#WestCoastWednesday presents Ms. Lauryn Hill | Mystery of Iniquity

I took a week off from posting “#WestCoastWednesdays presents…” in the wake of Charlottesville as I engaged in conversations, both online and, more importantly, in person, to gain some understanding of where people are at; and to allow myself to process a bit as well. In turn, I have run the emotional gamut from hopelessness as “statistics” and “blacks kill more blacks than white people do” and “freedom of speech” and “Black Lives Matters and AntiFa (about which I am still fairly uneducated) are racist terrorist groups just as bad as Nazis, neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups” serve as defensive responses, to a deep sense of joy as unity is displayed by those eager to educate the ignorant and willing to disrupt a corrupt system, in hopes of moving forward toward equality, and perhaps more importantly, equity.

SDLHH exists as an open conversation on hip hop as a catalyst for change, so I feel deep sense of purpose in engaging issues of race and culture and I hope that in doing so, we end up shedding light on how hip hop has made social commentary on such issues since its beginnings, and that it has been a tool in pursuing and providing change and progress, especially for communities of color.

I am a student, not a professor, in this 44-year-old school of hip hop. I look to the music to teach me, to teach us, to give us a canon from which to draw sources to use as common documents to discourse on a variety of topics. I have been mulling over which song, or songs, might speak most powerfully regarding the realities that led to Charlottesville. And, if I’m being thorough, I have to state that Charlottesville is simply a symptom, an outward indicator that there has been and is a much deeper sickness infecting the very fabric and foundation of the greater American “system”. As I wrestled with which song(s) would most poignantly thrust us into a conversation on race and racism in America, I came up with a list of songs (some of which I have hyperlinked and included below), but one sort of rose to the top as succinct, but still fairly comprehensive, and representative of just about every other song in the list.

I landed on Lauryn Hill’s “Mystery of Iniquity”. I am certainly biased. If I could only own one album for the rest of my life, I would forego every other album to only own Ms. Hill’s MTV Unplugged No. 2.0. My response to this hypothetical scenario transcends genre, so I hope that my answer here doesn’t feel like a transgression against hip hop, but raw, soulful, deeply inspirational content found therein embodies, or nearly does, all that I love about hip hop. I have laughed and cried and connected with others deeply in response to one of hip hop’s most intriguing figure’s most awkwardly delivered and received pieces of art. This album is a rich wealth of knowledge regarding the human experience and is definitely highly slept on. For today’s #WestCoastWednesday, I’d like to narrow our scope to just one song on the double album, “Mystery of Iniquity”, which takes a deep dive into issues of race and racism in America. As with much of hip hop’s most important and influential songs, this will require you to wear out the tape, rewinding and re-listening to lines, sections and the entire song, multiple times. I challenge you to dig in. Please comment below to share your thoughts in response to the song, or the post as a whole.

