Confronting Racism through Ethiopian Rapper Siimba Liives

On Monday, October 30th, TEAMBACKPACK released a six minute untitled cypher that features Oswin Benjamin and Siimba Liives Long tackling topics like death, religion and deception. More important than the message in this track however, is the rapper presenting each idea.

Story | Sara Loretta
Photo | Siimba Liives, Twitter

The second half of this cypher is ran by Siimba Liives (born Addis Ababa), an Ethiopian rapper from Brooklyn, who incorporates his culture into his music. For example, in his song “Cocaine Bimbie”, Siimba spends three minutes visually telling his side of his story through fire breathing, hookah smoking, and walking in the jungle with lions.

But in the latest TEAMBACKPACK cypher, Siimba instead confronts the hardships not only he experiences as a middle eastern man but more specifically within his NYC community, white on black racism.

“It’s easy to point when the white fence picket / We was born with this skin color / we ain’t pick it / say you love our culture only when you benefittin’ / but when you see oppression all I hear is fucking crickets / y’all act like this shit wasn’t designed by the prisons / y’all act like this really about the crime that’s committed / then got the nerve to say the blacks is playing the victim / no you stupid motherfucker that’s just the way of the system”

This cypher is incredibly important because a rapper neither black nor white is recording what he bears witness to, and is making a point to comment on other’s oppression instead of Siimba’s own. While we don’t see many mainstream rappers of other ethnicities (French Montana is Moroccan, Big Pun was Latino) in American hip hop, we should celebrate differences, especially since rappers are always recording their experiences and thoughts on social events. Siimba Liives’ verse provides an insight to how white on black racism is perceived in our fellow communities and shows the empathy our generation feels towards each other.

Listen to more of the Brooklyn rapper’s music on all music platforms and find Siimba on Twitter, @SiimbaLiives.

Writer & Visual Storyteller | I think mumble rap is like disco, a bad phase.

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