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RZA Rewrites History With New Ice Cream Truck Song

Changing the racist popular ice cream jingle is its own protest

Image Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Wu-Tang Clan member, Raekwon recently celebrated the 25 year anniversary of his classic album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…

On the project was the catchy ode to femininity in the guise of gelato appropriately entitled, Ice Cream. Now the producer of that track and founder of Wu-Tang, the RZA, has elevated his impact on the frozen confection.

The Abbott is restoring the “good” in Good Humor by partnering with the ice cream brand for a new jingle as a free alternative to the well-known and problematic tune “Turkey in the Straw” aka “N****r Love A Watermelon.”

The rapper-producer unveiled the catchy new song last Thursday in a video acknowledging the racist history of the original song, which has long been associated with minstrel shows and racist imagery.

“Remember that ice cream jingle?” RZA says in a promo video introducing his tune. “Of course — we all know it. I’m not gonna play it right now, though, because we come to find out that it has racist roots.

“But check this out — Good Humor, they called me up and they was like, ‘We gotta do something about this, Riz. We can change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era.’”

“Nigger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!” merits the distinction of the most racist song title in America. Released in March 1916 by Columbia Records, it was written by actor Harry C. Browne and played on the familiar depiction of black people as mindless beasts of burden greedily devouring slices of watermelon.

Browne simply used the well-known melody of the early 19th century song “Turkey in the Straw,” which dates to the even older and traditional British song “The (Old) Rose Tree.” The tune was brought to America’s colonies by Scots-Irish immigrants who settled along the Appalachian Trail and added lyrics that mirrored their new lifestyle.

However, the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s. Some songs using its same melody contained highly offensive, racist lyrics,” Good Humor explains on its website.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=broo2NZmiDE

Good Humor is also “calling on ALL drivers to STOP playing ‘Turkey in the Straw’ immediately.” The company wants drivers to use RZA’s jingle, which Good Humor has released for free.

In addition, it has been added “to industry standard ice cream truck music boxes” starting this month.

Good Humor has laid out a commitment to racial equality and racial justice. They recognize that ending systemic racism and social injustice is a challenge that requires multiple interventions.

“Racial issues are human rights issues and everyone has a critical role to play in creating systemic change”, Good Humor said via statement. “We know that changing a song alone will not solve racism, but it is one immediate and simple step we can take.

“We are proud to be part of Unilever and its family of brands who have pledged more than $8 million in 2020 to organizations and activists working for social justice and racial equality including Black Lives Matter, National Urban League, National Bail Fund Network and The Bail Project.”

“We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities — that’s good for every driver, every kid,” RZA continues. “And I’m proud to say, for the first time in a long time, a new ice cream truck jingle will be made available to trucks all across the country in perpetuity. That means forever, you know what I mean? Like Wu-Tang is forever. And I will assure you that this one is made with love.”

RZA always said that Wu-Tang was for the children. Now he proved it.

 

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