The Rise of G-Eazy and the Death of the Traditional Oakland MC

G-Eazy

I’m a town dude. There is no doubt about it. What I mean by that is the lens through which I view the world is totally Oaklandcentric. So, if you ask me Jason Kidd is the best point guard of all time with Gary Payton being a close second, Oakland completely shaped Tupac Shakur, and the Bay Area sound deeply influenced the present-day Atlanta hip-hop scene via local producers like Ant Banks and Zaytoven. In general, Oakland has always been the most popping place on the planet—that’s just my totally biased opinion. Oaklanders are very prideful but we demand that our representatives remain humble. And dare I say that if a celebrity claims to have the town on their back then we believe that they should actually be deep in the trenches putting in work. The self-styled rapper turned pop star G-Eazy does not do that. His relationship with Oakland is largely touch and go. And one gets the overwhelming sense that Oakland has never really been enough for him but rather it’s just extremely marketable for him to continue to claim it.

 

There is a line that triggered me from his most recent single 1942. In his laid-back braggadocios flow he spits “Flooded all my diamonds, Poland Spring/ Back in Oakland I’m a king” and when he said it I cringed. My reaction was so visceral because G-Eazy moved from the Bay as soon as his career took off. One cannot be a king and reside 400 miles outside of one’s kingdom. Also Oakland has never been a place that has had a king. There is an ongoing debate about who is the reigning King of New York. Snoop Dogg once declared that he was the king of the Westcoast but no artist from Oakland or the surrounding Bay Area has ever claimed this title for himself. We historically have never played that game. We have always preferred a person’s character to be thorough rather than their appearance to be flashy, but alas the Oakland of old is gone.

Gentrification has nearly chopped the cities African-American population in half since the days when Too Short was a fixture on the Foothill strip and in Eastmont Mall. We no longer demand that our MC’s be down to earth players that don’t like drawing unnecessary attention to themselves. This code was so strictly enforced in the early 1990’s that many in the town renounced MC Hammer and deemed him a sellout because of his shiny hammer pants and multimillion dollar Pepsi deal, even though he went broke trying to uplift the city and built a mansion in nearby Fremont in order to stay close to his family. But now Oakland has become a trendy town with countless brunch spots and beer gardens, and G-Eazy is Oakland’s trendy MC.

 

G-Eazy stated on his breakfast club interview earlier this year that he’s always wanted to be a superstar outside of the Bay. He also alluded to wanting to be as big as Kanye West. And as I watched I wondered when did my hometown full of contradictions, replete with the most positive vibes yet satiated with crime that used to sit a world apart from the high society bohemian snobbery of San Francisco, become a place where our most popular rapper can get away with speaking this way in a studio in New York before flying back first class to his mansion in Los Angeles? Why is there no accountability? I mean surely there would have been a backlash if Keak Da Sneak would have taken the same approach after he dropped “Super Hyphy” in 2007 following his massively successful feature on E-40’s “Tell me when to go” the previous year. Can you imagine Keak saying that he wants to be the biggest name in entertainment and although he loves Oakland he always wanted more for himself? The hate would have been so real. But we let G-Eazy claim our struggle all the way to the bank, give us crumbs, and go back to LA.

And this is why I don’t view him the same way as I view all of the other rap legends to come out of the town. From the Mobb Music era through the Hyphy Music era to say that you were from Oakland meant that you spoke for the people in the hood in a way that no one else could. The Oakland that I love will never be a place that accepts pop star rappers who never come to the ghetto. I could never stand behind a hometown MC who flies into the town, gets the bag, and leaves. G-Eazy represents the coopting of the town swag and as I look at the world through my Oakland lens I look right past him and back into the past. For if he represents the future of Oakland hip-hop then I will not be able to watch this mockery for much longer.

