Tag Archives: YG

The Modern Day Minstrel: How Ignorance has Led Many of Today’s Rap Stars to Replicate a Long Ago Forgotten Vaudeville Tradition

Per a New Year’s resolution to be more organized, I have been diligently preparing for the fast-approaching Spring Semester. A significant aspect of my vow to organization is preparing my classroom materials and lectures. So it was a regular occurrence for me to begin reconstructing a speech focused upon the late-19th Century rise of American industrialism and the arrival of European immigrants who would eventually become crucial elements in the American Labor Movement.

I have always considered the American Labor Movement bittersweet. As the son of an unionized Steelworker, I recognized the utility of unionization and the protections that it provided for undervalued skilled and unskilled workers; that is certainly the sweet portion of the American Labor Movement. However, that sweetness is counterbalanced with a shocking bitter reality that class realities were insufficient to subdue, let alone eradicate, the seemingly innate racism and xenophobia that was an indispensable portion of the worldviews of non-black laborers.

I have found that this glimpse into America’s past provides essential understanding of why W.E.B. Du Bois would term “the color line” as the problem of the twentieth century. Most fail to catch this crucial information because of their stupid decision to pay little attention to what non-black laborers and a developing middle-class considered entertainment to fill their limited free time.

The height of entertainment for non-black workers were vaudeville Minstrel shows. American audiences felt vaudeville shows with their singing and dancing the epitome of entertainment. Considering the racial prejudice that undergirds so much of the American psyche, it is predictable that not even white’s entertainment would be devoid of a racial element. Hence, the smashing success of Blackface Minstrels such as Thomas “Daddy” Rice is understandable. For the vast majority of whites, regardless of the region they lived, the only thing better than a vaudeville show filled with singing and dancing was one that included ample opportunities to poke fun at blacks.

Minstrel shows bolstered whites’ prevailing belief in Social Darwinism, a belief that the cream will always rise to the crop. Minstrel shows reinforced via entertainment whites superiority over blacks. Close examination of Minstrel shows reveals that these theatrical productions were akin to inspiring sermons the sought to definitively display an unconquerable black intellectual inferiority. According to those who meticulously constructed Minstrel shows, it was blacks innate inferiority that guaranteed that education was wasted on them as it would never take hold of their feeble minds and if the white world did not keep tabs on what amounted to a sub-human population it could very well devolve back to its original uncivilized state.

Fortunately for African-Americans, societal pressures have put the Minstrel Show to rest. However, the messages of black feeble-mindedness and our unsuitability for a civilized existence are projected today from one of the least likely sources; the latest reiteration of commercially successful rap stars and the droves of blacks that follow their every idiosyncrasy.

Although I could further expound upon this matter and dissect the cultural ignorance propagated by contemporary rappers, however, I fervently believe that they display it much more efficiently than I ever could. So please consider the following displays of modern day Minstrelsy as verification of all that I could and would say.

 

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

© Manhood, Race, and Cultuer, 2017

 

 

Because I Still Love Her: An Ode to Hip-Hop

I met this girl, when I was ten years old
And what I loved most she had so much soul
She was old school, when I was just a shorty
Never knew throughout my life she would be there for me
ont he regular, not a church girl she was secular
Not about the money, no studs was mic checkin her
But I respected her, she hit me in the heart
A few New York niggaz, had did her in the park
But she was there for me, and I was there for her…

Now she be in the burbs lickin rock and dressin hip
And on some dumb shit, when she comes to the city
Talkin about poppin glocks servin rocks and hittin switches
Now she’s a gangsta rollin with gangsta bitches
Always smokin blunts and gettin drunk
Tellin me sad stories, now she only fucks with the funk
Stressin how hardcore and real she is
She was really the realest, before she got into showbiz
I did her, not just to say that I did it
But I’m committed, but so many niggaz hit it
That she’s just not the same lettin all these groupies do her
I see niggaz slammin her, and takin her to the sewer
But I’ma take her back hopin that the shit stop
Cause who I’m talkin bout y’all is hip-hop

