Tag Archives: Killer Mike and El P

Run the jewels and rape culture

It ain’t my fault.  I’m too critical.

If you like rap music, then El-P and Killer Mike’s Run the Jewels is the best thing of 2013.  Kanye?  Jay-Z?  J. Cole?  Naw.

If you like your rap head-nodding with great verses, then get this album.

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One premise of life of refinement is that purity is foolish.  Understand that you can simultaneously enjoy something and wish it were different.  Watching that TV show and enjoying it 99% until the anti-gay joke?   Live in both places — that you like the show and you dislike the joke.

It seems easy, but a lot of people get it twisted.  The idea that if you don’t like one iota of a piece of media that you have to pick teams and persecute the makers is rampant.

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So I LOVE this tape.  Love it like fried tofu.  Love it like summer days.  Love it like sleeping late.  Love it and played it a dozen times since it came out.

Then there is a “twin back hype,” laced with spoken word from ‘Chest Rockwell’ AKA Prince Paul.  The line that sticks in my craw is sleaze ball stereotype rape culture shit.

Prince Paul/Chest Rockwell:  “How you feeling now, sweetheart, a little more relaxed?  Maybe it’s the half a molly I put in your Mountain Dew.  Yeah, works like a charm.  Just chill out for a second.  Relax.  Relax!  I got it under control.  I got you a glass of Beefeater, I got a brand new deck of Uno Cards.  Oh yeah, baby, tonight’s just getting started.  Okay, how ’bout I come over tonight pick you up in my brand new Segue?  We can go over to Long John Silver’s and get a fish platter.  You can take me home and massage me with butter all on my neck.  I love you.”

What?  My interpretation of this little vignette is that Prince Paul is making fun of Rick Ross who recently was dropped by Reebok because of his lyrics suggesting that he drugged his sex partners.  (“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it/ I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it” — U.N.E.O.)

I think the mockery is evident if you consider the Uno cards, Segue, Long John Silvers stuff etc.  Of course, Chest Rockwell seems to announce his drugging unlike Rick Ross.  And Chest Rockwell is the character from Boogie Nights suggested as a porno name, taken by a great rap producer for his Handsome Boy Modeling School character.  This is parody within parody.

But it doesn’t mean shit to people listening.  Intention and even humor are irrelevant to the choice of symbols presented.  I bet there is a kid listening to the El-P and Killer Mike song who not only get to model some great rhyming AND that drugging people for sex is funny or okay.

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I don’t think the politics have to be perfect in rap music.  But you make fun of raping someone I’m going to call it out.  You might call it splitting hairs to say that I like the album, bump the album AND think people need to talk more about this skit in order to explain rape culture.

Frankly, given how much rape is part of our media saturated existence, then the explanation of why that line is messed up requires more thoughtfulness than to just suggest that you not listen to the album.  I think that everyone who is a conscious ethical being should be ready to bust up rape culture whenever they see it.  Even if it comes on the best album of 2013.

Get the album at Fools Gold.   Listen to it with your nephew or niece and talk about rape and why that skit isn’t funny.

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Filed under communication, hip hop, music, representation, sexual assault

Killer Mike exposed

Killer Mike is a grown up hip hop artist, thinking about serious stuff.  He and El-P ran through the Combat Jack show and came off with this nice little exchange. 

1. Notice the fundamentals, Dallas Penn sets this off.  I don’t love his consumerist Polo identity, but there is no discounting how smart and insightful that guy really is.  If you aren’t reading and donating to Dallas Penn’s web site, you aren’t living right.

2. Good interviewers.  Ask the question and get out of the way.  Combat Jack is serious, Dallas Penn is serious.  That means listening when ideas are flowing.

3. How about two grown men getting honest with each other?  El-P telling Killer Mike he is just starting his career.  Killer Mike talking about having to expose parts of his vulnerabilities and fears to work with El.

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Updated a few days later . . . May 9, 2013.  Part 3 is out.

El-P, Killer Mike, Combat Jack, and Dallas Penn.  The third clip is a conversation about race.  Nice discussion.

1. For those educators out there looking for an example of a “race pass” check out Dallas Penn saying to El-P: “I don’t call you a white rapper.”

Absolutely on point, El-P rejects the offer of the card.  “I’m a white guy, I rap. There’s no question about it.” Just because you are cool doesn’t mean that you don’t have privilege.  And leave it to Killer Mike to remind us of that.  When asked about white-identified rap fans Killer Mike responds:

“I’m not saying their experience isn’t worthy, I’m not saying it isn’t valuable. I’m saying it’s not special.  Because every human being experiences love and pain and let down.  Your thing is no more special.  And a lot of times, as Americans, and in this country, we feel like our suffering makes us special. You are special because you are a human being.”  – Killer Mike

3.  This argument is a dumb prompt from Combat Jack.  I think it might be a kind of policing — because of Killer Mike’s reference in segment one to his increasing vulnerability.   I appreciate all the examples of great black emcees who recorded some vulnerable verses that are quickly volunteered by the panelists.

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Filed under art, hip hop, media, music, vulnerability