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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 05.

Within the first few minutes of this week’s episode, Sullee is already falling apart. You get a real sense of dread looming over his every action and it isn’t just some reality television foreshadowing through editing, he really is getting nervous. Sullee’s in a weird position of actually being talented but not as talented as he thinks, so it leads him in positions where he looks like a complete dumbass. Totally about to snap, he becomes convinced somehow, the honorable thing to do is punk-out under the guise of not wanting to “snitch”. Sullee really just freaked out and didn’t want to get booted or actually lose, so he turned it into some idiotic “I neva snitch” type thing. Serch’s departing lecture to Sullee was pretty much spot-on:

“Yo, you’re selling yourself out right now…and the worst part is Sullee, you’re thinking you’re doing it on a higher principle, you’re not. This is an exercise. You had cameras following you the whole time, we know everything you did. You’re caught-up in the hip-hop hype of what snitching is. Snitching is about illegal activity. Snitching is about seeing somebody do something they shouldn’t be doing and dropping dime on them. You’re not dropping dime on them. Kicking off the shoes, doing all of that, if you really want to quit bro, there’s the door. Be out.”

While Serch appears pretty eloquent there, there’s a strange part when he turns to talk to Jon Boy and the camera just holds on Jon Boy’s face as Serch rips him. It’s obviously dubbed-in later; Serch’s voice sounds totally different. Notice how much more eloquent and hardass he sounds here: “You know I can appreciate your defiance for what it is, but don’t get it twisted. You cannot get slick with me and flip the challenge. I’m not havin’ it.” I know it’s a reality television norm to edit and change, it’s not a big deal, but it struck me as a bit odd and unfair, particularly because Serch is being held-up as very real and very honest. Clearly, the speech he gives to Jon Boy was re-recorded or written afterwards and dubbed in. There’s also the sad fact that Sullee totally hustles Jon Boy into buying the whole “snitch” thing because it saves Sullee’s ass while it does nothing for Jon Boy but get him eliminated.

It’s interesting how the show finds a way to address every aspect or cliché of rap culture, including something like snitching, which you would think would be hard to fit into a good-natured reality show about rappers. Serch is totally correct when he calls the snitching “hype” but I almost wish that he or the show would have come out more forcefully against “Stop Snitching”. Perhaps they would lose their “cred” but it is worth coming out against, particularly when Baltimore police’s response to “Stop Snitching” is an idiotic campaign like “Keep Talking” which just brings more attention to “Stop Snitching” and encourages no actual opposition.

Yeah, if I commit a crime with some friends, I’d be a pretty big faggot if I told on them. However, there are some very valid arguments against “Stop Snitching” and the so-called “code” has been outrageously perverted and is one more way in which criminals and drug-dealers exploit their own communities in the same way that politicians and government types exploit the same communities. It also shows why the celebration and honor of drug dealers as somehow system fighters or anti-government rebels is absurd. Drug dealers and criminals are weak because once they do the crime, they won’t even stick it out and take the time. If poor old woman in the apartment next door reports loud noise and it leads to a drug bust, there’s a possibility she will have to fear for her life. Now, if I was involved in illegal activity like that, I’d probably live by the same code (it’s really an anti-code) but I wish these people and those that celebrate them would just let them be what they really are: scumbags. There’s nothing wrong with being a scumbag but don’t act as if you’re on some “by any means necessary” trip. The fact that “snitching” is now defined as speaking to the police in any form about any crime is truly unfortunate. The only people that benefit from an unsolved crime are criminals. Now, certainly, people in areas where crime is pervasive may not tell police for fear of their lives but that has always happened; distrust of the police is nothing new, but what is new is how the definition of snitching has stretched so far.

