I Shot Reagan

If there was a single song that almost everyone would think of when you said “Non Phixion” it would either be “Black Helicopters” or 1998’s “I Shot Reagan.”

This Necro produced gem was the first song that gained the group wide-spread attention and it was also the first release by the group after they had a falling out with MC Serch and his label Serchlite over monetary issues. It’s controversial lyrics deal with Republican party politics and the type of conspiracy theories that would come to define much of the group’s later subject matter. The song was released as a single with two B-sides: “Refuse to Lose” and “This Is Not An Exercise.” The sides on the single are named after two specific parts of Brookyln: Canarsie and Glenwood Projects. Canarsie is a neighborhood in Brooklyn where most of the group is from and Glenwood Projects was the tenement home of several of its members. The single was released on the newly formed Uncle Howie Records and it’s impressive independent sales allowed the group a chance to sign with Matador Records, an established label that had previously produced successful indie artists such as Yo La Tengo and Liz Phair. “I Shot Regan” debuted to critical acclaim; Vibe Magazine called it “an anarchist’s dream” and cited it’s creators as one reason fans should pay attention to hip hop in Brooklyn.

The creepy-sounding classic makes heavy use of flutes and surrealistic lyrics dealing with contemporary political conspiracies. References include israeli prime minister and terrorist Menechem Begin, Reaganomics, Area 51, the Elohim, reptilians, and the film The Deer Hunter to name a few.

The song’s title is most-likely a reference to the opening lines of the Suicidal Tendencies song “I Shot the Devil.” Bill’s lyrics in the song “Skum” make reference to the band as well.

There were two versions of the song released: the single version 1998 and one on the 2000 tape The Past, The Present, and The Future is Now. The latter makes use of two audio clips dealing with Ronald Reagan. The intro is from Joan Baez’s performance at Woodstock with the leader of the Vietnam Draft Resistance, Jeffrey Shurtleff. The song samples a part of Shurtleff’s monologue in which he refers to Ronald Reagan (at that time the governor of California) as “Ronald Ray Guns.” The second sample comes from a comedic mashup from the late 80’s which cut and pasted together vocal clips of President Reagan and his wife Nancy into this fake PSA that championed drug use.

I’ve uploaded the version from the cassette so you can hear it:

 

 

Interestingly enough, in the chorus of the song, Ill Bill takes a shot at famous astronomer and fellow-Brooklyn native Carl Sagan, probably because of his cynically dismissive comments on the theoretical possibility of UFO’s. Also of note is the fact that the song features Necro on the second verse.

Here’s the original version:

 

 

Till next time, physicists, try not to run up on any politicians

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