Joey Bada$$’s, “For My People” does not have a direct lineage to any specific songs when it comes to the sound of the song, but he does sample the Superman Theme when it comes to the lyrics.

​The famous quote from Superman is “Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”, but in “For My People”, the lyrics read,


Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane

No, it’s the young black god livin’ out his dreams


Although the Superman theme song is not about racial justice, it is significant because Superman is very often seen as a white God-like figure, but Joey Bada$$ and the writers replace “Superman” with “young black god livin’ out his dreams.” This direct quotation adds a new understanding of the theme of the song about Community and power. Referring to a Black person as a “God” represents this invincibility and power among the Black community.

The theme of community is also represented in the lineage of “Rhythm Nation” by Janice Jackson.

The lyrics read,


With music by our side

To break the color lines

Let’s work together

To improve our way of life

Join voices in protest

To social injustice

A generation full of courage

Come forth with me


Not only do these lyrics correspond with Joey Bada$$’s theme of community and joining together for the fight for racial justice, but it also connects to the idea of music being a weapon and a way of protection against oppressors. Janice Jackson says, “With music by our side to break the color lines; let’s work together to improve our way of life”, which is very similar to when Joey Bada$$ says,


You can see the power when the mic is in my palm

When I storm across the room, hit the stage and perform

Word is bond, don’t be alarmed


By stating that “Word is bond”, Joey Bada$$ is emphasizing the idea that music and song are forms of communication among the Black community and it is their way of creating a powerful community, just like when Janet Jackson states, “With music by our side to break the color lines.”

Another theme among “For My People”  that creates another lineage is the theme of racism and systematic oppression. This is evident in the song “Little Boxes” by Pete Seeger.

Although this is not a direct lineage to “For My People”, the theme and ideas of “Little Boxes” are very similar to a part of “For My People.” “Little Boxes” is about the “cookie cutter” society of white, upper-middle class people. This song was released in 1962 and written by Malvina Reynolds. When this song was released, the creation of Levittowns occurred, which basically helped citizens with housing after the war, but it segregated white people and the Black community. In Joey Bada$$’s song he not only refers to Section 8 of the Housing Act, but he also says,


Wanna get my mom a crib, with a lawn

Somethin’ that my future kids, can run up on


This portion of the song may not be directly referring to Levittowns, but it can be said that it brings up the fact that because of this event in history, it is harder for the Black community to have that typical house with a green lawn and white fence as a safe space for children. 

Following these lyrics, Joey Bada$$ says, “That’s why I always do my best to carry on”, which can connect to “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, which was a significant song during the Black Lives Matter movement. Both “Alright” and “For My People” represent the theme of living through racism, but having a community to rely on amidst the societal issue. The songs also mention gun violence, which is also a common theme of “Change” by Mavis Staples. “Change” is a call to action song, much like “For My People”.

Mavis Staples says in the song,


Fingers on the trigger around here

Bullets flying, mothers crying

We gotta change around here


Which is very similar to when Joey Bada$$ says,


Tryna stay alive and just stay peaceful

So hard to survive a world so lethal

Who will take a stand and be our hero?


Overall, “For My People” only has a direct lineage to the Superman Theme, which still holds high significance as he is emphasizing that the Black community is more powerful than people think, but are just oppressed into thinking they are not. The song has other lineages based on collective themes, which all also hold significant messages that generate new meanings of “For My People.”