For God’s Sake, Get That Kid Out Of There!

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Iggy Azalea.  I hadn’t until a few months ago.  For those that don’t know (out living a life and whatnot), she’s an Australian rapper.  I think that says it all.

I came across this video earlier this year and wrote it off as the mildly amusing drek that it is.  By happenstance I came across it again this morning and a thought struck me: “WTF is that kid doing in the video?!”

Please understand, the video is called Pussy–and it’s not a euphemism.  It is a song about Iggy’s genitalia and the enjoyment she derives from receiving oral pleasure–while strolling through her neighborhood dressed like a prostitute, of course.  Anyone who’s followed my blog knows how big a fan I am of trashy hip hop, especially when performed by white female rappers.  Music of the gods as far as I’m concerned.

My only point of contention is that while extolling the virtues of cunnilingus (oh–and drugs), she’s giving a 7 year-old boy a piggy back ride.

Inappropriate.

First of all, it destroys whatever fantasy she’s trying to sell.

Second, who’s effing kid is that?! Get him off the goddamn set!

Imagine 50 Cent performing Magic Stick while holding hands with a 10 year-old girl.  He’d be jailed immediately.  No trial.  And rightfully so.  This isn’t quite that bad, but it’s like 90% of the way there.

Or maybe it’s just me (it’s not).  What do ya’ll think? (P.S. there’s swears galore in this song.)

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Common: The Believer

Funny to think of the (falsefied) uproar Common’s presence in the White House caused last year (ahh…politics).

The Chicago native has endured–over 21 years–because of his unique and unparallelled ability to straddle the line between poetry and rap.  It’s not hip hop for dummies.  This most clearly evidenced with his inspirational track The Believer off his 2011 album The Dreamer/The Believer.  I find it to be insightful and sometimes moving music that gives me a little something new each time I hear it.

His line, “If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us/look at the picture, it’s hard not to blame us,” is in reference to Barnes’ custom of painting his subjects with their eyes closed to symbolize our blindness to each others’ humanity.

Likewise, in the verse, “Destiny’s children, survivors, soldiers/in front of buildings their eyes look older,” Common uses the now-defunct R&B group’s name and song titles as a metaphor to describe the saga of young life on the streets.

And lastly, with, “That ain’t the way the Langston Hughes wrote us/soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah,” Common laments how urban youth, despite possessing biblical potential, are running around with guns; it’s such a shortfall to how poets (and visionaries) such as Langston Hughes described African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance–which was the first real exposure the modern world got to the potential contribution blacks could make to culture and thought.

I love stuff like that. 🙂

Anyhow…

P.S.  The lyrics are included below.

– John legend – Hook –
I believe in the light that shines and will never die
Oh I believe the fire burns, we stay alive
They will talk about us
Like they talked about the kings before us
They will talk about us

– Common – Verse 1 –
These are the words of a believer, achiever, leader of the globe
Feeding souls of those in need
I bleed the blood of the struggle
Walking over troubled puddles
Hustles in my chest, no hustle no progress
Extremities of life and it’s process
Birth of a son, death of another
With love I caress both mothers
And tell ‘em, who’s in control is the One that’s above us
I walk where money talks and love stutters
Body language of a nation going through changes
The young become dangerous, pain gets spent into anger
Anger gets sent through the chamber
It’s tough when your own look like strangers
We are the sons of gangsters and stone rangers
If he could how would Ernie Barnes paint us?
Look at the picture, hard not to blame us
But time forgives, in the Chi where the young die often
Do they end up in a coffin because we haven’t taught them?
Is it what we talking? We really ain’t walking
Dues hustlers pay, how much did it cost ‘em?
Find myself on the same corner that we lost ’em
Real talking, in their ear like a Walkman
Thoughts spin around the corner to the World
When I see them, I see my baby girl
Believe!

