An anthem for marginalized groups everywhere

A follow-up to his March 2015 albumComing Soon,” Tim Porter’s “We Are Not Villains” embodies the same aggressive, disillusioned brand of social-awareness represented in the rapper’s earlier work. A timely response to the racially-tense climate of our time, “We Are Not Villains” is a both an assertion of identity and a criticism of unjust treatment at the hands of those in power.

Though Porter, a Virginia native who grew up in Richmond has never had any negative encounters with the law, he says that he senses a growing tension thanks to more widespread coverage of police brutality online and in mainstream media.

“I never realized how much it was affecting me. Even when I’m around police now, I feel an anxiety that I’ve never felt before,” said Porter. “I don’t think it’s necessarily happening more often now than it was before, but with the emergence of social media it’s more amplified.”

While the track uses racial discrimination as its launchpad, it acknowledges a bigger struggle that crosses racial boundaries:

This ain’t about race
This is war against the youth
Eliminated by the people
we payin taxes to

Talking to Porter, it’s clear that while his skepticism of police officers may be heightened after recent publicized events from Ferguson to Baltimore to McKinney, he doesn’t see all cops or white people as “villains” either. However, he thinks there have been serious abuses of power at the hands of privileged classes that are only now being recognized and dismantled.

“Before, the police had control of the narrative. They told the media what happened during press conferences. Now, real people are telling the stories that never got told.”

And Porter makes no bones about the role he thinks hip hop should play in spreading those stories, or who he looks up to as role models:

I graced Planet Earth to do my duty in this booth
Killer Mike, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, salute

“[Hip hop] is the culture for the young people,” Porter states. “We have a lot more reach than we did 20 years ago. So why have the platform if you’re not gonna stick up for the people who support you?” He cites that philosophy as the main reason why he hopes to mold his career as an independent, underground artist, preferring vocal freedom to the creative restraint that often comes with being anchored to a big label’s bottom line.

“There’s a lot going on. As a hip hop artist, if I’m not using my voice for something good and relevant, what’s the point?”

Listen to “We Are Not Villains” below:

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Syed Mikhail Hussain is fan of all things NYC and Hip Hop. Winner of the sperm race back in ’89. He does a weekly basketball podcast. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter at @swishthis.