Why I Can’t Ride With ‘Shawt Bus Shawty’

14 Jul

By now you’ve probably seen “Shawt Bus Shawty” the video which parodies southern hip-hop hot boys, Gucci Mane,Wacka Flocka Flame, and OJ Da Juice Man. If you haven’t had the pleasure peep the video below and then I’ll continue, if you’ve already seen it just jump down and read…….

Though the above video got a few chuckles out of me, overall, it left me feeling a bit confounded. Sure OJ, Flocka, and Gucci aren’t exactly in the same realm lyrically as a Black Thought, Mos or a Talib but I felt the representation of them as drooling, innarticulate, mentally handicapped bafoons was a bit too much. To me this video is a symptom of a larger problem that has plagued Black America for far too long. It’s as old as the division between field niggers and house niggers as new as the division between hip-hop and rap; intelligence and consciousness vs ignorance and cooning within the lexicon of hip hop.

OJ, Flocka, and Gucci serve as the main entertainers in this animated minstrel show, the coons on display and their stupidity is served up on a golden platter as fodder for our comedic appetites, I mean for god sakes OJ can’t even say the word banana , Gucci drools for pretty much the duration of the video and Flocka can’t even say his ABC’s correctly…..right?   I can’t say that I’m a fan of OJ and Flocka. I do like Gucci though, I’ve liked him ever since ‘So Icy’, but I digress. I know people who listen to the likes of OJ, Flocka and Gucci and I couldn’t help but think about them everytime laughter tried to force its way up my belly and out of my mouth. I wondered about my peoples who identify with these particular musicians, my peoples who grew up on the other side of town, my peoples whose experiences in life may have varied , if only slightly, from my own, my peoples who talk with more of a twang than I do, and my peoples who may have a different perspective than my own but certainly aren’t of lesser intelligence. I wondered if they would find ‘Shawt Bus Shawty’ as funny as someone who didn’t really respect or understand the personal history and socio-economic conditions that played a part in shaping the artistic personas of these men .

My freshman year of college, during one of the many orientation semininars we were required to attend, Professor Faison shared an ancedote that would stay forever lodged into my memory. He spoke to us one day about how people, majority of those people another color than his own, would compliment him on how well spoken he was…..for a black man. I too remember being on the receiving end of this particular ‘compliment’ many times as a young girl, praised for the fact that I spoke so well, being that a lot of black kids these folks happened to run into didn’t speak the way I did. Professor Faison said to us that this was no compliment, regardless of how congenialy it was said. He had sisters, brothers, cousins, aunt’s, uncles and grandparents who spoke ‘like that’ and when he was around his family his vocabulary shifted as well, he spoke just like them.  He explained that this ‘inproper speech’ was a part of his culutre, his heritage. It was a dialect that may seem of poor taste to some but only those who didn’t understand where it came from and how it developed. He said, “When you talk about them, you’re talking about me too.”  It had a profound effect on me because in my youth, I had been given these ‘compliments’ so much I began to internalize them, and it created a  complex within myself that I still struggle with today. I was made to believe that I was somehow better than most of my race because of my percieved differentness, but that is another story in itself. It takes little intelligence to mock and criticise that which we don’t understand so ‘Shawt Bus Shawty’, to me, is as igonorant as the ignorance it tries to put on blast.

Since I am a child of the 80’s I can’t speak about anything other than what I’ve seen in my time, and in my time I have watched hip hop swell into a creatively dominant force in American music and slowly fold in on itself.  Rappers are tearing each other down, ripping each other apart left and right all in the name of  promoting ‘real’ hip hop and stomping out the ‘fake’. Even 12 year olds are making diss records. This is our culture and all of our stories and perspectives deserve, need, to be represented, just as each state is entititled to a representative in Congress.Hip hop is, has always been, a powerful conductor for knowledge, a reserve of our collective history, an oral tradition passed from generation to generation. You may not like it, but the corner boys and trap stars are a part of this thing too, they speak for a facet of our community that has the right to be heard.

For us to restore hip-hop to it’s full capacity we must heal the internal damages that are only exacerbated by psychological attacks like the video above. We need solidarity and understanding, we need to get it in our heads that there is no us and them, only us. I say, even if you’re particular brand of hip-hop isn’t really my thing, I still love you because you’re a part of my culture, a multi-faceted and dynamic culture that I am blessed to be a part of. There’s a much larger force at work, trying to rip our identity in this country apart at the seams, it’s time we commit our hands to mending the tears instead of helping them spread.

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