Hi-Cal was a construction worker from New Jersey, who after 9/11 became a Christian and starting calling himself a “Republican rapper.” He has performed for many thousands at Tea Party rallies, serenading this movement in their efforts to move the USA more to the right of the political spectrum.
Fans and experts of rap and hip hop might find Hi-Cal’s rhymes and beats to be pedestrian. But perhaps there is room for ideological diversity in all styles of music.
Perhaps we can now have a rap battle not of boasting but of political debate?
Song publisher Bob Miller sang this song of his around 1928. It casts a stark divide between socioeconomic classes. The rich are better off, have an easier life and it will continue to be this way. Another way of stating this view is that, structurally, the world is fixed or rigged, to benefit some, even at the expense of others. This explanation can go so far as to mean that there is little or nothing the oppressed class can do to improve their lot.
Not much can be found on Bob Miller, but he is touching on Marxism. He was writing before the Great Depression, and the emergence of public social programs and services as part of the welfare state. These government activities aimed to help those less fortunate.
Struggling to satisfactorily record this song back in 1985, Petty apparently hurt his hand, punching a wall.
The song’s narrator calls himself a rebel, born in Dixie.
By the dictionary, a rebel is a person who stands up for what they believe in, even if most others aren’t on the same page. Politically, a rebel could be a revolutionary or even a terrorist.
It is a debate whether citizens should have the right to rebel against their governments. Constitutions may entrench this, with freedoms of expression, speech and assembly (gathering, meeting). This typically means resistance using legal and conventional means. But violence can come from rebels.
And Petty is using the American Revolutionary War of the 18th century as a metaphor. This was the armed battles between Great Britain and the American colonies. These colonists – the rebels – resented British imposition of taxes.
Uh-oh: what if a folk singer appears to skewer both sides? Do we then see that stereotypes of people given their political views, can be too clear cut, and/or that politics may be too polarized and where’s the middle ground?
Jerry Brown was Governor of California from 1975-1983, the era of this song. Singer Jello Biafra may wish to rework it given that this politician regained the office in 2011.
Brown is made the narrator and makes like he’s setting up a fascist regime, complete with secret police and genocide.
This charge may be effective punk rock style rhetoric, though fascism is a specific allegation not likely to formally come to pass in liberal democracies such as the United States, which govern under a constitution and the rule of law, with free and fair elections, an independent judiciary and free press.
Fascism is a political system that seeks to mobilize people into a single, nationalistic political community, such as through a revolution. Getting there, which also includes building a self-sufficient national economy, requires a strong (dictatorial) leader and a powerful state that puts itself above the interests and human rights, even, of the citizens. Fascism has no problem attacking weaker states to spread their bad cheer.
The most infamous example of a fascist state is Nazi Germany.
From the Washington Times, Vera Vanderlaan was a married Vermont woman, pretty, prone to dressing like a senorita… and part of the 1960s counter-counterculture.
Presumed arch enemy, then, Pete Seeger, sang If I Had A Hammer, to which this song may have been a rebuttal of sorts. Vera sings of patriots swinging hammers for liberty, such that it spreads across the land to keep America free. Still, there are “cunning foes” out there (not clearly identified), trying to stop the freedom hammer. We can assume these are the communists!
From 1989, Tracy Chapman poetically likens marginalized citizens to living in a city below where everyone else gets by and finds success. This subcity exists because of a cosy relationship between government and big business, both failing to provide enough (and adequate) employment opportunities for the poor.
Chapman may be expressing a view of equality, from the ideology of liberalism, which has maintained the importance of using state intervention to assist people to reach their own dreams. People that fall through the cracks through no fault of their own, should be helped to regain their independence. Policy-wise, this could be through education, health care, social assistance, job training and other services. Chapman’s song does not mention the many such supports that Americans may be eligible to access, perhaps feeling that what is there, is not enough.