Music

The Will Smith Oscars Slap Has Rap Fans Re-Examining A Line From J. Cole’s ‘No Role Modelz’

One of my absolute favorite things in hip-hop is how the timely pop culture references often evolve with the times. Some rhymes age poorly, depending on the fortunes of the celebrity or work of art they address — see practically any NBA line that isn’t about Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. Some rhymes, however, do the opposite, becoming even more exquisite as their subjects continue their careers, transforming the context and adding new layers of meaning to the originals.

Case in point: J. Cole‘s 2014 Forest Hills Drive single is currently undergoing an analytical reevaluation on Twitter thanks in large part to last night’s Academy Awards ceremony. In the song, Cole raps, “I want a real love, dark-skinned Aunt Viv love / That Jada and that Will love / That leave a toothbrush at your crib love / And you ain’t gotta wonder whether that’s your kid love.” At the time of its release, it was a fairly straightforward line evoking a wholesome romantic relationship, using Will and Jada Pinkett Smith as examples (ironic, considering the song’s title).

But after last night’s Oscars show, during which Will Smith stormed onstage and slapped comedian Chris Rock for making an off-color joke about Jada’s hair (which she shaved due to alopecia, a condition that makes sufferers’ hair fall out), fans have revisited just what “that Jada and Will love” really means, knowing what we know now — which is that Will can and will put his hands on somebody for offending his wife.

Naturally, responses vary. Some say the line also aged poorly, while others have noted the degrees by which it has evolved in the months since we were all teasing them about having an open relationship (don’t hide your hand now). Although a number of celebrities have weighed in, it’s fascinating — and really, really funny — that the person who had one of the wildest takes did so years ago by total accident.

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