lyrics to go (part 7 of 7, finally) “black patch war”

“There ain’t a thrill in the world to compare with building a business and watching it grow before your eyes.”

- James B. Duke

yeah, i guess it has been a minute.  no excuses and no apologies, let’s just keep it movin…

buried in this shallow and forgotten grave of previous entries you can find a most interesting response from an eager (not to mention well-educated) listener posted some months back.  he came on the offensive with pertinent questions about my connection to and interest in the Black Patch War.  was i aware that the Night Riders were comprised largely of Klansmen?  did i know that these lawless mobs who employed savage violence to pursuade poor farmers to join their cause also used the opportunity to lynch innocent black men?  was i, in fact, racist?  i was shocked; not at all by his interrogation and loose assertion, but by the fact it had taken nearly 6 months since the EP’s release for someone to raise the question.

not that i haven’t been suspected and accused of being racist before – i understand that comes with the territory.  being white and male requires you to be extraordinarily sensitive to the effects of your actions, your words, your silence.  i’m not a careful dude, but even at times when i haven’t been outright reckless i’ve been ignorant.  or arrogant.  or both.

but now,  in the context of this brutal and bloody War, what did it mean to a hiphop audience that i would appear compassionate and sympathetic to a splinter cell of the KKK?  well, you tell me.

guys are gonna wanna, go out and play sometime – just take this advice i give

‘possum hunters posse up, now

it’s in the name of the father we ride, right or wrong only god’ll decide (1)

dismiss diplomacy, don’t bother we tried (2)

they don’t play fair, the sharecroppers profits are marginalized

for law enforcement a farmer resort to homicide

we fought for our lives before this mess

check a storied past, patch of distress – a shred of dignity (3)

a scrap of prospect left in me, leave the pistol empty

shotgun got somethin’ for the enemy, it’s the

black.  patch.  war chant bangin’ on em

to fifth-third send word of another bank bombin’

ranks mobbin over the hilltop on horseback

surround the storehouse, four corners and torch that (4)

been in the poorhouse before and i don’t want that

for my boys, hear the voice at the point of contact, listen

don’t lose your self-respect, trying to gain revenge

advice to heed, yeah – follow the rules, i’ll lead

i plead ignorance to business affairs beyond the field (5)

but on the real what we’re dealing with here’s extraordinarily

heavy-handed – look where your property landed

now come play monopoly with vigilantes and bandits

i’mma stand this ground, with plans to expand the compound

interest rise over the cries of “man down!”

empathize with the planters of antioch, we can’t stop now

divine decree, and how

the flag of hoptown will be ours now, you’re under siege (6)

you’re one of these whether or not you wanna believe (7)

pledge allegiance – come the son’ll receive, the company be

numbered as somethin’ we hung from the trees ( 8 )

from the seas of judah move a multitude of discontented

consider me a spiritual descendant

woe to those makin’ unjust laws, what i sayeth

is like a modern-day isaiah

may the lord be the judge of my sins, look what we’re up against

more sufferin’, no support from the government

poor and covetous, i pour a cup and it’s

not enough to fill up – we’re overrunnin’ this

operation taken down, klan vandalism

a coups de gras for the law of the land’s evangelism

silent brigade engage in a whisper

send shock waves breakin’ – how you shakin’ a fist?  it’s the

black.  patch.   war chant bangin’ on em

a higher callin’ the fire of sodom rainin’ on em

Canaan fallin’ – flames rebuke the lot of ringleaders

this james b. a duke, not a king

he as savage as the pack he employed, capital gradually

voided, now flatter me or see your tobacco destroyed, listen

don’t lose your self-respect, trying to gain revenge

keep in line, see the sign, victory is thine

he the vine, we’re the branch where the fruits borne (9)

and some of y’all been on there too long, spoiled rotten

the regiment developin’ a loyal followin’ (10)

contest and rest under kentucky soil – not a problem

all i’m askin’ for is a fair market at the auction

i put my work on the block – gimme my portion (11)

a good return and if not, i’ll put the cross on em

target for the marlin – amoss endorsement

this manifest impressed on parchment – y’all can read, right?

figured the herod-type particularly erudite

terms affirmed by the testament of old

where the servants learn – test ‘em with gold, yeah we got that

armed for combat, over crop tax

cease the fraud, you aint god, damnit – stop that

1) blind fanaticism;  it’s plagued humanity for centuries, and just as it was the basis of justification for violence and aggression toward non-conformists throughout europe, so was it the authorization to fight non-compliance in the south.  “only god can judge me” =  no accountability to man.

