Occupy Wall Street didn't produce much potent protest music, but in just a couple days of Chicago's teachers strike at least one rapper has enshrined the debate in song.
It's not bad, either. "Chicago Teacher," by Chicago-native hip-hop duo Rebel Diaz, patiently lays out the points of the dispute between the Chicago Teachers Union and the city. A chorus of "Homey, I was taught by a Chicago teacher!" doesn't come off nearly as hokey as it looks here in print, and they're clearly on the side of the teachers: "Rahm's a fake pretender with a corporate agenda / neoliberal offender, of course you offend us!"
Here's the song (free!), lyrics (complete with Chief Keef reference!) and more below ...
Homey I was taught by a Chicago teacher!
Chicago teacher, Chicago teacher!
I learned to read and write from a Chicago teacher,
So I'm inspired by the fight from our Chicago teachers!
The teachers are tired, the students dumbfounded,
the budgets get cut so classes are overcrowded.
Streets full of violence, the blue code of silence
so imma keep rhyming til salaries start rising!
The unions uprising! takin to the streets!
The workers are United so the Mayor's got beef!
Rahm's a fake pretender with a corporate agenda
Neo Liberal Offender, of course you offend us!
This aint about money! That's far from the truth,
they want better work conditions to teach the youth.
Politicians, I don't trust em, its all in the name
the president, the mayor all want political gain.
Theyd rather put the kids in jail, shackle em wit chains,
then provide an education that challenges the brain.
Top down education..Chicago- the birthplace
And now its spreading nationwide all over the place
They don't teach us how to think they teach us how to test!
they teach us how to work to put money in they check!s
The CEOS need to get up out the classroom
before these streets get hotter than the sand in cancun!
so join the picket line like mr pickett in his prime,
put on ya red shirt like the bulls in 95.
hit the streets with a sign that says im fightin for mine
IT'S A FORK IN THE ROAD AND U GOTTA CHOOSE A SIDE
And yes im proud to say I was a public school student
IT WAS PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER THAT FIRST TAUGHT ME MUSIC (2x)
Went to lil Lincoln School in a lil school bus
DEsegragation. Paid 20 cents for lunch
Reduced price ticket
For the lower income children
Art and music classes
In between Math and English
Now its different
They just teachin to the test
Forced by the feds
Or they losin that check
Too many children left behind
by this corporate assembly line
how they privatize?
education is a humam right!
and they kids gon be fine
they send em to private schools
while ours get sent to prison
or given a job servin fast food
so it gets treated like a business
bought and sold
by businessmen turned politicians
so if Rahm was the chief of staff
and Arne Duncan got his start
in Chicago sellin off
the education system
then Obama gotta respond
the teachers or the corporations?
Which side is he on?
The streets is getting hot
They blame the heat on Chief Keef
But it's a million others like him being created every week
If we don't teach we don't learn
And the streets is gon burn
Before it gets worse
I put on my red shirt
Rebel Diaz is a project of Rodrigo "RodStarz" Venegas and Gonzalo "G1" Venegas, England-born and Chicago-raised sons of Chilean activists. Now based in the Bronx, they released a debut album of their politically charged hip-hop last spring, "Radical Dilemma."
Haven't heard much other music occuring in or related to the strike thus far, save this valiant group of teachers and their take on Woody Guthrie's "Union Maid."
Have you? Do tell.
And here's my playlist of union songs, should anyone need to learn a few.