Gif is a talented storyteller. His years portraying the lost voices in Every Ghetto America have culminated into these small diamonds of social commentary. This track predates several police brutality incidents, a nod to Gif’s soothsaying, incisive musical style. Check the track after the jump. Read Gif’s letter to the police here.
Here is Gif explaining the origin of “Orangutan Bang”:
Walking down the street as a teenager if I saw a squad car rolling by, my mind would immediately switch to paranoid thinking like, “what can I do to not get stopped?”
Does my walk look suspicious? Am I bopping too hard? Does my phone look like a gun in my pocket? If I keep my hands in my pockets with my phone and they stop me, when I go to raise my hands, are they going to mistake it for a gun and shoot me? If I keep my hands out of my pockets and hold my phone and they stop me, are they going to mistake it for a gun and shoot me?
I’d walk down the street confused, putting my hands in my pocket then taking them out, trying to walk straight and fight my natural instinct to bop. Mind you, I committed no crime and had no record, so there was absolutely no reason for me to be stopped by police. It’s just that past incidents showed me that none of that mattered.
My first day of high school I had two scrapes with the police. My brother and I were walking on our way to school when a cop car pulled up alongside us. Cop stuck his head out of the car window and said, “What are you f***ing deaf? You don’t hear me calling you? Lift up your shirt.” Then he smirked at his partner. “Oh, it’s just his belt buckle. I thought it was a gun. Get out of here!” That’s when he waved me off.
At lunch time that same day, my brother and his friend brought me with them to go smoke weed. We went inside this small apartment building and sat on the steps of the floor below the rooftop. My brother’s friend pulled out a Philly blunt and sparked it. The smell permeated the hallway which must’ve led to someone calling the cops because a short while later we were getting bumrushed. I saw strange people running toward me so I got scared and ran. Just as I took off I heard my brother shout “DON’T RUN,” but it was too late. I got to the floor of the rooftop when one of the officers grabbed me and slammed me up against the wall. My brother rushed up the stairs screaming “Get off my brother!” The officer let me go and grabbed him. He then slammed my brother up against the wall and handcuffed him. I remember so clearly that officer’s partner telling me how my brother shouldn’t have agitated his partner because he was “having a bad day.”
For a lot of people from my community and communities like mine across the country and even the world, when they’re stopped by police it doesn’t end with them being told to “get out of here”, or a cop out to a misdemeanor. It ends with broken bones. It ends with the loss of life. For all of us when we’re stopped by police there’s always that possibility.
The song “Orangutan Bang” is primarily about my personal experiences with Police and experiences I’ve witnessed. The second verse is a combination of the time I got stopped on the first day of High school and another time I got stopped on my way home from work. It ends, like police encounters in my community too often end. A police encounter escalates to the point where a man is being choked by police as he repeatedly screams “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.” The song was recorded before the death of Eric Garner who an online video showed being choked by Police as he repeatedly screamed “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” after being stopped.
The reality we face is that he wasn’t the first and any of us could be next in the time it takes for there to be a last.
Shawn “Gif” Folk is a hip hop artist from New York with an eye on social views and dope rhymes to express them. You can listen to his work here.