Today some brain food...and a lot of words.
Don't want to read - bounce now. Go dl and stroll the fuck on.
If you want to read and break bread, proceed.
I know that I can't cover all the bases of everything that needs to be talked about in our world today, within, around and outside of hip-hop. So some days, when I come across something worthy of reading and being spoke upon, I pass it along to my fellow e-intellectuals, we chop it up and then one of them takes the task of breaking down their take on it...
So when I ran across the article "We Still Wear The Mask (I love the Dunbar reference at least), I knew straight who to check for...
Original post appears @ Model Minority "Hip Hop, Real Estate and Sex"
I am on my blog gully today blog fam.Words by Model Minority
Rafi, I gotchu on the Stop Shooting post. I had to get these out the way. Babygirl been backed up. I promised Gotty this one first. You up next fam:)
Dr. Cobb aint really call 'em snitches. I just wanted to get yall attention:0
But what he did do was point out how they can go after Oprah, but not after Bill O'Reilly (at least with the same vigor) or after Jerry Heller, who gaffled Cube for HELLA paper in the 80's.
This post started out from a forward from Gotty. I been sittin on the train marinating on how I was gonna go at it. Please enjoy.
*****My response's to Dr. Cob's essay are in blue.
________________________By Dr. William Jelani Cobb
Part I. 50 Cent and the Mask
We could have known that it would come to this way back in 1896. That was the year that Paul Lawrence Dunbar dropped a jewel for the ages, telling the world that "we wear the mask that grins and lies." The poet's point was that beneath the camouflage of subservient smiles, black folks of the Jim Crow era were hiding a powder keg of other emotions, waiting patiently for the chance to detonate. The thing is,
Dunbarnever got the chance to spit bars with 50 Cent or throw in a guest collabo on a Mobb Deep album. If he had, then he would've known that grins and lies were only half the story.
These days, camouflage is the new black. Glance at hip hop for less than a second and it becomes clear that the music operates on a
single hope: that if the world mistakes kindness for weakness it can also be led to confuse meanness with strength. That principle explains why there is a permanent reverence for the thug within the music; it is why there is a murderer's grit and a jailhouse tat peering back at you from the cover of damn near any CD you picked up in the last five years. But what hip hop can't tell you, the secret that it would just as soon take to its deathbed is that it this urban bravado
is a guise, a mask, a head-fake to shake the reality of fear and powerlessness in
. Hip hop will never admit that our assorted thugs and gangstas are not the unbowed symbol of resistance to marginalization, but the most complacent and passive products of it. America[ The Thug Mentality cannot be discussed with out mentioning American Pop culture and its reverence for the bad guys. John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Scarface. The list goes on and on. My intent isn't to let any of these cats off the hook. My intent is to ensure that it is being properly contexualized. I would make the same argument about Lil' Kim and sexual lyrics.]
We wear the mask that scowls and lies.
Part II. Dr. Dre Fist and Dee Barnes Face
You could see which way the wind was blowing way in the early 90s when Dr. Dre was being ripped off by white Ruthless Records CEO
Jerry Heller, and nonetheless got his street cred up by punching and kicking Dee Barnes, a black woman journalist, down a flight of stairs. In this light, hip hop's obsessive misogyny makes a whole lot more sense. It is literally the logic of domestic violence. A man is abused by a larger society, but there are consequences to striking back at the source of his problems. So he transfers his anger to an acceptable outlet – the women and children in his own household, and by extension, all the black people who constitute his own
Nothing better illustrates that point than the recent Oprah Debacle. Prior to last month, if you'd heard that a group of rappers had teamed up to attack a billionaire media mogul you would think that hip hop had finally produced a moment of collective pride on par with the black power fists of the 1968 Olympics. But nay, just more blackface.
