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Head of State: Parody vs Reality

Have you ever seen the movie They Live?  It’s a great movie from the 80s.  It’s about a guy that gets a pair of glasses that allows him to see through certain hidden messages on TV screens and advertisements and spot aliens.  Essentially, the aliens are trying to use mind control over humans to keep them enslaved.  Most of the time I feel like I’m living in that movie.  Seeing things that others don’t see, and when you point them out you get looked at as being crazy.

And when it comes to Hip Hop, I feel like I have been living in a 10 year Twilight Zone episode as I have seen Hip Hop music descend from amazing art to a real life enactment of Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled.

Recently my friends James Davis and Martin Usher  made a video that you all knows a Baracka Flacka Flame.  I’m not going to speak into too much detail on what their intentions were making the video since I haven’t asked them outright just yet, and  I already know I’m going to be somewhat biased since I’ve known these cats since high school.  But when I got the link in my email from James it said “Do not watch if easily offended”.  I thought “Uh oh”.  James has done parodies before, but I’ve never known him to go too far.  I clicked on the link and saw the title “Baracka Flacka Flame” and I knew where it was going.  It wasn’t even a minute into it that I texted James “I’m not even a minute into the video and I’m dyin laughing!”

That was at about noon that day.  I sent it to a few friends on email and Twitter.  Within maybe 2 hours it became a trending topic on Twitter the rest of the day.  It went viral and spread like wildfire.

1 day later, he was on Inside Edition being grilled on why he did the video and if he didn’t think what he did was disrespectful.  You can read the transcript here.

I knew Inside Edition wasn’t being fair because I could see how they edited all of James’ answers to single sentences.

A few days after that James and Martin Usher, the director, are interviewed by the New York Times.  You can read that here.

What killed me in the article and on other blogs online is that the maker of the original song, Wacka Flocka Flame, felt that video was disrespectful to HIM, not the President.  As he says

“That they used it to be so sarcastic, it was almost a form of disrespect,”

So Waka took it as sarcasm against him.  There we see that he felt it was a satire against himself, the artist.  Then his mother/manager says that it wasn’t a good representation of Black males.

First off, look at the original video

Now meet Waka’s mother/manager Debra Antney (You see her “positivity” especially around the 2min mark)

For the past 2 days I have been engaged in a debate with some friends over the Baracka Flacka video.  Some feel that it was disrespectful, especially to show our first African American president as being a buffoon and engaged in such acts.  If you read the comments on the video, the reaction is split between finding the video hilarious, and others saying that it’s ammunition to make black people “look bad”.

The part that kills me is that hardly anyone is putting more negative feelings toward the ACTUAL SOURCE OF THE PARODY.

In my last interview with Phonte of Little Brother/Foreign Exchange,  he said that Hip Hop had gotten so ignorant that he couldn’t use his parody character “Percy Miracles” anymore because people wouldn’t be able to distinguish the parody from real life.  The joke has actually become the reality.

In fact it was THIS video that made him stop from then on.  I never saw a protest or anyone interview this man (yes, it’s a man)

For YEARS we have had acts that are in the same vein as Waka Flocka or have images that Blacks, amongst themselves, have discussed as being appalling to the black image such as:

Waka Flocka Flame, Gucci Mane, Plies, Rick Ross, Lil B, OJ Da Juiceman, Lil Jon, Young Jeezy, D4L, Soulja Boy, Webbie, Lil Boosie, Just about anybody on a DJ Khaled track, Game, all of G-Unit, and just about any other rapper you can think of.

And lest we forget, folks like Nelly and plenty of others who’s claim to fame was having a massive amount of strippers in their music videos.

Yet, just about all those artists have gone platinum, and continue to sell well and get heavy rotation on radio.

Where’s the protest?

So because we put an intelligent black man who is now president, who is unlike any of those artists above personality wise, we now have a problem?

Oh that’s right.  Obama is Black, and we dare not associate his image with those of the more “lower class” Black people.  The image Obama has been trying hard to fight.

2 years of campaigning Obama had to weave his way around images of being too militant, too common, too Black, or too elitist.  Now he’s been president for 2 years and has to fight those accusations of being a Socialist Muslim dictator from folks like The Tea Party, who probably don’t even make up 10% of the nation.  Racists will hate him even if his image is squeaky clean, because at the end of the day, he’s still a Black man with a Black wife and Black daughters.

Barack is NOTHING like Waka Flocka; but by impersonating Barack, somehow, people are figuring that other ignorant people can’t see the difference between Barack and Waka because they are both black.  And if you put Barack in the same video, it’s no longer a parody or satire, but akin to a minstrel show…or even worse, a lynching.

