April 22, 2014

Maroon Mentality feat. Malcolm X & John Henrik Clarke

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"Maroon Mentality" is a piece that is meant to inspire a new mode of consciousness that acknowledges the past, engages the present, and prepares for the future. The slavery-era Maroons escaped the grips of their captors to establish their own communities in a foreign land. The Maroon Mentality is a modern-day adaption that enables people to establish a mental and spiritual space that is separate and free from the psychological trappings of neo-colonialism. The effects of post traumatic slavery disorder are prevalent throughout the world, so there no longer exists any physical escape from it. But we can adopt and nurture a mindset that allows us to author our own life story amidst the madness.
The inspiration for the song comes from Mercury's day to day experiences working as an educator in the inner cities of New York and Baltimore. Too often he has seen students and families in emotional despair, with little hope for a better tomorrow. A Maroon Mentality would give people an understanding of their situation, which would in turn nurture the wisdom to allow them to find a way out of the depravity.  While Mercury's work allows him to interact directly with these families, he recognizes the power of music to also influence lives. There was a time in recent history when people were aware and making conscious efforts to better themselves. In a very short period of time, we have lost that drive, and the moral emptiness of today's music does little to inspire.
The overall mood and tone of the song is deliberately aggressive while inviting at the same time. From the opening warrior drums and Malcolm X excerpt, the listener is forced to pay attention. The beat is kept as minimal as possible to allow the words room to be appreciated. Lyrically, Mercury paints the landscape that illustrates the need for a Maroon Mentality. We are a people with a rich history ("Go back further and you won't see dirt...Civilizations, full of dark faces"), fully capable of having an even richer future. The song is not a call to war in the traditional sense, but rather a call for people to change their situation through their own eforts. As John Henrik Clarke eloquently states in the final excerpt, God has given us all the equipment we need to do for ourselves.

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