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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. Share on X

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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Rolling Ray Undergoes Surgery After Wig Catches On Fire

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Social media star Rolling Ray underwent surgery Tuesday morning to treat serious burns on his body after his terrible wig accident last week. 

In a series of IG stories, he let his audience follow along as he prepped for surgery.

Last week Rolling Ray announced he was hospitalized after his wig caught on fire! During a January 13 Instagram Live session hosted straight from his hospital bedside, he showed his severely burnt and damaged face telling viewers his “whole skin, legs, arms, feet, and everything” were burned.

In a more recent Live, Ray explained the incident that led to his whole wig catching on fire: an unfortunate smoking accident. “It just, like, lit on fire when I tried to light the cigarette,” he recounted. “So I get to trying to snatch the wig off. B***h, the fire goes to my f*****g shirt, to my feet, to my legs, to my back. It’s a fire everywhere, it’s a fire in the whole room.” 

Of course the internet trolled him in a disgusting display of ableism and heartlessness. Comments like “Rolling Ray should have stopped, dropped, and rolled” and “karma’s a b***h” had social media conflicted in its feelings about his accident. His sensation comes from his harsh and, often, below-the-belt reads (just last month he told Yung Miami to “dig (sic) up” her dead baby father. However, the criticism didn’t stop him from responding on Twitter. 

Rolling Ray might be problematic as all get-out, but we do not tolerate ableism here. We wish him well as he heals.

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Fantasia Reveals Gender of Baby On the Way!

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On Tuesday singer-songwriter and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino took to social media to reveal that she is having a baby girl, her first child with husband Kendall Taylor.

In a series of Instagram stories, Fantasia showed pink fireworks being shot off during a gender reveal party, to her and her hubby’s excitement! She continued by sharing what her daughter-to-be’s name will be: Keziah London Taylor.

The news comes after the couple revealed they had struggled to conceive since their 2015 marriage. During a November episode of her IG Live show “Taylor Talks,” she described continuously praying for a child with her husband. Fantasia, a deeply devout Christian, was obviously elated when she shared the news.

“God I Want To Thank You!” she said in an Instagram caption. “You Gave Us A Seed even when the Doctor said that one of my Tubes [was] Closed you said Different. @salute1st I Love You King and I can’t wait to see who He or She acts Like.”

We can see Fantasia and family are all super excited to be welcoming a baby girl into their lives. All congratulations to her.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Getting Divorced, Report Says

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In a story published Tuesday evening, Page Six is reporting that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are getting divorced, with the two already in settlement talks. The news comes after the couple spent the holiday season separately – Kanye at his ranch outside Cody, Wyoming, Kim and the kids with her famous family in southern California. 

A source close to Kardashian was quoted saying, “Kim got Kanye to go up there so they could live separate lives and quietly get things sorted out to separate and divorce. She’s done.” Kardashian, 40, and West, 43, are said to be splitting because of marital problems directly related to Kanye’s very public mental health struggles.

For several years the rapper’s various antics have caused fans to worry. After coming out as a Trump supporter, West then announced his own 2020 presidential bid under a new political party: the Birthday Party. At a campaign rally in South Carolina, he was seen rambling, debating individual audience members, and at times, crying. In various interviews, he has rambled on almost incoherently, and his tweetstorms are now infamous.

For her part, Kim has always supported her husband and has openly discussed the difficulties of their marriage. Back in June, she shared on social media, “Anyone who has [bipolar disorder] or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand… People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual (has) to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try.”

It appears she has finally reached her limit in the union with the unnamed source saying, “She is serious about taking the bar exam and becoming a lawyer, she is serious about her prison reform campaign. Meanwhile Kanye is talking about running for president and saying other crazy s**t, and she’s just had enough of it.”

Separately, a source close to Kanye alleges the rapper is sick of his wife and her family, which might have some truth to it since he has tweeted some pretty nasty things about them in the past. “I been trying to get divorced since Kim met with Meek at the Warldolf [sic] for ‘prison reform,’” he said in a now-deleted July tweet. Recently, he hasn’t been featured on his wife’s Instagram and has largely remained out of the public eye.

With the news yet to be confirmed, the “divorce is imminent” reports are just rumors for now. We’ll be following the news as more information comes out.

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