Before reading this post, listen to this spoken word piece by Jasmine Mans:
A little background info…
Several weeks ago, Jasmine Mans, a sophomore sociology and Af-Am Studies major at the University of Wisconsin Madison, released video of a spoken word performance entitled “Nicki Minaj”. Since then, the Youtube video (which you can view here) has garnered over 200K views…and hundreds of thousands more on WorldStarHipHop. For the record, I stood with her on that poem, and although I felt her anger was slightly misplaced, I understood her frustration with the state of female representation in hip-hop… because the poem wasn’t even really about Nicki herself.
Yesterday, Jasmine posted a new piece called “My N*gga Waka” which you should have listened to a few moments ago. I pressed play with an open heart, but found myself dejected long before it was finished.
In principle, I agree that the things rappers like Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy and others present to our community is garbage…coonery, bafoonery and any other word you might use to describe ignorance. I am also guilty of dancing to the beats that accompany the damaging lyrics… a sucker for a good time with out being conscious of the stereotypes I’m further perpetuating. When you’re in the moment its all in fun, but when you’re alone, listening to the lyrics…any educated person will be quick to say…
“Wow, these are the most ignorant and empty lyrics ever recorded”
That, however, doesn’t mean that we should wish death upon those who create it. Unfortunately, that’s the tone I took away from Jasmine’s poem.
Waka Flocka is as ignorant as they come, but one thing he is not, is dumb. In fact, he is a very smart business man. He’s said in interviews that he will never be a “lyrical” rapper, because no one is trying to hear that anymore…and if there is some one who’s interested in hearing lyricism, they can listen to Big Daddy Kane (his words, not mine.) He know’s exactly what he is doing, and it’s made him (in)famous, and quite possibly rich (if he has the right team managing his affairs.) What does that say about us though? Our culture is so dumbed down and remedial that we are exhorting a young man who we can barely understand…singing along to the lyrics that carry no weight or substance. If there were more people that knew the importance and power of having a platform, we would have a more positive community. Waka Flocka, has influence, whether you like it or not. We can help him use it for positivity, or we can simply take it away. It’s our choice, but we have to take responsibility for putting him where he is…just like the political system. We, the consumers, have all the power.
Jasmine Mans is in the mind of Marcus Garvey or Malcolm X and I am in the mind of W.E.B. DuBois or Dr. Martin Luther King (for this debate.)
For me, tearing Waka down would only causes dissension in the community, which is already being seen in the comment section of the youtube video. If we were to hang him by his gold chains…what good would it do? There would just be another young black man dead…when we could easily just educate and empower him.
Lets take it a little closer to home. All of us know someone who is “wilding out.” Instead of turning our nose up at them, which does nothing, it would be much more productive to share with them your views or encourage them to do better. If we learn from each other, we have a better chance of unifiying and advancing.
If not…we’ll all be catching a ride on the short bus, without ever having bought or played a Waka record, shawty.