[ Well Duh. Then the question becomes, if being a thug is not anti
society , then what exactly does being Thug Mean? How can you be an unbowed symbol of resistance when your only language is violence, would be my follow up question. Ask Eskay. He will tell you that I am a firm believer in violence. In a way, waking up every day and trying to be contrsuctive in the face of unsurmountable odds will make you wanna be violent ock. Sometimes VIOLENCE is necessary to get the attention of your adversary. Why you think we at war? However, it can be only ONE of the tools in your tool box.
Not the only one.]
Part III. Oprah and Hip Hop
In the past two months, artists as diverse as Ludacris, 50 Cent and Ice Cube have attacked Oprah Winfrey for her alleged disdain for hiphop. It's is a sad but entirely predictable irony that the one instance in which hip hop's reigning alpha males summon the testicular fortitude to challenge someone more powerful and wealthy than they are, they choose to go after a black woman.
[ Female Model Minorities are easy targets ock. And you know the media loved that sh*t too. Ohhh, two black stars talkin' sh*t about each other, breaking news].
The whole set up was an echo of some bad history. Two centuries ago, professional boxing got its start in
with white slaveholders who pitted their largest slaves against those from competing plantations. Tom Molineaux. First black heavyweight America
champion came up through the ranks breaking the bones of other slaves and making white men rich. After he'd broken enough of them, he was given his freedom. The underlying ethic was clear: an attack on the system that has made a slave of you will cost you your life, but an attack on another black person might just be the road to emancipation.
The basis for this latest bout of black-on-black pugilism was Oprah's purported stiff-arming of Ludacris during an appearance on
Ludacris later complained that the host had made an issue of lyrics she saw as misogynistic. Cube jumped into the act whining that Oprah has had all manner of racist flotsam on her show but has never invited him to appear – proof, in his mind, that she has an irrational contempt for hip hop. Then 50 threw in his two cen
ts with a claim that Oprah's criticism of hip hop was an attempt to win points with her largely white, middle class audience. All told, she was charged her with that most heinous of hip hop's felonies: hateration.
Part IV. 50's Love and respect for the President
But before we press charges, isn't 50 the same character who openly expressed his love for GW Bush as a fellow "gangsta"
and demanded that the black community stop criticizing how he handled Hurricane Katrina?
Compare that to multiple millions that Oprah has disseminated to our communities (including building homes for the Katrina families, financing HIV prevention in
South Africaand that $5 million she dropped on alone) and the idea of an ex-crack Morehouse College
dealer challenging her commitment to black folk becomes even more surreal.
In spite of – or, actually, as a result of -- his impeccable gangsta credentials, 50 basically curtsied before a President who stayed on vacation for three days while black bodies floated down the New Orleans streets. No wonder it took a middle-class preppie with an African name and no criminal record to man-up and te
ll the whole world that "George Bush don't care about black folks." No wonder David Banner – a rapper who is just a few credits short of a Master's Degree in social work -- spearheaded hip hop's Katrina relief concerts, not any of his thug counterparts who are eternally shouting out the hoods they allegedly love.
[50 love the Hood though. Right ock.]
The 50 Cent, whose music is a panoramic vision on black-on-black homicide, and who went after crosstown rival Ja Rule with the vengeance of a dictator killing off a hated ethnic minority did
everything but tap dance when Reebok told him to dismantle his porn production company or lose his lucrative sneaker endorsement deal.
[ Say word. I wasn't even knowing about the back yard boogie
But why single out 50? Hip hop at-large was conspicuously silent when Bush press secretary Tony Snow (a rapper's alias if ever there was one) assaulted hip hop in terms way more inflammatory than Oprah's mild request: "Take a look at the idiotic culture of hip-hop and whaddya have? You have people glorifying failure. You have a bunch of gold-toothed hotdogs become millionaires by
running around and telling everybody else that they oughtta be
miserable failures and if they're really lucky maybe they can get gunned down in a diner sometime, like Eminem's old running mate."
[The buck stops here. This is inaccurate, untrue and a mistatement. There are as many flavors in Hip Hop as there a varieties of people
in this country. Some glorify failure. Others glorify they hood, they trees, they cars, they mommas, they baby momma's, they drive by's
, the list goes on and on. While the point is understood, when talking about art it is very important to resist being didactic otherwise you come across as not respecting the form.]