-YB

 

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Drake has a white baby mama, and it matters

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Drake was just the man about a week ago. He was the Canadian that could do no wrong—especially when it came to black women. He seemed to be the only major figure in rap that would consistently praise black women in his music. Remember his line from the 2011 hit Make me Proud: “Like you went to Yale but you probably went to Howard Knowin’ you.” The song is about women who accomplish major goals but don’t get the recognition that they deserve from men. What this line does is it makes the song solely about black women considering the fact that Howard is an historically black college. Drake has kept this same energy (publicly at least) through his last video for “Nice for What” where he has cameos from almost every single black woman making power moves in Hollywood right now and Olivia Wilde, which is kind of weird but you get the point.

He’s also been linked to romantic relationships with Serena Williams, Rihanna, and dancer Miliah Michel. All of this seems to confirm his devotion to black women. That is until Pusha T exposed him for having a child with soft porn actress Sophie Brussaux who I’m sure is a very nice girl but, to be frank, she’s white. And you know what? It matters. Now I personally am not opposed to interracial love. It’s all good. I mean that’s how light skinned black folks were created and I have plenty of light skinned friends. More importantly if it were not for fair skinned groups like DeBarge and light skinned athletes like Steph Curry and Clay Thompson my childhood would have no soundtrack and the Warriors would have never won a championship—but I digress. The point is that for Drake his impregnation of a white lady matters because he has made an entire career out of uplifting black women in a genre of music that has amassed a fortune by degrading them over dope beats. It matters because Drake is wealthy enough to choose any woman that he wants but he always seems to choose the sistas, and sistas rocked with Drake, and downloaded his music, and filled his concerts and went through great lengths to see him in person (see season 2 Ep7 of Atlanta). Now it seems as though it could have all been a front.

Another reason that Drake’s vanilla love matters is because it matters to black women. I don’t care how educated and free thinking a black woman is if she sees a handsome, successful black man with a blonde haired white woman then it will bother her to her very core. Facts! I have an aunt who had children with a no-good man. He abused drugs, she forgave him. He went to prison; she wrote him every day. He had an outside child, she reasoned that her father had done the same thing to her mother so they worked through it. He beat her, they separated but got back together. She caught him creeping around with a white woman, RELATIONSHIP OVER! Within hours all of his clothes were on the porch. That’s just the way I was raised. If you get caught fooling around with a white woman, the consequences can be severe. In many cases this can be an unforgivable crime in the world of black women.

 

So, where does this leave Mr. Champagne Papi? Only time will tell if his music is powerful enough to give him a pardon but let’s not act like his core fan base isn’t devastated right now because something like this matters and it matters a lot. It just does.

 

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-YB

Perhaps Rick Ross is Addicted to Opiates

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It has been reported that Rapper Rick Ross was found unresponsive in his Miami home. Friends said that they could not wake him up and that he was foaming at the mouth. Rick Ross has also had a history of seizures. In 2011 he suffered from back to back seizures on an airplane that caused the plane to have an emergency landing. All of the articles that I have read on the situation read exactly this way. They also say that Rick Ross may have pneumonia, what these articles do not do is make the connection between his poor health and his addiction to cough syrup.

 

Drinking “lean” causes all of the symptoms that Rick ross is suffering from. One would think that after the recent lean related death of Chicago Rapper Fredo Santana media outlets would be more emboldened to make this connection. To suggest that Rick Ross couldn’t wake up and that he was rushed to the emergency room because he may have pneumonia is absurd. Rick Ross, along with an entire opiate addicted nation, needs help. It’s amazing that even President Trump can call America’s problem a crisis, which it is, while the media fails to apply this term when it comes to hip-hop artists.

 

People who take opiates in the form of pills, cough syrup, or heroin are drug addicts. It shouldn’t matter if the individual is a multiplatinum selling rap artist—a junky is a junky. And I don’t mean that in a dismissive way. I value the artistry as well as the humanity of Future, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, however, if you are an addict then you need help. The media should not be making excuses for young black entertainers randomly having seizures. It isn’t exhaustion, it isn’t epilepsy, it isn’t due to any missed medication—rappers are having seizures due to drug use. The media needs to call is what it is and stop enabling a dope fiend culture.

