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Lincoln High School, Logic Amen
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Tacoma educator explains his controversial hip hop lyrics

Lincoln High School is in the Tacoma School District. (Photo by Joe Mabel)

Logic Amen, the vice principal of Tacoma’s Lincoln High School, is under heavy criticism from parents who point to his music, with violent imagery. One song even alludes to a school shooting.

RELATED: Tacoma educator on the progress, work to do since MLK

Parents argue it doesn’t matter that Amen’s music is produced outside his position as a role model to students. He says, however, this all has more to do with a group of parents with an “unethical premise” of not liking him.

“They began to scrub my social media and came across my music,” Amen told KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz. “They have been very public, even in the article with the TNT, with Craig Sailor, that they don’t like me. They don’t like me based on the interactions I’ve had with their children in which I was just following protocol and how I was trained to deal with circumstances at school. I can’t speak on specifically what happened … but I just did anything I could do based on how I was trained by the Tacoma School District.”

“You can look me up. I have no criminal background. I am not a gun owner. I don’t use marijuana. I’ve been in Tacoma Public School system with no disciplinary actions for the last seven years,” he said.

While Amen would not speak to any specific incident, he would say that it is protocol for a school to issue an emergency expulsion in certain situations to protect the safety of students and stop disruptions in classes. But the issue of student interventions was not what the Tacoma News Tribune wrote about. It focused on Amen’s music, particularly a hip hop song about a school shooting.

Lyrics and metaphor

Amen says the song is written from the perspective of a disturbed student.

“It is being taken out of context,” Amen said. “It’s only grabbing the last part where (it says) ‘give me a reason to load up a rifle.’ The song is full of literary devices; it is poetry. It is full of metaphors. It’s full of double entendres. It’s full of symbolism. What we are dealing with is a young child of color, a black student, and he’s going to a predominantly white school. Before that he’s dealing with his mom having an affair with Santa — that’s symbolism to having an affair with capitalism, you know, consumerism during the holiday season. They have financial hardships so they can’t meet the expectations of the holiday season and buy these materialistic items.”

Amen further explains that there is family dysfunction happening in the song, including drug addiction and domestic violence.

“And then he goes to school where he’s one of the only black students there and he’s reading Huck Finn, and they are calling him a token,” Amen said. “He has all these things coming down on him and he says, ‘Give me a reason to load up a rifle.’ From my perspective, I’m speaking for the marginalized voices who don’t have a platform to say how they feel. I’m speaking on behalf of my students; some of the students nationwide who go through these things and want to cope with these problems and their emotional dispositions by, unfortunately, committing acts of violence.”

Logic Amen: Learn about hip hop

KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz pushes back on the violent aspect of Amen’s music, especially since Amen argues that hip-hop is disproportionately targeted as bad. Rantz notes that metal music has been chided, too. Marilyn Manson was blamed for school violence after the Columbine shooting. Or the Beatles, who were blamed for generational issues of their day.

But Amen argues that the people raising an issue with him aren’t going after any other educators in Tacoma. They aren’t scrubbing anybody else’s social media.

“I think sometimes when people make comments and make these assessments of hip-hop music, they are not hip-hop historians, nor are they hip-hop activists. They are not educated on hip hop. They are not even educated on literary devices,” Amen said. “Even with my song. If I’m saying he’s putting Santa on his hit list, you are totally ignoring the literary devices at play in that poetry.”

“Your debate is that (I am) a bad influence and he should not be teaching kids, and ya know, he’s poor role model,” he said. “With the same energy you use in that exchange, you should use the same scholarly energy to really investigate hip-hop and find out what it is. If I’m saying I’m putting Santa on my hit list, that doesn’t really mean (that). Santa doesn’t even exist, so what is this man really talking about? It’s a metaphor for that time of year … This is what they do with hip-hop music. Hip-hop is not respected as a sophisticated art form. It does not have the same liberty and freedom when to comes to artistic license. We can have people play in mob movies and star in the show ‘Sopranos’ with its sexist, and violent, and racist overtones. But when they leave the set, they leave the script, we say they were just artists; they are just entertainers.”

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