"Rock N Roll" as written by Patti Lee Smith and Leonard J Kaye....
(Huh) my grandmomma was raised on a reservation
(Huh) my great-grandmama was, from a plantation
They sang, songs for inspiration
They sang, songs for relaxation
They sang, songs, to take their minds up off that
Fucked up situation
I am, yes I am, the descendant (yes yes)
Of those folks whose, backs got broke
Who, fell down inside the gun smoke
(black people!) chains on their ankles and feet
I am descendants, of the builders of your street
(Black people!) tenders to your cotton money
I am hip-hop
"It's heavy metal for the black people"
I am rock and roll (rock and roll, rock'n'roll)
Been here forever
They just ain't let you know (ha!)

I said, elvis presley ain't got no soul (huh)
Chuck berry is rock and roll (damn right)
You may dig on the rolling stones
But they ain't come up with that style on they own (uh-uh)
Elvis presley ain't got no soul (hell naw)
Little richard is rock and roll (damn right)
You may dig on the rolling stones
But they ain't come up with that shit on they own (nah-ah)

Guess that's just the way shit goes
You steal my clothes and try to say they yours (yes they do)
Cause it's a show filled with pimps and hoes
Trying to take everything that you made or control (there they go)
Elvis presley ain't got no soul
Bo diddley is rock and roll (damn right)
You may dig on the rolling stones
But they ain't the first place the credit belongs

Say whoa-oh (don't take it)
Oh-we-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh (don't take it)
Oh-we-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh (jimi hendrix say)
Oh-we-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh (albert king and)
Oh-we-oh (and motown)

I ain't trying to diss
But I don't be trying to fuck with limp bizkit ("the fuck is on your mind?")
When I get down in my zone
I be rockin bad brains and fishbone
I ain't tryin to slow your groove
But that ain't the way I'm trying to move
I don't turn on korn to get it on;
I be playing jimi hendrix 'til the dawn
That's my word is bond
Sitting up on my front lawn
Got the volume turned to ten
Playing albert king the best again (black)
When the morning in the cooker
Got to turn on some john lee hooker
When I want some rock and roll
Go to otis redding to get some soul

Say, james brown got plenty of soul
James brown like to rock and roll
He can do all the shit fo' sho'
That elvis presley could never know (black people)
Said, kenny g ain't got no soul
John coltrane is rock and roll (uh-huh)
You may dig on the rolling stones
But they could never ever rock like nina simone

Say whoa-oh (don't take it)
Oh-wee-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh (don't take it)
Oh-we-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh (don't take it)
Oh-we-oh (black music)
Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Who am I, huh!
Get your punk ass up

Elvis presley ain't got no soul
Jimi hendrix is rock and roll
You may dig on the rolling stones
But everything they did they stole
Elvis presley ain't got no soul
Bo diddley is rock and roll
You may dig on the rolling stones
But we send their punk ass home

Who am I? (rock and roll)

Say, rock and roll!
Who am I? rock and roll!

Get your punk ass up
Company, move
For harlem, fort greene, compton
East st. louis, detroit (bo bo)
Chicago (bo bo) bed-stuy (bo bo)
Flatbush (bo bo) brownsville (bo bo)
East new york (bo bo) newark new jersey (bo bo)
Illadelphia cincinatti atlanta the dirty south
All towns get your punk ass up!
"Rock and roll for the black people"
Hi ma


Lyrics submitted by nsxdriven

"Rock N Roll" as written by Dante Smith Lester Fernandez

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

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Rock N Roll song meanings
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31 Comments

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  • +3
    General Comment....and don't hate Mos Def for speaking the truth. However uncomfortable that may make you feel.
    eYeKeyon May 29, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentIt's not anti-white. He's saying it because a lot of people ignore the Black roots of rock n' roll, and revere the white roots (Oh, and Elvis sucked. Great voice, horrible music.) Now, I like the Stones, I do, but I like Nina Simone, and Bo Diddley, and John Coltrane (though he was a jazz musician, not a rock and roller, per se) the two can co-exist, he's saying that the musical genre itself was stolen, basically plagiarized, because people don't recognize the Black roots of rock and roll as much as the White roots. Ice-T said the same stuff when he started with Body Count and people were dissing him, calling him a sellout.
    gofuckyourselfon November 18, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI don't think he's neccessarily saying that all these white artists weren't good artists, because, even Mos Def knows this, without them music wouldn't be where it is today. Mos Def's music wouldn't be the same. But everyone thinks that Elvis Presley and The Rolling Stones created rock n' roll, and I think he is just trying to say that this type of music was around before these people popularized it. Don't hate Mos Def for speaking his mind.
    SALTYSMYNAMEon March 06, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah, I don't think he's saying that Elvis and the Rolling Stones were bad, and especially not because they're white. He's saying that Rock began with black musicians, but that fact has been just about lost on today's generation.
    savethemooseson November 19, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIts not just rock music! its all modern forms of music! basically the roots of all modern music can be traced back to blues, jazz and gospel music and these where all born out of slave music! the only positive thing to come out of the slave trade is decent music! without it we'd probably all still be listening to classical music and dancing to waltzes! This song is just trying to give credit to the musicians that truly deserve it. Unlike Elvis who was used to give black music a white face and sell it to a white audience, because white people whern't ready to accept and love black people like they where whites. Thats why Elvis is known as "The King" and artists like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard etc ain't shit!
    Dutch Courageon January 01, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentClearly the fact that people think the song is anti-white, full of lies and the whole gamut of indignant responses just goes to prove the necessity of this song to educate some minds to stir up some thought. Admittedly I've already heard this criticism of older rock music many times over since I'm black.

    As said before, it's just that early black musicians were not given as much recognition for a style that they clearly cultivated while it was adored by other artists and performers. Don't be mad because you don't want to think about your beloved artists as products of latent racist tendencies of the time period. I mean, they were good musicians, but they sure didn't give credit where it was due. *shrug*

    It makes me wonder why black people don't rock out more/listen to rock more though.
    Kinethon March 11, 2008   Link
  • +1
    My OpinionI said, Souja Boi can't rap for shit (huh)
    Eminem had a bag-a-hits (damn right)
    You may dig on the Lil's an such
    But they suck and they're setting black people back (uh-uh)
    rumskion September 29, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentYeah. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but there some definite problems with this song. Particularly the way Mos Def seems to set up "white music" as a straw man to beat up. I mean, "Limp Bizkit," "Korn," and "Kenny G" are hardly the ideal representatives of so-called "white music." If we are to recognize the black roots of modern music (and we should, without a doubt) then we must also acknowledge that these (awful) artists were also just as influenced by black music. Other than than, we should also remember that blues music was the child of African rhythm and the European ballad. It's not just black or just white. It's both.

    That said, lets stop hating on Elvis. He didn't do anything wrong.
    boringcoreon February 11, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe part where he rocks out is cool, but the lyrics are somewhat hypocritical. He criticizes white musicians for stealing from black musicians and then samples Red Hot Chili Peppers on the same album.
    Richard Enahoboon November 08, 2011   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI completely understand Mos's point of view, and there is definitely something to be desired in terms of the recognition black musicians deserve on the topic of rock pioneers. However, Mos is a big name in Hip Hop, the genre that revolves around sampling and the idea of taking from others to create something new. With this in mind, I think he could've went about the song differently, maybe focus less on the fact that Elvis and the Rolling stones aren't rock n roll and more about the injustices that occurred in the early 60s to early 80s music game.
    janeaparis1on March 25, 2013   Link

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