RATCHET ME THIS: HOW DO WE RIDE FOR PLEASURE IN A PIMP CULTURE?

REAL COLORED GIRLS

DEC 22 2013

RATCHET ME THIS: HOW DO WE RIDE FOR PLEASURE IN A PIMP CULTURE?

Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Barbara Christian, June Jordan, Michele Wallace, Harriet Tubman, Patricia Hill Collins, Sojourner Truth, M. Jacqui Alexander, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, et. al.

 

irst things first: we are not talking to Jamilah-come-lately. If you ain’t been boycottin’ R. Kelly since Aaliyah was 14, if you even needed to see the piss tapes to persuade you further, if Kevin Powell’s BK Nation petition was your entry into this conversation, you ain’t got the answers.

Second: if you’re trying to engage in an analysis of Black women’s sexuality, without acknowledging the role of pimp culture in your framing, you ain’t been doin’ the education.

‘Pimp culture’ is the umbrella under which we map the interlocking systems of oppression that create the material conditions under which Black women experience bodily and psychic harm. Vestiges of the gator-wearing, fur cape-lined pimp show up in our private and public spaces and we feel the brunt of his solid gold cane in our experiences of mass culture apparatuses. Pimp culture employs white supremacy, misogyny, racism, homophobia and the dogma of rugged individualism to physically and psychically undermine our sense of self, diminishing our capacity for self-determination.

Pimp culture is in line with other terms used in anti-violence discourse – sexual violence, culture of violence, rape culture. Yet, in the Black feminist tradition, we use the term to center the unique experiences of Black women and signal the specific forms of knowledge that we bring in understanding the depths of physical violence and psychic trauma on individual and societal levels.

By Jess Pinkham _DSC9539.NEFCollectively, these forces show up as, for example, the vicious maligning of nine-year old Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis who was “jokingly” called a cunt by a major news media outlet. The sexualized verbal battery of a Black girl child, on the public stage, in her moment of glory, was an act of psychic aggression meant to humiliate Black girls and women, while underscoring that in pimp culture we are primed to be sexually exploited even in our most innocent moments. The language used was an attempt by pimp culture to turn a Black girl child out as a sexual spectacle, reminding those of us who are grown that we don’t own the mechanisms of our representation, nor do we have the allegiance of anyone in power who will ride for us.

Many of the comments on our first blog, “The Problem with BeyHive Bottom Bitch Feminism,” along with dialogues in the Twitterverse, support the idea that we should celebrate the presentation of sexual pleasure by Black women, especially when it’s done inside of marriage. In an effort to subvert the politics of respectability, some Black feminist hash-taggers have relied on strategic amnesia that discounts the reality of the material conditions of our sexual lives. To wit:

Whenever we consider Black women on stage, we also consider the auction block. When we think of public displays of Black female sexuality, Saartje Baartman isn’t far from our minds. When Black women voluntarily show “the actual inside[s] of [our] vagina” to an audience of strangers and peeping Toms, the torture of Anarcha Wescott takes center stage. Sexual violence is not a joke. We breathe these histories alongside our freedoms, which interrupt any fantasies of an ahistoric sexuality and make us suspicious and critical like a mutha.

Real Colored Girls are serving notice: game recognize game, and we are not here for corporate entities to consume our bodies, shit them out, repackage and sell them back to us as avatars for the music industrial complex. RCG are committed to defining healthy, loving, kinky, freaky, juicy, queer, bi and hetero sexualities for Black women. We are most concerned with publicly taking care of Black women’s sexuality by addressing historical and present trauma and arguing for the creation of a cultural environment in which it is safe for us to express ourselves sensually and sexually.

A cadre of Black feminists and Black women sympathizers (those who don’t proclaim to be feminist but ride for Black women) are calling for a “pleasure principle” that creates space in pop culture for Black women to express empowered sexualities. Any set of propositions that seeks to determine the fundamental basis for our sexual expression must consider the structural conditions under which said propositions are engineered. Pop cultural texts are produced inside of this context, and failing to acknowledge that in your analysis limits the work of dismantling the structures of pimp culture. Twerk it out.

