Lupe Fiasco's "Jonylah Forever" is the Most Important Song in Hip-Hop Right Now

Categories: Hip-Hop
The funeral for Jonylah Watkins, a six-month old baby who died after being shot five times last week on the South Side of Chicago, will take place this morning. Bulls basketball superstar Derrick Rose has offered to pay for the service. In a musical tribute moved by the gun violence in his hometown, rapper Lupe Fiasco has already eulogized her in song. Watkins, who didn't live to see her first birthday, was having her diaper changed last week when a gunman opened fire on her father. In "Jonylah Forever," Fiasco imagines a scenario where the infant girl never suffered such a heart-wrenching fate.

Produced by Soundtrakk, the rapper released the song on Soundcloud two days after she was pronounced dead at the local Chicago hospital. Fiasco simply tweeted, "Not a song but a life. Be respectful Please keep negative comments to yourself." And with that he proceeded to paint the picture of a life not lived pondering, "How 'bout them bullets ain't slow you up / You ain't really die / And we watched you grow up."

He rhymes about Jonylah's would be awkward first steps, first words, and elementary school days where her intellectual curiosity buds. With his words, Fiasco then turns her into a prodigy that earns a doctorate at the age of twenty-two, is accepted into medical school and turns down a high-paying job offer to return to the 'hood she grew up in, where her skills are sorely needed. In a twist of fate, shots ring out near a free clinic where a grown Jonylah Watkins works. A man holds a bleeding baby in his hands.

Fiasco rhymes: "Did everything you could to keep this girl alive / stabilized until the ambulance arrived / And in that moment where you gave your help / I bet you didn't know that you saved yourself."

Heartfelt, sincere, and responsive to a community in need, "Jonylah Forever" is the most important song in hip-hop right now.

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Lupe Fiasco may have just set the tone to have the most important conversation Black people will ever have - the issue of Black-on-Black crime. It has been taboo to even mention the subject in our communities. We can no longer simply turn our heads or commence with the defensive posturing. How many dead Black faces do we have to count before we say "no more?"

How many anguished faces of Black parents and family members do we have to see before we say "enough?"

We have always been an actionable people. Don't our children mean anything to us? If they do then let us stand for Jonylah and the thousands of other Black faces that have been murdered and died on our streets.

The author is right. This may very well be the most important song in hip hop - it may very well be the most important song in the lives of our children.


Just when I lose faith in hip-hop, songs like these bring me back for more.

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