-YB

On the wings of Atlanta: Notes jotted down during Jazz Night at Cafe Trieste

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Listening to this jazz band it’s hard to conceptualize that this music used to belong to us. Can you Imagine Charlie Parker being as big in the hood as Gucci Mane? Can you see Billy Holiday being as popular as Nicki Manaj? I honestly can’t, because we completely shifted. We gave that up and started anew. For the projects have been lionized while the ghettos are being sanitized—many of them have been completely liquidated.

 

Boy you better wash your hands before you touch that food.

 

There ain’t a clarinet to be found in a trap music beat, not an oboe neither, and there’s barely a trumpet either but it’s all good though. Just because you give a man lean to drink and pills to pop don’t mean you take away his soul. Ain’t no dope in this world that can chase Africa away. Africa is still gone be in your bloodstream. Ghana is still in the bone marrow. Nigeria is still in those hips, and you know Sierra Leone gave you those lips. So when you listen to Future you can hear my past. When you look at Two Chainz you can see Mansa Musa. The Migos could be members of the mighty Ashanti Empire. Up from poverty! Up from the bottom of the boat! Up from being down—you feel me?

We ain’t going back to Africa and we don’t have to because we brought Africa here. You may not be able to see it but you know you feel it. If you stand still for too long it will touch your spirit and make you move. All eyes cast downward—down to Atlanta. Since Outkast, since Goodie Mobb, since The Dungeon Family. Have you seen the show yet? Have you seen what Donald Glover has done? He never stops putting in work and I know that W.E.B Dubois would be proud of the beautiful wings that grew from his most beloved city. I know Dr. King would be proud. I’m not sure they ever seen this coming but the ATL is at the center of the black world, and has been for the past twenty years. The mecca ain’t Harlem, it ain’t D.C., and it ain’t Chicago neither. It is that city within a stone’s throw of master’s plantation and its glory was created by all those negroes that never left to work on the shipyards of California or in the factories of Detroit. All those faithful black folks that never gave up—that never left. And even a few that moved back down. The ones that got educated in the A.U.C. and saw that rich Georgia soil so they decided to plant seeds. This is what the ancestors down there in the black belt must have dreamed of. This is what W.E.B. wrote about when he asked “How does it feel to be a problem?” Now the brothers and sisters down there have created a solution for so many of us. Do you hear the music? Man that right there is slapping! Man turn that up. That’s the ATL.

-YB

 

 

Chris Brown Vs Soulja Boy May be the Most Important Fight of the 21st Century

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The fight between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy which is scheduled for March 2017 is very important from a cultural, economic, and revolutionary standpoint. I’m very excited about this fight and I’m actually contemplating flying to Las Vegas to watch it all go down live in person. And no I am not a 19-year-old woman with a crush on either one of the combatants nor am I a 19-year-old aspiring rapper with a mixtape to sell. I am, however, a witness to the transformative properties of boxing. Here are three reasons why Chris Brown Vs Soulja Boy could be the most important match of the 21st century.

 

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The murder rate in predominately African-American communities is disproportionately high. Chicago alone recorded 762 murders in 2016. That’s over two murders a day! It seems as though every dispute—no matter how petty—is settled behind the trigger. Sometimes innocent women and children are caught in the crossfire. This is why we need young men in the ghetto who are full of anger and testosterone to put their guns down, get their hands up and fight. Chris Brown and Soulja Boy had a beef which, according to Soulja Boy, began because Chris Brown found out Soulja Boy had gotten too close to a few of Chris Brown’s ex-girlfriends. And then thanks to Instagram and other forms of social, it got ugly. They went back and forth and Soulja even posted a picture of Chris Brown’s daughter which of course infuriated the R&B singer.

In present day Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans, and Houston this is more than enough to justify murder. At the very least Chris and Soulja have enough influence to control any young goon in America to do their bidding. But they have chosen not to engage in a proxy war which would probably bring some form of tragedy to several Hollywood and Atlanta after parties, instead they have chosen to fight one another the old-fashioned way—with their gloved fists. That is admirable. It takes tremendous heart to get inside the ring and fight for three rounds. It does not take any heart to gun a man down or disrespect him on social media.

