Lil’ Wayne, “Whip It Like A Slave,” and the Crisis

AllHipHop Staff

Lil’ Wayne, “Whip It Like A Slave,” and the Crisis

of Coonery

“Music is said

to soothe the savage beast, but it may also powerfully excite it. … At an

emotional level, there is something ‘deeper’ about hearing than seeing; and

sometimes about hearing other people which fosters human relationships even

more than seeing them.”

—Storr, Anthony.

Music and

the Mind. New York: Free Press, 1992, p. 26.

That Lil’ Wayne is an embarrassment to

the rich legacies of musical excellence which paved the road for his rise to prominence

is not a breakthrough. It’s a given. An irrefutable fact. But that he would

stoop so low to the level of making a song titled, “Whip It Like A Slave,”

boggles the mind of even this writer.

For too long, unskilled rappers, like

Lil’ Wayne, have landed featherweight punch-lines on the ear-drums of trained

listeners, reminding us that the art of lyrical swordsmanship should be left to

those best capable of wielding it. But this song, bad pun or not, crosses the

line. This time, somebody must be held accountable for the drivel and acerbic

vitriol Lil’ Wayne lashed out at his ancestors, who suffered far too much to be

disrespected by an intellectually crippled caricature.

The lyrics of the song, which also features

super-lyrical southern crew Dem Franchize Boyz, goes:

I wake up in the morning, take a sh**, shower, shave/

Stand over the stove and whip it like a slave/ I whip it like a slave, I whip

it like a slave/ Stand over the stove and whip it like a slave/

This hook is maintained for a good 40

seconds (that way, it’s sufficiently ingrained in the minds of young listeners),

before Mr. Carter comes in—in signature superciliousness. And just so no one

misses the point of the song, he raps: “New day new yay/ Bet I whip it like Kunta

Kinte/ Talking sugar, talking dough like a ben-YAY/ I take a brick, karate chop

it like a sensei/.”

Of course, it’s always comical to hear

Lil’ Wayne discuss the dangerous

terrain of drug-dealing. Why, the multi-millionaire who had it made at 11 knows

more than anyone else the perils of the dope game.. But even with this

awareness, many younger fans are still desperate enough to be lied to blatantly

about an experience they know he never partook in, and one which they are

foreign to. On this ground, commonality is found. Most of them, you see, are

White and rich.

White suburban girls can’t get enough of

“Weezy,” and for good reason—he, essentially, validates the centuries-old lies

told about Blackness as a racial demerit. Lil’ Wayne is the epitome of a 21st

century Minstrel. Stepin’ Fetchit in the flesh. He bucks, coons, and shines,

for the shillings tossed his way by far wealthier white executives at the helm

of this recording industry.

“Your career is

a typo/

Mine was written

like a Haiku/”

And before we go any further, a couple

of points must be addressed:

1). Lil’ Wayne

is no gangster, no dope dealer, no Blood. He’s, in truth, merely a child star

who cashed in, quite handsomely I might add, on the untimely retirement of

Jay-Z in 2004. Many of us who, today, shake our heads consistently at the very

thought of Lil’ Wayne being regarded the “Best Rapper Alive,” remember the

laughs we shared when he first, in early 2005, declared himself that. Most saw

his ambitiousness as an unwise publicity stunt, but lately, circumstances have

changed considerably. What we now realize, and are forced to admit, is the enormous

control of those “old White men” Mos Def sang about in “The Rape Over” (The New Danger, 2004).. Lil’ Wayne’s

success, it can be safely assumed, is a product not of talent or merit but of an

agenda long-drafted before he came onto the scene. At best, he’s the dummy

whose strings were picked to be pulled by powerful ventriloquists in big

skyscraper offices.

2). Lil’ Wayne

is powerless. Just that. For one who sold an impressive 1,000,000+ copies with

his latest album, Tha Carter III

(2008), and has been mentioned

no less than twice

by the most powerful man in the world, he might be getting less respect, from

his bosses, than security guards and janitors.

According to the

Irv Gotti golden rule of business in the Hip-Hop industry, to get whatever they

want, artists must “get hot.” Well, no other artists, with the exception of

Drake, is hotter than Lil’ Wayne at

this point, and still, label executives and A&Rs could care less about hurt

feelings, as they rip asunder his many aspirations.

In a December 2007

interview with RollingOut Television, Rap mogul Irv Gotti discussed the

tricks of the Rap trade: “The key to negotiations and the key to success

[is]—just get hot and stay hot, and when you go in that office and have that

meeting, check your hotness..” Gotti explained how to ascertain the hotness of

an artist: “Say some stupid sh**. If they kick you out [of] the office, Ni**a,

you’re not that hot. If you say some outlandish sh** and they sit there and

talk with you, you’re pretty hot. If you say some outlandish sh** and they

thinking about doing it, Ni**a, you’re off the hook!”

So, let’s put

Lil’ Wayne’s career to that test.

In 2008, at peak

time, following the huge success of his now-triple platinum album, Mr. Big Shot

decided he wanted to release a Rock-themed

album, Rebirth. Many laughed and,

apparently, some of those were executives at Universal Records—his parent

company. After the release of his first single, “Prom Queen,” his manager,

Cortez Bryant, was advised that the shot-callers weren’t really feeling the

concept, and if Weezy “doesn't brighten up, they have to turn into Mr. Evil

Record Company and just tell him it’s never going to be released.” The album

was originally scheduled for an April 2009 release date. It’s been pushed back

several times now, but is tentatively set for November 2009. Something tells me—this

time next year Rebirth would have

been shelved. The reason: Lil’ Wayne, to borrow Gotti’s term, is not hot.

