Baba Got BARS vol IV

by Baba Bomani



After a few years of teaching the Frederick Douglass Writing Club (writing for freedom since 1838) I decided to put down some of the most important lessons we've learned in song form. The first track "Fit to be a Slave" is based on his stories from The Narrative of the Life of a Slave on how he learned to read. The song is a challenge to my students to practice reading and be their own teacher. The first single and video "Rhetoric Just Like Frederick" takes the listener through the three ways Douglass used his words: autobiographer, newspaper publisher, and public speaker. The video takes you to only a few of the many monuments to Douglass here in my home state of Maryland and Washington DC. "Selfie King" is written from the perspective of Douglass himself. It is braggadocio in typical Hip-Hop style about how he was the most photographed American of the 19th century. The FDWC Anthem is a song in progress that I'm writing with my FDWC club members this semester and turning into a song by this summer!


released December 31, 2018


all rights reserved



Baba Bomani Washington, D.C.

Baba Bomani, aka the Watermelon man has been using hip-hop, poetry and multi-media disciplines to teach fun and informative workshops with all ages from kindergarteners to graduate students for well over 15 years Bomani . Here you can find his hip-hop music for kids as well as teaching materials showing students the writing process through hip-hop! ... more

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Track Name: Fit to be a Slave
Very soon after I went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Auld, she very kindly commenced to teach me the A, B, C. After I had learned this, she assisted me in learning to spell words of three or four letters. Just at this point of my progress, Mr. Auld found out what was going on, and at once forbade Mrs. Auld to instruct me further, telling her, among other things, that it was unlawful, as well as unsafe, to teach a slave to read. To use his own words, further, he said, “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master—to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave…”

Young Frederick, he was smart and he was brave
Because for him to read was to misbehave
supposed to be illiterate from the cradle to the grave
A slave who can read isn't fit to be a slave

Born in the 1820’s in Tuckahoe Maryland
As a black slave he was never treated like a man
They controlled when he was sleeping, drinking and eaten
He saw relatives sold away and his aunt beaten
At a young age separated from his mother
Grew up with the masters child but not like a brother
More like pet, but more than most slaves expect
Something’s his young master got young Frederick would get
That included lessons like learning the abc's
He would sit with his young master as he would learn to read
His young masters mother was Frederick’s mistress
He learned his letters with her assistance
Frederick soaked it all in, like all children he was curious
When her husband found out he was so furious
Told her not to teach him and the reason that he gave
"A slave who can read isn't fit to be a slave"

Frederick said at the time he didn't know what that meant
But from that day on that's how his free time was spent
He stole his master’s old homework and finished tests
Would bet white boys in the street who could spell their words the best
They'd always beat him but they didn't think of this
Every word that they beat him with he'd add it to his list
When he was older Frederick stole so many books
He hid them where he slept to stay away from master’s looks
He read about freedom and about places for away
And knew that in slavery was nowhere to stay
When he learned to read he also learned to write
he knew he couldn't get out of slavery without a fight
Unless he got a letter from his master he's a prisoner
So he learned how to write a pass and forge a signature
Now he understood his master’s reason that he gave
"A slave who can read isn't fit to be a slave”

what Frederick read confirmed what he knew all along
That freedom is for everyone and slavery is wrong
Fredericks reading and writing game was superhero strong
He has so many accomplishments they need their own songs
before I make those track, let me make one observation
The to key Frederick’s freedom was that he stole his education
He didn’t have the 1st through 12th, so he learned it with stealth
didn’t care what master felt, reading gave him knowledge of self
so just like Frederick, read at every opportunities
and unlike Frederick you’ve got help in your community
You’ve got to read, the more ideas you have the more likely you’ll succeed
You gotta read, and books can give you all the ideas you need
You gotta read From the dictionary to history it’s necessary
You gotta read, Now follow me, to the library
Frederick used his skills to make sure his people were saved
Because no one in the world deserves to be a slave

You gotta read
The more ideas you have the more likely you'll succeed
You gotta read
And books can give you all the ideas you gotta read
You gotta read
From the dictionary to history it's Necessary
You gotta read
Now follow me
You gotta read
To the library

share ideas and communicate long distances using reading and writing skills, your possibilities are endless
have the more likely you’ll succeed
You gotta read
And books can give you all the idea

