The Guardian 28 September, 2005

Katrina songs zoom over the net

Terrie Albano

When hip-hop artist Kanye West said, "George Bush doesn’t care about Black people," he caught the imagination of rebellious artists everywhere. People find it refreshing to hear such a bold, truthful and militant straight-from-the-heart speech in time of profound crisis.

The Legendary K.O., a Houston-based group, took West’s illustrious quote and has turned it into a song with the same name. One of the most powerful post-Katrina anti-Bush messages, the song is making an impact in the "underground," internet-based music world. With West’s Ray Charles sample from his hit Gold Digger in the background providing the driving beat, The Legendary K.O. skewers the administration’s criminal response.

Five days in this [*#&*@!] attic
I can’t use the cellphone I keep getting static
Dying ’cause they lying instead of telling us the truth
Screwed ’cause they say they’re coming back for us, too
but that was three days ago and I don’t see no rescue

The song, available for free through , was downloaded 10,000 times in the first day alone, with listeners ranging from the US to Europe and Japan. After posting the song on five other sites it "pretty much snowballed" after that, Legendary K.O. member Damien told the People’s Weekly World. "We’ve recorded 500,000 downloads — the most we’ve ever gotten."

Damien said the incredible response comes from twin reasons — the speed of the Internet itself and the message. "We’ve had numerous discussions since the song came out and 98 percent of the people agree", he said. "It was on most people’s minds, especially the victims here in Houston felt that way."

Legendary K.O. member Micah, who lives minutes away from the Astrodome where many Katrina victims are being housed, came up with the song concept immediately after hearing Kanye West’s remarks.

"I had really wanted to write about this in the first person, as someone stuck in New Orleans and left by this administration to basically fend for myself, but was having trouble putting the emotions I felt into words. When I heard Kanye during the benefit, the rest, as they say, was history", Micah said.

"Personally, I think Katrina has provided the opportunity for a more open and honest discussion on race and class. These are untouched topics", Damien said. The Bush administration’s position of a "colour blind society" means race and racism are easier to ignore, he continued.

"I think we can all agree that this situation represents the ultimate human tragedy, and highlights the need for sweeping improvements in some of the most fundamental segments of society. The safety and well-being of all people should always be considered first, and we felt compelled to express that through song", Damien said.

The Legendary K.O. is not staying on the sidelines during this tragedy, simply making music. Micah and Damien have also donated food, clothes, and time to local organisations and urge anyone that has not donated to please do so.

Other political Katrina hip-hop rhymes can be heard on the Internet. Mos Def came out with Katrina Clap, using the beat of Nolia Clap, created by New Orleans’ Juvenile. The song has already made its way to the net with Mos Def adding his voice, full of both anger at those not doing anything and empathy for the people caught in the events.

People’s Weekly World, Newspaper, Communist Party, USA

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