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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Wu Tang’s RZA crafts new ice cream truck song, replacing ‘racist’ original

RZA and Good Humor wanted to make a melody that included all communities

Wu Tang really is for the children after all.

The RZA, music producer and co-founder of Hip-Hop group The Wu Tang Clan, has been commissioned by ice cream company Good Humor to craft a brand new ice cream truck jingle. The goal is to replace the original jingle which has “a problematic history.”

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 04: Oliver “Power” Grant (L), and RZA (C) attend Hulu’s “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” Premiere and Reception at Metrograph on September 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Lars Niki/Getty Images for Hulu)

In the official promo video, “The Story Behind the New Ice Cream Truck Jingle from Good Humor x RZA,” RZA, born Bobby Diggs, explained that the notorious ice cream jingle, “Turkey in the Straw,” has racist roots.

The video stated that the jingle’s “melody was popularized in minstrel shows, and some adaptations paired it with hateful, racist lyrics.” In a 2014 report by NPR, some of the offensive lyrics that have been paired with the song included multiple use of the N-word and references to watermelon.

“I remember the days when I would hear that iconic ice cream truck jingle outside, and I would drop what I was doing to chase it down for a treat,” RZA said in a statement. “When I learned about that song’s problematic history this summer, I knew I had to get involved and do something about it.”

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RZA said that Good Humor contacted him to create a new jingle.

“We can change the dynamics,” RZA said. “We can make a new ice cream jingle for a new era.”

The ice cream company posted in the video that it was putting a call out to all truck drivers to stop using the “Turkey in the Straw” jingle and offered RZA’s new jingle to play instead which they are releasing for free. Good Humor will also be using the new melody in all its forthcoming “industry standard ice cream truck boxes.”

Good Humor has not owned the ice cream trucks since 1976 but wanted to make a difference in changing the perception around it.

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“We wanted to be part of the solution and offer ice cream truck drivers a jingle that can bring joy to every community,” Russel Lilly, a senior director at Unilever which is the parent company of Good Humor, said in a statement. “So, to create a new jingle, we knew we had to team up with the mastermind behind some of the most memorable melodies of our time.”

The new jingle was played in the background as RZA explained the thought process behind composing it. “We wanted to make a melody that includes all communities, that’s good for every driver, every kid.”

RZA is no stranger to making music attached to the cold, dessert treat. He produced Raekwon’s popular 1995 single, Ice Cream for his debut album, Only Built For Cuban Linx, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on August 1.

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