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  • Lil Wayne: Not Allowed To Be A Human Being II

    2012 iHeartRadio Music Festival - Day 1 - Show

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    The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com

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    Another week, another rapper apology. Lil Wayne finally apologized to Emmet Till’s family for doing what rappers do. But let me stop myself. If you’ve paid attention to previous posts you know how much disdain I have for the lyric police and these trumped up scandals over rapper verses.  But let me address one thing that concerns me much more. The authorship of said apology. Because if Lil Wayne wrote this apology it’s the best verse he’s dropped since The Carter II.

    Dear Till Family:

    As a recording artist, I have always been interested in word play. My lyrics often reference people, places and events in my music, as well as the music that I create for or alongside other artists.

    It has come to my attention that lyrics from my contribution to a fellow artist’s song has deeply offended your family. As a father myself, I cannot imagine the pain that your family has had to endure. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys.

    Moving forward, I will not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in my music, especially in an inappropriate manner. I fully support Epic Record’s decision to take down the unauthorized version of the song and to not include the reference in the version that went to retail. I will not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from my catalogue.

    I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy. As a business owner who employs several African-American employees and gives philanthropically to organizations that help youth to pursue their dreams my ultimate intention is to uplift rather than degrade our community.

    Best,

    Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
    Lil Wayne

    Anyone who’s seen HBO’s Entourage knows that PR agencies are supposed to save their clients from themselves. But then again Entourage took place before Twitter was TWITTER. And Hip-Hop artists are far from typical celebrities. Rappers more than any other profession other than politicians and reality TV stars (which they sometimes becomes) sell people exaggerated versions of themselves. To put it short hip –hop fans expect more truth from our artists not less. Even if that truth is based on ignorance. We sanction foolishness every day. By letting the politically correct cleansed world of Hollywood image consultants, record label marketing departments, corporate sponsorships, and outraged people who don’t even listen to the music control the discussion we compromise what makes hip-hop important.

    All emcees have their detractors. I’m not particularly fond of that Lil Wayne verse and yes I did think the line was crude. And maybe a simple “I’m sorry for disrespecting Emmet Till” would have been cool. So a PR firm writes the apology that Emmet Till’s family had been clamoring for? And what was accomplished exactly? Now there are sacred cows in hip-hop. What used to be no holds barred, take it or leave it, I am what I am, I say what I want, the last frontier for unsanitized, unsynthesized, unhomogenized talk in American Pop Culture has been destroyed within the space of a month. Hip-Hop went from 1970’s Time Square to the Walt Disney Corporation Presents Time Square that fast.

    [ALSO READ: Emmett Till’s Family Rejects Lil Wayne’s “Apology”]

    And I understand that the bigger the paychecks get the more people pay attention. But this utter and total defeat still saddens me. Lil Wayne is no free speech Martyr and SHOULD he have said that line, no I concede he probably shouldn’t. Hip-hop history is littered with lines, verses, hell even whole albums worth of songs that shouldn’t have been made. But everybody did what they were “supposed” to do hip-hop wouldn’t exist in the first place.

    The ironic thing about this all is that the civil rights movement didn’t completely succeed, certainly not in the part of the world that Lil Wayne comes from. His crude line on the Karate Chop remix is frozen in time. No matter how well ghost written this apology was it doesn’t change the fact that he was searching for a “clever” metaphor that could be used to illustrated just how forcefully he invaded a groupie’s lady parts and he chose to call back an image of the brutal horrors of the murder of an innocent teen during the height of the civil rights struggle. And that was wrong. And that’s where the story ends for me.

    It’s a peculiar thing the apology. Ultimately a meaningless gesture. Either what’s been done can be undone or it can’t. In the case of harmful words they can not be undone. What an apology does for the person being apologized to is the greatest magic of all. You have to grapple with the irrational belief that this person has actually had a change of heart. You have to believe that this person not only acknowledges that he or she is wrong but they care about how their wrongness affected you. Because if  you don’t accept that belief and you DEMANDED an apology and actually received it than what was all your bleating about in the first place?