 Common (1994)

In 1994, the rapper Common Sense gifted hip-hop culture with a track that was simultaneously poignant and an immediate classic. The song I refer to is I Used to Love Her. A track that shows us not only the Chicago based rapper at his absolute lyrical best, but also caused the entire Hip-Hop community to reflect for a moment KRS ONEabout what we had done to her; the her that Common was metaphorically referring to was an entity that my generation thought would never leave us, would never betray us, would never age, and Lord knows she would never lose that enchanting allure that kept us coming back for more of what she had, and truthfully she turned out every male, and more than a few females in her day as well; the female that I, and Common, are talking about is Hip-Hop.

Man, were we wrong. Although the shell of what we remember about her still remains, she in no way resembles that beautiful, politicized, cultured, and articulate siren of yesterday. If it did nothing else, last night’s Black Entertainment Television Hip-Hop Awards show definitively proved such. So it is out of pure love that I issue a rallying call to all of those who still have some affinity in ygtheir heart for Hip-Hop Culture to rally and make a concerted effort to stop this criminal exploitation of something that we all loved at one point in our lives. We need a direct intervention that calls for us to do more than merely taping the on-going crime with a cell phone camera; we are, and have been for some time, within a cultural crisis and we must take her back ‘By Any Means Necessary’.

My natural reaction to the question of ‘what should be done?’ is to rhetorically state any and everything. However, rhetoric will do little to get her back into the arms of those who love her. Considering the obvious utility of mentorship, it may be time for the luminaries of the Hip-Hop community to intercede and begin an extreme mentoring program for emcees that teach them the rules homie quanto this game; obviously, today’s emcees ‘are not ‘bout that life’. A mentorship and education that would hopefully lift those who represent the Hip-Hop community on stages throughout the world, a privilege earned by the legends of Hip-Hop, despite they not having anything to say beyond myopic misogynistic half-witted, darn near indecipherable guttural moans and unarticulated words that place an exclamation point upon their obvious cultural illiteracy and lack of any form of education. Not to mention the fumbling away of an incredible opportunity to issue a message to 20,000 people sitting in an arena listening to your every word. Quite possibly the most powerful position that today’s African-American youth could ever hope to occupy.

Considering that the most likely place to find today’s disciples of what is being termed Hip-Hop culture today is in front of a Young Thugtelevision watching ‘reality television’, I have a proposal that will satisfy their desperate desire to live life vicariously through others while also saving Hip-Hop culture.

What I believe that we need is our own, much larger and extended version of The Voice; unfortunately, I think that it would take a rap luminary like Chuck D darn near a decade to explain to YG why standing on a stage and repeatedly stating ‘nigga’ is not a good Rakimthing for the African-American community, I could see Rakim physically striking Rich Homie Quan as he grows increasingly frustrated with his inability/refusal to enunciate his words, heck, it may take a century for KRS-ONE and Grandmaster Melle Mel to explain to Young Thug the underlying issues surrounding gender dynamics, racial discord, and imagery; not to mention the process to break Nicki Minaj’s steadfast commitment to present Black women as the modern-day Venus Hottentot for anyone with a dollar in their hand would take every bit of energy that Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, nickithe Real Roxanne, Salt ‘n Pepa, and Queen Latifah have collectively. Heck, I would even argue that Snoop should be on someone’s team as he seems to be totally confused regarding the issues of imagery, language, and how to “be” as a middle-aged man.

So I am placing a call to Public Enemy, KRS-ONE, Paris, X-Clan, Brand Nubian, NWA, Scarface, Dead Prez, Mos Def, Rakim, De La Soul, Missy Elliott, Da Brat, MC Lyte, the Real Roxanne, A Tribe Chuck dCalled Quest, and anyone else, including contemporary emcees who understand the culture like Big K.R.I.T., that is willing to dedicate the rest of their life, because that is what it is going to take, to helping us recapture her from those who have exploited her economically, disrespected her at a moments notice, needlessly cursed at her, and forced her to dress like a common hoe, and pursue the mighty dollar like a THOT, to aid us in this process; she certainly deserves better.

