Gun violence in America is a problem. The second half of 2014 played out like a nightmare in slow motion, riddled with violent, senseless gun-related deaths. Protests related to the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson and numerous other incidents involving police killing unarmed black men swept the nation. Into this conversation barrels Wara From The NBHD and his new EP If Guns Could Speak. The follow-up to last year’s full-length debut Kidnapped, it’s a seven-song onslaught of firsthand narratives about growing up in the kind of neighborhoods where police are the enemy and the label “criminal” comes standard-issue with residence.
“Don’t mistake me for no criminal/ But my whole fucking life I’ve been surrounded by criminals,” Wara raps on “Surrounded By Criminals,” detailing the weight of racial profiling. The frenzy of voices screaming back up on the chorus helps convey the sheer number of people living with the anger of this chilling reminder.
If Guns Could Speak is not an easy album to listen to, and in fact when I first listened to it, I didn’t like it. Its subject matter is dark, and rage boils just under the surface of nearly every track. But with repeated plays, I began to recognize that the discomfort I felt while listening to the barrage of songs was important. These are stories that I don’t want to be true, the stories that it would be easier to ignore.
“Art is supposed to be the thing that makes people uncomfortable, raises the questions; it’s supposed to be controversial,” Wara said of the EP, and he’s right. Stream the mixtape below or download it for free here. If it makes you antsy, it’s succeeding.