– Hook –

– Verse 2 –
The lord lives among us
The young ‘uns hunger becomes a means to get it
By any means necessary, under pressure
Children feeling lesser, with the steel upon the dresser
Kill-at-will aggressors, Destiny’s children
Survivors, soldiers, in front of buildings their eyes look older
Hard to see blessings in a violent culture
Face against weapons, sirens, holsters
That ain’t the way that Langston Hughes wrote us
Soul controllers on the shoulders of Moses and Noah
We go from being Precious to Oprah
Cultivated to overcome ever since we came over-seas (seize)
The day and the way that you can see we determined
Solar keeps burning, shorties know to keep learning
Lessons in our life, but life stripes that we earning
Took Gramp’s advice that Christ is returning
Like a thief in the night, I write for beacons of light
For those of us in dark alleys and parched valleys
Street kids spark rallies of the conscience conquerors of a contest
That seems beyond us, even through the unseen, I know that God watches
From one King’s dream he was able to Barack us
The prophets, nothing can stop us
Believe!

– Hook-

[John legend]                                                                                                     I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us
I know I know I know our dreams won’t turn to dust
They will talk about us

Afro-Saxon Life In A Semi Post-Racialist World

Actor portrayals of post-racialists

Forgive me, this is gonna ramble a bit.

What do you call a black person who likes Mos Def as much as Coldplay and Loreena McKinnett as much as Metallica?

Okay, tone deaf.  Good one, but wrong answer.

Well, then what do you call a black person who has as many white friends as black friends (more, in fact)?  Who is heterosexual, but pro-gay rights?  Who uses words like avuncular and knows what an interdental fricative is, thoroughly?  What about a black person who has been called both a nigger by white people and a sellout by black people?

The answer is an Afro-Saxon–which is an innocuous way of calling someone an Oreo cookie.  Still, among the litany of  terminological mash-ups, Afro-Saxon is an all time great.  It just rolls off the tongue.  It’s meaning is clear and free from judgement.

It also best describes me, as I fit every last one of the above descriptors.

In these post-racialist times (which began–officially–Novermber 4, 2008) such cultural crossover is becoming the norm.  The walls of the old ways are coming down to reveal unimaginable spectacles before expanding horizons.

An avowed post-racialist

It’s a bold new world my friends, filled with wiggers, tweecanos, 1.5Gs,and Cablanasians.  It’s a world of N.R.A. Buddhists and preachers in flip flops, where a Mexican family goes out for sushi rolls, and Indian women wear green saris for St. Patrick’s Day.

It is a world well on its way to Dr. King’s Utopia.

I’m just not sure I’m ready for it.

Dealing with my own otherness is easy.

I’m a spiritual atheist (whatever that is).  I don’t get Tyler Perry.

I think Spike Lee is waaaay overrated.  I’m not a huge proponent of affirmative action.

World's Best MC, Black Thought of The Roots

If I could be anywhere in the world right now it would be Strommness, Orkney (until I went stark raving from all the nothing to do).

I think the best MC on the planet is Black Thought from The Roots.   I also love Brit rock (c’mon, The Servant?  Bloc Party?  Placebo??).  I prefer Zofia Kilanowicz’ rendition of Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3 to the more popular version by Dawn Upshaw.

I want a political revolution.  I want equality for everyone.  I demand social justice.  I don’t think white people are any more or less racialist than any other ethnic group.

This is life as an Afro-Saxon.

It might not seem like much, but remember, I’ve been called a a sellout because of the way that I talk, the places I’ve lived, the music I listen to, and the friends I keep.  It’s easy to dismiss now, but as a grade-schooler transplanted from halfway across the country (twice–from new York to Nebraska then from Nebraska to California) it can be devastating to your sense of identity.

I’m not what people expect when they see a 6’4″ black guy on approach.  People who’ve heard about me before meeting me invariably respond with an oh! or wow! upon address.  I think I do ultimately make a good impression judging by what people say to my face–of course that’s to my face.  But I’ve also seen people shrink when I gesture with my hands while talking. I’ve seen old ladies clutch their purses when I stand next to them.  Audacity.  I wish I had the stones to snatch even one of those purses, so I could see the look on the old bat’s face like , “Goddamnit! I knew it!”