Real Colored Girls encourages the communities of folk engaged in recent discussions about this work to move beyond Bey and consider what this moment has triggered around the presentation of Black female sexualities. Beyonce seems to have mastered the impossible, given the realities for most Black women in the U.S. – taking charge of her cultural production. Close reads of her recent and past work from writers Emily J. Lordi and Daphne Brooks invite us to consider the complex challenges for Black women artists. Even though Beyoncé is suspiciously sexy and joyfully raunchy, it would take a contortionist to situate her performances as a safe & empowered representation of Black women’s sexualities. Beyonce is a product of the hip hop generation – she woke up like that. In contracting with pop culture to distribute feminism, have we diluted the struggle of our Black feminist foremothers? For RCG, this is about the political economy of culture – how global corporate structures are not the context for transformative revolutionary action, and we shouldn’t look to them for our politics.

Our dream is for a revolution for Black women and our sexualities. As Mother bell exhorts, living out this dream requires us to do,

…the critical project of openly interrogating and exploring representations of black female sexuality as they appear everywhere, especially in popular culture.

Real Colored Girls are willing to ride for our radical politic, while acknowledging our privileges as artists and academics. We promote an oppositional consciousness that imagines radical spaces for sexual expression – physical, virtual and spiritual – which is risky and not without sacrifice. We call upon the lives and recorded texts of womanists and Black feminists as scripture and theory in the flesh.

roll-callAudre Lorde, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Toni Cade Bambara, Alice Walker, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Barbara Christian, June Jordan, Michele Wallace, Harriet Tubman, Patricia Hill Collins, Sojourner Truth, M. Jacqui Alexander, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Sanchez, Toni Morrison, et. al.

bell hooks cautions that Black women,

…haven’t as a group really carved out different ways to live our lives.

This is an amazing opportunity to do this work. In the spirit of loving Black women, we invite interventions that construct a post-capitalist imagination in which to dream ourselves whole.

#RealColoredGirls

#PimpCulture

Photo Credits: Bridge to Freedom FoundationTrey Anthony

REAL COLORED GIRLS

 

An Open Letter To Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines Vol. 3) – Nicholas Payton

 

AmeriKKKa: Are You Syrious?Why Hiphop Isn’t Cool Anymore → An Open Letter To Pharrell Williams (Blurred Lines Vol. 3)

Posted on September 13, 2013 by nicholaspayton

Well, it’s about time Pharrell Williams has decided to speak on the issue. He was eerily quiet about it all until just recently. And now that’s he’s opened his mouth, I can throw him some of the shade I was generously giving Robin Thicke.

“I’m a huge fan of Marvin Gaye. He is a genius. He is the patriarch.”

— Pharrell Williams

Really, Pharrell? Since when did it become okay to preemptively sue our patriarchal geniuses of Black music after you knowingly stole their songs?

… Oh, never mind. I remember: Hiphop.

“If you read music, all you have to do is read the sheet music. It’s completely different.

— Pharrell Williams

I read music, do you? And what sheet music are you talking about? From some wack publishing company that did a transcription of Marvin Gaye’s work? Since when do people learn funk tunes from sheet music? Many funk legends can’t even read music. Marvin Gaye couldn’t read or write music, yet he wrote the tune. So what does that say, really?

Pharrell goes on to say:

“[Gaye] is the king of all kings, so let’s be clear about that. And we take our hats off to him, but anybody that plays music and reads music, just simply go to the piano and play the two. One’s minor and one’s major. And not even in the same key.”

Okay, Mr. Williams. You are wrong. Both of the tunes are actually in Major. The difference is that your song is just a major triad “G-B-D over G” and Gaye’s tune is in Dominant Major which means he flatted the 7th degree of the scale (G-C#-E over A), which would explain why y’all’s song sounds like Oktoberfest and Marvin’s song sounds like the Blues. And Marvin’s tune doesn’t go into minor until the bridge. If that monotonous piece of trash you call a song had a bridge, you probably would have stolen it, too. And just because you and Thicke lowered the key a whole step from A to G and removed the Blues doesn’t mean you didn’t steal it. Thicke has already admitted you did.

“Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”

— Robin Thicke

 

So, how you have the hubris to pretend you didn’t steal it is jive.

Let me just explain a couple things to you:

1.) Sheet music may be the legal reference for copyright in the court systems of America, but it has never been the be-all end-all for Black music. A lot of our music has never been written down, it’s an oral and aural tradition passed down generation-to-generation from master to student.

2.) Many of our Kings of Kings could not read music themselves, either because they were blind or just never learned to read. Reading music is certainly helpful, but it isn’t necessary to do so to be a great musician. All that is required is that you have ears. And anyone with ears can hear that you clearly stole this song.

And to those of you who say I know nothing about Hiphop, if “Blurred Lines” is Hiphop, I don’t want to know anything about it. So let me officially go on record now and say that I hate Hiphop. There are certain artists who claim Hiphop that I dig, but Hiphop as a whole is wack. It’s a parasitic culture that preys on real musicians for its livelihood. I may not know anything about Hiphop, but I don’t have to. Without real artists and musicians like me, you’d have nothing to steal. I know enough about it all to know that.

One of the world’s most renowned producers can’t tell the difference between a minor chord and a Dominant 7th, something that you learn the first week in music theory class. It’s like a doctor not knowing the difference between your ears and your eyes. A musical illiterate has the nerve to tell people they would understand he didn’t steal Marvin’s song if they read music. And we wonder why today’s music is shit?

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

Hip-Hop, Tolerance and a D.J.’s Bared Soul: He’s Tired of Denial

CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK

Hip-Hop, Tolerance and a D.J.’s Bared Soul: He’s Tired of Denial

 

Chad Batka for The New York Times

Mister Cee of Hot 97 spoke bluntly about his sexual identity.

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By 

Published: September 13, 2013 87 Comments

It was early Thursday morning and Mister Cee, a D.J. on the hip-hop station Hot 97 and a prominent figure in New York hip-hop history, was in tears. The day before, an audio clip was released in which he appeared to solicit a sexual act from a transgender person, the latest in a string of incidents, including arrests, revolving around Mister Cee’s sexual activities. During his Wednesday afternoon show he had announced his resignation, saying he didn’t want to draw negative attention to his employer and colleagues because of his actions.

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Mister Cee in New York City in 2012.

So there he was on the air the following morning, getting a loving and concerned third degree from Ebro Darden, the program director for Hot 97 (WQHT 97.1 FM), the station where Mister Cee, 47, has worked for two decades. The sober and wrenching conversation lasted about a half-hour, all of it eye-opening.

In its detail and bluntness the talk became not just a discussion about one man’s personal struggles but also an intense and public conversation about hip-hop and sexuality.

“I am tired of trying to do something or be something that I’m not,” Mister Cee said. “I’m tired. I’m tired.”

He initially insisted that he wasn’t gay, but later, revisiting the subject, said, “Even with me saying that, I know I’m still in denial.”

Mister Cee’s acknowledgment that he is grappling with his sexual identity comes amid the gradual easing of hip-hop’s internalized homophobia. Over the last couple of years Frank Ocean, the soul singer and affiliate of the hip-hop crew Odd Future, openly discussed his love for a man; ASAP Rocky and Kanye West have loudly disavowed homophobia (though Rocky visibly struggled at the MTV Video Music Awards last month when put on stage next to the openly gay basketball player Jason Collins), and Jay Z voiced his support for marriage equality.

This reflects a generational shift in attitudes in the culture at large, a slight change in the class positioning of hip-hop’s mainstream, and a broadening of hip-hop’s fan base. Antigay sentiment has long been part of that world — two decades ago there were virtual witch hunts to root out rappers who might be gay — but as hip-hop becomes more central to pop culture, its values are evolving. It’s no longer tenable for hip-hop to be an island.

