The hidden Swahili message in 'Get Out' the country needs to hear

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Get Out's story and its striking cinematography are some of the things that make the film one of the smartest, most terrifying pieces of social commentary on race in recent memory.


But if you listen very closely, you can hear that writer-director Jordan Peele went so far as to infuse the movie's soundtrack with a somewhat hidden message that not only makes sense within the context of the story, but also serves as a powerful piece of advice for the American public.

In an interview with GQ, Peele explained that in addition to including black artists like Donald Glover on the film's soundtrack, he worked with composer Michael Abels to create a score that was distinctly black, but that was sonically and lyrically different from African-American music that tends to have "a glimmer of hope to it."

"I was into this idea of distinctly black voices and black musical references, so it's got some African influences, and some bluesy things going on, but in a scary way, which you never really hear," Peele said. "I wanted Michael Abels, who did the score, to create something that felt like it lived in this absence of hope but still had [black roots]. And I said to him, 'You have to avoid voodoo sounds, too.'"

That something ended up being the song that begins and ends the film, "Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga," a Swahili phrase that translates to "listen to (your) ancestors" and the song's lyrics loosely mean "something bad is coming. Run."

"The words are issuing a warning to Chris," Peele said. "The whole idea of the movie is 'Get out!' — it's what we're screaming at the character on-screen."