Brownsville rapper D-Mac has a message for all racist cops and his peers in music -- and he put it in a music video called "The Code."
Using Black Panther imagery, sampling a Fred Hampton speech, and staging his scenes in the shadows of skyscrapers and on the front porch of Miami-Dade's oldest standing house, D-Mac paints a bleak picture of today, while also offering a better vision for tomorrow.
He is currently at So So Def studios working on his follow-up to the Dear Destiny mixtape. Here's what D-Mac had to say about street violence, police provocation, and music with substance.
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Crossfade: What is "The Code"?
D-Mac: "The Code" is the second visual from Dear Destiny, directed by FXRBES. The song uses a sample from the song "If You Love Me" by Brownstone.
What's it about?
The song is about principles and living by your word and being who you say you are and not getting caught up in the social media fake personas that everybody's carrying these days. It's just about being a real person and being a person that lives by a code of ethics.
What's the concept of the video?
We started off with Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers giving one of his speeches, an excerpt about standing up for a cause. There's some people that's for the people and some that want to be above the people. And if you're for the people, it's more than talk. You gotta prove it. Throughout the video, we used different clips from Civil Rights protests and things of that nature.
Was "The Code" video a response to the Michael Brown protests?
We filmed it a long time before Michael Brown. I was holding it and was gonna drop a different video. But with everything going on, I spontaneously released it.
What have your personal experiences with police been like?
Being from the inner city, I'm accustomed to how the police act. It's about 60-40 -- 60 percent racism, 40 percent police brutality. The police have way too much power, and I think it's a real shame.
Sometimes, I just don't know. I get so angry thinking about it. But it's real disheartening what happened with Michael Brown's whole case and what happened with Trayvon. We need to get the racist superiors out of position.
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I've had a friend killed by the police before. He was shot in the back by police, and he was unarmed.
It puts black teenagers and other minorities in a very uneasy position, because the people we're supposed to trust and who are put in a position to protect us, they're more of our enemy than our enemies in the streets.
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Have you ever faced police provocation in your life?
All the time. I get profiled all the time. I've never been physically assaulted by the police. But I've had police do things to try to provoke a situation. They're rough or they bang on your window with a flashlight. They talk to you any kind of way, snatch your hat off your head, and try to get an ignorant reaction out of you. I don't allow people to get me to that place.
What is the role of artists and musicians in confronting these issues?
I think it's very important on all levels for everybody to speak out. What's right is right. What's wrong is wrong. People try to stay away from controversial incidents, but it's important for artists and everybody else to speak out against it.
More artists should spend more time on things happening in the world than how big their watch is or how much money they spend in the strip club. People out here going through hard times, dealing with real issues. That's what matters.
Everybody so fast to be flashy on the Internet and boast on material things and laugh at whatever is the funny meme of the moment and all the joke videos. But when something serious happens, they step away.
Everybody needs to stand up and protest and fight for what's right.
What did all the Black Panther references in the video mean to you?
The Black Panthers are important because they stood strong for justice. They had a code to stand for what's right, and they were very intellectual. When they spoke, they inspired. They spoke from a place of wisdom, and they weren't just a bunch of people trying to promote violence and disruption. They actually had a purpose, and that's important. We all have a purpose out here.
We live in a microwave-popcorn era where the minute somebody puts out a new song or twerk video, you forget about everything before it. But the Black Panthers believed in what they were doing, and I can relate to that.
It's just important to incorporate our history, my history, black history, and substance in my visuals, as opposed to standing by a car with a half-naked girl. I wanna be able to give a message.
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What are you working on now?
Still working on the Dear Destiny II mixtape that's scheduled for March 5. Working with Mike Kalombo, one of the So So Def producers. It's gonna be like an album. Pure independent. And after that, we'll see what happens. It's like inner-city life, survival of the fittest only. Either it breaks you or it makes you.
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