CNN, we get it.
Rap music is scary, it's sultry, it's raucous, it's wild, it's menacing, it's chaos—and if footage of some ratchet parenting goes viral on YouTube, know that CNN is gonna summon Slim Thug to the hot seat as witness for the defense.
Fox News, NBC, CNN—seems the disdain is unanimous. They were mad long before Cam, and the snail's-pace diversification of cable news commentary just means that we get to side-eye this naysaying from suits of all shades. Oh, joy.
DON LEMON: In your music, you talk about . . . that you're strapped. About owning a gun. That you roll with gorillas, dealers, and killers.
SLIM THUG: I do. It's true.
News anchor Don Lemon, CNN's stop-and-frisk hypeman, has weathered a rough dozen bouts vs. #BlackTwitter in the past year. Arguing that the NYPD has a duty to wanton pat-downs of black residents so that New York City doesn't scare away tourists. Whining about the sag of a young man's fatigues. Drafting a ludicrous new gospel of self-respect that's never been the answer to all our problems, e.g., the black unemployment rate.
Worship Sinatra, or Simone, or Ellington, or Lenny Kravitz...anyone but Weezy.
Speak like me.
Me, me, me. As if Don Lemon is somehow obviously the golden mean of what a black American kid ought to be, ought to like, ought to want reflected in popular culture.
It's not that Don Lemon despises hip-hop categorically. The networks just despise whatever perspectives and tastes can't be co-signed by the Office of Sucka Admissions at Quinoa University.
Here's a thought: maybe blame/investigate the system that produces these realities instead of raging against the narrators.
So like broke-ass clockwork, the concern trolls spring up once and again to blame hip hop culture for intramural crime, dropout rates, Trayvon Martin's "dangerous" fashion, the Kennedy assassination, the cancellation of Firefly, man, whatever. But here's a thought: maybe blame/investigate the system that produces these realities instead of raging against the narrators.
If you're wondering about "black-on-black crime," whose reporting is more valuable: Don Lemon's? or Meek Mill's?
I'm not saying we can't walk and chew gum at the same time; that we can't knock rappers for stepping ignorant/incorrect while simultaneously wondering whether "we" can't do better. But why is CNN sweating Slim Thug for explanation of the disrepair of some household out in Omaha?
A few years back, Chris Rock spoke the most succinct pitch of rap's mission statement, in re the word nigga: "We took this word, and we made it into poetry." Replace this word with this bullshit, all of it, all of the years of benign neglect, and there you have a theory of hip hop. Likewise, back in August, Russell Simmons made the case point blank to Don Lemon's face:
I think each individual artist has a responsibility to say what’s on their hearts. And some of it is not pretty. So I think that there are reflections of our reality and some cases sad reality.
Case in point: that YouTube tragedy.
But CNN doesn't respect rap. Don Lemon doesn't respect you any more than Randolph respects Valentine. So what are we to make of a snob telling us to respect ourselves? When his version of respect features so much loathing?
Answer me that, and maybe then we'll hear you out on the subject of the corporeal menace of trap beats and WorldStar. In the meantime, all you news anchors can catch us in traffic. At the corner of Hot 97 and Power 105.
Justin Charity is a writer in Brooklyn, NY who shouts out Richmond and D.C. He has a website here and you can also find him @BrotherNumpsa.