‘Cause who I’m talkin’ about y’all is Hip-Hop’.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#MRC

 

My Nigga: The Power of Words on the African-American Mind

I don’t wanna be another nigga,
Waitin’ with my hands out,
Broke in the hood, they give a damn ’bout
Braggin’ to my homie bout the hoes I fucked
Drinkin’ bottles after bottles, plus I smoke too much.
I never had a job that would pay me well,
I took what I could cause they gave me hell
Spend what I stole on some clothes and kicks,
My ex girl say I won’t amount to shit.
But she suck and fuck, when my car roll up,
Tried to fuck her sister, but she talk too much.
Her mama shake her head whenever I come ’round
Whatever high I had when I saw her might come down
I barely go to church but I say I will,
I bow my head right before I eat my meal
The world’s fucked up and they claimin’ I’m to blame
It’s a damn shame cause
I don’t wanna be another nigga,

Big K.R.I.T.

One of my core beliefs is that “the power of life and death is in the tongue.” Put simply, watch what you say as those words are living projectiles that not only impact the world around me, but also go a great measure towards determining my future path. My parents and mentors repeatedly told me to watch my word choice, particularly when it came to cursing, because, ‘a little bit of bad will tear down a whole lot of good.’

We all realize that America holds its African-American citizenry to a different standard. Most unfair is the reality that the antics, of one African-American have the ability to malign the entire race. Despite their best attempts to deny it, African-Americans are inextricably linked together. One’s public persona, from dress to speech, reflects not only that individual, rather it is extended to cover one’s family and race; especially if that image carries any negativity. When African-American elders are commenting upon the pride they exhibited during earlier moments, they are recalling their posture, walk, diction, and physical appearance. One abhorred being caught ‘showing one’s color’, meaning damaging the African-American image, regardless of the extenuating circumstances.

The aforementioned realities are one of many reasons why YG’s hit single, “My Nigga”, is so disturbing; particularly its impact upon the image and psyche of African-American males. Although I find it particularly difficult to believe that there is anyone on the planet who has not heard this recording by now, in the event that there is such an individual, here are a sampling of the chorus.

My nigga, my nigga
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My motherfuckin niggas!)
My nigga, my nigga (My nigga, my nigga)
My nigga, my nigga?

The word ‘nigga’ is repeated a shocking thirty-one times during one chorus. Black America’s soul should be troubled by not only the verbal flurry, but also the fact that it has entered the impressionable minds of droves of African-American youth.

As someone who has been addicted to rap music from the first time that I heard Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message‘, I thought that it may be time to address YG’s recording, not with a denunciation of it, that is not only easily accomplished, but also predictable, rather I have decided to offer an artistic alternative to a listening audience that desperately seeks close association with the “N-Word”. Unfortunately, many of these individuals believe that YG’s record, and similar recordings, epitomize what rap music is. So, please consider this a desperate attempt to fight the blaze of ignorance that YG, Rich Homie Quan, and Jeezy began and Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill fanned with their remix, with an alternative vision. Please click on the following links for an alternative understanding of the N-Word, nigga, and nigger from several generations of African-Americans.

Maybe the aforementioned rappers will trip upon this posting and learn something regarding the power of language and come to understand that their financial wealth is insufficient to hide their intellectual and moral poverty. I am certain that time will impress upon them that no amount of cash is capable of masking such poverty. One of their own, Jay-Z, a self-proclaimed rap God, once issued an admonishment that is particularly applicable here when he related, “you can pay for school, but you can’t buy class.” A lesson that I hope the entire hip-hop community learns before the power of their words leads to more incarceration, death, and destruction of their own.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

#MRC