    Yet Emmett Till’s family rejected Lil Wayne’s PR staff’s beautifully written apology. Why? Because the whole time this controversy has been about finger-wagging and self-righteousness.  No expression of remorse whether genuine or a piece of PR fluff will ever be enough to satisfy the naysayers and the lyric police. I don’t know anything about Emmett Till’s family and their tireless campaign for civil rights because …..well have they been campaigning tirelessly for civil rights? Just a question, I haven’t googled or wikipedia’d any of them so honestly I don’t know. Their status as the family of a civil rights icon has given them a megaphone to speak out about the most pressing issues facing the black community… Lil Wayne’s lyrics.

    [ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Emmett Till’s Family Plans To Relentlessly Pursue Lil Wayne’s Sponsors]

    At the end of the day I think Lil Wayne probably should apologize for a lot of things. The reckless impregnation of D-list black celebrities, his last two albums, helping to popularize wanton drug abuse. But hip-hop fans would never ask that of him. I don’t think we should. I don’t think the civil rights movement should be a sacred cow. Hell if it had succeeded Hip-Hop might not exist. The conditions that produced Lil Wayne might not exist. And that disrespectful verse might not exist.  Oh well I guess God Forgives, Emmett Till’s Family Don’t.

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  • BEWARE: The Lyric Police

    Hip-Hop has a long history of controversial statements. Back in the late 80’s when it started to permeate the mainstream from time to time certain emcees and rappers would get called out for these statements. In those days N.W.A. was called out for “Fuck The Police”, Ice -T (technically his rock group Body Count) was called out for “Cop Killa” and gangsta rap’s overt violence and sexual imagery was called out by the likes of civil rights activist C.Delores Tucker.

    In the late 80’s and early 90’s when Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew were facing serious legal ramifications for performing their vulgar hits, we hip-hop fans hated censorship. We were young and rebellious. Our attitude was understandably contrary to those values which the mainstream of American society aspired to. After all this was the tail end of the Reagan/Bush I era and even though America “prospered” under Clinton the windfall was largely absent from our communities. The American Dream had left us behind.

    [ALSO READ: Uncle Luke Questions Rick Ross’ Gangster; Tells Rick Ross “Squash Your Beef”]

    There may have been an agenda with the press’s coverage of Hip-Hop as well. The majority of the 80’s were spent painting black teens as public enemy #1 and  Hip-Hop was the soundtrack of those black teens. Both sides of the political spectrum took their shots at hip-hop. From Dan Qualye to Tipper Gore chances are if a politician uttered the name of a rapper it was to condemn their lyrical content.

    The main thing about those days though was that there was very little self policing. The hip-hop press (admittedly in it’s infancy) did not pass judgement on the contents of an emcee’s lyrics, it was judged by us merely on  its technical merits. Meaning an emcee could rap about murder, misogyny, and mayhem as long as he was “nice”.  Tupac Shakur had us all disrespecting C. Delores Tucker. Ironically many of us only knew her as the dingbat who had it in for Gangsta Rap. And even if we had known who she was in our eyes her movement had failed us. I mean who wouldn’t be bitter knowing that the civil rights era and the black power movements gave way to the Reagan Era. These were desperate times and hip-hop was the hood’s CNN. Where else were you going to hear about police brutality, poverty, and the crack and AIDS epidemics? So those faux American Dreams and Family Values were tossed to the wayside. Because our community knew better than any the hypocrisy of a nation of people who supposedly love freedom, equality and Christ enacting policies to lock us up, keep us down and take away from those that already had the least.

    The only problem with throwing out those values is tossing the good away with the bad. So hip-hop was allowed to become a verbal skid row. I don’t begrudge any emcee their freedom of expression but for every “Ain’t No Fun” we had a “By The Time I Get To Arizona” for every 2 Live Crew there was a Boogie Down Productions. There was an attempt to elevate. But “gangsta rap” and other crime influenced tales became the standard archetype for the most successful rappers. This is where some hip-hop historians differ. Some say the dearth of positivity among today’s mainstream audience is a direct reflection of what the hip-hop audience demanded. Other says that the powers that be have no interest in promoting positive images to blacks. Either way today hip-hop has become monolithic in its disregard for people’s basic moral standards.

