Jasiri X has been on quite a tear lately, and his most recent track, an excoriation of both George Zimmerman’s actions and the attitudes that have contributed to Trayvon Martin’s death in Florida three weeks ago and the refusal to charge Zimmerman, is no exception:
I really like the decision to build this off of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild.” That “What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to an unbeliever?” couplet is a nice way to get at both the power relationship between Zimmerman and Trayvon, and the enormities of justice promised and denied.
Listening to this crystallized my main point of frustration with Bruce Springsteen’s Wrecking Ball, which felt like a solid but weirdly unengaged album. It’s so obsessed with creating myths that there aren’t specific narratives in the songs, whether they’re fictions out of the whole cloth or fictionalized versions of stories that are familiar because they’re true. There are veiled references to Katrina, and giant mosquitos in the Meadowlands, dates thrown out for us to sink emotional hooks into, but there are no characters, and no real stories. America’s too rich in terms of its triumphs and its tragedies to turn our iconic figures into blank monoliths. We need a thousand Lonesome Deaths of Hattie Carroll. Springsteen isn’t the only person capable of writing such songs these days (we do, after all, still have Dylan around), but if he’s going to tackle injustice, it would have been nice to see him do it with some detail.