Ed. note: As long as humans have been making music, it’s been used as a form of protest. As part of KQED Arts’ 100 Days project, documenting artists’ responses to our new administration in its earliest days, I’ve asked Bay Area musicians to get in touch with songs they’ve written or recorded that serve as reactions to our current political climate. A new one is posted each week.
Rocky Rivera, a rapper, teacher and San Francisco native, has been making "conscious" music since before most of her students were born.
A former music journalist turned musician, the emcee's lyrics have never been subtle when it comes to politics -- her 2016 song "Turn You," for example, is a straight-up feminist-conversion hip-hop manifesto. But after the election, says Rivera, it felt more important than ever to create music that moved people to act.
"Round We Go," a collaboration with friend and frequent co-writer DJ Roza, is the result. The track came out of a retreat that the pair's label, Beatrock, held over the holiday break. "The political mood was so somber regarding the new administration, but us artists, we were excited," says the emcee, whose real name is Krishtine de Leon. "Beatrock Music has been making what most people call 'political' music since before Obama came into office, but it was relevant now more than ever."
With only enough time for one recording session, Rocky and Roza took an instrumental loop Roza had cut and arranged from Solange's "Where Do We Go," from the album A Seat at the Table, and rapped over it. The lyrics, Rocky says, are a continuation of and response to the question Solange asked: Where do we go from here?