Under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), I was closer to feeling American. However, having to come here at a young age has put some unwanted stipulations to my acceptance.
What does your fav artist say about you?
As J.Cole once said there are “No role models to speak.”
So here’s the story. I’m on Tumblr, scrolling through idly as always, when one of my favorite bloggers reposts a song. They’ve had a good track record with posting fire tracks so I look into it.
It was a Soundcloud link to XXXTENTACION’s song snippet “Teeth (Interlude).” I’ve seen the guy’s name floating around before, but admittedly I wrote him off as another terrible “Soundcloud rapper.”
So I give him a chance and listen to the song.
It’s very short; only about two minutes in length, but the experience to me was so dense. I feel like the song was made in one of those artistic flurries where one produces their best work. I’ve heard nothing like it before. Maybe it teased a memory in me that amplified the emotion, but the creepy antique piano keys contrasting with the lamenting voice of what sounds like an adolescent girl (later found out it’s actually the artist, a male) put me in a very ghostly, chilled state. I adored it.
Don’t go listening to it now since I’ve hyped it up so much, but seriously I fell in love with his music. It also helped that I connected with him. He expressed on a No Jumper interview that he’s going through depression, and his most recent project 17 is all about struggling with depression and anxiety, two thing I am familiar with. Rage and fear saturate his other songs and I was able to vibe to those sort of emotions at my lowest points as well.
A few weeks pass, and I understand the hype. I’m also introduced to his partner in crime Ski Mask The Slump God and I fuck with the vision. But then boom; I see someone on Twitter commenting on one of his tweets bashing him because he allegedly beat up his pregnant ex-girlfriend. I look into it, and a couple of Fader and HotNewHipHop articles later I find out that those allegations might be true. This is on top of the years in juvie he did and all his confirmed gory exploits.
At this point I honestly did not know how to react. They were allegations and he was being tried for them. Like a true X fan my first real reaction was anger. How could you pretend that most of the hip-hop artist you listen to weren’t complete criminal scum? You literally don’t know, and can’t know for certain, if all your favorite celebrities have clean backgrounds. Take Bill Cosby for example. We didn’t know about the Cosby situation until the man was too old to look anyone straight in the face for a sustained period of time. Him being a dirtbag however didn’t diffuse into your subconscious. Your morals were not altered negatively because you watched the Bill Cosby Show at age nine.
And hip-hop is frot with artists that have shaky morals. Many people don’t realize that a lot of party anthems in the male dominated genre always talk about mistreating vulnerable women at parties.
Very explicit. Two bars on the club bop “U.O.E.N.O” that Rick Ross wrote went under millions of noses. Rick Ross has since apologized, but it doesn’t erase the fact that he most certainly might have date raped a vulnerable woman in the past.
This moral calamity isn’t exclusive to men. There aren’t a lot of women in hip-hop, but I’ll give you an example from one of the most prominent women in hip-hop; Nicki Minaj.
For those that like your sexual assault concise, Nicki beat nowhere near the bush. What was meant by this line? There are surely other way to convey power. Many skeptics claim that she made this bar so harsh as a commentary on the male dominated hip-hop genre and how they usually get away with saying things like this. However on the other hand, male rape is a real thing and should not be put in any context that serves to undermine or emasculate. Despite all that, Nicki and her “Barbz” are still out here making noise.
With these moral dilemmas coming from all sides, you’d have to go through some extreme forensics to find out who is worthy of your moral ears. Realistically if one vetted their playlist like that, one would probably lose half of their overall song count, and 80% of their hip-hop track count. You’d probably just have Childish Gambino to listen to, but he obsessed over Asian girls like a fetishist in his early rap career so jot that down for consideration.
Then I started to think about what his crimes have to do with me. Even though I haven’t bought anything from him, I’m supporting him and his lifestyle by giving him plays on SoundCloud, and by Tweeting about how much I love his songs. That’s where it gets hard to separate the artist from the art. Do I support what he did? No, it’s absolutely deplorable if he did it. Does it change the fact that I like his music? No, and there is no other artist that sounds exactly like him who has no assault charges, so replacing him in my playlist isn’t an option in that sense. Listening to him does not make me a woman beater either. Just like how listening to Jay-Z does not make you a cocaine selling enabler.
There are a lot of hypotheticals, and I do avoid his music. But admittedly I go back to his older stuff sometimes. I like all types of music and his stuff is unique and different. I am an appreciator of music first of all, and a judge of character secondly in this instance.
