In light of the Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) that was recently signed into law in the state of Arizona — which basically legalizes “racial profiling” — Toki Wright took some time out to rework the Public Enemy classic. Hit the jump for a full letter from the Rhymesayers emcee, explaining what is what.
Dear Family and Friends,
Yesterday at approximately 1:30pm I was having a conversation with my community organizer/poet friend Emmanuel Ortiz about the Senate Bill 1070 (SB 1070) that recently was signed into law in the state of Arizona. The bill says that “all immigrants must carry documentation verifying their immigration status. It also stipulates that police officers have the authority to ask to see the information from any individual that is deemed “suspicious” or when there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person may not be legally in the country.” This new bill signed into law in a nutshell legalizes racial profiling. If you “look like an immigrant” you can get hauled off to jail. Emmanuel says, “somebody needs to redo By The Time I Get To Arizona” by Public Enemy. Arizona is that same state the didn’t want to recognize Martin Luther King Day when Chuck D originally wrote the song. For years I wanted to write a “By The Time I Get To Minnesota” version but never got around to it. I started doing more research on the new bill and was outraged. By 2:30 I contacted BK-One to locate the instrumental that he used elements of in Brother Ali’s old set. BK was on the road and said that I would have to piece it together from the original Mandrill and Jackson 5 songs. Not having any luck finding quality versions of either I went in a did some Frankenstein
cut and paste work to the original PE version.
By 4PM I was done piecing together the beat. By 7pm I rewrote the song with updated information. I wanted to follow Chuck D’s exact cadence so I had to go back in line by line. By 8pm I was listening to a rough vocal. By 10:00pm I was in the studio with Reggie Reg. The process included going in and listening to Chuck, trying to match his scheme, and recording my version. Wash, rinse, repeat. By midnight the vocals were recorded. By 3am we added all the bells and whistles and here is the finished product.
All day I’ve been saying “hell…I’m going to get in trouble for this one.” But you know what? The truth needs to be told. Biting your tongue only makes you hungry and your mouth hurt. Hope you enjoy it. Pass it along.
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