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Meaning of ‘Steak Um’ by ‘Black Thought’ feat. ScHoolboy Q

Released: 2020

Features: ScHoolboy Q

“Steak Um” by Black Thought, featuring ScHoolboy Q is an unflinching exploration of racial disparity, the grotesque reality of systemic oppression, and resilience in the face of it all. It’s an audacious critique embedded in braggadocio raps, illustrating the hardships faced by African Americans while vindicating their struggle and success.

The song starts with a raw monologue about the brutal displacement of Black people from their homeland, their objectification, and relentless struggle for freedom and identity. This fiery intro sets the stage for Black Thought’s pride declaration of being a resilient ‘black dude’ who has risen from the ashes of oppression.

As the track progresses, we see Black Thought slip into an empowering narrative, where he uses ‘steak em’ as a metaphor for overcoming adversity. His lines, “I make ’em go bananas for the noble savage”, rework the old stereotype of African people as ‘noble savages’, turning it into a badge of honor.

When Black Thought rhymes, “What’s a goon to a goblin? What’s a goblin to Amen Ra?”, he’s creating a pyramid of power where street thugs (‘goons’) are rendered insignificant next to underworld figures (‘goblins’), who themselves pale in comparison to Amen Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun-god. Here, he’s challenging the hierarchy, claiming a divine heritage, and reinforcing his invincibility in the face of odds.

The hook by ScHoolboy Q is a visceral account of life in neighborhoods affected by gang violence and drugs: “Eye for an eye, gon’ keep the tears rollin'”, he laments, pointing out the cyclical nature of street violence. His verse unflinchingly confronts the reality of black communities (‘loc’) being turned into informants (‘witness’), and how the aftermath of crack cocaine devastated black communities, changing the dynamics (‘It ain’t the same ‘round’).

The “16’s the truth” line at the end refers to a 16-bar rap verse, implying that the power of their music is indisputable, a weapon of truth and strength. In all, “Steak Um” is a lyrical raw steak of reality, seasoned with resilience and resistance, served up with unfettered pride.

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