Mister Cee, born Calvin Lebrun, treated the interview as a confession and an unburdening, speaking with a frankness essentially unheard-of in the genre. He wept several times. He said that his Caribbean heritage made it even more difficult to come to terms with his sexuality. And he fretted about the future.

Implicitly, Mister Cee was addressing how he thought these two parts of himself — his sexual identity and his hip-hop celebrity as a radio and club D.J. — couldn’t coexist.

Some of his concerns were practical: “Am I still going to get bookings? Is the promoter still going to book me if I say, ‘Yeah, occasionally I have fellatio with a transsexual?’ ”

That question underscored not only the genre’s history of intolerance, but also the fundamental conundrum of hip-hop D.J.’s — they are omnipresent but largely anonymous. That’s true especially of Mister Cee, who for a time was a Zelig figure in New York hip-hop: the D.J. for Big Daddy Kane and an affiliate of the influential 1980s outfit the Juice Crew; the man who reworked the Notorious B.I.G.’s demo tape and helped get it in the hands of Sean Combs; a significant mixtape D.J. in the 1990s; and a steady presence at Hot 97, one of the most important rap stations in the country.

He is the station’s institutional memory and its living link to history, its one reliable purveyor of hip-hop classics. And he’s the D.J. who takes it upon himself to memorialize the dead. Listen to his mixes celebrating the life of Heavy D, or Big L, or as he did on Friday afternoon’s show, Tupac Shakur — they are things of erudition and love.

But even with that résumé, Mister Cee feared he could be replaced, that his scandal could become the thing that defined him, and in a flash, undo him.

“God forgives — I hope y’all do too,” he posted on his Instagram account after resigning.

A decade ago the conversation between Mister Cee and Mr. Darden would have been unthinkable. But there was Mr. Darden assuring Mister Cee, “There’s nothing wrong with being who you are,” and at one point encouraging him by exclaiming, “You’re free, Cee!”

Mr. Darden has emerged as a fascinating figure over the last year, a program director who has become something of a moral beacon. He has been a testy combatant in wars of words with personalities from Power 105.1 FM (WWPR), New York’s other hip-hop station; a peacemaker between Nicki Minaj and Peter Rosenberg, the on-air personality who publicly attacked her; and now the blocker clearing a path for Mister Cee’s acceptance.

By embracing Mister Cee unreservedly, by publicly showing in no uncertain terms that he is worthy of love, and by insisting he belonged on the air, Mr. Darden took an implicit stand on behalf of Hot 97, and maybe by extension, of hip-hop. He answered Mister Cee’s bravery with tolerance, a loud rebuke to those who might prefer to keep hip-hop difference-free.

A radio station is, generally speaking, neutral territory — songs are played, personalities are a bit bland. But Mr. Darden’s behavior reframed Hot 97 as an ideological institution, not just a musical one. He gave Mister Cee a safe space in which to be all the parts of himself.

On Thursday afternoon, following the urging of Mr. Darden during the morning interview, Mister Cee had un-resigned. He was back in his noon time slot, playing defiant songs interspersed with grateful ones — Jadakiss’s “The Champ Is Here,” Maino’s “Hi Hater,” AZ’s “I’m Back.” “Let me just live my life/Just leave me alone,” he rapped along with one Cam’ron song. In between songs, he barked out the details of the clubs where he’d be spinning in the coming days.

“The truth will set you free,” he said. “I know it now.”

Near the end of his hour, he switched from hip-hop to classic soul. “If you’re down and out, if you’re struggling, if you think you can’t overcome something, maybe this record may lift you up like it lifted me up last night when I listened to it,” he said before playing Sly and the Family Stone’s “You Can Make It if You Try.”

Following that with that group’s exuberant anthem “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” Mister Cee was sending a clear message: He had been supporting others for so long. Now, finally, he was the subject of his own tribute.

A version of this article appears in print on September 14, 2013, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Hip-Hop, Tolerance and a D.J.’s Bared Soul: He’s Tired of Denial.

