Whenever you revisit a viral video from anytime before now, there’s always a shit-ton of “Who’s watching in 20xx?” comments. Finding anything worthwhile in this cacophonous heap of users trying to get more than three likes on their comment is not easy.
I revisited “Chocolate Rain,” a classic by Tay Zonday, a now 33-year-old man who, since his time in the internet’s limelight, has pursued a PhD in American Studies. “Chocolate Rain” was a huge video when it came out nine years ago, It genuinely is an infectious video. Zonday’s “I move away from the mic to breathe in” line, his unusually deep voice, and upside down cut of him playing out the melody of the song formulates an instant classic.
The video is still commented on to this day. Gustavo De Oliveira had the most recent comment, “‘Chuba de chocolaaate’ south park.” Adolf Hitler contributed, “I just have to say this video really inspired me to move away from mic to breath make music of my own.”
Three comments down from Adolf’s mark of inspiration came one comment that took me by surprise. The Fliberdipper bluntly asked, “Isn’t this song about racism?” There wasn’t an actual question mark at the end as Youtube is the wild west of grammar, but regardless, I went to Rapgenius and played the song back.
Holy shit. Chocolate Rain is about racism.
I know I’m not the first person to figure this out. The lyrics are really straight forward but I was just blown away at the fact that the only fucking part that sticks out about this song to a mass majority of people is only every other line of the song. The only part we really remember is “Chocolate Rain” and his ability to breathe.
Zonday himself has stated the song is about institutional racism, but I’ve never really seen any true interpretation of the song apart from genius. With some help from genius, we’ll cover this viral misconstrued wonder of the internet. Line by line.
To help understand the song, it’s easier to replace the phrase “Chocolate Rain” with “Racism.”
“Chocolate Rain, some stay dry and others feel the pain.”
This one is self-explanatory. It’s much more likely for a lighter-skinned person living in a gated community to stay dry and not experience “chocolate rain” than it is for a minority in a low-income neighborhood.
“Chocolate Rain, a baby born will die before the sin.”
Some could take this as saying that racism will be around longer than a man’s full lifetime, others could say that it’s referring to how often an innocent black man, or in this case, “baby,” will be punished for a crime they haven’t even done. Either way, there couldn’t have been a quicker way for this song to get any darker.
Ignorance is a huge motif.
“Chocolate Rain, the school books say it can’t be here again”
The most recent account of racism being underplayed by textbooks was just last year when a McGraw-Hill textbook referred to Africans who were brought into plantations as “workers” and not slaves.” This line’s undertones are seen again later in the song.
“Chocolate Rain, the prisons make you wonder where it went.”
America accounts for 25% of the world’s prison population. When 58% of that population are African American and Hispanic, it’s clear why ignorance could stem the speculation of racism even being a problem in the world today.That’s really where the whole story of it all gets interesting, Chocolate Rain is a tale of ignorance, three out of the four first lines references either the idea that there is clear ignorance when it comes to racism being around, or the very people who would believe such a thing. Ignorance is a huge motif.
“Chocolate Rain, build a tent and say the world is dry, Chocolate Rain, zoom the camera out and see the lie.”
There’s a clear group of people who shelter themselves from the thought of racism still being a major issue. This could stem from a number of factors. You’re either too awkward to confront the situation, so your “tent” is ignorance, or your “tent” might just be your home in an upscale neighborhood, totally out of reach from any area that would have a more diverse community. Either way, the ignorance is in the numbers. A Pew Research Center polling showed that 49% of whites saw no unfair treatment of blacks across 7 areas of society, including the judicial system, stores, restaurants, getting health care, and of course, even in dealing with the police.
“Chocolate rain, forecast to be falling yesterday, Chocolate Rain, only in the past is what they say.”
Yet again referring to the ignorant. To them, racism was a problem of yesterday, of the past. This might stem from pure ignorance, Fox News’ Eric Bolling is well known for this. In another regard, however, it must just stem from the fact that for people who don’t experience racism as much as others, usually due to their economic stability and the environment they live in, it might just be a topic that is so confusing/unusual to talk about that it’s either brushed off or dismissed. “Chocolate Rain, Raised your neighborhood insurance rates, Chocolate rain, Makes us happy ‘livin in a gate.” This builds on the meaning of the “tent” line. There are clear racist undertones when it comes to the housing market. (See: White flight). This line could be interpreted from the perspective of a man who’s been incarcerated. Even living in prison gates might be more suitable for someone who’s experienced so much hatred from the outside world.
“Chocolate Rain, made me cross the street the other day, Chocolate Rain, made you turn your head the other way.”
This is a situation too many people have been in, even if you don’t do it and you consider yourself anything but racist, it’s a thought that will almost always come up. Louis C.K.’s monologue on mild racism captures this thought process perfectly. Turning your head the other way refers to not only actually turning your head, but once again, willingly being ignorant when racism is clearly in front of them.The Genius annotator for this line, TranquiloCielo, said “Sometimes it is hard to do the right thing.” Tranquilo couldn’t have said it better.
The Hook couldn’t be any more stellar.
“Chocolate Rain, history quickly crashing through your veins, Chocolate Rain, using you to fall back down again.”
Holy shit, this is an intense-ass hook. Decades, if not hundreds of years of institutional racism and the consequences are literally being pumped out every day on every medium everywhere we go. The hook personifies racism as a mutant that takes advantage of even those who aren’t racist.
