Saturday, September 03, 2005
Graduating summa cum laude
The jester stole his thorny crown.
The courtroom was adjourned;
No verdict was returned.
And while lennon read a book of marx,
The quartet practiced in the park,
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died..."
I've been a disillusioned hip-hop head for longer than I care to admit. While an occasional beat would be cause to nod my head, the lyrical content and chock full o'cliches would leave me cold. I longed for the days when rappers had something other than bitches, bling and rims to rhyme about. Whatever happened to the music representing what was happening on the streets? Being the voice of the voiceless? Aiming its eye to the social ills of the community and becoming the "ghetto CNN" to draw attention to problems unreported on the 10 o'clock news? Since glamorizing the hood went Hollywood, things just weren't the same anymore.
In the wake of such a catastrophe on our home soil, I wasn't waiting with baited breath for a representative of the urban collective to rock the boat with any loose cannon commentary. Too many of our entertainers can't put together a well-constructed sentence much less have the balls to shoot from the hip without a camera present or a crew 50 deep mean muggin' in the background. Why would this time be any different? Alas, I spoke too soon.
"I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, "They're looting." You see a white family, it says, "They're looking for food." And, you know, it's been five days [waiting for federal help] because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help -- with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way -- and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"Midway through last night's concert for hurricane relief airing live on the East Coast, Kanye West decided to drive his Chevy through NBC's levee and kissed the scripted shtick goodbye. With the single utterance of "George Bush doesn't care about Black people!" to the flabbergast of a stunned Mike Myers, a collective fist pump was felt far and wide by those who echoed those very sentiments. In one simple, frustrating phrase, the impassioned resentment of a people who watched men, women and children in shades of brown just like them abandoned by their own government was thrust into the spotlight. And not a moment too soon. It took brass balls to deviate from the saccharine hand-holding session to say what many African-Americans were already thinking.
Of course the detractors have already gone on the offensive to call the outburst inappropriate and unsuitable since it occurred during a charitable benefit. So that criticism obviously begs the question - when would be the proper opportunity? Venting in an obscure magazine article? Mouthing off in a fan site journal entry? In the midst of an online simulcast? Like any one of those options would garner the same amount of publicity. When you have millions watching as a captive audience, why not go for broke in getting the message out? Fuck decorum, this was the right choice in the right venue at the right time. It was a textbook example of "keeping it real" for the studio gangstas to take note of how it's really done.
Of course the execution didn't go off without a hitch. West was visibly nervous and had trouble articulating his points on camera devoid of his trademark swagger. Yet that vulnerability made his message all the more poignant — and potent.
Contrary to what the Sun-Times' Jim DeRogatis claims, Kanye's splashiest foray into controversy didn't earn him an honorary Black Panther card in one fell swoop. West is still too enamored with sucking his own dick for the sake of kudos he shamelessly chases from every magazine editor and reviewer known in the industry. However for one brief moment, his greatest work came not behind the boards or located on an album listing — but voiced as a man who let his guard down to reveal the grief which for once outshone his ego.
- BFKASO commented at 9/15/2005 02:05:00 PM~
I've clowned Coonye's arrogance for months but even I can't knock the fact that what he did was noble in its own right. You summed up the story perfectly. Boy aint as articulate as he could or should be (blame it on drop out status blame it on him getting to excited) but someone needed to say it.
I hope you out there working for some magazine or some other form of intellegence diminishing / enchancing (depending on your take on it) publication or venue. You truely have a gift for writing. And thats real!
- TriniPrincess commented at 9/15/2005 03:33:00 PM~
Thanks for the props, bfkaso (so glad I finally know the story behind the acronym). Kunta Coonye has made an ass of himself before, but that moment was huge. Nice to see him shake that fan base of his up a bit.
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