Jigga’s Advice For Black Folk

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He also had some advice for black Americans.

“The first thing I would say is you have to go home [to Africa], you have to go and understand what’s going on and embrace your people,” he said. “The second thing I would tell people is: You’re not from the ‘hood. Just stop saying that altogether. You have a wonderful life. You turn on the water, the water is there. You got AC, and you have AC in your car. You’re good. You’re not from the ‘hood. It’s mind-blowing. It just puts things in perspective when people say, ‘I had it rough coming up.’ “

Just what Black America needs: more advice from a rapper.

A man who calls himself “Hova” wants everyone else to put things in perspective. I get the point he’s trying to make, but I don’t agree with it. You can have empathy for those that are worse off than you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t acknowledge the problems you deal with. There are people in this country who don’t have air conditioning and running water. There are people here with running water, only it’s brown. There’s no single measuring stick for poverty; it varies based on where you live. Of course what’s poor here is considered lavish to people in other regions of the world, but that doesn’t negate that poor is poor in a given land.

Some of my friends were quick to quip back with, “You’re a hater. He’s maturing. Must you be so hard on him?”

No I’m not.

Ha.

If he’s going to open his mouth and issue statements with this hovier-than-thou attitude, yes.

Jay-Z is an egomaniac who starves for attention, so that alone makes me suspicious of everything he has to say. For all of you crying growth, this is a 40-year-old man still saggin’ hollering, “show me what you got lil mama” on his latest single. This is the same person who, if that concerned about the plight of poor people, would not be displacing folks in his own borough, nor would he waste his time announcing his affinity for a new bottle of champagne. I think what he’s saying comes from a good place, but it’s not articulated well, given his failure to discuss the plight of poverty in its proper context, and his unwillingness to acknowledge his own actions — all of which would offer some real perspective.

I don’t need a rapper to educate me on world affairs he only got a brief synopsis of an hour or so before he issued a statement, but I’m certain from the hate mail I’m sure to get from this entry (I like Jay, but I know people [adore] him to the core, so I’m sure this entry is a sin to some), many people do.

I think it’s great that he’s finally trying to use his influence to relay some message to audiences outside his delusions of grandeur. However, Jay, like many other entertainers need to not go too above their bridges. The end result is always an entertainer with good intentions making asinine statements. Poor people don’t care if they have it “better” than people in Africa. The message doesn’t resonate well with struggling people – especially since it comes from a man who no longer struggles himself. He raps about diamonds (which in many cases contributes to the plight of the poor in Africa), girls, and expensive bottles of alcohol. Who is he to talk?

What bothers me about Jay is that he can drop an album now and offer commentary on some issues facing Black Americans today, and probably get some real dialogue going. I love Reasonable Doubt, but that can’t be re-created. Emcees like to go on and on about their influence and how hip hop is the dominate culture, but much of it now consists of self-absorption and materialism. It no longer differs from mainstream society, which celebrates the same things.

I want to be certain he’s serious about addressing social issues and let go of suspicious that he and his blond only went over to Africa because it’s killing two birds with one stone (a tour and good PR). But, if Jay can take a break from himself, perhaps I can take one from cynicism.

We’ll see.

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