Photo Credit: Kuba Wiatrak
Nearly a year in the making, Vancouver rapper Neon Empty’s (aka Bryce Lokken) new single ‘Red Lives Don’t’ is an expression of frustration and disgust with white Canada’s hypocrisy about racial inequality during the summer 2020 – the summer of Black Lives Matter.
On ‘Red Lives Don’t’ the Métis-raised-white rapper explores the disconnect between Canada’s very public responses to events in the US, while ignoring very similar events on its own soil. His subtle use of possessive and outsider language shines a light on his own difficulties and hypocrisy as he navigates racial inequality from a place of perceived privilege.
Neon Empty uses shocking language on ‘Red Lives Don’t’ to get people’s attention in order to highlight a very important problem that we have in Canada – anti-Indigenous racism. He’s uses it to be heard in the same way that Black Lives Matter activists use “Defund The Police”. The same way that Wetʼsuwetʼen land defenders set up rail blockades across Canada in 2020 to shine a national spotlight on the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline on Wetʼsuwetʼen First Nation territory in British Columbia. Sometimes it takes more than pointing out the problem, in order to get people’s attention.
“In the summer of 2020, it seemed like nearly all Canadians became really excited about ending racism in Canada as a result of George Floyd’s murder and the BLM movement. I was one of them – someone who had been asleep at the wheel of white-looking privilege.
But as the grandson of a residential school survivor who still feels the effects of colonialism and Canada’s genocide of my people, I found it hard to believe Canada really cared about racism. It felt like they cared about being seen participating. That opinion was solidified when Rodney Levi was murdered 18 days after George Floyd at the hands of the RCMP. No marches. No petitions. No justice. Nobody cares.
This song is a callout to Canada’s hypocrisy. You can’t tackle systemic racism in Canada without addressing our deepest-rooted, bloodiest, most vulgar problem: the hatred of Indigenous people and our constant attempt to silence, destroy, and minimize those who look like my grandmother.
Where is Rodney Levi’s rally, Canada?”
Neon Empty’s new single ‘Red Lives Don’t’ is available now on Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, and other digital retailers and streaming services worldwide. For more info, please visit neonempty.com