To be able to get ideas and information from as many sources as possible so you can learn from other people's experiences. No matter what you are into, sports, business, spirituality, world travel, games, technology, history, language. The more people you can get information from, the more prepared you are to use that information and use it for your success.
No one is fit to be a slave, but if you can learn information,. From even learning that you are ended a slave and entitled to more, to figuring out how to get out of it. The whole world opens up to you once you read and write. It’s your job to make sure you are literate. Do what ever you can. Start by paying attention in class and asking your parent, teacher or librarian for extra help reading.
The best way to get information

The more you can read then you'll have more opportunity
And unlike Frederick Douglass you can get help in your community

We are the travelers along the road he paved
"A slave who can read isn't fit to be a slave"

Public Libraries
Appoquinimink Public Library
Bear Public Library
Brandywine Hundred Public Library
Bridgeville Public Library
Claymont Public Library
Corbit-Calloway Memorial Library
Delaware City Public Library
Delmar Public Library
Dover Public Library
Elsmere Public Library
Frankford Public Library
Georgetown Public Library
Greenwood Public Library
Harrington Public Library
Hockessin Public Library
Kent County Bookmobile
Kent County Public Library
Kirkwood Library
Laurel Public Library
Lewes Public Library
Milford Public Library
Millsboro Public Library
Milton Public Library
New Castle Public Library
Newark Free Library
Rehoboth Beach Public Library
Route 9 Library & Innovation Center
Seaford District Library
Selbyville Public Library
Smyrna Public Library
South Coastal Public Library
Sussex County Mobile Library Bookmobile
Wilmington Public Library
Wilmington Public Library- North Branch
Woodlawn Public Library

Academic Libraries
Delaware Technical Community College- Owens Campus

Phone: ‪(302) 259-6199‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

21179 College Drive, Georgetown, DE 19947

Mon-Thurs 8am- 10pm; Fri 8am- 4:30pm; Sat 9am- 1pm;
Delaware Technical Community College-Stanton Campus

Phone: ‪(302) 454-3939‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

400 Stanton-Christiana Rd., Newark, DE 19713

Mon-Thurs 8am- 9pm; Fri 8am-4pm; Sat 9am-1pm

Hours vary during semester breaks and summer sessions. Closed Saturdays during summer.
Delaware Technical Community College- Terry Campus

Phone: ‪(302) 857-1060‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

100 Campus Drive, Dover, DE 19904

Mon-Thurs 8:15am- 8pm; Fri 8:15am- 4pm; Sat 9am-Noon

Hours vary during semester breaks and summer semester.
Delaware Technical Community College- Wilmington Campus

Phone: ‪(302) 573-5431‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

333 N. Shipley Rd., Wilmington, DE 19801

Mon-Thurs 8:15am to 9pm

Fri 8:15am-4:30pm; Sat 9am- 1pm

Hours vary during semester breaks and summer semester. Closed Saturdays during the summer.
Wesley College, Parker Library

Phone: ‪(302) 736-2413‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

120 North State Street, Dover, DE 19901

Mon-Thurs 7:30am-Midnight; Fri 7:30am- 6pm; Sat Noon-5pm; Sun 3pm-Midnight
Wilmington University Library

Phone: ‪(302) 356-6879‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

320 DuPont Highway, New Castle, DE 19720

Mon-Thurs 9am-10pm; Fri 9am-8pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 1pm-8pm

K-12 School Libraries
Campus Community School
Delmarva Christian High School Library
Positive Outcomes Charter School
Sussex Academy
Sussex Technical High School Library
Thomas Edison Charter School
Special Libraries
Barratt’s Chapel
Biggs Museum of American Art
Delaware Academy of Medicine
Delaware Division of Historic & Cultural Affairs Library
Delaware Division of Libraries
Delaware Library Access Services (DLAS)
Delaware Public Archives
Delaware Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health
Ft. Delaware Historical Society
Legislative Hall Library
Lewes Historical Society
New Castle County Dept. of Community Service
Sussex County Department of Libraries