    When criticism was lobbed at our favorite emcees however, it most likely came from an outsider. And we very rightly dismissed it. Rappers basically said whatever they wanted especially in a genre that encouraged the artists to give their music directly to the people via mixtapes. What right did some old suburban mother or some politician or some failed civil rights leader have to comment on the state of OUR music? It wasn’t for them it was for us. Treach from Naughty By Nature said it the best “If you ain’t ever been to the Ghetto, don’t ever come to the ghetto, cause you wouldn’t understand the ghetto….”.

    Well it’s been about twenty years since that era and my have things changed. Hip-hop has become a billion dollar industry. In some ways although blacks in America are still not on equal footing, still fighting the good fight progress has been made. You know Black President and everything. And Today a lot of those rebellious teens that made hip-hop what it is today are raising teens of their own. And today when a hip-hop artist is called out for his lyric it’s more likely to be by a fan of hip-hop. Someone who supposedly understands the cultural significance of the music, the movement and the moment.

    This has happened three times just in the past month and a half. Lil Wayne’s comparison of a groupie’s lady parts to the face of Civil Rights Martyr Emmet Till was met with disgust by the bloggerati. Ditto for Rick Ross’s flirtation with date rape on Rocko’s U.O.E.N.O. where he infamously attempts to use molly like its GHB. And the less said about the furor over Beyonce’s Bow Down Bitches (I know the song is called something else but you can google that if you really care).

    When I see someone from within the culture taking that step towards naggy lyric policing it irks me. We are doing to these rappers and their fans what was done to us and that’s so very hypocritical. I’m not discussing the artistic merits of these rappers. But when a radio station says they are not going to play any song by Rick Ross or Lil Wayne I am truly sad for hip-hop. That radio station should comb through their playlists and remove every song from any artist whoever said anything violent, homophobic, or demeaning towards women. It should ban any artist that ever said the “n-word” or had the gall to suggest that getting an education wasn’t the best way to get riches. They should stop playing records from artists who advocate infidelity, dishonesty, crime or drug use. That would hardly be a hip-hop station, hell it wouldn’t be much of a country music station either.

    Hip-hop is largely about identity. Rap fans identify with their favorite artists. So when you criticize said artists some can take it as a slap in the face. Let’s not do to these kids what was done to us. You start attacking their culture (yes it’s their culture too) and they withdraw from you. You have a generation of parents who listen to a lot of the same music as their kids. This might fool some kids into thinking you can understand their struggle. Take advantage of that.

    Lil Wayne’s Emmet Till line sparked a discussion about who Emmett Till was and what he meant. We don’t have to reach that far for a silver lining because I imagine that most of Lil Wayne’s fans had no clue until they read about it from an outraged mommy blogger the next day. Rick Ross’s line sparked a discussion about the creepy rapey practice of drink spiking. So maybe the next girl in VIP thinks twice about putting down her champagne lest there be a molly in it and she don’t even know it. Back when hip-hop was no holds barred, when it was honest, when it was take it or leave it or kiss my ass which ever you prefer we wouldn’t expect any apologies. Which is good because you’re more likely to get Tupac doing a double middle finger salute and spitting at the camera than what you got from Rick Ross the other day. Ross went on the radio and really tried his best to be a class act. Numerous times he referred to the black woman as a beautiful queen and the most precious thing on Earth. He said the molly champagne lyric wasn’t advocating rape. I feel him. The line was creepy. But I knew it didn’t mean he thought rape was cool. But what Ross has to understand is that those condemning him are the lyric police. And they won’t ever hear his apology. And even if they do it won’t convince them.

    Today’s lyric police are confusing to me. I wonder if they’ll start picking out artists back catalogs and chastising them for the lyrics to some of THEIR favorite songs. Yeah but that probably won’t happen. Righteous indignation is usually a short term thing.

