Jay-z’s new single entitled: “The Story of O.J.” (by far one of his best songs ever in my opinion) is a track that subtly and in some ways not so subtly addresses profound issues within the black community. Perhaps even more subtle is an indictment against America as a whole @ it’s view of black people and black men in particular. An indictment that probably went right over the head of many outside of Black America.
After the song and album as a whole was released some rappers took umbrage with one of Jay-Z’s (real name Sean Carter which I’ll use the rest of the way) lines that called out other artists who make a little piece of change and then jump up on social media with stacks of money held up to their ear. A.K.A. “The Money Phone” (eye roll). Carter smartly chastises:
“Y’all on the ‘Gram holdin’ money to your ear
There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here, yeah”.
Unfortunately he stepped on a lot of toes with that one. And I say unfortunately because it is unfortunate that we have so many young black men who feel they need to floss on “the gram” in order to feel self-important in the eyes of people who don’t have a nickel to their name – are not going to help them better themselves. And worst of all probably is the fact that the act is a terrible example for young impressionable minds who look up to these various individuals. Found within the lyrics of the track is what basically amounts to a road map; one that attempts to point young Black America in a direction towards true freedom – at least financially speaking (though it’s bigger than that) – not only for the individual their-self but for generations to come. In other words, for SO many reasons – Black America as a whole currently exists within a tiny little box – and Carter is basically saying reconsider your everyday modis operandi (how you move) and try to step outside that box. THAT is what is dope when all is said and done – not going to the strip club and blowing your entire advance on “Cinnamon-Bun” as she slides down the pole. I think it’s safe to say we don’t have to be nearly so short-sighted as a people.
And then there is the message that may be lost on some outside of our community. At the onset Carter sets the tone with a line for the ages:
O.J. like, “I’m not black, I’m O.J.” (long pause for effect and then subtly and right in sync with the tempo of the track he says – quizzically)…okay”??
That line comes right on the heels of the chorus which opens the song:
“Light nigga, dark nigga, faux nigga, real nigga
Rich nigga, poor nigga, house nigga, field nigga
Still nigga, still nigga
I like that second one”
Couldn’t be more real. Even O.J. – though he tried – could not step outside his skin at the end of the day once trouble arrived on his doorstep. And the point is that no matter how much money – how much critical acclaim – or even if you were to reach the thin air of the highest office in the land (See: Barack Obama) – there are far too many who still see you as just another “nigga”. Sad – it sounds crass I admit – but alas so painfully true. Yeap, that is exactly why that very word – with an “a” lost and an “er” found – was scribbled across the front of Lebron James’s house for no reason whatsoever a couple months ago. It’s why the critically acclaimed author – scholar – and doctor at Harvard University – Skip Gates – was accosted by police officers standing inside his own house – because they thought he’d broken in to his own crib. I could go on and on but I am going to stop now because even as I write it makes my blood boil.
I’ll just say this as I end. White America… you have to do better. If you are someone who does not think that way about people based on the color of their skin – you need to check your bigoted uncle – your racist neighbor – your prejudiced colleague when they come out of their mouth with some questionable type ish’. It’s time for you to help do away with the ignorance once and for all. Otherwise black people would respectfully ask that you shut up about members of our community needing to take responsibility for ourselves. Because you know good and damn well your backwards uncle would look a black astronaut at NASA right in the eyes and even if under their breath say…“Still nigga”…
Oreos to go: Need some more artists to release some tracks like this…I’m just sayin’.
Oh and check out Mysonne’s version – that thing is hard:
More than a blog. It’s a movement.
Though there is much more that could be said, I will have to stop for now. But hopefully you will continue the conversation in your living rooms, at your places of worship, and even with that person of another race you just met as you were walking down the street in your neighborhood.
And also I do have what I think is another interesting plate of cookies on a platter for next Monday (you can share via social media buttons below), when I hope you will join me again to talk some more oreos.