Is Trinidad James an Artist or a Buffoon? Dr. Chistopher Emdin (OUR COMMON GROUND Voice)with Dr. Boyce Watkins

Is Trinidad James an Artist or a Buffoon? Dr. Chistopher Emdin discusses

December 28, 2012 |

trinidad-chrisDr. Boyce Watkins had a conversation about the impact that hip-hop is having on the youth that listen to it. To add to the conversation, he invited Dr. Christopher Emdin to weigh in on the conversation about what rappers like Trinidad James are actually doing to young people when they release records full of destructive messages.

The interview is below:

Dr. Watkins:     Hi.  I’m Dr. Boyce Watkins from YourBlackWorld.com.  Last week I was in New York City and I stopped by a radio station, in the City, called Power 105.1, which is a hip-hop station.  One of my buddies is one of the hosts on the show called the Breakfast Club.  His name is Charlamagne Tha God.  So, I stopped through to talk to Charlamagne and we were talking about some of this nonsense with BET and whether or not it’s affecting our kids and stuff like that.

I asked Charlamagne,

“What do you think about this guy, this new rapper, Trinidad James?”

Charalamagne said,

“Oh, yeah.  Trinidad was here right before you got here.”  I said, “I’m so happy I didn’t cross paths with him on my way in the door because I think that might have been my first arrest for assault because I probably would have tried to beat this brother down.  His music just bothers me so much.  But, then again, maybe I’m just a hater because he’s got more money than me.”

So, to kind of get some perspective on this, I wanted to bring in one of my buddies who is one of the scholars I respect the most in the country, Dr. Christopher Emdin.  He’s not just a Professor of Education at Columbia University, which is impressive enough; but he’s also a very, very good hip-hop artist.  I’ve literally seen him bust freestyle in front of a group of high school kids and at the same time talk to them about how the power of hip-hop can be used to teach them science.  So, I’ve got Dr. Emdin on the line.

Dr. Boyce:          How are you doing today, brother?

Dr. Emdin:         I’m doing well, man.  I’m really appreciative that you gave me the opportunity to share some insight on this situation with Trinidad James.  He’s blowing up over night.

Dr. Boyce:          Yeah.  He really is.  Is it true he’s been rapping for about  8 or 9 months?

Dr. Emdin:         The interview narrative has been about 8 or 9 months but I think he’s been rapping a little bit longer.  I vividly remember actually being in Atlanta about a year and a half ago and I was talking with some young people.  Some of them were saying, “Yo.  Trinidad James is next.  Trinidad James is the truth.”  So, I think he’s actually been rapping a little bit longer than the narrative that’s being put out to the public.  His fan base has been there for quite a while.

Dr. Boyce:          Really.  Okay.

Dr. Emdin:         Yes, sir.

Dr. Boyce:          So, Trinidad just got a deal with Def Jam Records.  It’s so interesting because I’m kind of, mentally, in that space.  I literally had an hour and a half long meeting yesterday with Russell Simmons talking about bringing in hip-hop artists to support our campaign on mass incarceration.  You’re also in that space because you just finished an extraordinary event with Gza from the Wu Tang Clan on how to use hip-hop to teach science.

So, what is your take on the legitimacy now – or the perceived legitimacy of this artist who is producing music that many people might call straight coonery and buffoonery?

Dr. Emdin:         See, this is my take and I want to be very, very clear.  I do not blame Trinidad James for his over-night success.  I don’t blame Trinidad James for the fact that he is on every radio station across the country.  Nor do I blame him for the fact that he has become an over-night phenomena.  What I do blame is a record company that will sign this artist, support this artist, give him money, and continue in this trajectory or piggy back off of this underground success he’s made at the expense of promoting a caricature of blackness.  I don’t blame the brother.

The black experience has its nuances.  There is somebody who Trinidad James raps to and for.  Just like there’s somebody that Gza raps to and for.  There’s a wide array of that.  There’s intellectual rap.  There’s street rap.  There’s pop and molly rap.  I don’t advocate for the negative but I realize that it exists.

