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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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Uncle Snoop Get Your Apology to Ari Lennox Ready

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Apparently, everyone’s favorite uncle likes apologizing. Fresh off of his apology tour for his controversial comments towards broadcast journalists Gayle King,  Snoop Dogg decided to comment on Ari Lennox’s Instagram live to instruct her to “grow your own hair.”

Yesterday, the Dreamville songbird took to Instagram Live in true Ari fashion to document her trying on a new lace front wig.  Not known for wearing wigs, she struggled with figuring out how much lace to cut and securing the hair as she entertained her followers with hilarious gestures and commentary.  

Eventually, a snippet of the video ended up on The Shade Room for everyone’s viewing pleasure.  

Moments later, Snoop was unnecessarily commenting under the video.

In no time, women were coming to Ari’s defense, reminding the legendary rapper that his wife and daughter are no strangers to wigs. 

You’d think men would know to leave their opinions to themselves when it comes to women’s hair, especially black women, but clearly, Uncle Snoop forgot to read that particular memo. 

Once Ari caught wind of Snoop’s comments, she delivered a lovely little shade tree, posting a photo of Snoop wearing a blonde wig with the caption, “Uncle I just…I just thought we had an understanding….”

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-c0mCKh9-E/

Following the backlash that he’s currently receiving, I can already envision the apology that’s sure to follow.  Perhaps someone should remind Uncle Snoop that the best apology is changed behavior…

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DJ D-Nice Has Spun His Way Into the Living Rooms of Thousands

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Every day, legendary DJ D-Nice (a.k.a. Derrick Jones) spends countless hours helping thousands of global citizens forget about the coronavirus pandemic and financial woes with his “Homeschool” parties.

Initially jumping on Instagram Live to cure his boredom while “self-isolating,” D-Nice had an audience of a few hundred, mostly friends. As word began to spread, it grew to a few thousand. By Sunday, over 160,000 people joined his live for a virtual party that included the heavyweights such as Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Jada Pinkett-Smith, 9th Wonder, Jimmy Fallon, and Vice President Joe Biden. 

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I never would’ve imagined that the best party I would create and DJ would be from the comfort of my own home. Homeschool is a thing! Yesterday was absolutely insane. The amount of artists and friends that virtually partied with me far exceeded my expectations. I’m feeling nothing but gratitude. 🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽 Thanks to all of you that supported. This has been a great way to keep our spirits high. Blessings! Sending some love to my family. Shout out to all of my industry execs! Much love to all of the artists! JLo, Drake, Naomi Campbell, De La Soul, Black Thought, Diddy, Bun B., Keri Hilson, Will Packer, Gabrielle Union, H.E.R., America Ferrara, Donnie Wahlberg, Uncle Luke, Russell Simmons, Dapper Dan, Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige, DJ Khaled, T.I., Kelly Rowland, Common, Lance Gross, Queen Latifah, DJ Clark Kent, Rich Medina, DJ Tony Touch, Stretch Armstrong, Traci Ellis Ross, Ne-Yo, Usher, DJ Premier, Swizz Beatz, NO I.D., Yvette Noel Schure, Erykah Badu, Fat Joe, Jay Electronica, PNB Rock, Nile Rogers, Fonzworth Bentley, Marisa Tomei, Michelle Williams, Victor Cruz, Karruenche Tran, Ciara, Daymond John, Angie Martinez, Groove Theory’s Bryce, Tank, Cam’ron, Ludacris, Fabolous, Dorian Missick, Yvette Nicole Brown, Tasha Smith, Jadakiss, Kwamé, Chris Spencer, Royale Watkins, Estelle, Bresha Webb, Jermaine Dupri, Vanessa Williams, DJ Aktive, Lee Daniels, Affion Crockett, MC Lyte, Ro James, D-Dot Angelette, Kenny Burns, Tika Sumpter, Marlon Wayans, Lauren London, Loni Love, Dallas Austin, June Ambrose, April Walker, Just Blaze, Kangol Kid from UTFO, Omar Epps, Keisha Epps, Roland Martin, Big Tigger, DJ Trauma, Lil Jon, Dule Hill, Jazmyn Simon, DJ Cassidy, Marsai Martin, Lance Gross, Anthony Hamilton, Young Guru, Lalah Hathaway, Carl Payne, Damien Hall, Denyce Lawton, Lennox Lewis, Niecy Nash, Mashonda, Erick Sermon, Jairobi, DJ Envy, DJ Enuff, Miles Brown, Lamann Rucker, Mark Brown, DJ VLuv, and more. Wow! #DNiceHomeschool #DNicePhotography #SelfPortrait.

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During a CBS This Morning interview, D-Nice shared, “I literally just played what feels good. I wanted people to feel good. I wanted their experience to be lifted through music, just one song at a time.” And he’s done just that. While on live, his comment section is a constant stream of cheers, shout outs, and music-lovers asking, “Where the drinks at?” It feels like the best VIP section you’ll ever experience but from your living room. 

“No matter what your problems are, you can put on a good tune and it just takes you away and I was trying to do that,” he explained. “It wasn’t just the music, it was the whole experience and everyone escaping what’s going on today just for a few hours.”

While some of his neighbors have complained about the noise, D-Nice is committed to keeping the party going as the universal language of music is playing a vital role in keeping us all connected. 

Artwork by @chuckstyless

We have DJ D-Nice to thank for that! 

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Jay Electronica & Joe Budden Used Their Twitter Fingers to Exchange Insults

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It took 10 years for Jay Electronica to release his highly-anticipated album, A Written Testimony. While some are singing his praises, others are incredibly disappointed. One such person is former rapper turned media personality, Joe Budden. 

Budden used his platform, The Joe Budden Podcast episode Dry Snitching to express his disappointment. Budden proclaimed, “You’ve been missing for ten years- which is cool, ’cause you’ve been living life. But that confidence that I thought you might’ve been living life with is suppressed…that lens that I’m looking through paints the story of a different MC. And that MC is one that would get smacked around by Hov on every song.”

In response, Electronica took to Twitter and posted a video clip of DaBaby saying “fuck it,” directing the tweet at Rory, one of the co-hosts on Budden’s podcast.

Shortly after, Budden responded referring to Jay-Z’s performance on A Written Testimony, where he appears on eight of ten tracks. “I never got absolutely mopped around on my own project either… @ me, not Rory.”

Here’s how the rest of that conversation went:

The tirade ended with Electronica demanding credit for “lighting up” the podcast episode.

Electronica released A Written Testimony on Friday, March 13th. It’s his first solo album after more than ten years of delays with features by Jay-Z, The-Dream and Travis Scott, with additional production by The Alchemist, No ID, Swizz Beatz and Hit-Boy.

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