RZA (real-name: Robert Fitzgerald Diggs) has been a part of more than 80 film and television soundtracks, many of them featured cuts from his time as part of hip-hop’s legendary Wu-Tang Clan.
But the track that may see the composer/actor/producer go down in history is out just now, and likely coming to your neighborhood soon.
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Troubled by the problematic racial history behind Turkey in the Straw, the minstrel show song that has been a part of many ice cream truck recordings over many decades, RZA teamed with ice cream company Good Humor to come up with a new jingle unburdened by the past.
The new theme song was unveiled today, as RZA explained the reason for the change.
“Remember that ice cream jingle? Of course — we all know it. I’m not gonna play it right now, though, because we come to find out that it has racist roots.
“But check this out — Good Humor, they called me up and they was like, ‘We gotta do something about this, Riz. We can change the dynamics. We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era.’”
Good Humor explained its thinking as well. “‘Turkey in the Straw’s’ melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, which had no racial connotations. But the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s. Some songs using its same melody contained highly offensive, racist lyrics.
“Throughout the 19th century, minstrel songs like ‘Turkey in the Straw’ were commonly played in ice cream parlors, and later, adapted as ice cream truck jingles. While these associations of ‘Turkey in the Straw’ are not the only part of its legacy, it is undeniable that this melody conjures memories of its racist iterations.”
The new RZA theme song is available for free to all truck drivers and has been sent to ice cream truck music boxes, the company said.
“We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities — that’s good for every driver, every kid,” RZA said. “And I’m proud to say, for the first time in a long time, a new ice cream truck jingle will be made available to trucks all across the country in perpetuity. That means forever, you know what I mean? Like Wu-Tang is forever. And I will assure you that this one is made with love.”
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