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A (Somewhat) Problematic Essay about Mac Miller, Exclusion, and Hip-Hop Culture

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Considering that we tend to treat a person’s death as a sacred occasion above reproach, what I am about to write might be problematic. Next, in writing this, I mean no ill will towards Mac Miller; I’m merely making an observation. While I recognize that I may be crossing a line, this has been on my brain for days, and I have to write it down, get it out, see if I’m the only one who sees this.

On Friday, September 7, hip-hop artist, Mac Miller, went on to glory. He was a young man, who by all accounts struggled through the first quarter of his life. I admit that I have no special connection to Mac Miller; I didn’t know his music or his life, and the only reason I even recognized his name is because he happens to be a White man in hip-hop, a distinctly Black site of cultural production. In the same way that all the executives at a corporation might know Chuck, the only Black guy in their elite corporate spaces, I knew Mac Miller because he was one of few White men in a Black cultural space.

Since his passing, I have been introduced to his political views via clips of his monologues which seem to lean towards his belief in Black lives mattering. I’ve watched his Tiny Desk performance maybe 68 times in 3 days because it’s that damn good. I’ve downloaded his last album (like everyone else obviously because it’s currently the number one) and it is very, very good. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t catch on to him sooner.

I have also become acutely aware of his reach in hip-hop over these past three days as several influential Black hip hop artists – Big Boi, Chance the Rapper, J. Cole – have posted their heartfelt twitter eulogies dedicated to Mac Miller. I would expect nothing less. And some of the younger people I follow on Twitter have posted their own connections to Mac Miller. The outpouring of love reminds me of how I felt as a 17-year-old learning that Tupac died and then six months later, waking up to hear that Biggie was gone too.  I said all of that to say, I get it.

 

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Sigh. I remember you pulled up to my studio in 2010 in an old Volvo packed to the rim. You, Treejay, and Q were on tour, just starting out. You went from that old Volvo, to multiple tour buses, sold out concerts, a TV show….everything man. It was amazing to watch you grow. You always treated my Jamla family like your family, and helped anytime you could. It was YOU that was the FIRST rapper to call me and say…”hey man I wanna take Rapsody on tour with me…she’s fire….” in 2011. Always smiling when I saw you, always love, always good energy, always showing respect……..Always Hip-Hop. Today is a sad day man….a very sad day. Rest Easy Mac Miller….. Gone too soon, lil bro. Love you always. #MostDope

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More than anything, Mac Miller’s death reminds me of how accepting Black culture – hip hop specifically – is of people outside of Blackness, yet it remains exceptionally “gate-keepy” about people within Blackness who happen to be outside of the “acceptable” heteronormative standards. Ugh. I know I shouldn’t be connecting Mac Miller’s untimely death to the upholding of heteronormative standards within Black culture, but it is just so blatant at times like this. So many of the people who shared photos of personal stories and pictures of Mac Miller have also said some extremely homophobic lyrics and remain intent on ascribing specific, stereotypical gender roles to women.

Young MA Photo by Santiago Felipe / Getty Images

I think about how Young MA, who in my opinion can kill any male rapper’s career with 16 bars, sits down for an interview in 2018 and has to answer questions about her sexual identity.

Big Freedia Source: Maarten de Boer / Getty

I think about Big Freedia and how she has been responsible for dragging Nah’lins bounce music to mainstream radio, yet, she is still begging for 10 seconds in a video with more than 119 million views. The LGBTQIA community is pushed so far from the center, pressed up against the margins, that I cannot even name any other LGBTQIA artists except Big Freedia. It’s sad.

The most beautiful thing about Black culture is that we embrace everybody and anybody, no application needed. We just leave the door open and let them all come in. Click To Tweet

Recently, Tony Yayo, former member of 50 cents’ G-Unit rap clique, was ranting online because some blog dropped a story that maybe he might have been involved with a transwoman. The trans identity is still so stigmatized in 2018 that a rapper we haven’t heard nor discussed in at least ten years can become the leading story on gossip blogs because he maybe, might have, allegedly had some kind of interaction with a woman who happens to be trans. Y’all don’t think that’s crazy? I mean Black lives matter right? Africans got loaded on ships, and Harriet Tubman took us to freedom, and we overcame, and Dr. King had a dream, and Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat, and Malcolm X said Black women are the most disrespected, and Marsha P Johnson started the Stonewall riot, and Angela Davis got arrested, and Lebron, Serena, and Colin are the faces of Nike. It’s us, all of us right? So, how come it doesn’t feel like that?

The most beautiful thing about Black culture is that we embrace everybody and anybody, no application needed. We just leave the door open and let them all come in. We let Miley Cyrus twerk across the stage. We let Justin Timberlake go multi-platinum, even after he did Janet Jackson like that, because he wore those braids that time. We let Iggy Azalea sell records after she confirmed she’s a runaway slave master. We let Veronica Vega say nigga multiple times and still watched Love and Hip Hop Miami. We let them moonwalk, dougie, hit the superman, millie rock all over our blocks, and that’s what makes us special.

