"They take me to the back and pat me/Asking me about some khakis/But let some black people walk in/I bet you they show off their token blackie."
Song: "Spaceship" (2004)
Album: College Dropout
Conscious Or Ign'ant?: Conscious
The length of time in which Kanye worked in retail has now been eclipsed by the length of time he's been his own multinational corporation. And yet, those songs about folding clothes at the Gap get at the core of his critiques of race and class in a way that his post-opulence work never could. Ten years later, Kanye would still be talking about the casual racism inherent in the black shopping experience. But while "New Slaves" is ferocious, there is something even more cutting in the way he casually elucidated the effect of the "token blackie" in this early career classic.