“Mark us smart, no they rather label us as dummies
Sign my rights off to a label then they make all of the money?
That’s funny, I know your expectations of me is a convict
Mama pray for me all Sunday then I break the law on Monday
Then I make the news on Tuesday
But excuse me it’s confusing what your rules is
A coach can push a player
True enough, Allen Crabbe sits on the bench for the Blazers
But Mike Montgomery does the same for California, for twice the paper
I’m not a hater, I just call it like I see it
Like an honest referee, all my partners got more time than Tim Donaghy
I promise these laws be shape shifting for the economy
The fix is in, sometimes I wish Obama still had a Congress seat
Don’t get me wrong, I voted for homie
But no one notice how his tenure has only reignited the spite between Blacks and Whites?
Blame the way that we was raised, prone to overreaction, right?
Blinded by the flashing lights…What about Trayvon?
Mass media the only reason we care once we’re made aware
Guess I’m just a sore loser…”
I made three promises to myself New Year’s Eve night heading into 2014. I’d continue to work out, a pledge that had already allowed me to lose 20 pounds since last summer. I’d look for gainful employment overseas. It’s a big world, so I figured why not at least attempt to stretch outside my comfort zone. In fact, these words are being typed Dubai right now.
As for the third…I’d stop saying the word “nigga.”
The truth is, I’ve been saying “nigga” since roughly first grade on the playground. I still do. It’s been used in positive lights, like when describing friends, otherwise known as “my niggas.” Or not-so-positive connotations when anger was the fuel for whatever my disdain happened to be at the moment from police, traffic jams, the Paul Pierce Celtics years or whenever Week 17 for the Dallas Cowboys comes around. It’s been used as a noun. It’s been as an adjective.
Name a form and there’s a 99.9999999% chance I’ve used it in that light. Ceasing myself from using the word is a self-administered project not because of a life-altering event or born-again commandment. Instead, it’s because of my own personal inventory – and no one else’s – on how I see how it impacts the perception on every demographic of society.
A few weeks ago, my lady and I were discussing the Madonna Instagram controversy and how it involved the iconic singer dropping the always buzzworthy “n-word” when speaking to her son. The mutual sentiment was neither of us cared. More our personal concern was invested in the small-scale genocide that is Black-on-Black violence and the mental health issues which plague the community anyway.
Take that back, we cared, but just not enough to sprint to our respective moral high horse and knock on doorsteps to warn the masses the revolution was televised and had just opened its own Twitter account.
Rather on account of another race-themed, civil rights-inspired scandal is always waiting to supersede the previous event’s surmountable place on news desks worldwide. That’s why being Black in America is more than some fancy news special and town hall meeting. It’s cause for an overwhelming sense of pride, angst and depression, often within the same 24-hour cycle. And guess what? Like clockwork, Richard “Thug Life” Sherman happened. And then House speaker John Boenher sat behind President Obama at last month’s State of the Union address with what came off as the pride of George Wallace seeping through his pores. And then a harebrained fight promoter attempted to turn George Zimmerman into America’s next lovable child killer with his own “celebrity” boxing match against DMX, announcing it on what would have been Trayvon Martin’s 19th birthday no less.
I normally don’t write on race and socio-economics too often. I’m not that smart, plus there are writers who could make whatever I pen come off as child’s play. And in reality, harboring the talent to do so ranks as the logic why a handful of my favorite artists became icons in the first place.
Allowing them to do so is a win-win for all parties involved.
It’s why hearing Tupac’s “Keep Your Head Up” blasting from a random vehicle some 6,000 miles from the Slauson Swap Meet or Baltimore School for the Arts was so surreal. It’s why Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” has a new car scent over 40 years after being liberated. It’s why Donny Hathaway’s version of “A Song For You” could very well be the meaning of life in audio form. It’s why Killer Mike’s “Reagan” would probably be my grandma’s favorite rap song if he didn’t mention Obama in a negative light.* It’s the reason Boosie’s “Holding On” continues to send chills down spines of those willing to give his music a fair shake and not simply base judgements from the headlines surrounding his name and prison stint.
And while not to compare Starlito’s “Mark Us Smart” – from his forthcoming Black Sheep Don’t Grin project – to the aforementioned five, the intent is as authentic.
Whether known by millions or the audiences of TSS and Dirty Glove Bastard, ‘Lito’s strength (one of many) comes from digesting current happenings and regurgitating them in lyrical form. The title of the record remains an obvious play on the All-American’s name, but the content illuminates as a newscast better served for CNN or FOX News.
You know, if media conglomerates were interested in actual reporting and not their own pre-conceived agendas.
No one likes a racist, nor does anyone willing to always use the race card at the drop of a dime or when a White person gets hotter fries than the Black guy at McDonalds. That being understood, “Mark Us Smart” delves much deeper into a new-age enactment of slavery and incarceration addressing the tactics of an American-built billion dollar plantation (the NCAA) down to discrepancies in crimes and their allotted prison sentences for its different shades of convicts.
And therein lies perhaps the record’s flagship quality – irony. The irony in how it doesn’t require the head of the NAACP and most staunch ring wing conservative “good ol’ boy” sitting down to illustrate this country’s founding principles and viewpoints have been f*cked up since before you, Starlito, myself or the material used to create the fiber optic cables we surf the Internet on were even born. The irony in realizing most of today’s marches and sit-ins happen via hashtags.
The irony in that on February 10, 2004, Kanye West officially proclaimed while racism was still alive, it was more so the guy standing on the wall in a house party attempting not to be noticed. And exactly a decade later, it’s ‘Lito the one professing not only does racism continue to have a heartbeat in America.
At this rate, the next Klan rally may as well have its own float at the 2014 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Correction: Madonna was not addressing her adopted son, but her natural born son on Instagram.
* – Fun fact of the day. (Most) Old Black women love Barack Obama like he’s their own child.
Photos: Getty, Facebook