Occupy Wall Street didn’t produce much potent protest music, but in just a couple days of Chicago’s teachers strike at least one rapper has enshrined the debate in song.
It’s not bad, either. “Chicago Teacher,” by Chicago-native hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz, patiently lays out the points of the dispute between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city. A chorus of “Homey, I was taught by a Chicago teacher!” doesn’t come off nearly as hokey as it looks here in print, and they’re clearly on the side of the teachers: “Rahm’s a fake pretender with a corporate agenda / neoliberal offender, of course you offend us!”
Here’s the song (free!), lyrics (complete with Chief Keef reference!) and more below …
Chorus: Homey I was taught by a Chicago teacher! Chicago teacher, Chicago teacher! I learned to read and write from a Chicago teacher, So I’m inspired by the fight from our Chicago teachers! Rodstarz: The teachers are tired, the students dumbfounded, the budgets get cut so classes are overcrowded. Streets full of violence, the blue code of silence so imma keep rhyming til salaries start rising! The unions uprising! takin to the streets! The workers are United so the Mayor’s got beef! Rahm’s a fake pretender with a corporate agenda Neo Liberal Offender, of course you offend us! This aint about money! That’s far from the truth, they want better work conditions to teach the youth. Politicians, I don’t trust em, its all in the name the president, the mayor all want political gain. Theyd rather put the kids in jail, shackle em wit chains, then provide an education that challenges the brain. Top down education..Chicago- the birthplace And now its spreading nationwide all over the place They don’t teach us how to think they teach us how to test! they teach us how to work to put money in they check!s The CEOS need to get up out the classroom before these streets get hotter than the sand in cancun! so join the picket line like mr pickett in his prime, put on ya red shirt like the bulls in 95. hit the streets with a sign that says im fightin for mine IT’S A FORK IN THE ROAD AND U GOTTA CHOOSE A SIDE And yes im proud to say I was a public school student IT WAS PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER THAT FIRST TAUGHT ME MUSIC (2x) G1: Went to lil Lincoln School in a lil school bus DEsegragation. Paid 20 cents for lunch Reduced price ticket For the lower income children Art and music classes In between Math and English Now its different They just teachin to the test Forced by the feds Or they losin that check Too many children left behind by this corporate assembly line how they privatize? education is a humam right! and they kids gon be fine they send em to private schools while ours get sent to prison or given a job servin fast food cash rules so it gets treated like a business bought and sold by businessmen turned politicians so if Rahm was the chief of staff and Arne Duncan got his start in Chicago sellin off the education system then Obama gotta respond the teachers or the corporations? Which side is he on? The streets is getting hot They blame the heat on Chief Keef But it’s a million others like him being created every week If we don’t teach we don’t learn And the streets is gon burn Before it gets worse I put on my red shirt
Rebel Diaz is a project of Rodrigo “RodStarz” Venegas and Gonzalo “G1” Venegas, England-born and Chicago-raised sons of Chilean activists. Now based in the Bronx, they released a debut album of their politically charged hip-hop last spring, “Radical Dilemma.”
Haven’t heard much other music occuring in or related to the strike thus far, save this valiant group of teachers and their take on Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid.”
Have you? Do tell.
And here’s my playlist of union songs, should anyone need to learn a few.