Phone: ‪(302) 855-7890‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

22215 DuPont Blvd., P.O. Box 589, Georgetown, DE 19947

Mon-Fri 8:30am- 4:30pm
Track Name: Rhetoric Just Like Frederick

Rhetoric just like Frederick (8x)
What you talking 'bout? Typing on your keyboard or out your mouth
What you talking 'bout? Words are power make them count
What you talking 'bout? Typing on your keyboard or out your mouth

VERSE ONE (autobiography)

He was many things, including a biographer
America was on trial, he’s the stenographer
Key witness and prosecuting attorney
He took the whole world on his slavery journey
became a voice for the voiceless
enslaved Africans faced with hard choices
back when they thought a former slave couldn’t be literate
Destroyed the myths that masters were considerate
Blew you away with vocabulary
above ordinary, distinguished dignitary
emissary, representing for black pain
deep and philosophical or simple and plain
You know you got a story are you telling it?
Don’t ever think your story isn’t relevant
like Douglass tell your own narrative
So you can have rhetoric just like Frederick

VERSE TWO (journalism)

1847 he started the North Star
At the time black newspapers were bizarre
he felt he had to use his freedom of the press
“Those who suffer injustice are those who must demand redress”
he appreciated white abolitionist
But thought former slaves should tell what the mission is
They pushed forward their efforts
Sold copies through networks, turned readers to experts
then he teamed up with Martin Delaney
Who was astute (that’s another word for brainy)
He thought the publication should be named for its creator
So the name became “The Frederick Douglass Papers”
What’s the story in your world, are you telling it?
Don’t ever think your story isn’t relevant
Telling your story is imperative
So you can have rhetoric just like Frederick

VERSE THREE (orator)

He used his skills to write and perform speeches
That’s readings out loud that inspires and teaches
Before the Civil War few had seen before
a black orator on nationwide tour
When it comes to speeches he might be the GOAT
From slave abolition to women’s rights to vote
Good speeches are the art of story telling
Presenting arguments in a way that’s compelling
Look at the titles, they tell you no lie
Like “What to the slave is the fourth of July”
“The hypocrisy of American slavery”
Giving these speeches showed poise and bravery
What’s your message to the world, are you telling it?
Don’t ever think your message isn’t relevant
Write your words down and then start yelling it
You can have rhetoric just like Frederick
Track Name: Selfie King
Introducing the world famous autobiographer, news paper publisher, public speaker and the most photographed American of the 19th century…Frederick Douglass

You see my suit it costs some dough
Fresh and clean, don’t you know?
I need a crown for this photo
So let me pick out my fro
Selfie king Pick out my fro
Selfie king Pick out my fro
Selfie king Pick out my fro
Selfie king Pick out my fro

I see you wanna floss on the gram get a little fame with your little phone
I’m the 1800’s freshest in the land let me tell you the kind of selfie game I was on
America’s most popular
I mean for real
Best selling autobiographer
Words pay the bills
Giving racist insomnia
House on the hill
Self taught lexicographer
That means I’ve got word skills
Flexing for the photographer
Black and white stills
That’s how we do it in Anacostia
With the old school ice grill


VERSE TWO Cashing speaking fees, royalties and federal checks/
My sons a civil war vet, name one president that I haven’t met,
Could be at an all white function (not talking clothes) breaking necks
Slim, I'm on the front porch listening to string quartets/
It’s confidence not arrogance
From South East most famous resident
More famous than the president
Look at the picks if you want evidence
Took advantage of every opportunity
Despite what racist tried to do to me
Ambassador to Haiti the US recruited me
I got real diplomatic immunity



Yes, I’m a free man, think you stopping one of my plans
Punishment is Severe, will knock you out where you stand
Slave owners read my book; my haters are my biggest fans
Overseers could read braille still can’t see me with the hands
Think you flexing on’em hard, showing off with bravery
Flexed in so many pics with the squad they tried to send me back to slavery
There’s one thing that got me trippin' like Amerie
Are you everything your pictures of you claim to be?
I was the speaker that they came to see
No one had more acclaim than me
No one had a bigger name than me,
No one alive at the time had more fame than me
Not a player no ones in the same game as me
Everyone posed looking aimlessly
I stared in the camera shamelessly
So you can see that no ones taming me


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