By Alvin Blanco
Huey Newton was trending on Twitter on Wednesday (November 10). But all of the chatter surrounded Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y’s latest collaboration titled “Huey Newton,” not about the legacy of the late Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
Well, at least Wiz and Curren$y are making their fans aware of Newton’s exploits as a community organizer and activist in song, right? Wrong. A listen to “Huey Newton” reveals its connection with the famed leader begins and ends with the song’s title. Still, to a degree, African-American history will always be intertwined with rap history.
A cursory look at Newton’s story reveals him to be one of history’s most profound figures. In 1966, Newton, along with Bobby Seale, founded the Black Panther Party, assuming the role of Minister of Defense. While most of the attention is given to its members donning black leather jackets and toting shotguns while promoting Black Power, the civil rights group were so much more. Ending police brutality, free healthcare, better housing—all of which resonate in 2010—are just a fraction of the militant group’s goals and ambitions.
Elsewhere, other rappers versed on Newton’s exploits name check the icon in song, here are a few of RapFix’s favorites.
The Song: 2Pac “Changes,” from his Greatest Hits LP
The Lyrics: Tupac raps, “First ship ’em dope and let ’em deal to brothers/Give ’em guns step back watch ’em kill each other/It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said/Two shots in the dark now Huey’s dead.”
A son of a Panther (Afeni Shakur) himself, Tupac refers to what the Black Panther Party is most known for; their endorsement of taking up arms (they organized armed neighborhood patrols) to keep an eye on what they saw as corrupt and racist police forces.
The Song: The Game “Dream,” from The Documentary
The Lyrics: “The dream of Huey Newton that’s what I’m living through/The dream of Eric Wright, that’s what I’m giving you.”
Yes, the verse demonstrates Game’s love of names, but as a Cali kid, there is no doubt the rapper is familiar with the vision Newton aimed to fulfill. One of the Panthers’ most popular programs was Free Breakfast for Children, which began in Oakland before going nationwide.
The Song: Dead Prez “Police State,” from Let’s Get Free
The Lyrics: “I’ll take a slug for the cause like Huey P. while all you fake n—-s [ungg] try to copy Master P.”
In 1967, Newton was accused of murdering a police officer. The details were sketch (one officer was killed, the surviving officer was shot three times, and Newton was shot in the abdomen). Newton was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and was to serve 2-15 year in prison, but the decision was reversed in 1970.
The Song: Public Enemy “Welcome to the Terrordome,” from Fear of a Black Planet
The Lyrics: “Every brother ain’t a brother cause a black hand squeezed on Malcolm X the man /The shootin’ of Huey Newton … from a hand of a n—– who pulled the trigger.”
Huey Newton was killed in Oakland on October 22, 1989 at the hands of Tyron Robinson, a known drug dealer.
While the Wiz and Curren$y track may be about the lighter things in life, it’s never a bad time for a refresher on rap’s political history.
What do you think of Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y’s “Huey Newton?” Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below.