Except, we only do all that when they’re not Black and gay.

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Frank Ocean Clarifies Cease & Desist on Travis Scott “It Wasn’t about the Music it was about the LGBT Community”

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Travis Scott’s “Astroworld” has caused its fair share of controversy, more-so the one-sided beef with Nicki Minaj. This past week the “Sicko Mode” rapper had to deal with a cease and desist letter from the hands of Frank Ocean. Rumors started swirling that the “Pyramids” singer didn’t like the effects that Scott added to his vocals on “Carousel.” Frank Ocean took to Tumblr to clear up the rumors and give his side of the situation. Ocean says,

“I think the song sounds cool, I did it in like 20 minutes and the mix sounds the way Travis wanted it to sound for his record. I also approved it before it came out so the cease and desist wasn’t about 🔊 it was about 🏳️‍🌈. Me and Travis resolved it amongst ourselves weeks ago. 💖”

The pride flag emoji symbolizes how transgender, Amanda Lepore, was removed from Scott’s album cover. Now that the issue was resolved between the two musicians, Scott posted his own response to the situation, via Instagram.

It’s great to see that the two settled their issues outside of the courtroom. Shoutout to Frank for fighting for LGBT rights and now standing down. Let’s hope the two will continue to make great music together.

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Showing Up and Showing Out! :Take a Look at all of the Black Excellence at the Emmys

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Last night was the 70th Primetime Emmys and black people did what we do best and stole the show. Take a look at how some of our stars decided to dress up for the occasion.

Jennifer Lewis dedicated her look to support Colin Kaepernick. What a great way to use her platform!

Tracee Ellis Ross is serving us Pink Friday teas on a Monday Night

 

Emmy winner, Tiffany Haddish, remixed the parachute game from gym class and turned it into a cute ensemble.

Leslie Jones is showing the world that any and every color looks beautiful on dark skin

Grownish star, Yara Shahidi, is giving us a 2-for-1 combo of style and personality

There’s nothing insecure about Issa Rae as she struts down the runway in a sky blue jumpsuit

Yvonne Orji is all smiles as she serves us black excellence on the red carpet

Sterling K. Brown and wife, Ryan Michelle Bathe, get our award for Cutest Couple of the night

Lakeith Stanfield is looking crisp in the classic black and white suit

Last but not least queen, Angela Bassett, is showing the girls that black don’t crack and vibranium ain’t cheap

Those are some of the best looks at the 70th Primetime Emmys. The Emmys was not ready for all of that melanin! Notice how no one was afraid to shy away from bright colors and how black people really do look great in all shades. Whose look was your favorite? Did we forget any of your faves? Let us know in the comments below?

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Get the Strap: Wanda Smith’s Husband Apparently DID NOT Pull a Gun out on Katt Williams

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Last Friday a clip of Katt Williams roasting Atlanta’s V103 radio host, Wanda Smith, went viral. While there was obvious tension during the interview no one was expecting it to take the turn that it did. According to 11 Alive“Katt Williams told police that Wanda Smith’s husband, Lamorris Sellers, pulled a gun on him and pointed it in his face outside the Atlanta Comedy Theater.” On September 15th at around 9:30 p.m, Katt Williams said that he and Wanda Smith were arguing about the interview that was conducted the previous day. During the argument that’s when Smith’s husband, Lamorris Sellers, pulled out a gun on Katt.

Now Sellers recalls the event differently. He says that Katt was the aggressor in the verbal altercation and that he indicated that he wanted to fight. As Sellers chased him down he admits that he had a gun but his gun fell out of his waistband. He denies pointing his gun at anyone.

The Gwinnett County Police Department has reviewed the footage from that night and unfortunately where there were standing was not under surveillance.

The Atlanta Comedy Theater wants to clear their name in the altercation and released this statement:

“There is a lot of speculation and misinformation on the Internet about the incident with Katt Williams and Wanda Smith’s husband. The verbal altercation took place outside in the parking lot and NOT inside the Atlanta Comedy Theater. One of our security guards witnessed the incident as well as helped quickly de-escalate the situation, and reported he saw NO gun at anytime. We are an upscale comedy club and employ in-house security as well as off-duty officers at every show. We admire and respect both Wanda Smith and Katt Williams for their work in the standup comedy field and this is just an unfortunate incident with two clashing personalities. It is our understanding Mr. Williams stated he did not want to press charges so all the talk seems to be much ado about nothing.”

 

What do y’all think? Should Katt get the strap or is Wanda bugging? Let us know in the comments below.

 

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