Inevitably though, people get comfortable with me; I’m not the aggressive type.  I’m jovial, slow to anger, rational and reasonable.  Unless you’re a bred to the bone hatemonger, the guard eventually goes down.

Sadly, that’s when the racialist comes out.

“Can I touch your hair?” This hasn’t been a problem lately, but believe me, I’ve been asked that dozens of times.

More often, I either get asked some racially insensitive question about black people or get unwillingly subjected to an uninformed opinion about the short comings of my race, present company always excepted of course.  All are replete with racist stereotypes and gross generalizations.

Not quite beyond the throes of racialism.

People love to get that okay to be racialist.  I tend to find it comedic, though.  Racism is a funny thing; it’s an odd mix of anger, fear, and ignorance.

And that’s the problem when dealing with other people.  If you’re free to fit in anywhere, it’s hard to know where to fit in.

H.P. Lovecraft said, essentially, that he basest human emotion is fear and the basest fear is fear of the unknown.  Racism is a bastardization of that fear.  So, in essence, what keeps the deer alive in the wild keeps human beings from coming together to make a better world.  It echoes the line from Dylan Thomas poem:

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower is my destroyer.

I’m not any better. I haven’t gotten past the prejudices in my heart either.  Of course, we’re all bigots if you dig deep enough; some of us simply have more control over showing it.  Just because a black person doesn’t jump up in the middle of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and proclaim it all “a bunch of pointless white bullshit,” doesn’t actually mean they weren’t thinking it.  Likewise, a white person who refrains from condemning each news story featuring Lil’ Wayne as “yet another display of rampant coonery,” isn’t necessarily above such a mindset.

It would be an uglier world if we spoke those thoughts.  But it would also be more honest.  Sure, they’re touchy subjects and they cut deep.  But I don’t consider any words or thoughts taboo.

Sometimes I wish we really could have a serious and frank airing of racial grievances.  Maybe if we just laid all our cards out on the table we could finally get to actual understanding.  But with the ignorance being actively fostered here in the United States, the only realistic outcome is a fistfight.  Best case scenario.

Alicia Keys is proof of the good that comes from post-racialism.

So, instead of navigating these long unsailed waters terrified because we can’t tell protruding rocks from shark fins, we tamp down our own natures and christen ourselves post-racialists–the very avant garde of open-mindedness–without ever actually confronting our demons.  It’s unearned enlightenment, which really means we’re just imagining things in the dark.  But boy, does it feel good!

It’s not hard to achieve.  In fact, there are 5 simple and surprisingly easy-to-follow rules to become a true post-racialist citizen of the world:

Michelle Branch provides further proof.
  • Rule #1: Don’t admit anyone is racist no matter how obviously racist that person might be.
  • Rule #2: Don’t admit anything racist no matter how obviously racist that thing might be.
  • Rule #3:  Proclaim yourself above racism no matter how obviously racist you might be.
  • Rule #4: Attack anyone who brings up racism as a shameless race-baiter.
  • Rule # 5: Act like everything else is okay.

Okay, so it’s not exactly inspiring.  It’s the old hates with new names and new veneers.  But maybe the Afro-Saxon and the wigger are driving the new cultural norms.  The resolution of racism won’t come from a race war or scholastic philosophy.  It’ll come from YouTube and the blogosphere.  We can “olive out” the black and white.  America could be the new Mediterranean.

At the very least, it’ll do until something better comes along.

Or until Coldplay comes out with a bad album.

The key to the world's future!

San Diego’s Greatest Rapper

The music scene in San Diego is robust but it’s not much of a rap mecca.  Anyone familiar with San Diego is probably surprised to learn there are any rappers out of San Diego.

His stage name is Wax and to be fair he’s originally from Baltimore.  It’s a fact I’m conveniently choosing to ignore.  He’s a phenomenal lyricist, one of the best out there, in my humble opinion.  Plus he’s a musician in his own right.  He has a twin brother who is similarly talented but isn’t as productive.