In my view, my issue is not with the artist himself.  My issue is with a public and with a corporate hip-hop system.  We call it hip-hop.  We call it something — an institution that’s supposed to advocate for our culture only identifying the negative caricature and making sure that that becomes what the picture is of the entire culture.  That’s what I have a problem with.  I have a problem with radio stations choosing to take Trinidad James and put him on their station in New York City or across the globe as what is the newest and hottest artist in the country.  Because they have the power to be able to identify another artist that is much more talented and perhaps has a different robust subject matter, and make that person be the picture of hip-hop.

So, I don’t blame the man.  The man that’s speaking based on his experiences, or his circumstances, or what he sees in Atlanta everyday, or his

self-construction, however flawed that may be.  I won’t critique that one publicly.  I would like to have a conversation with him about why that is how he constructs who he is; why it is that he sees the world this way.  I’ve heard interviews with the brother.  He’s actually quite articulate.  So, I’d like to talk to him about, “Why don’t you pull forth more of the complexity of who you are into your music?”  That’s conversation between me and Trinidad James or anybody who loves hip-hop or loves black men and wants to see them be more then what they are portrayed to be.  That’s a conversation between us and Trinidad.

My critique is not him.  My critique is the system.  My critique is the corporate system that allows us to force-feed this nonsense to our young people.  My critique is of the fact that we are now at a point where we are advocating for these who are spitting nursery school rhymes as if that’s complex hip-hop.  I don’t think Trinidad James is a product of isolation.  He didn’t come out of nowhere.  Trinidad James is the ancestor of Rick Ross.   Rick Ross has a nursery school rhyme and he pauses and says, “uh.”  And then, Trinidad James says, “Hot tamale, I’m sweating, whoo.”  That’s the same cadence.  It’s the basic baseline nursery rhyme cadence.  You know, Trinidad James is the evolution of Rick Ross.  And, there will be many more incarnations of that simplistic rap if we don’t get to the point where we start critiquing it and saying, “Hey, Company, there’s a brother right now, called “X”, who is spitting hip-hop on a consistent basis about every social dynamic of our time.  Every social construction where he talks about black maleness, politics, the media, and corporate entity, he talks about all these things that really affect black men but you’re not going to offer him a deal.  You won’t give him the debility.  He won’t get spins on 105.1 or Hot 97.  Then you blame the audience like the audience is asking for it.  The audience isn’t asking for it.  The audience is asking for complexity and blackness.  You take that as the message you want to show us and then you blame us because we’re the one’s consuming.  We’re consuming because you’re feeding it.”

And this is why I go back to what a great man once said, “It is that time that we turn off the radio, turn off the BS, and we get to the point where we start supporting artists who speak to and for us.  And when we have those artists that don’t do that, we critique them individually; we critique them personally.  We have a conversation about them because those brothers are hurt.  They’re lonely.  They’re speaking those narratives because they’re still trying to find themselves.  I hear Trinidad James.  I don’t get angry at the brother.  I get angry at the circumstances that allowed him to feel like this is the only way that he can get some visibility.

So, where we are right now is to really focus on the entities who push these messages upon us. , that take one artist out of Atlanta and put him on a National billboard.  And the question we have to ask ourselves is not why Trinidad James is creating that rap, it’s why is the public and the company and the record label and MTV and Viacom and Clear Channel and 105.1, 97.1, or whatever radio station it is that you’re listening to throughout the country, singling him out as what we should be showing our young people as an example.  That’s who I blame, not the man.

Dr. Boyce:     I’m in complete agreement with you.  And, I’ll say this: anybody who hasn’t seen Trinidad James’ video has got to check out his song.  The song that made him successful is called “All Gold Everything.”  And, it’s about the biggest caricature of black manhood that you’ve ever seen in your life.  Everybody in the video is pretty much running around with guns and money and drugs. Every buffoonish, ignorant, self-destructive stereotype that is fed to our black men on a regular basis is featured in this video. The next book that I’m releasing is related to what I call the gospel of black-male self-destruction, which is being fed to African American males through this music.  It’s being played out all around us and we see black boys imitating this on a regular basis.  It only leads them to either prison or the morgue.  We’ve got to stop it and we’ve got to deal with it and get it where it stands.

