Rhode Island rapper B. Dolan calls out the hip-hop haters in this song that samples a folk song written for striking American miners in the 1930s.
Whilst the original song is a call to arms for the working class men who were battling for the right to form a union in 1931, B. Dolan's track is an attack on rappers who perpetuate homophobia and misogyny - and he equates the role of today's hip-hop music to that of America's folk musicians of yesterday: "Hip Hop is folk music grown from the struggle".
"I’m on the side of poor people getting organized," says B. Dolan in this banjo-flavoured collaboration with UK mixmaster Buddy Peace from their 2012 project House of Bees Vol.2. "I’m on the side of choice where it is in short supply / I’m on the side of those the system doesn’t authorise / LGBT We are on the side of Pride, Justice and Equality".
Dolan was inspired by Barbara Kopple's Oscar-winning 1976 documentary Harlan County, USA, which tells the story of the 1973-74 Brookside Mine coal strike in Harlan County Kentucky as well as the lengthy and violent Harlan County War of the 1930s, when social welfare and labour rights activist Florence Reece wrote the original Which Side Are You On?
This track features the 1941 version of Which Side Are You On? by the Almanac Singers.
"I've been wanting to sample this song forever," said Dolan "and it has a rich and storied history... It feels like it’s time in my life for a song like this, and I believe it’s also that time in the world around us. As a working class heterosexual white man, as a feminist, anti-racist, LGBT ally, as an emcee and an American citizen, I feel that it’s my duty to be clear about whose side I’m on."
You can learn more about B. Dolan here
About the curator: Jon Ewing
After graduating from the University of Keele in England with a degree in Politics and American Studies, Jon worked as editor of a music and entertainment magazine before spending several years as a freelance writer and, with the advent of the internet, a website designer, developer and consultant. He lives in Reading, home to one of the world's most famous and long-running music festivals, which he has attended every year since 1992.