"American Secrets: New York City" is an audiovisual attempt at reckoning with Stop and Frisk, gentrification, and coming of age New York City by three young American artists (two emcees, one graphic designer) and their Mayor. The song and video embedded above deal with these hard questions; the lyrics are pasted below.

Akil b STRANGe: I remember when white folk started looking at me different.

We were only like 11, but no longer seen as children. ‘Cause the precinct got a whole book of statistics I now fit in. And, according to Mr. Policeman, I match a description. Now his presence is persistent during in and after school. They treat it like a criminal offense each time we act a fool.

I mean, true, we was rude, but shit we was from the hood. That just means a little attitude's in everything we do.

So the first time a cop arbitrarily stopped me, I was so scared. Barely had hair on my nuts, I hadn't even smoked yet. Told me that I stole shit. Poked me and provoked me. But my pops taught me the procedure so I was prepared.

Not too much eye contact. Hands outside my pockets. With the knowledge that sudden moves could be seen as attempts at violence.

‘Cause the Amidou Diallo trial verdict haunts my subconscious. Can't wrap my young mind around this precedent. It’s too big to process.

Then in 9th grade, school wasn't round my way no more. My relationship with the police ain't changed much though. Plus I'm dressing like a thug, smoke, and selling bud.

Found this girl that gives it up, who live out in Bensonhurst.

But each time I visit her, the harassment's so much worse. I said, "Damn this pussy’s good, but this shit just isn't worth it.” Now imagine a 14 year old boy giving up that play ‘cause I don't feel safe round her way and I'm too embarrassed to say so.

That's real rap. Real black life, doc.

Used to keep weed in my sock on the off-chance that I was stopped. All my white pothead friends ain't do that shit though. They'd be acting mad hotboy like, "It's cool, bro.”

I became aware of the inequities between them and me. Like how much tenser I would be with cops in the vicinity? And comfortable they'd be exercising their liberties.

Now I got me a good degree and shit is still the same. That's probably because policing in the States are renamed slave patrols created to hold and control newly freed slaves. Profiling is so ingrained as a part of police procedure. And they don't seen too anxious to make no changes to it neither.

That’s why I be like, “Fuck the PD! (Fuck the PD!) Fuck Ray Kelly! (Hey!)

Fuck the PD! (Fuck the PD!) Fuck Gulliani! (Hey!)”

That’s why I be like, “Fuck the PD! (Fuck the PD!) Fuck Ray Kelly! (Hey!)

Fuck the PD! (Fuck the PD!) Fuck Gulliani! (Hey!)”


MC Grizzz: I see the block through my blue eyes.

Invisible criminal, cop get the drop on me and probably never scrutinize. My white skin glows ghostly in the streetlight. I’m scared to be alone, walking mostly in the streetlights.

Why? What the fuck am I afraid of? There’s no one out to catch me. You can check the data.

That mayor is a racist. He hates you and your neighbors but he loves me. Come see. They wouldn’t dare touch me. Watch it, and make sure it really happened. They wouldn’t testify if I confessed it to the captain. Talking dirty ‘cause the truth is like that sewer there.

The block is my safari, I’m looking for a souvenir, a bag of something evil, the color of my people. Look how I’m walking eager, my Cosby sweater leaking sweat like, O god I’m fiending for the rush in my blood stream. I touch demons and they touch me back.

Saw this group on a stoop, thinking, Ooh they must sell drugs.

Why?

Why?

‘Cause they’re young and black.

I asked them if they knew that white girl. Nervous, so I stuttered. One of them asked me, “Which white girl?”

Awkward with the slang, I’m a tight pants hipster. Don’t know how to talk the game, white sands sniffler. “Um, I wanna buy drugs from you please.”

I wish he'd said fuck off; instead he look pleased.

“Oh wait right there. What you want? A g?” He said his cousin’s coming down the stairs with what I need.

The cousin daps me up with the baggy in his palm, but I clap his hand wrong, drop the baggy in the street. He gives me this look. I just pick it up. The cops is probably watching but I just don’t give a fuck.

I know I’m not suspicious to that DT in his civies. There’s a siren in his civic. I can see by how he fidgets. But it doesn’t’ fidget me. See, my brown, suede, K-Mart Clarkes don’t make a sound on the pavement.

I don’t need sneakers. Police will keep my secrets.

Walking back home to a home I shouldn’t have. White college students moving in on the ave. Pocket full of bad news but frankly I'm relaxed. Actually I’m giddy just to open up that bag. Not a single thought given to the children and the women and the men in some foreign land, getting mistreated so I have a better weekend.

Fuck that.

I sniff it by myself and start tweaking. Write a couple raps about a life without reason. Damn! I think I am the man but I’m The Man.

Mayor Bloomberg: Most crimes in our city — serious crimes — are committed by male minorities fifteen to twenty-five.

That’s why I got George Soros to put $30,000,000 in. I put $30,000,000 of my own money in. $60,000,000 of the city’s money to try to go after this group (and help them with mentors, and getting ID’s, and reconnecting to family members) …

I think we disproportionately stop whites too much, and minorities too little …

Akil b STRANGe is an American artist from Queens. A '12 Vassar College graduate, his work can be found @akilbstrange and https://soundcloud.com/akilbstrange. MC Grizzz is an American artist from Long Island. A senior at Vassar College, his work can be found @chargrizzzle and soundcloud.com/mc-grizzz. AJ Cincotta-Eichenfield is a graphic designer from Manhattan. A sophomore at Vassar College, his work can found at ajcegraphics.tumblr.com. Mayor Bloomberg is an American artist from Boston Massachusetts. His work can be found @MikeBloomberg and here.

Contributing editor, Kiese Laymon, is expanding the "True Stories" series to include "American Secrets," creative, well-executed, audiovisual stories rooted in place, movement and identity. Please send suggestions to saturdays@gawker.com or kiese@gawker.com.