2) it is a well documented fact that the independent tobacco farmers of kentucky and tennessee tried for years to fight corporate interests through various channels of state and federal legislature.  they were unsuccessful.

3) check this link for a brief history on the region’s long-standing state of depression.

4) burning down warehouses used to store corporate-owned tobacco was a common tactic employed by the vigilantes.

5) sure, we’re not talking about highly sophisticated, degree-holding executives here – we’re talking about farm folk.  it was important for me to acknowledge the humility in this regard; the arguement was never about what was good or bad for business as a whole  – a point often times lost on those who are not students of business and markets and trade.  the real issue was respect for the order of things.

6) a reference to the brief coups that usurped power in hopkinsville on december 7, 1907.

7) coercion, duh.

8 ) possibly the greatest cause of consternation for those already uncomfortable with the direction i’m headed in here; yes, it’s a reference to lynching,  a clear threat to the organization of the american tobacco company that the night riders would resort to such acts if pressured.  the reference was never intended to glorify or otherwise condone the motives behind the lynchings carried out by the Klan.

9) self-righteous, but ever reverent.

10) some estimates say the silent brigade was well beyond 5,000 members strong.

11) a slick metaphor – you see what i did there, bringin’ the old and the new together?  try to keep up, would you?


3 Comments

  1. Ra – this is sick. I love how you break down all the lyrics of this EP. Your lyrics are so complex and mature sometimes they escape me – but I like a musician who makes you work to get the message. Do you ever have plans for doing this for any other songs? Because I’ve gotten rather confused trying to figure out some of the stuff in G’Dang Diggy – which is still an awesome song. I’m an aspiring artist and you’re my inspiration – thanks for sharing your talent!

    -Andrew

  2. Found your blog while looking for info on the Black Patch Wars. The person you said”came on the offensive with pertinent questions about my connection to and interest in the Black Patch War. was i aware that the Night Riders were comprised largely of Klansmen? did i know that these lawless mobs who employed savage violence to pursuade poor farmers to join their cause also used the opportunity to lynch innocent black men? was i, in fact, racist? i was shocked; not at all by his interrogation and loose assertion, but by the fact it had taken nearly 6 months since the EP’s release for someone to raise the question” was only right in a KISS (keep It Simple Stupid) sort of way. You have a better handle on the reality of it. Almost every white person in KY or TN at this time was the child of a Confederate Vet/KKK member. Both sides of the war had connections with the KKK. Nonwhites tried to go with which ever side gave them the most advantage. When they got it right they were treated as successful “colored” members of society. When they got it wrong, they could be beaten or killed.

    The better comparison is the one I believe you make. The Black Patch Wars are a part of the labor wars of the late 19th & early 20th century. Try googling Albert Parsons and Lucy Parsons for some historic people who are more inline with your thinking. They could also be seen as the prototypes of some of the “bad” people of America’s first full length movie, Birth of a Nation.

    The south has an old history of people switching sides. You might also want to goolge the Colored Regiments of the New Orleans Home Guard. Started by fleeing the revolution in Hati, it was a way for people of color to be armed to the teeth with heavy weapons. These regiments held the middle of Jackson’s battle line at the battle of New Orleans. They also started the Civil War as part of the Confederate army. (New Orleans was a Confederate city in a Confederate state.) When New Orleans fell to Union forces, they quick switched sides and became the first two regiments of color in the Union army.

    Keep speaking the truth.

  3. I’m studying the Black Patch Wars for a school paper, and came across your lyrics when I was doing research on the internet.

    The first version of the KKK died out in the 1870s. The second version appeared after the movie “Birth of a Nation” was released. This is a pretty amazing fact to me. A terrorist group that was started by a Hollywood movie. “Birth of a Nation” didn’t come out until 1915, so the Black Patch War did not take place while the KKK was active.

    Of course, this doesn’t mean that the Night Riders weren’t racist. Pretty much everyone was back then. There were some black tobacco farmers in the PPA (Planters Protective Association) and supposedly even in the Night Riders, and there were some black farmers who were victims. The main group of Night Riders led by Dr Amoss does not appear to have had race on their agenda. Another offshoot called the “Shirt Tail Night Riders” didn’t have much to do with tobacco but lynched black people and once shot a 2-year-old black child.

    So it is a mixed record. They weren’t just like the KKK but they weren’t all heroes either. Besides, I took that you were performing “in character” portraying someone from history, not necessarily giving your personal views.

    But hey, thanks for giving me a track to listen to while I’m working on my paper.


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