Celebrating a diverse Thanksgiving: ‘Anthology of Rap’

RAPPERS Slug and Ant. Believe it or not, their Thanksgiving anthem, called “Sunshine,” made it into the new Yale University Press “Anthology of Rap.”Thanksgiving is coming—and our nation is a mess. Millions of us are angry and fearful about a list of grievances so long that it’s exhausting just to tick off the injustices. So, ReadTheSpirit is starting early encouraging Thanksgiving for Diversity! We’ll tell you more in coming weeks but, today, we’re starting to spread this idea far and wide.

We’re going to start by looking for hopeful signs of thanksgiving in one of the most unlikely corners of American culture: the world of rap. The new Yale University Press book, “The Anthology of Rap,” makes it clear that “aggression” is the “default tone” of rap. These 880 pages of rap lyrics collected by scholars from decades of rap music are full of  greed, fury, lust and flat-out hatred. So, can anyone find anything “thankful” in such a world?

The answer is: Yes!

Thanksgiving for Diversity!

Think about this creative challenge! Our nostalgic American memories of Thanksgiving focus on diversity: European immigrants and Native Americans sitting down together to enjoy a feast. So, this year, let’s look for signs of hope for America in the things we all can agree make us thankful. Near our Home Office in Michigan, communities across the Detroit area plan to gather for interfaith Thanksgiving services this year. If you’re aware of such an interfaith service in your part of the country—email us at [email protected] and tell us about it, please!

Today, we’re challenging readers with this fresh idea: Can we all find ways to be thankful? Can we include everyone in our diverse celebrations?

To prove that we can, indeed, find common ground, we’re going to share a brief sample from “The Anthology of Rap.” This is the kind of important new book that teachers, college students, writers, scholars and a host of other Americans are going to want to buy and read for a better understanding of American culture. Mostly, this book is packed with R-rated rage, desire, anger and all the jagged-edged emotions that fuel rap.

But right in the middle of the book is a rapper’s thanksgiving—a hymn of joy to surviving one more day, to waking up after a terrible night and to expressing thanks for the simple wonders of the world we share. (If you’re offended by rap music, think of this as a rap anthem echoing Kris Kristofferson’s and Jonny Cash’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”)

Here is a short excerpt …

from “Sunshine

by rappers Slug and Ant

Sunshine, sunshine, it’s fine
I feel it in my skin, warmin up my mind
Sometimes you gotta give in to win
I love the days when it shines. Whoa, let it shine

If I could I would keep this feeling in a plastic jar
Burst it out whenever someone’s actin hard
Settle down, barbecue in the backyard
The kids get treats and old folks get classic cars
Every day that gets to pass is a success
And every woman looks better in a sundress
The sunshine’s an excuse to shoot hoops
Get juice, show and prove them moves and let loose
I hear voices, I see smiles to match ‘em
Good times and you can feel it in the fashion
Even though the heat cooks up the action
The streets still got butterflies, enough kids to catch ‘em
Ridin my bike around these lakes, man
Feelin like I finally figured out my escape plan
Take it all lin, the day started off all wrong
But someohow now that hangover is all gone
Ain’t nothing like the sound of the leaves
When the breeze penetrates these southside trees
Leanin up against one, watchin the vibe
Forgettin all about the stress, thanking God I’m alive
It’s so simple, I had to keep the song simple
And when I get home I’m gonna open all the windows
Feelin alright, stopped at a stop sign
A car pulled up, bumpin Fresh Prince’s “Summertime”

If you are intrigued by this new Yale Press book, you can order “The Anthology of Rap” at a significant discount from Amazon now.

We want our international conversation to continue

Conversation is far better than the dangerous shouting matches we’ve been witnessing in our global culture recently. So, please, email us at [email protected] and tell us what you think of our stories—and, please tell a friend to start reading along with you!

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