T.I. gives Gaza Strip shoutout in recently released single

In the spirit of covering Palestine’s presence in the world of music, we have just been alerted to a politically-conscious rap single by recording artist T.I. that mentions the Gaza Strip in its opening line.

‘New National Anthem’, which features vocals from Skylar Grey, focuses on a number of injustices endemic to the United States particularly as they apply to Black America. From police-endorsed racial profiling to the school-to-prison pipeline that breaks families apart and prevents new ones from forming, and from political corruption to the ever-expanding gun problem, T.I. asks a very valid question: “Is this the new national anthem?”

Despite the track’s relevance to today’s social climate, it was written months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, this past August. The single was finalized and released on September 23. The lyrics ring truer today than ever before.

Sung by Skylar Grey and ad libbed by T.I., the chorus is bold:

Home of the brave and free
[It’s America]
Free just to murder me
[Land of the handgun]
Land of the beautiful
[Home of the shotgun]
Cursed by the hate we throw
[You’re dead if you ain’t got one]
Is this the new national anthem?
[It was like this before I got here, baby, I ain’t do it]
Is this the new national anthem?
[I ain’t start it, I’m just a part of it]

T.I. begins the song by connecting the violence in the United States to the violence in Afghanistan and in Gaza where innocents are killed so frequently that we have tuned it all out.

“I know radio prolly ain’t gonna play this, but chopper going off in the hood man like Afghanistan or the Gaza Strip somewhere man.”

T.I. is directly referencing the United States’ role in Afghanistan, where upwards of 20,000 civilians have been killed since 2001, and Israel’s most recent major operation in the Gaza Strip, where nearly 2,200 Palestinians were killed in a span of 51 days, including more than 500 children.

‘New National Anthem’ is the fourth track on T.I.’s ninth studio album Paperwork, released in late October. The track peaked at #6 on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles chart.

Skylar Grey also featured as a guest appearance on Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Words I Never Said’ in 2011. This track similarly referenced Gaza and criticized Israel for its brutal assault on the occupied territory at the time.

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