Dear White People
Songs By: Various Artists
Distributed by: Lakeshore Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
In the satirical comedy, Dear White People, writer/director Justin Simien takes on the provocative issues of race, sex, hypocrisy and more and places these issues smack dab into a college setting. Main character Samantha White (Tessa Thompson) is an activist who uses her radio show to call into question the hypocrisies of race relations amongst the members of a predominantly white student body. It's a call to action for some. Others find the radio show racist and riot-inspiring. Still others look to use the controversy at the university to their advantage.
Some might question my reviewing a soundtrack of a movie featuring such controversial themes at a time when these very topics have been sparking anger and anguish throughout the country. I say, why not? This is not a commentary of the film itself, but a review of the movie's music. The movie's message may be a hot topic right now, but why should I stop reviewing the music appearing in the film simply because the film is controversial. Why, indeed, especially when the music is worth talking about.
The Dear White People Soundtrack features music from various artists like Hopsin, Kilo Kish, Starchild & The New Romantic, Mibbs and Caught a Ghost. The music consists of rap, hip-hop, R&B and pop. I like rap, but not the kind of rap that incites riots or glorifies illegal activity. Thankfully, that's not the kind of rap that appears on this album. In fact, this is clear, concisely spoken rap that expresses a real message to the listeners. Mr. Blackman by Hopsin is a commentary on the social injustices of racism. The message may be hard to stomach, but not a sole out there can deny that the injustices spoken of in the song exist. Get Your Life has a catchy hook and awesome beats. Goldmine, performed by Kilo Kish (with vocals that sound very similar to Ke$ha), is a song about unrequited love.
Other standouts include Stalker by Andy Allo, a great track that's a throwback to the R&B I listened to in the early 2000s. The singer expresses her wish to hook up with a guy, despite the fact that her friend is interested in the same man. After all, her friend is just a stalker and she wants more. Holograms by Leonard Friend is something of a commentary about the digital age and the ability to bring deceased icons back from the dead through the use of hologram technology. The most controversial song on the entire soundtrack has to be No New Leaders by Mibbs in which the singer expresses his emotions regarding how he is viewed in society and how he views it back. He brings up such controversial subjects as Rodney King, Treyvan Martin, police interaction with blacks and more, but he also points out that this world is lacking in the ability to take action against injustice. As Mibbs says, there are no new leaders, no new dreamers, no Martin Luther Kings, Mother Theresas, just social media spreading inaccuracies and not working to solve problems.
So, yes, there are some controversial tracks on the Dear White People Soundtrack. They also happen to be well-written songs expressing opinions in a way to incite thought not rioting. The album also contains some excellent hip-hop and R&B, making the Dear White People Soundtrack an album worth taking a listen to.