The many impediments

put before his collaboration album (three years in the making) with Harlem

rapper Juelz Santana, I Can’t Feel My

Face, provides further validation.

For this reason, I stand convinced that

the concept for Lil’ Wayne’s “Whip It Like A Slave” diatribe was probably suggested

by some sleazy executive whose name we might never know. This contention,

however, should not be read as an excuse for the vitriolic investments these Black

rappers made in the song. But I can see a scenario play out where

Lil’ Wayne’s original line was “Whip It Like A Soda,” or a variant of sorts, but

a snot-nosed executive heard the hook, thought a while about it, and compelled him to introduce that one word

which gives it a completely different context. In fact, I’m not sure you call

that compulsion. Forced might be the

more accurate adjective.

“Put a barrel in

a capo mouth, ‘til his scalp come out/

You a kid, you

don’t live what you rap about/”

In spite of this, I’m not sure of many

White rappers or MCs who would get away with similar statements. I can see

Hip-Hop message boards overflowing past maximum capacity if a, say, Eminem or

Asher Roth released such song. I can see the NAACP trotting out its best and

brightest to condemn the disrespect hurled at the legacy of more than 80

million people washed away by the rivers of inhumanity and brutality. I can see

esteemed Hip-Hop artists, fueled with great pugnacity, penning diss songs to

make known their rage at hearing a White rapper flaunt invectives at the

history that produced this great culture of ours—which they, today, benefit

bountifully from. I can see Hip-Hop sites invoking the works of John Henrik

Clarke, John Hope Franklin, Frances Cress Welsing, Carter G. Woodson, Frederick

Douglass, C.R. Gibbs, Hubert Harrison, Herbert Aptheker, and Ida B. Wells to

damn the acidity of hatred contained in the song. But these weren’t White

rappers. As far as I can tell, Lil’ Wayne darkness isn’t debatable. These

characters are Black. Yes, Coons and Samboes, but they’re Black nonetheless. So

why, then, am I left victim to the voicelessness of Hip-Hop’s countless culture


Is the pain any less bearable because a

Black rapper is the utterer?

“Rappers only

talk about Kis., it’s all poison/

… Think about

the kids you mislead with the poison/”

The impact this song masters on the

minds of Lil’ Wayne’s many adoring young Black fans is certainly no less caustic.

The message that slavery, its aftermath, and the insurmountable cost of the

African Holocaust, are trivial still plays itself out perfectly in the minds of

impressionable listeners. Many of these listeners, already accustomed—due to

criminally negligent education in public schools—to a fabricated interpretation

of slavery, would find great relief, courtesy of Lil’ Wayne (and the masks

behind him), that the Trans-Atlantic slave trade isn’t at all the gory and

bestial experience it’s been established as.

Some would argue that even young

listeners can separate fraud from fact, but I beg to differ. I understand that

everyone is innately capable of deciphering the truth, but I also understand

that the world in which we live is filled with so much inequity and iniquity

that any condition can be adapted to. Any condition. Good or bad. Ignorance,

hatred, folly, fame. I understand that even the most repulsive imagery,

conjured by half-baked Rap artists, after a while adopts a normalized nature in

the psyche of the listener.

Late English author Anthony Storr

described this process in his 1994 book, Music

and the Mind:

Noise can be threatening to normal people. If

someone is hypersensitive to noise, and unable to filter out what is irrelevant from all the different noises which constantly impinge upon him, he may be specifically inclined to deal with it by trying to impose a new order on it, make sense out of it, and thus turn what was threatening into something manageable.

[p . 102]

We’ve witnessed this “sense” play itself

out in Hip-Hop recently. Lil’ Wayne is hardly the only one to spit terror and

torture on the history that gave birth to him. Gone are the days when such

audacity invited Timberland boots and golf clubs to the bodies of uninformed

Rappers. On the monstrously misogynistic second single of Cleveland Rapper Kid

Cudi’s upcoming album, “Make Her Say (Poke Her Face),”—also featuring the ever-conscious

Common—Kanye West invokes Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks to demonstrate his

financial prowess: “And That’s My

Commandment, You Ain’t Gotta Ask Moses/ More Champagne, More Toastest /More

Damn Planes, More Coastest/ And Fuck A Bus, The Benz Is Parked Like Rosa/.”

Of course, West’s comments appear mild in the face of Atlanta Rapper Young

Jeezy who had previously compared himself to MLK, Malcolm X and Jesus. And not

to forget Lil’ Wayne demanding, two years ago, that a XXL interviewer “[t]alk

to me like you talk to Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. You’re not going to ask

him about what he thinks about what somebody said about him. You ask him about

his greatness and his greatness only.” Pretty damn accurate if you ask me.

Well, since Lil’ Wayne sees fit to

anoint himself the modern-day MLK and Malcolm X, I’ll appreciate any fans who

can relay to him, when next he stops by, just how proud we are to have Martin Luther King or Malcolm X “wake up

in the morning, take a sh**, shower, shave/ Stand over the stove and whip it

like a slave.”

Tolu Olorunda is a cultural critic and a Columnist for He can be reached at