“Hustler’$ Reward” by Teflon Turksta / VertCru D.Bois Review
By Gabrielle Lamontagne
The music is pretty standard in this song, but there is a lot to unpack lyrically in “Hustler’s Reward”. For one thing, there are a lot of historic and cultural references, from Phil Collins to King Solomon. Overall, the message is a very powerful and emotional diatribe to the current difficulties of living in the United States as a person of color.
“All real n*** deservin’ a war with they name on it/Stateside they through [threw?] the scroll/but you ain’t change on it/you survived the game, homie/and through the trials and the tribulations/know you made it”
The narrators address and praise black single mothers struggling to survive and raise healthy, happy children in such an oppressive society.
“You a true queen a real lady/have you anybody told you that they love you lately?/when you lost it all you upgraded/a single mother and you made it/has anybody told you that they love you lately?”
The “white” plays a huge role in this oppression, of course, which is mentioned throughout the song.
“Birth of a great nation/seed of a planet Earth/…/born in the world of sin/all profit from the white man/see our black faces scrolling down a closed hand”
The song also turns to address other black people in jail to speak against the stigmas and stereotypes that it’s “cool” to be a criminal. In fact, the narrators of the song explain that clinging to these ideas has only worsened their lives as a culture in American society.
“My boys in the penitentiary college,/invest your time wisely and quit your whining/equip yourself with some good knowledge/real gangstas don’t promote violence/we wanna see our kids go to college”
They address the history of black oppression in America throughout the song, mentioning changing what fabrics they use from cotton, due to its unsavory connections to slavery. They also discuss the constant fear of and the existence of prejudice in local and national law enforcement.
“Even though we know the consequences/and you had to pull that s** for self defense/they didn’t have all of the evidence/you had to cop out just to get that s*** over with”
The use of “Earthquake” throughout is not only used as a way to interrupt the beat, but I believe the choice of word has to do with the central concept of the song. The way society in the United States is currently, oppressive to People of Color, as well as other minorities, needs to be shaken up. The way it’s used in this song could also be a wake up call to the people listening to it, a way to say “pay attention”.
While Rap is still not my favorite genre, this song is extremely powerful and I definitely appreciate the artistry that went into writing it.