(We're still awaiting an outraged response from the thug community for that one.) Rush Limbaugh has blamed hip hop for everything short ofthe Avian flu but I can't recall a single hip hop artist who has
gone after him lyrically, publicly or physically. Are we seeing
a theme yet?
Part V. Ludacris, Bill O'Reilly and Oprah
It's worth noting that Ludacris did not devote as much energy to Bill O'Reilly --who attacked his music on his show regularly and causedhim to lose a multi-million dollar Pepsi endorsement – as he
did to criticizing Oprah who simply stated that she was tired of hip hop's misogyny.
Ludawas content to diss O'Reilly on his next record and go about his business. Anyone who heard the interview that Oprah gave on Power 105.1 in knew she was speaking for a whole generation of hip hop heads when she said that she loved the music, but she wanted the artists to exercise some responsibility. New York
But this response is not really about Oprah, or ultimately about hip hop, either. It is about black men once again choosing a black woman as the safest target for their aggression and even one with a billion dollars is still fair game.
Of all their claims, the charge that Oprah sold out to win points with her white audience is the most tragically laughable. The truth is that her audience's white middle-class kids exert waaay more influence over 50 and Cube than their parents do over Oprah. I long ago tired of Cube, a thirty-something successful director, entrepreneur and married father of three children making records about his aged recollections of a thug's life. The gangsta theme went cliché eons
ago, but Cube, 50 and a whole array of their musical peers lack either the freedom or the vision to talk about any broader element of our lives. The reality is that the major labels and their majority white fan base will not accept anything else from them.
[I made this same connection when we discussing this over at Nah Right.]
And there we have it again: more masks, more lies.
Part VI. Hip Hop and N*ggas
It is not coincidental that hip hop has made Ni@$a the most common noun in popular music but you have almost never heard any certified thug utter the word cracker, ofay, honky, peckerwood, wop, dago, guinea, kike or any other white-oriented epithet. The reason for thatis simple:
ain't havin' it. The word fag, once a commonplace derisive in the music has all but disappeared from Massa
hip hop's vocabulary. (Yes, these thugs fear the backlash from white gays too.) And bitch is still allowed with the common understanding that the term is referring to black women. The point is this: debasement of black communities is entirely acceptable – required even – by hip hop's predominantly white consumer base.
We have lived enough history to know better by now – to know that
gangsta is Sonny Liston, the thug icon of his era, threatening to kill Cassius Clay but completely impotent when it came to demanding that his white handlers stop stealing his money. Gangsta is the black men at the Parchman Farm prison in
who beat the civil rights workers Fannie Lou Hamer and Annell Ponder into bloody unconsciousness because their white wardens told them to. Gangsta is Michael Ervin, NFL bad boy remaining conspicuously mute on Monday Night Football while Limbaugh dissed Donovan McNabb as an Affirmative Action athlete. Gangsta is Bigger Thomas Mississippi
with dilated pupils and every other sweaty-palmed black boy who saw method acting and an attitude as his ticket out of the ghetto.__________________________
Surely our ancestors' struggles were about more than creating millionaires who could care less about us and then tolerating their violent disrespect out of a hunger for black success stories. Surely we are not so desperate for heroes that we uphold cardboard icons because they throw good glare. There's more required than that. The weight of history demands more than simply this. Surely we understand that these men are acting out an age-old script. Taking the Tom Molineaux route. Spitting in the wind and breaking black bones. Hoping to become free.
Or, at least a well-paid slave.
J, TPW, Gotty, Vik, where yall at? Watch'all think? That post was a few days in the making.
Now imma take me a nap or get me some more Zen Tea so I can write this stipulation letter for my boss. And where inna h*ll did the sun go. The Sky is gray again. I tell you, July weather got more personalities than a gemini (hi gotty:).
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