You’ve read the bananas Kanye West interview with Jon Caramanica (Beauty. Truth. Awesomeness) of the New York Times. You’ve tweeted the “Where’s My Damn Croissants?” line and debated the misogyny of most of the album with your (probably male) friends. The only logical next step is to read the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) analysis of it.
Enter Rap Genius. Through a verified account, the ACLU uses the annotation platform to explain the historical context of every line of “New Slaves.” For the lyric “My momma was raised in the era when/Clean water was only served to the fairer skin,” the ACLU explains:
Donda West, Kanye’s mum, grew up during the 50’s/60’s—an era of segregation. During this period there were separate water fountains for white people and African Americans. The cover for Common’s “Like Water for Chocolate” depicts such a scene.
When Kanye refers to those with “fair skin”, he’s reflecting on the times of Jim Crow where whites and blacks had to drink from separate water fountains. The “fair skin” group would receive the cleanest drinking water, while everyone else had to use the more run-down faucets.
“This displays that the ACLU are real OGs and true intellectuals,” says Rap Genius cofounder Mahbod Moghadam. “That’s why we made them a professor of Rap Genius University–also we are proud of the rap/news nexus that is poppin here.”
We eagerly await the ACLU’s perspective on the comparisons between sex acts and civil rights signs in “I’m In It.”