It’s the mystery of Inequity
Said it’s the misery of Inequity
Said it’s the history of Inequity
When it all
All falls down
Telling you all
It all falls down
Children
Eat your bread
Little children
Eat your bread
’cause it all
All falls down
Telling you all
It all falls down
Yo!
Ya’ll can’t handle the truth in a courtroom of lies
Perjures the jurors
Witness despised
Crooked lawyers
False Indictments publicized
Its entertainment, the arraignments
The subpoenas
High profile gladiators in bloodthirsty arenas
Enter the Dragon
Black-robe crooked-balance
Souls bought and sold and paroled for thirty talents
Court reporter catch the surface (circus?) on the paper
File it in the system not acknowledged by the Maker
Swearing by the Bible, blatantly blasphemous
Publicly perpetrating that “In God We Trust”
Cross-examined by a master manipulator
The faster intimidator
Receiving the judge’s favor
Deceiving sabers doing injury to they neighbors
For status, gratis, apparatus and legal waivers
See the bailiff
Representing security
Holding the word of God soliciting perjury
The prosecution
Political prostitution
The more money you pay, the further away solution
Legal actors
Babylon’s benefactors
Masquerading as the agency for the clients
Hypocritical giants
Morally non-compliant
Orally armed to do bodily harm
Polluted, recruited and suited judicial charm
And the defense isn’t making any sense
Faking the confidence of escaping the consequence
That a defendant is depending on the system
Totally void of judgment purposely made to twist em’
Emotional victim blackmailed by the henchmen
Framed by intentions
Inventions whereby they lynch men
Enter the false witness slandering the accused
Planting the seed openly showing he’s being used
To discredit, edit, headed for the alleged
Smearing the individual fearing the unsuspected
Expert witness (the paid authority)
Made a priority to deceive the majority
Of disinterested peers
Dodging duty for years
Hating the process
waiting to be returning to their careers
Do we expect the system made for the elect
To possibly judge correct?
Properly serve and protect?
Materially corrupt
Spiritually amuck
Oblivious to the cause
Prosperously bankrupt
Blind leading the blind
Guilty never defined
Filthy as swine
A generation pure in it’s own mind
Legal extortion
Blown out of proportion
In vein deceit
The truth is obsolete
Only two positions:
Victimizer or Victim
Both end up in destruction trusting this crooked system
Mafia with diplomas keeping us in a coma trying to own a piece
of the “American Corona”
The Revolving Door
Insanity every floor
Skyscraping, paper chasing
What are we working for?
Empty traditions
Reaching social positions
Teaching ambition to support the family superstition?
When the Son of Podition is Commander in Chief
The standard is Thief
Brethren can we candidly speak?
Woe to the men
Trustin’ in the chariots dem’
Leaning on horses
They run their intellectual sources
Counterfeit wisdom, creating the illusion of freedom
Confusion consumes them
Every word they speak it then turns them outwardly (white/wise?)
Internally they absent of light
trapped in the night, in bondage to the Cain of the night
Under the curse
Evil men waxing more worse
Facts than the first
Angelic being cast to the earth
It’s time for rebirth
Burnin’ up the branch and the root
The empty pursuits of every tree bearing the wrong fruit
Turn and be healed
Let him who stole, no longer steal
Oh Is-rael
Surrender for Jehovah Is-rael
How long will you sleep
Troubled by the thoughts that YOU keep
The idols YOU heap
Causing the destruction you reap
Judgment has come
Find it and return to the One
Abandon the flesh
Self-interest: Broadway to death
Pride and the Greed
Hide and subdividing the seed
The knowledge of Good and Evil is what caused us to lie
Caused us to die
Let your emotions be crucified
Renounce all your thoughts
Repent and let your mind be re-taught
You’ll find what you sought, was based on the deception you bought
A perception of naught
Where the majority remains caught
Loving a lie
Not realizing in Adam, all die
Loving a lie
Not realizing in Adam, all die
Loving a lie
Not realizing in Adam, all die
Loving a lie
Not realizing in Adam, all die
It’s the mystery of Inequity
Say it’s the history of Inequity
Say it’s the misery of Inequity
When it all
All falls down
I’m telling you all
It all falls down
– Ms. Lauryn Hill

Peace, Love & Hip Hop,

– #SDLovesHipHop

#SDLovesHipHop exists to carry on a conversation about hip hop music and culture as a catalyst for change in individuals’ lives and communities. If any of the artists above, or this article has struck a chord in you, SHARE THIS and PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENexplaining how.​

LIST OF SONGS (MENTIONED ABOVE):

Kendrick Lamar
Jay-Z
Public Enemy
Fashawn
Common
Black Star
Killer Mike
Kanye West (sampled the Mystery of Iniquity)
Brother Ali
KRS-One
Lupe Fiasco
A Tribe Called Quest
Talib Kweli

Definitely nothing near an exhaustive list, but these are the songs that jumped out to me quickly and in the moment as I was brainstorming ideas. I’d love it if you left links in the comments below of tracks you feel sit in this same vein.

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