A D.C. Rapper's Love Song To A Gentrifying Hometown Tarica June wrote "But Anyway" in response to quickening change in District. What she didn't expect was the wave of positive feedback — especially from other gentrifying cities across the country.
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A D.C. Rapper's Love Song To A Gentrifying Hometown

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A D.C. Rapper's Love Song To A Gentrifying Hometown

A D.C. Rapper's Love Song To A Gentrifying Hometown

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

If you live in one place long enough, you start to notice changes, right, new people moving into your neighborhood, new buildings reshaping an old skyline. Washington, D.C., is no exception. Tarica June is a D.C. lawyer and a local emcee who writes and produces her own music on the side. One of her songs has gotten a lot of attention both in and out of Washington. It's called "But Anyway" and it feels like a nostalgic love song for her hometown that has seen new people move in, forcing others to move out.

TARICA JUNE: One thing that I remember is that, you know, even if you didn't know all your neighbors, you at least knew, OK, this person is my neighbor, you know what I mean? You - at least if you saw them you would say hello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUT ANYWAY")

JUNE: (Rapping) The city still fillin' up with those who dance offbeat. More than 140 characters and all of them weak. They walk by low-eye, act like they...

And you hear people say stuff like, oh, nobody's really from D.C. It's like, OK, I'm still here.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUT ANYWAY")

JUNE: (Rapping) But anyway this third generation for me. My parents and my grandparents all from D.C. So I feel like I notice things other folks can't see and like I represent things other folks can't be.

MARTIN: Tarica June wrote this song one day when she was just driving around the city.

JUNE: "But Anyway" is the idea of - like, I'm having a conversation with you and then I might go off on, like, a tangent and start talking about something else and then I have to bring it back to the main point, which is like, OK, but anyway.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUT ANYWAY")

JUNE: (Rapping) But anyway I can go on forever about all of the bull sh, how I'm trying to make it better or even about me and the 21st letter. I feel like I know you even though we ain't together. Live forever, OK, you gettin' money...

MARTIN: Even though the song came out on the spur of the moment, the theme she writes about - gentrification, the prison industrial complex, racism - these are all things she's been observing for a long time. In the music video, which has been viewed more than two million times on Facebook, Tarica June is walking through the D.C. neighborhood of Petworth where she grew up and she still lives today. But even though the song is very place specific, it's resonated with people around the country.

JUNE: People have contacted me from, like, Oakland or somebody on Facebook posted something saying this could be about Austin, which I didn't even know that things like this were going on in Austin. People have posted on Facebook like, oh, this - this is just like Detroit or this is just like Brooklyn.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUT ANYWAY")

JUNE: (Rapping) 'Cause if I ain't burn it down I was only blowing smoke. But anyway, I could go on forever...

MARTIN: Tarica June says pretty much all the feedback she's gotten has been positive, sometimes unexpected.

JUNE: I was expecting for people to have an issue with it, and even people who I guess would be the gentrifiers (ph) have said, wow, you know, this makes me think differently about the way that I interact with people in my neighborhood.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BUT ANYWAY")

JUNE: (Rapping) Pretty or ugly.

MARTIN: Tarica June is an emcee in Washington, D.C. The song is called "But Anyway."

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