In a bold, exciting new project, producer, musician, and educator Dana Murray creates an album called The Negro Manifesto. The album is a mixture of jazz, spoken word, and hip-hop, creating a fusion of Black culture and a rejection of “the system.”
The Negro Manifesto is more than a clean proclamation of injustice. It delves into the institutionalized roots of racism and sexism and the history of oppression. Here, Murray presents more questions than answers, more problems than solutions, more grief than triumph.
Murray said, “The purpose of the album is to motivate constructive dialogue between people who might otherwise not cross paths. I want to bring people together from different ethnic backgrounds, religions, sex, political affiliation, tax bracket, etc. Most people find that they actually have more in common than they do differences. So, why is so much energy spent on defining those differences?”
“The System” is the first single from The Negro Manifesto. The track is musically dissonant and messy, for good reason. The percussion is sloppy, offbeat, and crowded by other noises, other instruments. I interpret this as Murray’s artistic interpretation of “the system.”
The government and society is supposed to be the backbone to a happy life, the rhythm and beat to our lives. But the government and society is corrupt, run by corrupt people. Therefore, the beat of the song “The System” is messy. The song features some rapping and lots of jumbled percussion before it is cut off by a robotic voice named… the System. This is not to be confused with the name of the song.
Dana Murray’s Portrayal of the System is Shockingly Accurate
The System shifts the track from music to a challenging spoken-word rant. A sullen bass hums menacingly while a lone tribal singer wails in the background. The System says that black men are not masculine because their “masculine” comments are often followed by insecurity. And perhaps being masculine by today’s standards is nothing but being insecure. The voice remarks that people are empty vessels who sold their souls long ago. People shake their heads at society, but also shake in their boots at the power it we have given it.
After an analysis of music in our popular culture, The System makes a judgement of black culture. It is funny to the robot that while black people are angry about police brutality, they uphold a “no snitching” policy when it comes to gang violence. The System tries to say “you Negroes” three times, but corrects itself by saying “you people.” Unsurprisingly, and not inaccurately, Dana Murray is suggesting that the ever-powerful System is racist against black culture and black people.
Dana Murray’s “The System” is harsh and eye-opening. It is much a social commentary as it is art or music, and it is very, very interesting. And not to mention, very brave.
Murray says this about The Negro Manifesto, “Through open honest discussion people can develop the ability to empathize with each other…This, in my opinion, is the path to evolution. These are difficult conversations…but have them we must. ‘Negro Manifesto’ is MY reality… it is a collection of thoughts from someone that has always asked the question ‘why?'”