Now, I want to ask you the last question, Dr. Emdin.  One of the things that bothered me about Trinidad James is…I would have felt more comfortable if somebody had said, “Well, you know, he just doesn’t know what he does.  The poor boy, his IQ is about 80.”  Which is why his lyrics, as you mentioned, sound like kindergarten nursery rhymes.  But, one of the hosts at Power 105 said to me, “You know, he’s actually quite articulate and very intelligent.”  And, I said, “That is a damn shame that an intelligent black man has to be ashamed of his intelligence.  He has to hide his intelligence in order to make a dollar.”  That is pathetic to me.

So, what is your take on that, Dr. Emdin?  How deep is this anti-intellectualism issue within commercialized hip-hop; within the broader culture?  What is this doing to us as black men?

Dr. Emdin:         Well, it’s ruining us.  I mean… I’ll just be completely frank.  I’ve listened to a bunch of Trinidad James’ interviews just because I’ve been curious about this man’s psyche.  When I initially saw the video and heard the song, I thought the song was catchy.  I’m not going to front; when I heard it the first time, I said, “Man, it’s a catchy beat.”  I heard the song and I knew the lyrics were trash and I also watched the video. So, I started researching and listening to interviews.  I heard him on 105.1.  And, yes, he is articulate.  Yes, he can form a sentence.  But, the problem is why is it that we should be surprised when a black man can be articulate?  Why does it have to be like, “You know what, he actually is.”  Why can’t the stuff that he presents from the beginning be that articulate and that complex self?  Why does he have to play a character in order for him to be able to be successful?

But the reality is…my solution and my take on it… and this is not something I’ve created: There’s a bunch of hip-hop scholars and African American scholars that have said this for a very long time.  What I’m saying is we’ve got to reach the point where we start showing people that there is a different narrative.  And the piece of that different narrative I’m talking about is that you can have the hypothesized identity. You can rhyme, speak intelligently through that rhyme, be articulate through that rhyme, be aware of politics in your environment through that rhyme and be validated for it.  You don’t have to be stupid to be accepted.  You don’t have to play stupid to be accepted.  Because, what happens when you’re playing a character?

Psychologists tell us this all the time that individuals have core identities and they have role-like identities.  The core identity is who you really truly are which expresses your intelligence.  Your role identity is the identity that you have to construct in order to be successful in a social stair.  If you have a role identity that you enact so consistently, what happens is that it begins to rot your core.  You can have a core self and have played a character for so long that you play a game with your mind and you alter your true self by enacting a character for too long.  And so, the big problem here is deeper than just this one artist.  It’s in the fact that this artists creates a narrative that young people start emulating.  And the more that they emulate that narrative, it becomes part of their self-construction.  It impacts their core identity and starts to rot the intelligence that they have within them – that’s the issue.

Dr. Boyce:     Wow.  That’s really deep- life imitating art.  Anybody who doesn’t believe that the music affects the minds of our kids needs to go to talk to a good psychologist. They will tell you that the repetition of mantra, laced over a smooth continuous repetitive beat, makes your mind open to suggestion and therefore it sinks so deeply into your subconscious that you don’t even know it’s there.  Adolf Hitler said, a long time ago… and people said it before him, that those who control the minds of the people control everything.  So when you look at what our kids are absorbing, you can’t help but feel that we’re in a state of emergency.

So, I appreciate you, Dr. Emdin, for stepping on the front line to deal with this issue and to provide that voice that so many of us need.  Thank you so much.

Dr. Emdin:         Thank you, sir.

Dr. Boyce:     Thank you all for checking us out at YourBlackWorld.com.  Until we meet again, please, stay strong, be blessed, and be educated.

 

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