So this week in pop/hip-hop circles, four albums that people more or less have been waiting on dropped. J.Cole, Chrisette Michelle, Kelly Rowland, and Kanye West all dropped albums yesterday and hip hop heads the world over rejoiced. It was basically a firestorm of reviews and acclaims and critiques and twitter quotes. Although i refused to purchase Kanye’s album because I didn’t believe it was remotely worth my money or my time (and I don’t financially support sacrilege) , I did hear one of its songs a couple of weeks ago because the video of him shouting it off various buildings across the world via projector was released about almost a month back.
So I took a listen to dear brother West’s song New Slaves and if you wanna check the lyrics you can find them here. The general sentiment of the song is a discussion of how the enslavement of Blacks has not disappeared only changed its form…more or less. Potential for a great discussion on the state of Black Celebs and whatnot right?
So why was my first reaction to the song this:
I believe there is validity to the position Kanye is taking in this song but to what end? whole point is to discuss how Black rappers, and other Black celebs or Blacks in power or Blacks in general, are conceding and gladly accepting this new form of slavery or oppression…and that’s it. Not oh we should change some things or oh we should prob try to fight or fix this issue..nope. Just “welp look at these shiny new chains Mass’a dun acquired for me, I’m sho’ll is grateful for it, so grateful that I’se gon’ make a song about and tell all tha otha’ folks about it and share my story”.
Or at least that’s what I heard.
I’m not shocked about this from Kanye. Honestly, hoping that your token, run of the mill rapper or celebrity is going to do something life changing or counter to the system is pretty much folly but I bring this up because it’s an issue I face when I think about what I want to research or who I want to learn more about in my research. Is uncovering or revealing or noting a truth of sorts enough? If I were to research poverty conditions in any random low income neighborhood across the nation and document their life story and once I published my research on their health condition, mental health status, and whatnot I just let it be there? Is there more I should do to help the people I’ve studied? Should I work with them or for them or on their behalf?
Personally, I believe that the mere statement of a problem is never enough nor even worth stating in the first place. Granted, I know research on low income residents and Kanye’s latest attention getting rhyme are in two completely different universes but Ye’s declaration of his complacent place in this “new” slavery (if you agreed to it is it truly slavery and is the exploitation of people for capital gain really new?) got me to thinking. It’s fine to note that the way Blacks present themselves in popular culture at times is very much two seconds away from this:
But what’s the point of bringing it up if you’re going to keep on perpetuating the symbols of the chains and shackles anyway? You really felt the need to just give us a diary entry from “A Day In The Life of The Rich, Shucking and Jiving Black Celebrity”? I guess the inaction or slight inkling of the will to change is the baffling part to me.
And yes I know it’s just a song blah blah the industry blah blah what has to be done blah blah but this song was quite the table shaker and if you’re gonna shake tables, do it with a point. If the great Malcolm X gave all those speeches about the plight of Black America and then went sat at his house, kicked his feet up, and ate Cheetos and a cold pop and went to sleep how’d you feel about that? Or if the phenomenal Ida B. Wells, after writing about the horrors that Southern Blacks had to endure due to lynching and various other Jim Crow heinous acts, just published the document and then moved to Europe to live out the rest of her days!
Telling us about bad things and then dropping the mic and going home is USELESS. (Just letting y’all know I am not in any way saying that Kanye’s new song is anywhere near as important as Malcolm’s or Ida’s work just using examples). I’m not just throwing shade at Kanye either, I’m a pretty big fan of his collection of work, but his song is the freshest in my mind. There are several people who have expressed similar sentiments and whatnot (i.e. Cole’s Chaining Day).
But alas, ’tis an issue of our time. Being controversial for controversies sake. For all my readers, I would truly love to hear how you feel about highlighting a situation that needs changing? Do you believe people are obligated to do more? Or should just throwing it out there be enough?
Till the next go round,
-Brini Weenie, the Incredible Bri, Briizy
P.S. My YouTube channel is going strong so check it out here and getchu a piece of this awesome digital Bri-ocity.
“So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.”-Matthew 28: 19-20