The grapes of wrath intertwined like a vine still

from Black Thought – Rage Is Back ("NY State of Mind" Freestyle) Lyrics on Rap Genius

Meaning

The Grapes of Wrath is a famous novel by John Steinbeck, and it won a National Book Award, a Pulizter Prize and eventually contributed to Steinbeck winning the Nobel Prize in 1962.

The novel follows a poor white tenant family living in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Their lives are marked by cycle of poverty put upon them by a prejudiced and corrupt system. The “grapes” of poverty are the product of the corrupt vine that is the system. Thought is pointing out that not much has changed— poverty still chokes America, and the system is especially biased against the hip-hop generation.

The themes of racism are very strong in the novel, fitting in with the idea that modern America is still held back by old biases. The guards of the tenant farm where the family works comment, “Why, Jesus, they’re as dangerous as niggers in the South! If they ever get together there ain’t nothin' that’ll stop ‘em.” While that language is obviously offensive, there is a message of hope. If those strangled by the grape vine unite, they can better the world.

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