The form in which snitching enters the ‘(White) Rapper Show’ world is symptomatic of the way in which snitch-talk has pervaded areas that have nothing to do with street-level crime. My friend John, an accounting major, told me a story of a student from Senegal who often wore a Yankees hat and when the Professor spoke of insider trading or “whistle-blowing” this guy called it “snitching”. What? Now this guy from Senegal, probably the son of a diplomat, who has even less to do with “the streets” than I do, is calling someone who is ethically concerned about how a crooked business is run, a snitch?

Sullee took the easy way out by following self-made, personalized rules on “snitching”. The problem with everybody, with everything (I’m implicating myself here as well) is the way in which we live robotically, the way in which the “hippest” music listeners reads Pitchfork or ‘Wire’ magazine as a bible, the way the “hardest” so-called “thug” on the block frees himself of any ethical or moral quandary he might truly be in by falling back-on “stop snitching”. I think of that Nietzsche phrase, where he called all ways of comfortable living “wretched self-complacency”. That’s the problem with most “thugs” particularly the thug attitude Tupac made pervasive. It’s not even tough, it’s not even self-destructive, it’s safe, it’s lazy, it is wretchedly self-complacent.

Speaking of self-complacency…fuck happened to Jon-Boy? The guy’s head quadrupled in size since the previous episode. He begins rapping in front of the mall to disinterested black shoppers and even compares himself to Jesus! Did it all begin when some confused shopper asked for his autograph? Suddenly, Marc Ecko dresses him, he’s got some shades and a popped collar and he’s King Shit of Fuck Mountain. My favorite part, which really was like a scene from some movie about an asshole Hollywood big-shot is when Jon-Boy, when asked by the video director, as he puts his shades atop his head, goes: “Alright listen. What we do: We rap. What you do: You direct. Alright?”

I’ve been defending Jon Boy and Sullee because they could spit but it was fun to see them go down even if it leaves the show in a weird place. Persia and $hamrock can rap and I really like $hamrock because he’s got a good attitude, but neither of them say very much. Jus Rhyme can’t even rap and has totally lucked-out. I personally love John Brown, he’s really hilarious (and aware of it) and he actually seems like a really bright guy. He obviously understood the “rap about your partner’s faults” prompt as not “snitching” but as an exercise and is smart enough to realize how much time is wasted and opportunities ruined when ill-concieved ideas of pride take over. The guy is also a hook-machine, ‘Smoke in the Club’ and ‘She’s a Stunna’, someone like the Lox or post-Cuban Linx Raekwon should hire him to write their hooks. The show is beginning to lose it’s personalities; John Brown is the only one left with personality but if he ended up winning, I’d be a little confused or disappointed. Pray for $hamrock?

PS: Everyone should be nicer to Crazy Astronaut lady. Seriously, folks.

Written by Brandon

February 8th, 2007 at 6:55 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 03.

“They moved in a tight-knit order, carrying sticks and clubs, shotguns and rifles, led by Ras the Exhorter become Ras the Destroyer upon a great black horse. A new Ras of haughty, vulgar dignity, dressed in the costume of an Abyssinian chieftain; a fur cap upon his head, his arm bearing a shield, a cape made of the skin of some wild animal around his shoulders. A figure more out of a dream than out of Harlem…”-‘Invisible Man’ (556)

Remember when people read newsgroups and dudes would say shit like “Man so-and-so must be reading this newsgroup because they really fixed the show from last week”? Well, that’s how I feel after last night’s episode. Not really. No one is reading this but this week’s episode was a lot less problematic and actually addressed some interesting points while still being entertaining. The episode’s targets were more even-handed and I’m into equal opportunity embarrassment. I don’t demand for things to be fair nor would I consider it criteria for whether something is “good” but it is nice when you can tell a little extra thought is put into something.

Obviously ‘Affirmative Reaction’ (‘Family Feud’ but with racially sensitive questions), was supposed to make the white rappers look like idiots but the game also mocked super-serious posturing about racial anger. $hamrock’s foolish answers, especially the one about black people never being on time, were met with anger from the audience but Prince Paul just sort of laughed it off. It was fun with a serious edge to it, as opposed to being serious with some failed attempts at humor tossed-in. The set-up of the game made everyone involved seem pretty idiotic. Prince Paul, holding a spear was funny, audience reactions were funny, and the white rappers’ answers were funny. Everyone comes off looking stupid but with some dignity. You can’t totally look down at anybody except Lord Jamar.