  • Lil Wayne is a Better Rapper Than Tupac But He’s Not The ‘New Pac’

    lilwayne-mtv-awards

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    The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com

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    Tupac was no lyrical assassin. Tupac was no “MC.” I can name twenty (20) rappers that would s#*t on Tupac’s rhyme-scheme—Nas, Biggie, Jay-Z, Big Pun, Rakim, LL Cool J, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Canibus, Eminem, Twista, JadaKiss, Busta Rhymes, Chuck D, KRS One, Andre 3000, Big Daddy Kane, Kanye West, DMX—and yes, Lil Wayne aka Lil Tunechi! (Follow me and don’t get side-tracked by my list of rhyme-spitters!)

    Having said that—Tupac Shakur was the greatest rapper ever! Great, in terms of his effect on hip-hop culture/rap. He didn’t have the rapid-fire raps of Twista and Busta Rhymes. He didn’t have the punch-lines of JadaKiss, nor the metaphors of Andre 3000, but what Tupac did have was the spirit of a griot—a raconteur—a story-teller who had the ability to make you see his rap truths. (The saying, “Sometimes less is more” has never been truer.) Tupac’s rhymes were simple and to the point. He didn’t mince words or do subliminals or try to rap over our heads like Canibus or get historically deep like KRS-One.

    tupac-shakurWhen it came to diss songs, Tupac’s “Hit ‘Em Up” was probably the best tongue-lashing ever!

    Arguably the most influential rap artist the world over—Tupac was an iconoclast who seemingly knew that his lifespan would be cut short—eerily similar to Dr. Martin Luther King, who, so bravely told us that, “I’ve been to the mountaintop! I’ve seen the Promised Land. I might not get there with you, but we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!”

    Enter Lil Wayne aka Tunechi.

    Over the 2013 NBA All-Star weekend in Houston, Lil Wayne tried to convince us that he was “Tupac-cian”—“Tupac-esque”—yea, the “second-coming” of Tupac by boldly proclaiming, “I ain’t Tupac! I’m the new ‘Pac!” Listen to his braggadocious proclamation!

    “I Ain’t Tupac! I’m the New ‘Pac!” Wayne insists.

    The problem with self-proclamations is that they aren’t cosigned by the masses. A true iconoclast doesn’t big-up himself! The people big you up! The people proclaim your greatness! The people put you on a pedestal! The people invoke your name in the pantheon of (in this case) rap gods!

    I’ve never read of Jesus proclaiming to be the “next Moses” (or Abraham! In fact, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am!”)—or Muhammad proclaiming to be the “next Jesus”—or in our modern era—Jesse Jackson proclaiming to be the “next MLK” or Malcolm proclaiming to be the “next Elijah.”

    And certainly Tupac didn’t aspire to be the next Rakim!

    With all the money, adulation, fame and poontang that Lil Wayne gets—he still strives for that which is unattainable in the physical realm—greatness. He fails to realize that it is only through death that the masses will consider your greatness. Even with Tupac, no one had put him in the pantheon of great rappers when he was walking the floor of the MGM Grand Casino and stomping niggas out! Tupac was just another rapper doing ig-nant rapper s#*t. Oh, but in death, Hip-Hop began to assess his place as a great rapper—and shortly thereafter—when the mythology, martyrdom and that romantic yearning for a ghetto hero kicked in—like a phoenix rising from the ashes of Hades—Tupac ascended to the top of the rap pantheon.

    “I Ain’t Tupac! I’m the New ‘Pac!” Wayne insists.

    Tupac was shot five times! Lil Wayne was shot once by a self-inflicted wound at age 12. Tupac had records that spoke the truth about ghetto life—“Dear Mama,” “Brenda’s Got A Baby” “So Many Tears,” “Keep Ya Head Up,” “Holla If Ya Hear Me,” “I Wonder If Heaven Got A Ghetto,” “Hail Mary,” “How Long Will They Mourn Me?”, “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” “California Love,” “Thugs Mansion,” “To Live and Die in LA,” and ”2 of Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.” Tupac’s discography was solid! Tupac dealt with the ills, which plague the hood—teen pregnancy, black-on-black crime, ghetto life, gang violence, losing love, death, the spirituality of heaven & hell and the religiosity of things to come.

    [ALSO READ: Consequence: Helping Bucked-Teeth Brothers Out!]