To answer the title question; we already are listening to problematic artists, artist that continually see success even though they’ve already revealed themselves to be morally weak. If XXXTENTACION is not meant to be successful, it will not happen. Right now he has built such a cult fan-base that it’s hard for him not to be. However, you enjoying his music does not make you a bad person, just don’t go to any of his concerts honestly.
Originally published at https://medium.com/@onawav on September 2, 2017.
Who gets to be great?
It was a Wednesday and my client had just posted my artist feature. It looked good. The graphics she used fit well with the background and everything looked premium. The artist also is not bad looking herself. But my words on the site also looked good. Everything flowed well and resembled a professional feature on a music blog. I was feeling myself.
After I promoted it a little on Twitter I got like 2 retweets but I’m happy about that because that’s more than my client gets on average. I began to think why I started writing and I began to size myself up. Am I moving at a quick enough pace towards where I want to go? Am I enjoying what I’m doing? Most importantly, am I a good writer?
The last question is the hardest because if you read any sort of autobiographical literature, or watch Californication, you’ll know that writers (this is strictly from what I’ve learned from pissy white male authors) are extraordinarily narcissistic, yet they loathe themselves. They think their writing is the best and that everyone else’s is bad. But they also hate themselves for whatever reason (it’s usually because they are lazy alcoholics).
I read an article by Steven King about what a good writer is and he wrote some strung out bullshit which all concluded to “ya just know.” Then I read an article that was written in the last 5 years that was more insightful. It was a list (v trendy) of validations and a few of the points applied to me. “Other people have told you that you write well,” “people pay you to write,” “you know good writing when you see it” are the points I’m using to stitch my writer’s ego together.
So with that dodgy definition of a good writer, I can now try my hardest at this venture.knowing that I at least can start growing in this field. Not only that…I want to eventually great in the future. I want to be rich and respected. It feels weird saying it, like how dare I wish for a better life, me, a peon. Knowing you deserve it is an important step.
But then there’s the other 7 odd billion people who want greatness too.
Everyone is your competition, and most people want to be great. But I think it’s literally impossible for everyone to gain acclaim in their respective fields. There’s always someone as good or better than you, there is always someone with an advantage somehow whether it be connections, class, or race. Also, there would be too many people to give awards out to, the fake gold companies will run out of resources and the attention of the masses will wander because there are so many options. Who is the best at what they do? People find comfort in knowing who they are looking up to rank are in a very exclusive percentile.
Knowing this, really it’s less about how good you do what you do and more about how lucky you are in finding an opportunity to show it. So finally, who gets to be great? Only the lucky do.
Anyway that’s what’s been shredding my skull.
The pen is mightier than the Upwork
Y’know as a freelance writer myself, the best way I can communicate these feelings I have towards my clients is to write them out. So, if you are looking for a freelancer to write for your company or blog, here are three
gripes suggestions that I have when interfacing with them.
In every Black person there is the potential to be a very cancerous cloud welling up in there chest.
I feel it in my chest to. Sometimes it climbs up my throat and into the back of my mind, and grips my brain. It forces me to doubt myself; to look at my current failures and equate them to my very identity, an identity I did not have control over in the first place. It meddles with my judgment, consequentially lowering my performance in almost anything I do. It operates like a cloud that’s been hovering over my head since birth but its vice is rooted within my psyche like a virus.
Up the amplitude to show an attitude
My boys got dank
But it all starts off with a noise complaint
Break it up, cut the grass, while I’m vibin’ in the cypher
Phony puff, puff laugh
And I might add
From the blaze to the stage, Girls on my ass
Enter carefully because the floor is feeling like a trampoline
The ceiling broke up under us, because of us..
And then the cops came
And shut shit down
And then the cops came. That was a small excerpt from a song called “Cop Scame” made by a hip hop group called Phony Ppl, which is comprised of several Black men.
In this section the artist explains how a noise complaint turns into a situation with the cops. Now that’s what college kids do right? They throw a house party and then the old crotchety neighbor next door (or under them in this case) calls the cops on them.
Here, I complain about how hard it is for an introvert to interface with the world.
Pet peeve of mine: Motivational platitudes/fake enthusiasm/how to be successful videos and/or blogs. (no shade because I follow some here.)
But that is just a personal thing tied to the rest of the stuff I’m going to talk about. I still respect them and read them. But anyway, what I mean by “This is not an introvert’s world” is that you need to like people. You can’t stay in a shell and be successful. You need to be able to woo people and you cannot operate by yourself.