grow
They learn to survive until they gain control
Nobody says you have to be gangstas, hoes
Read more learn more, change the globe
Ghetto children, do your thing
Hold your head up, little man, you’re a king
Young Prince that’s when you get your wedding ring
Your man is saying “She’s my queen”
-Nas “I Can”
Michael White’s illustration depicts a family in a cold world, and striving, conquering all odds.