Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Brotha Lynch Hung or NYOil, false dichotomy, probably, but i'm still tillin' this soil

Lupe Fiasco -Hip Hop Saved My Life

Here is why I don't get all the false, inflated "scandalism" of Fiascogate. He seems to be the least insular/insolent of the self-proclaimed conscious rappers. Perhaps it's because I never understood the appeal of multiple guys offering multiple perspectives of nothing about nothing, but I think it's important to note that he mentioned having grown up on Spice 1 instead of the Tribe. For all of the Tribe's supposed elevated awareness, they really just threw down a whole bunch of party tracks with minimal flourishes of new muslim idioms and jazz samples to make it seem like the partying wasn't in vain. Don't get me wrong, yes i can kick it, but consider "Can I Kick It?" It samples one of Lou Reed's saddest songs about street stalking trannies, then proceeds to wax superficial about nothing in particular, throwing in the term afro-centric, tapping into black consciousness by a mere head nod and then moving on. Which is fine, but when the struggle is over and all you slung was rhetoric, what'll there be left to talk about? And the struggle isn't over. And as much as crack rap and gangster rap is begrudged as regressive, its roots are entirely in black consciousness, more so than conscious rap's aversion of it.
Consider the Crips. The Crips were originally an offshoot of The Black Panther Party, and the name is an acronym for Community Revolution In Progress, and was led by Stanley Tookie Williams. In the wake of the civil right's movement's demise (yes, at the hands of the FBI), the focus of the group became more violent and less community-oriented, eventually getting swallowed up in the drug trade (thank you, CIA). So, when a purportedly nihilistic gangster rapper has a pang of conscience and takes time away from the fictional narrative they've built (because yes, like hollywood before them, much of rap persona is a creative writing experiment in the first person) to muse on the fact that regardless of their don status, they're still just a foot soldier in the destruction of their hood, it's more legitimate then someone yelling "afro-centric" mid track and then discarding it for creatively worded nonsense.
So, getting back to the beginning, here's this video where instead of lashing out at apparently vegetative rappers about their regressive tactlessness, he writes a story of how something as simplistic and superfluous as stack that cheese is actually a monumental catalyst in keeping a drug dealer off the streets by making legitimate money that can feed his family and repay his mother for adolescence. In the video Willie D and Slim Thug appear on the wall, and Bun B shows up for street support roll call. It's just nice, not overly pretentious, and unlike dumb it down's excoriation of the record industry and metaphor haters, it sticks up for the rappers who do what they have to do in order to not do what they had to do.
So, then comes NYOil, who, from what I understand, is not active as anything but a musician, furiously excoriating the state of modern rap as an insult to the civil rights movement. That Malcolm X and Martin Luther King died for their sins and they should be repenting by being active citizens. This is where my confusion sets in, where are NYOil's activist credentials, what exactly is proactive in rapping about other rappers not being proactive, going so far as to adapt the white racist vernacular and suggest they be lynched, because they're so backwards. This is where conscious rap's dismissal of fake thuggery uncomfortably reminds me of the notion of the bourgeois negro's embarrassment of their black brethren. While somewhat rooted in their successful resurgance in a higher economic echelon, it's mostly the burden of that echelon's throne bearers, that their black brethren aren't adapting properly to the society they were forced into building and should therefore disassociate completely to ensure their legacy's safety in white company when passing on.
Now, conscious rap tends to be radical in theory, reactionary to white power structures, but it seems to be within the context of the professional, white vernacular. Kidz in the Hall may have finally gotten together with Bun B and the Clipse, but their preceding album was about distancing themselves from the hood by getting an ivy league education. When Little Brother makes an album called the Minstrel Show and calls out rappers for feeding into a black stereotype for white money, doesn't that in itself feed into black stereotype? The mere perpetuation of the idea that a different lexicon suggests intellectual inferiority is a horribly white misinterpretation of the beauty of linguistics.
Boots Riley of the Coup suggests that crack or gangster rap's semi-fictional narratives are in fact more helpful to the poor than denigration of their cultural output. That in telling someone who's been abandoned and left to fend by disinterested authority figures how to survive on the streets is far more useful than another lesson in how stupid you are because you aren't updating your brain processing structure to societal norms, specifically the ones found acceptable on fox news. He also suggests that conscious rap is merely an aesthetic ploy that hides a much more misleading superficiality underneath than the supposedly superficial genres of coke and gun rap purportedly wallow in. That a jazz sample is somehow classy and smart can only go so far to cover up equal amounts of misogyny and stupidity.
While this is directed to the general dismissal of southern rap by other regional powerhouses, the particulars are just as familiar within the context discussed above.

Willie D's verse on Quit Hatin' The South by UGK:
I'm blastin off on you hoes like NASA
Your double standards and hypocrisy, remind me of Massa
We ain't good enough to eat at ya table but when ya dick get hard
You wanna run up in our broads
I from the get.. coke but I'm still clockin figures
Bitch.. hoe.. cocksuckin nigga
And that goes for all you visitors too
If you don't like it down here, get the fuck on fool!
They say you can't rap and they questioning our intellect
Friendly ass niggaz jumpin bad on the internet
Ain't nobody typing that much, can't be a danger
Catch you in person, bitch I'll break yo' fingers!
It's some trash in the South but I promise you
From the East to the West, some of y'all garbage too
As long as the beat knock and the lyrics hot, son
I can give a rat's ass where a rapper is from
I remember N.W.A. and PE
Had me feelin like a rapper was the thing to be
You can't fuck with Willie D, UGK either
Disrespecting the code, jealous muthafuckas need to quit hatin' the south