 

Boxing ain’t easy

 

The general public needs to know that just because you won a fight during lunch recess in the 6th grade, or you used to routinely beat the hell out of your little brother, or you knocked out some loud-mouthed drunkard at the club last week does NOT mean that you can actually fight. The craft of boxing demands skill and not rage. At the novice level an amateur boxing match is three, two minute rounds. Now I want everyone who is reading this to think about every fight that you have ever had. Then think about how long it actually lasted. If you have never participated in boxing, then your longest fight was probably no longer than 30 seconds. My point is that it takes tremendous mental fortitude to go toe to toe with another trained fighter who is trying to put you to sleep for two minutes straight. It will be interesting to see how Chris and Soulja respond when they throw their hardest punch and their opponent is still there and still fighting. The truth is that when we fantasize about fighting our bosses, or the dude that cut us off on the freeway, or the racist snobby lady that makes the snarky passive aggressive comment while in line at the grocery store, it always ends in a knock out. As the fantasy goes; you ball up your fist really tight, reach back as far as you can and punch the shit out of that person. Then they fly in the air and when they finally come back down to earth they are completely unconscious. Then you slowly walk away but not before screaming something like; “What bitch!” “You got knocked the fuck out!” “I quit this job mutha fucka!”

 

Of course, when you’re in a boxing ring fighting another trained fighter it doesn’t work that way. If you load up on your punches (that is to rear back before you throw) then your opponent simply slips the shot and counters you. Or if you land the shot then your opponent will more than likely step to you and try to land a hard shot of his own. In our violent fantasies, we all possess brutal one punch knock out power but in real life this is a very rare gift. That’s why boxers are trained to throw combinations and then get out of the way. There’s also the crazy amount of stamina that it takes to fight an amateur bout. You have to do some facet of training every single day of the week. You need to spar, run 6-10 miles a day, shadow box excessively, and give up junk food. It will be interesting to see if two young men who drink alcohol, do drugs, and are adored by millions of women around the globe are willing to do what it takes to be victorious in the ring. They won’t be able to take their crews into the ring with them, they won’t be able to call timeout when they’re tired, and they won’t be able to get their trainers (Floyd Mayweather for Soulja Boy and Mike Tyson for Chris Brown) to fight for them. They’ll have to dig deep within themselves in a way that they probably have never had to do before.

 

Boxing picks up where the negro leagues left off

With all the contributions that African-Americans have made to football, basketball, and baseball the fact remains that of those three major American sport that embody about 100 franchises there is only one team that is owned by a black person. We see African-Americans running, dribbling, dunking, and posturing on television. And we also see them in suits that costs thousands of dollars while fielding questions at press conferences. We know how many millions of dollars they make and we think they are rich, however, one should point out that they make nothing compared to the rich white guy who writes their checks. For all of their fame and endorsement deals they don’t own anything and African-Americans haven’t owned the franchises that they play in since Major League Baseball forced the Negro Leagues to disband.

 

Boxing, however, is different. As notorious as Don King is he ushered in a wave of black ownership that is needed not only in sports but in black communities as a whole. Most African-Americans live in neighborhoods that are economically underserved and the few businesses that we do have are owned by Arabs, Koreans, or Pakistanis. One could debate the reasons for this but one cannot debate the fact that it is true. What Don King was able to do was to put on completely black events from top to bottom: from the back of the house to the front of the house. That is to say from the athletes to the executive, which in Don King’s case was always him. By accomplishing this task King cut a hole in the ceiling, a hole which Al Haymon was able to walk right through.

Al Haymon is the manager (but more like a business partner) to Floyd Mayweather and a host of other very talented fighters in the sport of boxing. Like Don King he is from the Cleveland, Ohio but unlike Don King he does not exploit his fighters. He gives his fighters a larger cut of the profits than any other manager/promoter ever has. So much so that Floyd Mayweather once said; “If I would have had Al Haymon from the beginning [of my career] I probably would be a billionaire by now.” Al Haymon promoted the richest fight in boxing history: Mayweather Vs. Pacquiao. And Al Haymon is a black man. It would be impossible for one to imagine a black person or company producing the World Series, the Super Bowl, or even the NBA All Star game. Not only that, Al Haymond refused to allow Pacquiao’s promoter Bob Arum, who is white, to get any percentage of the revenue from the fight. That would never happen in any other sport.

