Payback Time Guide

 In Elementary, Lessons and Ideas, Neil Andersen, Resources, Secondary

Payback Time is a song by King Cosmos, a Trinidadian-Canadian calypso artist and teacher. The song is a comment on the centuries-old conflicts between Black and White cultures in the US, and in particular the fact that America’s wealth from 1619 – 1865—246 years—was created in large part by the slave labour of kidnapped Africans. Payback Time states that the time has come for reparations, or the transfer of finances from the descendants of masters to the descendants of slaves.

The song is arguably a history and music course in and of itself. We are going to discuss the lyrics and the music together because each influences our understanding and appreciation of the other.

Payback Time is set in the first part of the 21st century and begins when Colin Powell, then the US secretary of state, denies that reparation is necessary. It includes samples of speeches from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X as well as lyrics in African. This song is available on iTunes and CDBaby.

Click to download the lyrics and payback-time-guide.

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