We The People…. – Unpacking the Anthem of Resistance


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for A Tribe Called Quest's We The People.... at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Chorus: A Rallying Cry Disguised as Repetition
  5. Verses That Unpack a History of Struggle
  6. The Hidden Meaning: Consumerism and Spiritual Hollowing
  7. Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time
  8. A Curtain Call to Social Activism

Lyrics

We don’t believe you ’cause we the people
Are still here in the rear, ayo, we don’t need you
You in the killing-off-good-young-nigga mood
When we get hungry we eat the same fucking food
The ramen noodle
Your simple voodoo is so maniacal
We’re liable to pull a juju
The irony is that this bad bitch in my lap
She don’t love me, she make money, she don’t study that
She gon’ give it to me, ain’t gon’ tell me run it back
She gon’ take the brain to wetter plains, she spit on that
The doors have signs with, don’t try to rhyme with
VH1 has a show that you can waste your time with
Guilty pleasures take the edge off reality
And for a salary I’d probably do that shit sporadically
The OG Gucci boots are smitten with iguanas
The IRS piranha see a nigga gettin’ commas
Niggas in the hood living in a fishbowl
Gentrify here, now it’s not a shit hole
Trendsetter, I know, my shit’s cold
Ain’t settling because I ain’t so bold but ay

All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays
Boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

The fog and the smog of news media that logs
False narratives of Gods that came up against the odds
We’re not just nigga rappers with the bars
It’s kismet that we’re cosmic with the stars
You bastards overlooking street art
Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts
So motherfuck your numbers and your statisticians
Fuck y’all know about true competition?
That’s like a AL pitcher on deck talking about he hittin’
The only one who’s hitting are the ones that’s currently spittin’
We got your missy smitten rubbing on her little kitten
Dreaming of a world that’s equal for women with no division
Boy, I tell you that’s vision
Like Tony Romo when he hitting Witten
The Tribe be the best in they division
Shaheed Muhammad cut it with precision
Who can come back years later, still hit the shot?
Still them tryna move we off the fucking block
Babylon, bloodclot
Two pon yuh headtop

All you Black folks, you must go
All you Mexicans, you must go
And all you poor folks, you must go
Muslims and gays
Boy, we hate your ways
So all you bad folks, you must go

Full Lyrics

A Tribe Called Quest’s hard-hitting track ‘We The People….’ isn’t just a song; it’s an ode to society’s marginalized, a reflection of contemporary disillusionment, and a powerful indictment of the political and cultural systems that perpetuate inequality. Released in the wake of seismic shifts in the American social and political landscape, this anthem echoes the sentiments of those who have long felt silenced and stands as a testament to ATCQ’s enduring relevance in the landscape of hip-hop and beyond.

Peering through its potent verses and infectious chorus, ‘We The People….’ challenges listeners to confront uncomfortable truths. As poetically subversive as it is overtly confrontational, the song represents a sonic tapestry woven with threads of discontent and defiance, adorned with motifs of unity and the unquenchable human spirit. In parsing its lyrics, we uncover layers of meaning that resonate across communities and timelines, beckoning a deep dive into its rich narrative fabric.

The Chorus: A Rallying Cry Disguised as Repetition

The chorus, though repetitious, serves as a piercing rallying cry, uniting those it speaks of—the marginalized who’ve been told they must ‘go.’ The juxtaposition of an inclusive ‘we’ with the exclusivity of a ‘must go’ list is a deliberate highlight of the societal divides fueled by external voices of authority. It underlines the absurdity and cruelty of the idea that certain groups of people are considered undesirable in their own nations—a recurring theme in socio-political discussions around immigration and civil rights.

Most crucially, this refrain hooks the listener, embedding itself as an earworm. However, as it lodges into the collective consciousness, its haunting message, a reflection of some power structures’ attitude towards diversity, is an act of defiance on its own. It’s a pointed reminder that despite power structures’ attempts to displace and disempower, these communities remain, resilient and resolute.

Verses That Unpack a History of Struggle

The verses are a profound commentary on the Black experience, especially in urban America. From ‘the killing-off-good-young-nigga mood’ to being ‘liable to pull a juju,’ the lyrics are drenched in the historical and ongoing narrative of being both targeted and resilient. The references to voodoo and juju are not just cultural nods but also signify a reclaiming of power—rooted in heritage and spirituality—that Black communities have often been stripped of or demonized for.

Meanwhile, the allusion to ‘niggas in the hood living in a fishbowl’ and gentrification’s impact reveals the scrutiny and displacement these communities face. As ATCQ boasts about their longevity and impact in ‘the best in their division,’ they challenge the erasure of their contributions and the failure to recognize the intelligence and strategy behind their craft.

The Hidden Meaning: Consumerism and Spiritual Hollowing

Slightly more subtle but equally potent is the song’s critique of consumerism and the hollow satisfaction it offers. ‘Guilty pleasures take the edge off reality’ captures the escapism that mass media provides, which is further accentuated by ‘the OG Gucci boots are smitten with iguanas.’ These lines encompass the allure of luxury and exoticism, emptily chased after by a society grappling with reality’s starkness.

Furthermore, in ‘The IRS piranha see a nigga gettin’ commas,’ there’s an undercurrent of systemic exploitation. It not only speaks to the racial profiling experienced in financial success but also attacks a deeper societal idolatry of wealth measured by ‘commas’ in the bank account—often at the cost of humanity and dignity.

Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time

‘The fog and the smog of news media that logs / False narratives of Gods that came up against the odds’—these lines succinctly encapsulate the distortion of facts that media can perpetuate, muddying the waters of reality. Such powerful imagery speaks volumes about the growing mistrust between the public and news outlets. In a climate of ‘fake news’ accusations and sensationalism, ATCQ’s observation feels more relevant than ever.

Moreover, the song doesn’t shy away from exposing the hip-hop industry’s own failings—’You bastards overlooking street art / Better yet, street smarts but you keep us off the charts.’ Here, ATCQ confronts a whitewashed music industry that often overlooks the raw talent and authenticity of rap music that emerges from the very streets it claims to represent.

A Curtain Call to Social Activism

Ultimately, ‘We The People….’ isn’t just a track; it’s a movement encapsulated in rhythm and verse. It compels activism and awareness in an age where the latter can often feel like passive consumption. The fierceness with which ATCQ delivers each line becomes an invitation to the listener—not to simply bob their head, but to raise their fist, challenge the status quo, and add their voice to the collective call for equality and justice.

In ‘We The People….,’ A Tribe Called Quest cements their legacy not merely as musicians but as prophets of a kind, laying bear the systems that aim to dehumanize and deprioritize while reminding us that we hold power in our unity and resistance. It’s a subtle push to look beyond our screens, to engage with the world critically, and to remember that we all contribute to the collective narrative of humanity—it’s a bitingly relevant and resonant message in a time of great division and even greater potential for change.

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