 

Chris Brown Vs. Soulja Boy will be brought to you entirely by Floyd Mayweather’s The Money Team/Mayweather Promotions so in essence to support this fight is to support black business. Black people spend an estimated 1.2 trillion a year on cars, jewelry, hotels, restaurants, and tickets to support sports franchises that do not belong to us. This fight is a rare exception.

 

As a fan of boxing and as a progressive African-American man that is tired of my culture clinging to the very bottom of American-Society. I’m tired of homicide and black male behavior being synonymous, I’m tired of the high rate of obesity among our children, and I’m tired of other people of color setting up shop in the black community selling us alcohol and inferior goods. Perhaps what I am most bothered by is how so many African-Americans take a natural attitude towards our own self-hatred and oppression. If Chris Brown and Soulja Boy have an intense exciting fight and then hug and show respect to one another after their fight is over, then maybe they will start a trend that will bring together the eight trays and rolling sixties of South Central Los Angeles and the black disciples and gangster disciples of the Southside of Chicago. Maybe young men will learn how to lose with honor instead of coming back to the block with a pistol and shooting at everything moving. If the winner of the fight can have pride and the loser remain dignified, then maybe young black men will choose life instead of death and seek freedom instead of incarceration. Maybe.

At any rate whether on pay per view or at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas I will definitely be watching.

 

 

Turn down for what? Here are 30 reasons why you should

Turn down for what

1.)  Because you’re 43.

2.)  Because you can’t afford to buy another drink.

3.)  Because no matter how many drinks you buy her she still won’t invite you to her place.

4.)  Because you can’t afford another baby’s mama.

5.)  Because you don’t want herpes.

6.)  Because someone in this club has a gun and you don’t know who it is.

7.)  Because you don’t want to get shot in the face for doing something that you won’t even be able to remember.

8.)  Because you have work in the morning.

9.)  Because whenever you drink too much alcohol it makes you poop a lot the next day.

10.) Because no matter how old you get you still can’t handle your alcohol.

11.) Because when you dance too much it makes your forehead sweat thus

drawing attention to your receding hairline.

12.) Because you have asthma.

13.) Because the last time your son got suspended from school you told him that

he “be doing too much.” Now look at you.

14.) Because “Molly” is just another white girl that’s bound to get you caught up (see Rosewood, Emmett Till, The Scottsboro Boys, and The Central Park 5).

15.) Because you don’t want to violate your probation.

16.) Because if you come home high again your girlfriend is going to leave you.

17.) Because if your girlfriend leaves you then you won’t be able to afford your own place.

18.) Because the woman who you’re dancing with will never call you back once she finds out how much money you really make.

19.) Because when the club ends she’s going to go home to her man and you’re going to be so drunk that you’re girlfriend won’t let you in the house.

20.) Because when you get drunk you think you can fight but you really can’t.

21.) Because the bouncers haven’t been drinking at all and they’re much bigger than you and they know the exact location on your chin to punch you in to put you to sleep.

22.) Because when you get knocked out the girl who you were trying to impress will scream “Daaaaaaaaaamn!” And cover her mouth and laugh at you. Then she’ll slip the bouncer who knocked you out her cell number and friend him on Facebook while she tweets “This drunk dude just got KTFO! Trying not to laugh #ILUVD-BO”

23.) Because it’s not cool to be out of control.

24.) Because you only get high because you’re insecure.

25.) Because your roommates will vote you and your girlfriend out of the house if you throw up on the bathroom floor again.

26.) Because when you get too drunk you start crying for no reason and you blow everyone else’s high.

27.) Because you have to drive home.

28.) Because you don’t ever want to go back to jail.

29.) Because DUI is a felony.

30.) BECAUSE YOU HAVE A FUCKING PROBLEM!!!!!!!!!

 

-YB