Words By David D.
Rappers make up shit.
Take a moment.
You good? Ok.
Apparently the whole Rick Ross fiasco has led the people at HipHopDX to hop on the truth-seeking bandwagon to do some investigative reporting on Plies’ history all in the good name of dignity and attention-grabbing.
This, my friends, is not journalism. Are we going to fact check every song and rapper that comes down the pike with vivid storytelling? We don’t see Rolling Stone doing revelatory features on if Bob Dylan actually traveled Route 61 when making Route 61 Revisited. What HHDX is doing is obviously trying to piggyback on the publicity the Smoking Gun garnered by exposing Rick Ross. But what is there to gain? Who benefits?
Chuck D said it best when he stated that Hip-Hop is the black CNN. It’s the rapper’s job is to report what’s going on in “the hood.” Like any good story, Hip-Hop street tales are made to act as a microcosm for the situations and struggles facing all of us. So what if Plies’ jail tales are really about his brother? The fact is that they’re happening to somebody and the story needs to be told.
This same logic drove the slave narratives of the late 1800s. Check the history surrounding Fredrick Douglas and Olaudah Equiano’s autobiographies. There are some plotholes and straight up inconsistent storytelling. For instance, there is word that Douglas’ time as a slave was not as gruesome as he originally depicted due to the fact that he later attended the master’s funeral in a tearful reunion with the family. Does this mean we should discount the stories that Douglas told? Not at all, because there were a lot of brothers and sisters facing unspeakable hell. Douglas was blessed enough to have an ability to articulately persuade and he used this gift to open many eyes to horrific realities happening in America.
Granted, Plies and Rick Ross aren’t nearly the benevolent revolutionaries that Douglas and his ilk were, especially considering the financial boost the rappers stand to gain with extra street cred. However, the fact remains, these guys are telling stories that pertain to a lot of people out there (just go to a Plies show and see the heartfelt response he gets).
Look at an album like Reasonable Doubt in which Jay paints one of the most vivid pictures of the hustle we’ve ever seen on wax. Though homie (probably) never kidnapped his best friend’s girl, you can’t tell me you don’t get goosebumps listening to “D’Evils.” HHDX and The Smoking Gun are basically saying that only ex-cons and former drug dealers can talk about the harsh realities facing us all. Plies never went to jail, so he can’t rap about it? Let him rap about how terrible jail is. If some kid hears the song and picks up a book because Plies’ description of a cell sounds awful, then the song has served it’s purpose.
Bono is loved worldwide and has seen tremendous success musically since he started becoming one of the world’s most renowned humanitarians. Maybe I’m idealistic, but in a perfect world, Joell Ortiz can spit something like “nigga I donated 100 computers, you ain’t up on this!” Instead, this story gets pushed to the side for the next arrest or scuffle on Youtube.
Such is the state of affairs in Hip-Hop…and in our society.
Maybe if Plies and Rick Ross were trying to make money in a musical field that encouraged real-life issues not involving drug deals and jail time, they could have been honest about their pasts.
P.S. — Plies, you’re not off the hook though. 32?! 32 years old? I had dude pegged as not a day older than 19. 32 is too cotdamn old to be calling your boo “Wet-Wet.”