MIUZI: Before it went through corporate gentrification and angry voices were replaced by iced-out, gold toothed coons birthed by marketing departments, rap music was a serious, subversive, anti-establishment tool stirring a whole generation of Black youth to lash out in thought, word, deed, speech, and dress, against a society and a country that spent the better part of their lifetimes brushing them aside and relegating them to conditions that would have been otherwise unacceptable had the targets of the subjugation not been dark-skinned, poor, and in the eyes of the American establishment, disposable.

So powerful was rap music that it transcended racial, cultural, economic and geographic boundaries drawing angry reactions from the highest levels of government and law enforcement. The first president Bush blasted Ice-T, presidential candidate Bill Clinton attacked Sistah Souljah, the FBI issued a warning letter to Ruthless Records and NWA because of their song “Fuck Tha Police.” When Ice Cube railed against an L.A. County hospital in a song, “Alive on Arrival,” it not only drew a reaction from the hospital, but was also the top story on the local CBS newscast. Public Enemy made a song about Arizona not recognizing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, “By the Time I Get To Arizona,” and the accompanying video made national news. And the list goes on from Paris’ “Bush Killa” to Public Enemy’s “911 is a Joke.”

Suddenly the disenfranchised were not only given a voice to bombard the system, but a weapon to destroy and expose the lies and false promises of society largely separate and unequal on so many levels.

This piece represents the ideological weapon rap music once represented, and still does when wielded by the right emcee, and the power to shock listeners to new levels of consciousness with lyrics, words and phrases like: It takes a nation of millions to hold us back, death certificate, fuck tha police, neva again, da lench mob, criminal minded, 2pacalypse Now, fear of a Black planet. Niggaz With Attitudes, get free or die tryin’, Black steel in the hour of chaos, steal this album, sonic jihad, xodus, let’s get free, to the east Blackwards, Holy Intellect, intelligent hoodlum, shock of the hour, Freedom of Speech just watch what you say, muse sick-n-hour mess age.

In addition, this piece is a tribute to emcees and groups that have pushed HipHop’s verbal revolution far beyond the artificial constraints of marketing gimmicks, corporate radio, religious doctrine, political correctness and the Rockwellian visions of Americana trumpeted by the masses.

It is dedicated to all of those inside and outside of HipHop who were and are unapologetic in their scathing criticism of injustice, and inspirational through their daring, their vision, and their art.

As for the specific elements in the piece, I’ll break those down section by section:

Background: The background is comprised of a collage of album covers from some of the most revolutionary and radical emcees and groups HipHop has seen.

It also features the most controversial album cover in the history of rap, The Coup’s Party Music cover featuring the destruction of the World Trade Center towers (the cover was created prior to 9/11/01 and replaced when the album was released) and a close second, Paris’ Sonic Jihad which depicts a jetliner headed on a crash course into the White House. Other notable covers include Ice Cube’s Death Cerificate in which he stands, hand over heart, in a morgue with Uncle Sam laid out with a tag on his toe; Dead Prez’s cover for Let’s Get Free, featuring children raising automatic weapons in the air (If you bought the album at Wal-Mart the guns were blurred out).

Lyrics: The lyrics come courtesy of Ice Cube, who, before he ascended to Hollywood’s B-list on the wings of family-friendly comedy flicks, was the most militant, angry, anti-everything, pro-Black voice HipHop had ever heard, and his cut “I Wanna Kill Sam”

I wanna kill him, cuz he tried to play me like a trick / But you see I’m the wrong nigga to fuck with

I got the A to the mutherfucklin’ K and it’s ready to rip / slapped in my banana clip

And I’m lookin’ / Is he in Watts, Oakland, Philly, or Brooklyn?
It seems like he’s got the whole country behind him / so it’s sort of hard to find him

But when I do, gotta put my gat in his mouth / Pump seventeen rounds, make his brains hang out

Cuz the shit he did was uncalled for / tried to fuck a Brotha up the ass like a small whore

And that shit ain’t fly / So now I’m settin’ up the ultimate drive by

And when you hear this shit it makes the world say, “Damn / I wanna kill Sam”

The Weapon: I’d been thinking about this concept for a while before I ever got around to actually working on it. I don’t remember how this specific idea came about, although I originally intended to use a big assault rifle or a smaller handgun. The idea to use the UZI and the name of the piece came from the Public Enemy song, “Miuzi Weighs A Ton.”

The arrangement of a mic extending from the tip of a gun has probably been done by someone somewhere, but never applied in this way or in the same context. In fact I think I think Prince had something like it as a microphone, but in his case I’m sure the thing was more phallic than revolutionary and had a whole different symbolism than what I’ve got going on here.