“Chocolate Rain, seldom mentioned on the radio, Chocolate rain, it’s the fear your leaders call control.”
The song is only getting more and more political, it’s criminal to not mention how inspired this writing is. Racism is clear control, this line serves as a more in depth look at the messages the “‘livin in a gate” line had.
“Chocolate Rain, worse than swearing worse than calling name, Chocolate Rain, say it publicly and you’re insane.”
When you don’t face it on a day to day basis, whether it be through your income, opportunity or simply the way you’re treated on the street, racism is an awkward and uncomfortable truth to talk about. It’s even more awkward with younger kids. Little kids don’t give a shit about the skin color, they give a shit about the colors of their crayons; yet at the same time, there’s a moral duty to educate them thoroughly. There’s more of an emphasis to teach your kids not to swear than to teach them not to hate someone for their skin color. In reality, there’s almost an element of risk if you do teach them that racism is wrong. It’s way easier to let your kid be ignorant to racism than to bring that ideal into play at such a young age. It’s a clear risk you’re running as an adult to introduce such a heavy topic to such an innocent person. No one wants to be the one person that first taught someone that they live in a world where Apartheid and Jim Crow were actual law.
“Chocolate Rain, no one wants to hear about it now, Chocolate Rain, wish real hard it goes away somehow.”
Blunt denial of racism is actually really entertaining. Have fun: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=racism+doesn%27t+exist
“Chocolate Rain, make the best of friends begin to fight, Chocolate Rain, but did they know each other in the light?”
Racism is an issue that can make anyone fight, but when you have a fight about racism with your best friend, you have to step back and wonder if you really knew who your best friend really is. Did you really just become the closest of friends with a person who you had to actually fight over race? An issue that you would think needs no arguing when it comes to the people who are closest to you? Mutant racism pits best friends against each other.
“Chocolate Rain, every February washed away, Chocolate Rain, stays behind as colors celebrate.”
A Black History Month line never hurt anyone. BHM is one of the more controversial topics every time it rolls around. It could be seen as a time to celebrate how far the Black experience in America has come. others like Morgan Freeman just see it as a subtle and unnecessary source of separation. But even as “colors celebrate,” racism always lingers.
“Chocolate Rain, the same crime has a higher price to pay, Chocolate Rain, the judge and jury swear it’s not the face.”
It’s simple to explain, there is a notion that people of color have a much higher price to pay when it comes to the judicial system than white people do, the same judicial system that vows it doesn’t find anyone more or less guilty based on skin color. African Americans find themselves being arrested for drug offenses at rates ranging from 2 to 11 times higher than whites, even though they engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at comparable rates.
“Chocolate Rain, dirty secrets of economy, Chocolate Rain, turns that body into GDP”
Racism is an undertone of the economy, and each body is just another factor in America’s GDP. 37 percent of unauthorized immigrant workers were victims of minimum wage violations, and over 80 percent who worked full-time were not paid more for overtime, even as they worked more than 40 hours a work.
“Chocolate Rain, the bell curve blames the baby’s DNA, Chocolate Rain, but test scores are how much the parents make.”
HOLY SHIT, THIS IS KENDRICK LAMAR LEVEL LYRICISM. Zonday refutes one of the most controversial studies in recent history by somehow referring back to how minorities tend to have lower incomes.
“Chocolate Rain, flippin’ cars in France the other night, Chocolate Rain, cleans the sewers out beneath Mumbai.”
These two lines are great, they’re very direct ways of claiming Chocolate Rain has a forecast in other parts of the world, not only America. The 2005 Race Riots in Paris and the Caste System of India are prime examples. Zonday cleverly uses this line and the previous line about immigrant labor to also bring light on just how close classism and racism go hand in hand.
“Chocolate Rain, cross the world and back its all the same, Chocolate Rain, angels cry and shake their heads in shame.”
Zonday portrays racism as pathetic, especially in this day and age. It seems like something we should all have figured out, Jesus isn’t pissed, he’s just disappointed, and a little confused.
“Chocolate Rain, lifts the ark of paradise in sin, Chocolate Rain, which part do you think you’re livin’ in?”
This builds on racism acting like a fucked-up mutant life form. It casts its shadow over everything nice and swell. Zonday starts to end the song by giving a nod to the first line, but asking the listener. Are we the ones that stay dry, or do we feel the pain?
“Chocolate Rain, more than marchin’ more than passing law, Chocolate Rain, remake how we got to where we are.”
We can act all we want, we can pass as many laws and reforms as we please, racism is here, and it’s got no sign of leaving. This is where we are. This is the situation at hand. Zonday is the messenger, nine years ago, nine years later.
It’s not certain whether Zonday really minds the fact that his messages aren’t fully grasped by a majority of his audience. It didn’t hurt when he cashed in for a Dr. Pepper commercial, laying grounds for the corporate presence we see on YouTube today. He gave more political commentary later on with “Mama Economy”, but just like “Chocolate Rain,” only a couple people in the comments section really understand the genius that is Tay Zonday. Zonday himself thinks the song is “corny.” To that I can only say, no matter how many times this meme has been beaten to a bloody fucking pulp, and I really mean a bloody fucking pulp, “Chocolate Rain” will always stand out as a genuine and insightful listen, like any classic would.