Arts Desk

Listen: The White Mandingos, The Ghetto Is Tryna Kill Me

Being black is difficult, especially when you're accused of being improperly black. That's the plight of fictional character Tyrone White, the central figure of The White Mandingos' debut album, The Ghetto is Tryna Kill Me. Raised in a Harlem housing project, White likes rock music and dates white girls. He's an aspiring artist who fights to stay grounded while his peers claim he sold out.

He doesn't care. "Fuck them, and fuck that shit," raps Murs, who plays the role of Tyrone on Ghetto. "You can all open up ya white teeth and eat a black dick."

The members of White Mandingos—Murs, former Silver Spring resident Sacha Jenkins, and Bad Brains founding member Darryl Jenifer—derived the record's concept from their own experiences. Bad Brains was on the cutting edge of D.C. hardcore as an all-black band that performed reggae, punk rock, and ska. Jenkins, co-founder of hip-hop magazine Ego Trip, grew up a Bad Brains fan and graffiti artist. Murs, best known for his collaborative LPs with North Carolina producer 9th Wonder, spits alternative rhymes that criticize gun culture and monetary excess.

Ghetto is a soundtrack for the black alternative class, those who grew up with hip-hop and listen to all sorts of music. Along the way, Tyrone signs a record deal, proclaims himself "king of New York," and soaks up the spoils of fame—along with its hardships. The Ghetto is Tryna Kill Me is out today, and the group plays U Street Music Hall on Saturday. (Update: The show has been postponed.) Listen to the record after the jump.

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