Family Tree


Editors' note: For Black History Month, Chicago hip-hop artist Epic decided to release a video from his recently released album #OPRAH every week. This track, as readers can no doubt see, front-loads a great deal that makes a radical understanding of this month so important. Black resistance — social, political and cultural — runs deep, and that can't be forgotten.

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Malcolm was my father
Huey was a martyr 
Got a sister named Assata
bell hooks was her daughter
Never met but yeah she taught her
Taught her how to struggle
Ali was my uncle, he taught me how to swing
Martin Luther sat me down he taught me how to dream
Cornell West sat brought me up told me to believe
Ella Baker gave me paper taught me how to read
Introduced me to Basquiat who taught me how to see
In his art I met Marcus Garvey and Langston Hughes
Both black in different hues
Fought for fredom different views
'Til I meet the homie Huey and he let his panthers loose
Then Fred Hampton got shot I must've been like two
I was a 80s baby
Everything gets chopped and screwed
Tupac was profit before they gave him Juice
A tree was a tree
Until they gave the shit a noose
I guess it's all Strange Fruit
That's my sister Billie Holiday
She stay out of town I only see her on holidays
Rakim was a local dude
Taught me rap was cool
KRS taught me Protools
A fist, table and one spoon
I was like this "dude, so cool"
He must be Illmatic
He said "naw that's Nas, best friends with my brother Havoc"
So we Mobb Deep that soul food
That fried chicken and cabbage
That Kojo, that Celo Green
That dungeon crew was my family
I meet a sister named Lauryn
Her mother was Latifah
Whose sister was MC Lyte
Envoge was on some diva shit
My uncles, sisters, nieces kids
And so was Mary J.
Who did a song
Method man, who stayed around the way
With a clique called Wu-Tang
Rza had kick like Wu-Tang
And Cali hollered who bang
Everyone I knew slanged
Jigga had a hard knock life
I had a scarred face pocket full of stones
And some throw back Mike's Do or Die
Smoking refer before I ever knew about Khalifa
Single ladies turned diva
Every rapper had a feature
This New Jack City 'cause I am my brother's keeper
That's blood line
From pyramids to gun crimes
My history in punch lines

Richard Wallace a.k.a. EPIC is a member of the Chicago hip-hop trio BBU, and is co-founder of the Future of Benin Project.