Rosa Ree – We Was Kings

Rosa Ree in Blueprint music video.

When it comes to Tanzanian rap, Rosa Ree will always be famous. She is one of the only female Tanzanian hip-hop artists to reach mainstream lanes, and her music is always powerful and dynamic. Last spring, she released the single Blue Print, a song that speaks on the horrific transatlantic slave trade, and how as Black people we remember that we were kings, that we are the blueprint. 

Rosa Ree begins by speaking on the mentality that slaveholders and traders wanted to instill in slaves, saying “We are kings but they tell us that we came from the dirt, Make believe is their game so they preach in reverse.” She then continues speaking on how Africans were violated and exploited for thousands of years and seen as property and sub-human. Rosa does not sugarcoat and hide behind respectability politics as she notes the history of Africans being stolen from their homeland and taken to work, and how this work is essentially what built the economies and societies we have today. Her uncouth lyrics are in harmony with the equally real music video visuals. The music video transitions between Rosa depicted as a slave at a whipping post, her rapping with her family behind her, and inserts of historical depictions and imagery of slaves. Though some parts were hard to watch, I believe that the uncomfortableness of it is what makes it worth watching, as this is not a fantastical tale that scares children at night. This is a real and dark history and members of the African diaspora are still dealing with the aftereffects. 

Though this song deals with some heavy topics, it is still motivational and empowering. It challenges the Black listener to reckon with the atrocities our ancestors faced while still having the mindset that we are not who the colonizer tells us we are. It forces a person to start looking at life through a non-oppressive lens and think about how we can ensure that our royalty is continued in future generations. As we all know, “we was kings.”

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