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On Detroit, ‘Glory’, and Marv Won’s “Field N****”

By / 06.25.14

marv won field nigga

“You willing to lay it all on the line for a block that got a crib that your mama don’t own”

Every army needs its infantry. While generals discuss strategy and move human life around maps like inanimate chess pieces, young soldiers die in the field. The obvious parallel would be the thousands of men and women fighting for American interests in the scorching deserts of the Middle East, but there is an even deadlier campaign of terror and war that’s been taking place right here at home for a long time.

The haves and the have-nots have been able to coexist in America these past 238 years, because the haves pacify the have-nots with the well-worn fable that hard work and bootstrapping is all anyone needs to succeed. The thing about pulling one’s self up by his or her bootstraps is that one must first have boots. As the numbers of financially barefoot young people swells nationwide, I can’t help but think of the dramatized regiment of civil war era infantrymen in the film Glory.

In the film, officers handed men just recently freed from bondage guns and not much else and expected them to succeed. Their infighting and lack of discipline were attributed to their intellect and souls, and not to the conditions that they barely survived both before and during the war. They were punished with harsh words and harsher swings from a whip when they either did not meet expectations or had the audacity to speak up for themselves.

What happens when you pack soldiers into cramped conditions and give them guns, but no supplies or hope?

Rapper Marv One’s hometown of Detroit is populated by those soldiers. The spirit of the people still courses through the city’s Mile roads like warm blood slowly circulating through an old woman’s veins, but economic distress, corruption, and apathy gnaw at Detroit, weakening her like parasite soon to overtake their host. It’s a city that would consider depriving half of it’s residents of clean water in an effort to balance its books. A city where only a few are left, and the strongest survive. On his latest track “Field N*gga,” Marv recruits and implores these soldiers to fight the right war.

Beginning with a classic Malcolm X quote in which he defines “house Negroes” and “field Negroes,” Marv makes the compelling argument that the so-called fearless gangsters who have no problem killing another man or woman that looks just like him, that suffers in the same conditions as him, are afraid to confront the real enemy. As evidenced by recent events, Detroit has a well-earned reputation for serious people who are not to be f*cked with. The question remains, are those people using that muscle to protect their community, or damage it?

H/T: Distinct Life


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