Funny, cause every-time I turn on BET, or see something from WorldstarrHipHop, I see something like this

I can understand why someone would be offended.  Barack has tried very hard to steer clear of anything that would make his image look just like the parody.  We all have our sacred cow that we don’t want to see hacked at.  But a racist person with an agenda is going to see him that way regardless of anything else, just like they might see him as being a Muslim even though he says he Christian, or trying to say he’s not really a US citizen.

No one put Waka Flocka on Inside Edition or interviewed him about the violence in his lyrics, such as in I Love Dem Gun Sounds.  He may have never shot a gun or murdered anyone in his life.  But as the top comments on his video says:

Flocka aint Fake ! He a real Niqqa ! Fuqk Haterx ! ilove dhix iSh !

And

I love how people talk shit about flocka when all he doin is tryna make some paper and yall get pissed because of it. Bunch of bunk ass hatin ppl. Jus let them do there thang cuz i bet if you crossed brick squad in the street you wouldnt talk shit to wakas face!

Here are real artist who make the image their reality and their actual selling brand.

Rick Ross turns out to have been a correctional officer.  A completely made up image and character.  Something that would come out of CB4 or some kind of movie where they pick a random guy, drape him in jewelry and teach him cocaine raps, and put him out (there is a mockumentary based around that actually called How to Build a Rapper).  Yet, I constantly hear people singing “I think I’m Big Meech.  Larry Hoover.”

Waka Flocka was #8 in the top 10 Hottest MCs in the Game as voted by MTV this year.

So called conscious artists are even figuring if you can’t beat em, join em.  Wale did a song with Waka.  Talib Kweli did a song with Gucci Mane.  Erykah Badu did a song with Rick Ross.  Talib Kweli, one of the biggest up holders of black positivity in Hip Hop collaborates with Gucci Mane, his complete antithesis.  Some people protested it but Talib says it was all for the love of the music that they collaborated.

Every day I see this buffoonery.  Meanwhile Lupe Fiasco has to have a protest to have his album released, and I can’t hear The Roots on the radio.

And here people are, mad that the same socially acceptable music to party to has switched from being a regular thug act rapping the lyrics, to it being the President.  I remember years ago people spoke of a Black president that would smoke weed and listen to loud rap music and have BBQs at the White house.  Black comedians joked about this.  James puts the joke on film, and now we have a problem.

As James said in the interview with Inside Edition:

“…I would feel bad for our society in general if they think that one sketch of Barack Obama is who Barack Obama really is.”

A person who really thinks that Obama is what’s being portrayed in the video is beyond ignorant or mis-informed, they must be a complete imbecile, or they WANT to believe that.

The level to which we have dumbed down and materialize Hip Hop has gotten to the point where we have let it live without protest.  And now it seems like many people can’t take the joke.

I can understand why someone might be offended by this, but I would ask to that same offended person: Where do you stand with the artists who are NOT joking?

Seeing the president in this light might offend you.  But I think the average rapper that does this as part of their persona is even more dangerous.

I actually cringe a bit sometimes when I see Andy Samberg rapping on SNL, because I can’t tell if he takes Hip Hop seriously, or is using the medium itself as a joke, because HIP HOP ITSELF has turned into buffoonery.  Nothing but silliness already at hand that makes any skit funny.  Let a white guy act like those rappers you see on TV, and you’ve got chuckles already.

They live everyday.  Right in front of your eyes.  I think James’ video makes it clearer to see.

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10 2010

5 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Merc, you are amazing. Seriously. I can’t believe that no one knows what satire is and/or are completely unwilling to look at what the ACTUAL issue is.

    This reminds me a lot of the Read A Book video and subsequent fallout. You’re mad at the parody, but completely fine with what is being parodied…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlKL_EpnSp8

    Blows my mind.

  2. Michael D'Bey #
    2

    Word…

  3. 3

    This Baracka Flocka Flame video was genius. So nuanced but the concept was in our faces the whole time. And yes, hip hop has turned into buffonery. The proof: Wocka Flocka Flame (sp?) believing this parody was disrespectful to him.

    Read a book, nigga, then go STFD.

  4. Veronica #
    5

    I love the parody because it recognizes the political game that is being played out in our name. Whoever took Obama seriously was lying to themselves. Let’s just be real about that shit. How could we have expected him to actually change the economic and political structure of this country just because of the color of his skin? Perhaps that is what the oligarchs wanted us to believe in order to continue to provide the multinational corporations with opportunities to exploit and enrich themselves with the suffering of the masses (especially when you consider that most of the people in power have at one point worked for those same companies) but anyone who can’t see the parallels of this song to the reality of what has transpired is actually helping to perpetuate the same oppression whether it happens in the past, present or future.


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