The ‘Affirmative Reaction’ game seemed to be in direct contrast to the scene before, where Lord Jamar seemed angry at the white rappers only because they were white. At least a few of the rappers were excited to meet Brand Nubian, Persia was downright humbled, and all of them were listening but they were treated with nothing but disrespect. Sadat X was trying but recieved the “you’re a sell-out” eye from Jamar. Compare Jamar’s response to that of Juelz Santana who was very encouraging and disinterested in their whiteness. When Jus Rhyme rapped for Santana, he had the same exact horrified expression on his face that I have when Jus opens his mouth but Juelz was appropriately polite, unlike Jamar who took the super-obvious shots at poor John Brown. The show’s editors made no conceits to Lord Jamar either, making him look like the asshole he seems to be. To follow up Brand Nubian with Prince Paul’s half-parody of black power was a really interesting move by the show. Prince Paul, in full-on Ras the Destroyer mode, was a gentle joke on black nationalism. ‘Affirmative Reaction’ both laughed-at and reminded viewers of racial conflicts, moving away from the stone-faced seriousness of Lord Jamar without removing any of the significant points that could have been made.

The show is also becoming increasingly comfortable giving the viewers a taste of Jus Rhyme’s very-specific form of idiocy. Honestly, he’s the only character who needs to be made fun of…Jus Rhyme is not a freedom fighter. I know his heart is in a good place, but everybody’s heart is in a good place. It doesn’t stop them from being a fucking idiot. The look on Sullee’s face when Jus Rhyme wins over the barber shop with grotesque clichés about “the struggle” is really depressing. Jus is going for his Phd in ‘Ethnic Studies’? He’s yet to say a single insightful thing about race! The episode all comes together during elimination when Sullee says something incredibly insightful and legitimately challenging.

Presumably, without reading any of the books Jus Rhyme has read, without knowing or caring what he is saying, Sullee makes the incredibly important distinction between Whites in power and poor (or even middle-class) whites who do not have the time nor the interest in oppression. What Sullee is really addressing is not ‘White Power’ but ‘White Supremacy’ and makes a damn-good and dare I say, just fucking correct, assertion that it’s really just ‘Supremacy’. This some real ‘Redneck Manifesto’ shit! Sullee’s verse was even mentioned as exactly why the show isn’t a normal reality show in this video interview with the ‘(White) Rapper Show’ creators. The theme of last night’s episode seemed to be a significantly more even-handed approach to race where everyone is foolish and only half-knows what the fuck they are talking about. It’s a lot more rewarding to watch.

Some shit I wanted to say that I couldn’t incorporate into the points above…

Sullee was totally right about ‘Affirmative Reaction’ being bullshit but fucked-up as those rules may be, that’s just how ‘Family Feud’ rolls…

Also, poor G-Child. Where will she go? What will she do? Can we start a trust-fund? She also needs to lay-off the cough syrup. She took being sent home so well and she’ll just keep pursuing her dream of rapping like Vanilla Ice even when she is like, thirty. That’s really sad but really kind of touching too. Seriously. It is. Fuck you if you don’t realize why.

Also, also: Isn’t it pronounced “Ju-els” and not “Jules”? Serch clowns himself again. Last week he did it by being totally out-rapped by Grandmaster Caz…

“…Ras bent down from the horse, saw me and flung, of all things, a spear, and I fell forward at the movement of his arm, catching myself upon my hands as a tumbler would, and heard the shock of it piercing one of the hanging dummies.”-‘Invisible Man’ (557)

-Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. Vintage: New York, 1980.

Written by Brandon

January 24th, 2007 at 7:41 am