    Tupac was an avid reader and through his reading of such subjects as the “apocalypse” and the reading of “Machiavelli”—Tupac was able to apply that to his own life and record classic albums like “2Pacalypse Now” and “The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (Makavelli).”

    Juxtapose Tupac with Lil Wayne, who has a slew of hits and bangers, but most are club s#*ts that will be forgettable in the coming years. Lil Wayne probably has more collabos and hits than Tupac, but they are fluff. The only song that I can possibly think of as “Tupac-esque” would be Wayne’s feature on The Game’s “My Life.” That was some introspective and heart-felt sh#*!

    Tupac was in classic films like, “Poetic Justice,” “Above The Rim,” “Juice,” and “Gang Related.” He had great acting chops! Lil Wayne has been in what movies? (Crickets)

    Tupac had a Movement—Thug Life, which represented the everyday man struggling in an unjust world. Tupac had a philosophy—T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E.—”The Hate You Give Little Infants F#*ks Everyone.” Tupac had a mission: End gang violence and curtail drug dealing. Tupac had a street code.

    Lil Wayne, thus far hasn’t even begun to stick his big toe in Tupac’s shoe! He’s all about that party life, that f#*kin’ bitches life, that snitchin’ on his dick life (“I f#*ked Chris Bosh’s wife!” Did Wayne say that because Tupac said he boned Biggie’s wife?), that braggin’ about his wealth life and his skateboard life. Tupac has a revolutionary pedigree—being the son of a Black Panther and having lived in Oakland, the most revolutionary city in American history! Lil Wayne is a spoiled brat from New Orleans’s 17th Ward (Hollygrove).

    50 Cent is a far more worthy candidate of the Tupac legacy. He is feeding the hungry in Africa. Fiddy has thrown off the shackles of South-Side Jamaica Queens and is becoming a world-wide brand. To become “Tupac-cian”—one must transcend the rap genre and become a world-wide iconic figure—not simply a rap star. As it stands, only in death will Lil Wayne’s place in Hip-Hop history be cemented. But right now, he’s just a whining, childlike, immature, imbecilic little imp with a short man’s Napoleonic Complex the size of the Miami Heat Big Three!

    Lil Wayne’s first step on the way to becoming “Tupac-esque” is to clear his head. Put that lean-purp-promethazine-sizzurp down! Erry’body knows you’re on that styrofoam cup! All this “Pop a molly I’m sweatin’ whooo!” ish gotta stop! I don’t need a medical degree to know you’re killing yourself with these drugs. Stop it! Your recent seizures are a combination of that weed, lean and not getting proper rest. As a fan of your music and a man who speaks truth, I wanna see you win in the game of life, but I ain’t gonna give you that watered-down milquetoast convo like these other industry folk. I said, “Stop it or you’re gonna die!”  That’s the problem with fans–nobody wants to challenge your drug addiction until you’re taking a dirt-nap! I’d bet a pretty penny that Baby & dem are covering up ish and blaming Wayne’s seizure on “work”–as if what he does is harder than the man working two jobs to support his family!

    If you wanna be great–change your life, find a cause worth getting deep about and spit that ism! That’s what Tupac did!

    Yes! Lil Wayne is a better rapper than Tupac was, yet Tupac is the greatest rapper evaaaar! (A case of one plus one equaling three, eh?) It isn’t Tupac’s wordplay that made him great. Nay! It was his delivery and subject-matter that makes him great!

    Perhaps Lil Tunechi is right! “I Ain’t Tupac! I’m the New ‘Pac!” By his works, we have to assume that A.) Lil Tunechi is unaware of Tupac’s progressiveness and revolutionary mind or B.) that the “New Pac” is a self-absorbed bastard. What say you?

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    newyearskhalilKhalil Amani writes for DJ Kay Slay’s Originators Magazine & Straight Stuntin Magazine. He is the author of six books, including the ground-breaking book, “Hip-Hop Homophobes…” (iuniverse.com 07). Amani is gay hip-hop’s self-proclaimed straight advocate. Visit The Coonerific One at http://www.khalilamani.ning.com Follow on Facebook/Twitter @khalilamani. Youtube @ yahweh 12

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