All Payments Accountable
Something tells me the editor isn't going to run my piece...
Sadat X - "What Did I Do?" (mp3)
Watching Bamboozled again last night, a couple themes that resonated came back to me : 1) our (meaning: consumers of pop culture) (sub?)conscious consumption of African-American people and culture as objects; and 2) our subsequent accountability towards racism. Familiar point, but I found it especially timely in light of Dan Charnas' response to Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond's Voice piece on the "white artist/black puppeteer" phenomenon, and the Kill Whitey piece in the Washington Post a few weeks back (here's my take). Charnas reminds us how black artists today have a degree of autonomy in hip hop that previous generations of black artists were stripped of in rhythm & blues/rock & roll; i.e., there has not been an Elvis to "whitenize" hip hop (Eminem was the last candidate for that post, but look at the shades on the top of the charts: Paul Wall is like a drop of creamer). However, the message of the Mantan Show seems not to be beware of centuries-old repros being revisted, but rather Artists of Color: don't play yourself.
I bring up Kill Whitey again because it directed our attention to a less discussed sphere: the consumers. Just as celebrities/icons can come to stand for painful generalizations, an audience can help perpetuate them. This topic of culture consumption is worth several collections of essays, so I'll just leave with one thought: how can we keep ourselves accountable for delineating between consumption and communication/engagement? I'ma pass the mic to the Little B:
"To me, ‘THE MINSTREL SHOW’ is ultimately about responsibility. As rappers, we have to take responsibility for what we say, and for the images we portray to our people. If not, we’re doing essentially what minstrel shows did: perpetuating negative images and reinforcing those negative stereotypes." - Phonte (listen to chunks of the new Little Brother album here)
New 'dat X to wrap the package. "What Did I Do?" feels like a throwback to young adult confusion; my fault, your fault, who's to blame? He moves past that on Education and Experience, which is pure grown man talk. Literally. Like, real normal topics. He even reads a newspaper on one cut ("The Daily News"). He's laced by peers (Diamond D, Spinna) and contempos (Mathematics, Ge-ology) with beats that are generally sample-heavy and on-point. But the album has the feel of a nightjob: it's that passion that's been pushed to the side. It's all love though for another hard working man in show biz. Funny, on one end headz prep for Jay's next takeover, while on the other end there's a father coaching his kid's basketball team. What do we relate to more? And, yet, what do we purchase in the end?
Accountablility is a Sniatch!
Pat Tillman: Pac-10 defensive player of the year, Cardinals safety, Army Ranger, victim of friendly fire. But his family still can't get a straight answer about what happened. The Pentagon is re-re-reopening the case . The SF Chron breaks down several sure points of contention in the coming investigation:
Legal liability. In testimony on Nov. 14, the officer who conducted the first investigation said that he thought some Rangers could have been charged with "criminal intent,” and that some Rangers committed “gross negligence.” The legal difference between the two terms is roughly similar to the distinction between murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Who's gonna take the weight? Only if it's not too heavy. Please note, some of the implicated have allergies against prolonged soap-on-a-rope exposure.
And yet another tale from KIYP (Keep It In Your Pants): To pee or not to pee? According to the Michigan Pee Pants Patrol, if you cannot piss, you must acquit!