Maybe it's because I'm getting older, remembering a time when people thought that George Michael was straight and that Terrence Trent D'arby would have an illustrious singing career, but it seems to me that most of the people who criticize Hip Hop just regurgitate random talking points that they once heard on an episode of Geraldo circa 89'. Due to the whole hysteria surrounding a man that no one with a healthy pulse even listens to any more, my life over the past week has felt like a dreadlocked version of Groundhog Day - hearing everyone from right wing pundits to civil rights activists telling whoever would listen that Hip Hop music is bringing down western civilization as we all know it. Listen, I agree with many of the well-meaning brothers and sisters who have publicly voiced their concerns recently: I've been a fan of Hip Hop for the better part of three decades, but I can't defend the indefensible. Besides the fact that I'm a Hip Hop elitist who finds a slew of artists being played on the radio, MTV, and BET as fundamentally bad, I have no problem agreeing with the harshest of Hip Hop critics that violence, minstrelsy, and misogyny is a constant motif in much of what's played nowadays. But many of these well intentioned black folks embarrass themselves whenever they don't specifically point out that what they are vehemently ranting against is "Clear Channel" Hip Hop - anything predicated on flashing diamond encrusted smiles, throwing money in the air, and proudly exhibiting a lack of lyricism - exuding nothing but intellectual laziness, knowing that it's much easier to quote a questionable rap lyric than to tackle the faulty educational system or flat-out bad parenting.
My only fear is that this is Hip Hop's version of Janet Jackson's Superbowl nipple slip, a virtual door being opened for anyone who has ever tried to turn my favorite genre into the scapegoat for all of America's societal ills - inciting a musical witch hunt where drooling lunatics begin to lump together horrible groups like Crime Mob with Royce da 5'9. Sure, I expected this from right-wing pundits who wanted to turn the Imus issue into a referendum on Hip Hop - frigid women once again being able to moisten their collective panties and impotent men suddenly sporting more wood than Home run Derby's whenever they get the opportunity to cluelessly generalize Hip Hop - only momentarily replacing their hidden desire of one day being able to openly call black folks by their favorite racial epithet. But I figured that people who looked like me and usually thought like me would understand the nuanced nature of the argument - but last week I was proven wrong.
The funniest development that I discovered, flipping between cable porn and news stations as I often do, is that the loudest voices criticizing Hip Hop happened to be the same ones with the shadiest of pasts. Here are some of their offenses, people so belligerent about Hip Hop culture that they make a baboons ass like a casual Hip Hop critic look like Africa Bambataa. Here are some nominees for the "Sit your ass down" award.
Michelle Malkin: Like most uninformed twits who gladly wear their ignorance about Hip Hop like a badge of honor and happen to possess a lemming-like fan-base exclusively of Bush Loyalists who would have gladly drank Jim Jones' Kool-Aid if he was around today and prayed to the alter of Reagan - her "rabbit out of the hat" trick concerning Hip Hop is to quote the most indefensible rap lyrics that she can find. (Minus exclaiming "ta-dah!!" afterwards.) Sure it's lame - I mean, are there any other obviously shocking things that Mrs. Malkin cares to point us in the direction of? Homicides? Natural Disasters? Are there any childlike quips she'd like to add under the pictures of genocides past and present? Pointing out something horrible isn't exactly an argument, it's a lazy tactic that only people posing as journalists attempt to pull off - based on this Youtube clip, where she openly admitted that her latest book is rife with errors, I might be correct in questioning her journalistic street cred. But when I think about her criticizing Hip Hop I think about her being a woman of Asian decent actually writing a book in support of Japanese American Internment (which was mercilessly debunked, by the way). I also recall her smearing John Kerry with the unfounded claim that his Vietnam wounds were self inflicted. Lastly, on her blog she posted the name and contact information for students protesting the presence of military recruitment on the campus of the University of California, Santa Cruz - and wouldn't take it down after the students that she had outed started to receive death threats. No, Michelle, there's nothing hypocritical about waxing poetic about the danger of "bitches and hoes" in rap lyrics when you yourself have put peoples' actual lives in Danger. Please, Sit your ass down!
Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson: I would say that anyone known for having a perm and a penchant for sweatsuits shouldn't be criticizing anything, but that's neither here nor there. It always amazes me that individuals who claim that they are men of god, who have spent more time speaking in front of crowds than I've been alive, can be so bumbling and nondescript while discussing Hip Hop. Like I've said before, I can whole-heartedly agree that much of what passes itself off as Hip Hop nowadays on the airwaves is deep rooted in negativity - but I'm not exactly sure how I feel about these particular men lecturing me about it. Whenever Al Sharpton talks about rappers degrading women for political gain, I immediately flash back to the ways in which he used Tawana Brawley for national exposure. When Jesse talks about racism I can't get him saying "Hymie-town" out of my head, when he talks about black men being responsible husbands and fathers I can't stop thinking about that kid he had outside his marriage. Not for nothing, Al and Jesse, but sit your ass down somewhere!!
Jason Whitlock: I was with Jason Whitlock here. I was sort of with him here (even though Sharpton owned him with that closing "It's always guys that are not in the ring that want to call the fights" salvo). But after I saw him on Oprah as well as a dozen cable news shows, I'm beginning to see that homeboy is nothing but a one-trick pony. See, being a contrarian only works if your "outside the box" suggestions are accompanied with some worthwhile solutions - saying that men who utter "bitches and hoes" to a well produced beat is the only culprit that black people need to address just ain't cutting it buddy. Matter of fact, if you listen to this guy long enough, you start to believe that he blames Snoop Dog for the incarceration rates of black men, fathers not taking responsibility for their children, and hypertension to boot. As white women on Oprah clapped ferverishly to his tired diatribes about Hip Hop that I've recently used to put me to sleep at night - women who wouldn't have Ms. Winfrey over their houses if she wasn't worth billions of dollars and didn't give away free shit ad naseum, just understand that a blatant finger pointer with no solutions makes you - well, Bill Cosby. Shit, Jason Whitlock, the same guy who incoherently rambles about black people being "coons" and such - was once on "Pardon the Interupption" eating ribs live on the air .(What the fuck?) Like Dead Prez said, "It's bigger than Hip Hop", so Jason - Go sit your ass down somewhere!
Bill O'Reilly: When I saw Bill O'Reilly last week discussing Nas and his outrage at the fact that he was going to be performing at Virginia Tech at a benefit concert for the students who lost their lives to that psycho 4 months ago - I suddenly got the urge to violently punch something, someone, or at least express myself in post form since I've become the biggest nerd this side of Urkel over the past few years. I mean, I'm sick-and-tired of that douche-bag misrepresenting Hip Hop and trying to mask his obvious racism with empty rhetoric trying to make us believe that he actually cared about America's youth. I was going to dedicate an entire post to it, but when I saw Jay Smooth's rebuttal I decided against it - he eloquently hit all the right points and any subsequent post can't compare.(Hat tip to you brother) But Bill criticizing anyone is a bit rich, I mean - Come on Bill.
Bill the Beloved Husband:
* In October of 2004, Andrea Mackris filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against O'Reilly, claiming that he had not only made inappropriate references to threesomes, vibrators, and masturbation, he also had a weird fantasy of sticking a loofah inside her.
Bill the Historian:
* He claimed that the U.S Troops committed the Malmedy Massacre. It was actually the German Waffen-SS troops that massacred eighty-four surrendering American soldiers. So supporting the troops only includes those presently in battle? I get it.
Bill the Hitman:
*In a recorded conversion with Andrea Mackris, O'Reilly made a telling reference to having Al Franken killed. Hey Bill, show Nas what that gangsta shit is all about!
Bill the Child Advocate:
* Here is Bill talking about Shawn Hornbeck's kidnapping: "The situation here for this kid looks to me to be a lot more fun than what he had under his old parents. He didn't have to go to school. He could run around and do whatever he wanted." Nas talks about a gun and you Bill endorses pedophilia, interesting...
Bill's Knowledge of Black folks:
* When discussing Barack Obama: "Instead of black and white Americans coming together, white Americans are terrified. They're terrified. Now we can't even say you're articulate?" Does anyone else get the feeling that Bill is a walking dictionary of Black history facts?