For the last six or so months, I’ve been pretty vocal about my political leanings with friends and through articles I read and share on Twitter. This is not about that. For starters, yes, I did despair a bit on Wednesday, but, if I’m being totally honest, was less about who lost than who won.
That said, here’s what I need the people who are protesting in the streets to do: Get over it. I’m all about protest when it can affect change, but what is standing outside the state house in Boston, Massachusetts going to do? Prove that you dislike President Trump? Maybe get you laid by a Berklee College of Music sophomore? I mean, really.
Shouting, “Not my President” will do nothing to stop what’s going to happen come inauguration day in January. Using a similar hashtag will get your some re-tweet, but it’s not going to change the outcome. Yes, we get it. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Guess what, dummy. That means nothing. It’s the lowest of moral victories there is. It’s like losing a Game Seven in the World Series and trying to have the commissioner change the outcome because your team had more overall runs in the series.
Protesting the results of an election doesn’t show us anything other than you’re a bunch of millennial, participation trophy cry-babies. There are ways to act. But probably a better recourse would be to (a) pay attention to what’s happening, (b) participate in your local government, (c) contribute to campaigns, (d) identify a list of charities/organizations/groups that you feel would best further your political ideals, and (e) donate/volunteer/apply for jobs.
Protest, sure, but act, too.
Also, SNL cold-opens with “Hallelujah” … ugh, give me a break. Self-indulgent shit like that is exactly why Trump is our President now.
In case you’re wondering, here’s what the election means.
Thirty years ago, one of my favorite movies of all time —Hoosiers– came out. I remember we had a video cassette of the movie, taped off a VCR from HBO. So every time I watched the movie, the opening picture was a droid-esque movement through a city, into a town, and into a home where a family was watching HBO.
Then the subtle fade in of the music … the drive across America and into the heart of Indiana.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that movie. 50? I still watch it once a year, at 34, as I try to do with all of my favorite movies: Stand By Me, Halloween, Dazed & Confused, Silence of the Lambs, Boyz in the Hood. It combines basketball with a theme I quite like: nostalgia. I can’t believe it came out 30 years ago (almost as close, actually, to the time it depicts than it is to right now).
On one last, happier note, I’ve yet to hear the new A Tribe Called Quest album, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic. Read this great article about the ghost looming over the record. 18 years is a too many years to have waited for ATCQ record. But from what I gather over the past few weeks of the press the album has generated is that these are guys who needed to heal their individual wounds, repairs personal friendships, and/or regain a sense of self before creating another classic. What I love about this is that it’s not simply old tracks or lost recordings from sessions way back. They’re new verses, new beats. So happy & can’t wait to listen to the record. I can guarantee that I won’t be let down.
Recently, Daniel D’Addario, a staff writer for Salon’s entertainment section, wrote an article suggesting the appearance on the charts of white musicians “mocking” African-Americans by eschewing, lyrically, the excess that has come to dominate, in some forms, rap music. Now, rap excess is nothing new, and I’d argue vehemently that rap music, or hip-hop, is not and never was solely about fancy cars, flashy clothes, and bottles of champagne. It’s simply a part of what happens when young people are given as exorbitant amount of money, especially, but not limited to those who came from dire economic circumstances. Remember: rock and roll certainly had it’s fair share of party ballads as well.
D’Addario claims that “Mackelmore (in his song “Thrift Shop”) seems to be rebuking the almost entirely black hip hop world for it’s concern with wealth.” It’s with this that I disagree. While – and I’ll never attempt or claim to be an expert with Mackelmore’s life or lyrics – the rapper may be lyrically expostulating what some believe hip hop has come to equate (excess and materialism), it’s far, I believe, from a mocking approach, for if, as he claims, truly wants to be as a part of the hip hop community, as a white man, I doubt that he’d want to further alienate himself from inclusion by ridiculing the people by whom he’d want to be embraced.
Likewise, Lourde’s claim to reject “Cristal, Maybach, Diamonds on your timepiece/ Jet planes, island, tigers on a gold leash” isn’t critical of African-American hip hop musicians, it’s critical of a larger cultural of materialism pervasive across the United States. If D’Addario hasn’t noticed, we’re a community of people that value our possessions more than our time. We’d rather record our lives than live them. We falsely worship the rich. That’s what I perceive as Lourde’s criticism. And it’s not because she’s white. This excess has been mocked and rapped about by musicians like The Roots, Common Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, all black, for years. It’s cultural criticism, not racial ridicule.
I find that, in some ways, we’re looking for new arguments to discuss race. We’ve come a long way in this country to find ourselves having the interracial relations we have in 2013. And, in my opinion as an almost 32 year old man, I’m fortunate to have grown up in a world where (most) of my friends who are of a different skin tone than I am have been able to enjoy the same advantages and opportunities I have. And there are plenty of problems still with the attempt to achieve racial harmony today, but starting an argument about whether lyrics in top 40 songs are subconsciously racist isn’t the way to start a meaningful dialogue.
This article is simply an attempt at starting a fire where there is none. D’Addario and the supporters he cites in this article should be ashamed.
Tell me, what do you think?
Editor’s note: Matt Osgood is a former hip-hop junkie who is jaded currently by the industry and still clings tight to his Reflection Eternal and Roots CD’s. It’s been a long time since he’s bought and liked a hip hop album.
- The ‘n’ word, and the demise of conscious rap (mediadiversified.org)