News

The Rapper Behind the “I’m Not Racist” Viral Music Video Is From Worcester

Joyner Lucas seems overwhelmed by the attention his video has gotten.

That viral “I’m Not Racist” music video that everyone is talking about has roots in Massachusetts. The artist behind the song that has become the hottest thing on Facebook this week is a 29-year-old rapper from Worcester named Joyner Lucas.

The video, in case you haven’t seen it, depicts a heated conversation about race between a black man in dreadlocks and a bearded white man in a red-and-white “Make America Great Again” hat. Each of the actors, seated at a table in some kind of warehouse, can be seen mouthing words performed by Lucas, who does not appear in the video. The white man angrily rattles off a series of racist stereotypes and conservative talking points: “I don’t have pity for you black n—as / that’s the way I feel. /Screamin’ “Black Lives Matter” / All the black guys rather be deadbeats than pay your bills.”

And the black actor offers rebuttals: “I don’t really like you white motherf—er / that’s just where I’m at / Screaming ‘All Lives Matter’ / Is a protest to my protest, what kind of s—t is that?” They joust over “black lives matter,” kneeling black football players, who should be allowed to say the n-word, and other racial flashpoints. Then by the end they reach an agreement about there being “two sides to every story” and trying to understand one another better. They hug. A message flashes on the screen:

We were all humans until

Race disconnected us,

Religion separated us,

Politics divided us,

And wealth classified us.

Lucas described his inspiration in an interview with CNN. “It was an average white man speaking his mind on how he actually feels about black people,” he said, “and it was an average black guy talking about his interactions with white people. These are suppressed feelings that both parties have but are afraid to express.”

Some viewers have argued it doesn’t exactly nail the problems it confronts, but its hopeful message and unvarnished lyrics seem to have resonated. In just three days, it has more than 5 million views on Youtube and more than 28 million on Facebook.

Lucas is already well known in Worcester and beyond. He’s seen as one of the most promising rappers to come out of the city, and recently got a hero’s welcome at the Palladium in September, according to the Telegram. Lucas just launched a successful mixtape called 508-507-2209, a nod to his hometown’s area code. But the success of his massively popular video seems to have caught him off guard.

“Bro what’s happening right now?” he tweeted Thursday. “I feel like my life is changing before my eyes.”


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com