For those harkening back to my post on Immortal Technique, Wax is not that type of MC.  At all. There is no social relevance in Wax’s music; it’s all absurdity and fierce lyrics.  He’s much more in the vein of Eminem (due to content not skin color!).  His underrated producer EOM crafts tracks that fit Wax’s style seamlessly. What you get is a lyrically inventive head nodding underground sound that could work in almost any era of hip hop.

It’s funny and irreverent and I think it’s great.

Hope ya’ll do too. (There’s swears and potentially offensive subject matter in these vids, just so’s you know.)

Wax freestylin’ in the Sentra:

Wax and EOM (off of the Eviction Notice mix-tape):

Wax singin’ and rhymin’ at a live show:

Immortal Technique: Leaving the Past

Peruvian-born, Harlem-raised MC, Immortal Technique

I don’t know how familiar people are with Harlem rapper Immortal Technique.  He’s underground, but he’s well know in hip hop circles, having collaborated with a gamut of artists, from Eminem to Mos Def.

If you haven’t heard his music, just know that it’s not the empty calorie club-fluff that tops the charts these days.  It’s equal part Nas and Public Enemy, socially conscious and lyrically deft.  It’s hard and it’s edgy and it’s provocative.  It’s headphone hip hop that bumps in a trunk.

I don’t agree with everything he says but he makes me think.  And I love honesty in expression.  I would say similar things about Ted Nugent and Hank Williams Jr.

Anyway, I saw Immortal Technique on an interview about Occupy Wall Street on the Alyona Show recently and it started a minor jones for his music, this song in particular.  It’s probably my favorite.  I love the sentiment behind it.

I figured I’d spread the love.

What impresses me the most is that the song came out 6 years ago, yet it seems even more topical today.  Kinda prophetic.

Hope you enjoy it.

(Immortal Technique image from:  http://www.sofreshandsogreen.com/2010/05/06/lyrics-to-go-immortal-techniques-beef-and-broccoli/)

Azealia Banks is the Truth

YouTube sensation and self-proclaimed "cutie-pie," Azealia Banks.

I love Azealia Banks, figuratively more than literally (but definitely both).

Azealia has turned her status as a moderate YouTube sensation into cold hard cash, having just signed a deal with Universal Records. It will be interesting to see where she takes it.  She is currently in London working on her debut album, and has teamed-up with Paul Epworth, producer extraordinaire of Adele‘s amazing sophomore album 21.  Hopefully, the results will be similarly successful.

I’m singing Azealia’s praises because I love real hip hop and Azealia’s got the goods.  She’s a talented lyricist with a quick-witted, twirling, conversational style.  She avoids the traps of the gangsta-girl persona, instead  providing an insightful peek into the mind of a young, urban twenty-something just making her way in the modern world, delving with aplomb into the intricacies of relationships, safe-sex, infidelity, and female independence.  Oh, and she LOVES cunnilingus.  More power to her.

My only criticism–and it’s a relatively minor one–is that she hasn’t fully developed her own unique voice.  She lingers too long in the usual fare: She laughs at women who want a man to provide for them (or who think she can’t take their men at will).  A recently admitted bi-sexual, she proudly uses men and women alike for her sexual gratification.  And she assures us that her sexual prowess is more than enough to separate even the smoothest talkers from their salaries.  She is pleasant to look at, so I’m somewhat inclined to believe her, but what’s interesting isn’t what she says so much as how she says it.

Her lyrics are equal parts confidence, charismatic hustle, and lewd sexuality–but always with a wink.  She can play the selfish heart-breaker convincingly, but you can’t help but feel her own heart isn’t quite as cold as she’s making out.

In the end, I’m a fan because she’s provocative and she’s fun, the two things that make rap music great.  Azealia Banks may not be groundbreaking…so far.  But she is young and talented and is aligning herself with other talented people.  And that is always the best combination.

(Azealia Banks image: http://consequenceofsound.net/2012/01/check-out-azealia-banks-debuts-bambi-at-paris-fashion-week/)