They Not Like Us: A People’s Journey

ADOS Advocacy Foundation
4 min readJun 3, 2024
Why are lot of Black Americans resonating with “Not Like Us”? This is more than rap beef.

The Kendrick versus Drake beef has garnered global attention. In today’s era of sanitized political correctness and think pieces, it is rare to witness the raw display of the Black American tradition of rap. Epic rap battles are not new. Examples include Nas vs. Jay-Z, Biggie vs. Tupac, and even Tex Joe vs. James Brown. What’s new here is the cultural context brought to the forefront by this battle.

The battle highlights issues of authenticity and the exploitation of Black Americans.

While hip-hop fans worldwide nod to “Not Like Us,” many miss the key points, focusing instead on the disses and musical mastery. The battle highlights issues of authenticity and the exploitation of Black Americans. Many think “Not Like Us” is just a West Coast anthem, overlooking Kendrick’s effort to highlight the history of slave railroad labor in Atlanta and accuse Drake of exploiting the culture of descendants of slavery. Kendrick’s hook, “They Not Like Us,” broadens the accusation to others who exploit his community.

This isn’t about questioning Drake’s nationality, heritage, or identity (yes, his father is from Memphis, Tennessee. See our president’s nuanced thoughts on the matter.) The rap beef and “Not Like Us” resonate because they capture a sentiment felt by the Black American community for about a decade.

ADOS Advocacy Foundation President Thoughts on the beef

If you’ve been unaware, a growing number of Black Americans, also known as African Americans, identify as American Descendants of Slavery (ADOS) as a way to distinguish themselves from other Black groups. This sentiment has been growing for a decade due to political, academic, economic, and cultural deprivation.

Politically, ADOS experienced a Kenyan-American president who opposed reparations for slavery while supporting reparations for Native Americans and Guam. The Congressional Black Caucus has often used slavery to justify advocating for resources for non-ADOS groups. Other non-ADOS groups have specific caucuses from which ADOS receive no reciprocal benefit (see Hispanic, Caribbean, AAPI, and African Caucuses).

Additionally, the Democratic Party has not respected its most loyal voting bloc, African Americans, who constitute 90% of their voting base. Biden’s “You ain’t Black” comment has fueled resentment since the last election cycle. Furthermore, the Office of Management and Budget denied a request for an ADOS designation in March, despite other groups are represented nationally and locally for government resources.

Furthermore, the Office of Management and Budget denied a request for an ADOS designation in March, despite other groups are represented nationally and locally for government resources.

ADOS AF Maryland Chapter Highlights How Other Non-ADOS groups have commissions at the state level

Academically, many ADOS students are concerned about being the minority among Black student admissions despite their enslaved ancestors building universities. This lack of representation is fueling a desire for justice among student bodies at Yale and Harvard, especially in light of the rollback of affirmative action, initially intended to address slavery.

Culturally, ADOS has witnessed efforts to misattribute or delegitimize cultural expressions that emerged from our unique experience of Slavery in the United States of America. ADOS is fighting to reclaim the origins of hip-hop, honoring pioneers like DJ Disco King Mario, Coke La Rock, and God Father of Rap Jalal Nurridin. (Also Hip Hop’s real Birthday) Historical revisionism has led to claims that ADOS lacks culture, even by some Black Gen-Z social media influencers. (FYI, rap is rooted in the ADOS tradition of Signifying)

Afrika Bambaataa’s Hip Hop 50th Anniversary Instagram Post on Hip Hop’s Real Birthday

Despite making up 90% of the Black population in America, ADOS faces political, academic, social, and economic dehumanization while being exploited for political, cultural, and economic capital. Years of karmic dogpiling on the ADOS community has led to Kendrick’s response, which has been positively received by Black America. The Kendrick/Drake beef serves as a cultural proxy war to express ADOS frustration, with Kendrick using it to “check” those who exploit the community in a language only ADOS can authentically understand. Drake lacks this cultural fluency and connection. (FYI, ADOS doesn’t discuss American Slavery from a third-person view. It is a first-person view as it is an inherited experience from our families. Drake has made this error before, a glaring bat signal to ADOS that he is not one of us.)

Despite making up 90% of the Black population in America, ADOS faces political, academic, social, and economic dehumanization while being exploited for political, cultural, and economic capital.

The Kendrick/ Drake Beef is sparking many to have a conversation about lineage instead of melanin.

“Not Like Us” highlights that melanin alone doesn’t grant access to ADOS culture, which is rooted in lineage and lived experiences. The exploitation of ADOS culture must end. True power lies in politics, and our community needs national and state recognition to be respected and protected. We became Americans through laws abolishing slavery and the 14th Amendment, with significant contributions to the Civil War. (In 1865, President Lincoln said, “without the military help of the black freedmen, the war against the south could not have been won”.)

Not Like Us” highlights that melanin alone doesn’t grant access to ADOS culture, which is rooted in lineage and lived experiences. The exploitation of ADOS culture must end.

We must continue to fight for self-determination. The upcoming National Reparations Summit aims to demonstrate our political influence. Special guests include presidential candidate Cornel West and former Bernie Sanders representative Nina Turner. Secure your ticket if you care about reparations, research, and political representation. The ADOS Research Institute will host a symposium to share data insights with attendees.

https://reparationssummit.com/

Save the Date Graphic for the National Reparations Summit

--

--