– Bill Weir, CNN reporter seems manipulative, disrespectful and really entitled.
– Both spend some time trying to not incriminate themselves. It is Pusha who makes the most blatantly inconsistent statement when he refuses acknowledge drug profits in part 2. “No, I’m a really good rapper.”
Probably worth juxtaposing with “King Push” first track from his most recent album:
– I have a little more clarity about the difficulties of No Malice. I think he makes some of the most explicit justifications for why he refuses to perform violent drug rap music any more. I appreciate that he gives up obvious financial gain to be real to his family and his beliefs.
– Pusha T’s segments are basically Pusha T advertisements. The exchange where he tells Weir how much publicity he’ll get from being on CNN is awesome. Pusha is phenomenally media savvy and makes it clear that he wouldn’t be on CNN if it didn’t benefit him.
– No Malice’s argument about white consumption of violent black-performed drug rap is pretty compelling.
– When asked by Weir why he doesn’t take the money to perform Clipse songs, No Malice gives the best exchange of the series:
“Brother, that money, that money at one time, was out for my life. They can’t invent a dollar amount to get me out there to tell . . . look at what’s at stake? I can’t tell anybody about selling drugs any more, I can’t even make it look cool anymore. There are people that are dying, look at what is going on in Chicago. And I like I said earlier, your race can enjoy it! And laugh and joke and enjoy it . . . and then get back to business. I have a message and I have to share it. Then I have to let you do what you want with it. You know, you do what you want with it. But, I’ve got enough blood on my hands. Enough.”
Last week a simmering dislike erupted into a battle of words between Pusha T and Lil Wayne. Pusha T is fifty percent of the Clipse, a Virginia Beach rap group whose hallmark is ridiculously hard lyrics and a cozy relationship with hit-maker Pharrell. Lil’ Wayne is the impish high energy pop rapper with a legendary work ethic who sells a lot of ring tones.
The themes of this “beef” could have been foretold. Pusha T was likely to argue that he was more real, having sold crack more recently than Lil Wayne (and since his former manager Anthony Gonzales, was recently sent to prison for 32 years for drug trafficking). Wayne is likely to argue that his sales numbers put him out of the reach of a little guy like Pusha T. Pusha was going to have some exceptionally clever jokes about neon fashion. Both of the rappers would insult each other’s masculinity, intelligence, and strength. They would both go after the other emcees they are affiliated with. (In fact they had almost this exact beef seven years ago.)
Here is Lil Wayne following the insult script including calling Pusha T “softer than a motherfucking nerf ball.”
The topic of this conflict that I would have forgotten about is the kiss. In 2006 Birdman, the CEO of Cash Money Records and Lil’ Wayne smooched.
Turns out they’ve been doing it for years! (There is no way to read sarcasm through the internet, so I’ll just tell you – I’m not bothered by two men kissing. ) Here is a video from years back of the Big Tymers, Mannie Fresh and Birdman on Rap City. When Wayne shows up he drops a quick kiss on Birdman’s lips.
Birdman explains that he basically raised Wayne from the age of a young kid and considers him his actual child. In family relationships kissing each other isn’t uncommon.
In a recent interview, Baby, who calls Wayne his son, discusses/justifies the kiss. “That’s my son, ya heard me,” he explains. “If he was right here, I’d kiss him again. I kiss my daughter, my other son, I mean, you have children? Well, if you did you’d understand what I meant with it. I just think people took that too far man. That’s my son. I’ll do it again tomorrow, I’ll kill for him. Ride and die for him.”
I don’t think that Birdman and Lil’ Wayne have to justify kissing each other. The framing that Birdman has used to help viewers interpret the kisses have been particularly masculine and patriarchal. One spin has been that the kiss is a mafia symbol of closeness. Another positions Birdman as a literal father of Wayne.
We need to be really careful here because Birdman is not Wayne’s parent or guardian. Birdman AKA Bryan Williams was a rap star and label head when Wayne was onstage in grade school plays.
Lil Wayne was born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. and grew up in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Carter was born when his mother, a chef, was 19 years old. His parents were divorced when he was 2, and his father permanently abandoned the family. Carter enrolled in the gifted program of Lafayette Elementary School and in the drama club of Eleanor McMain Secondary School.
He wrote his first rap song at age eight. In the summer of 1991, he met Bryan Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records. Carter recorded freestyle raps on Williams’s answering machine, leading him to mentor the young Carter and include him in Cash Money-distributed songs. He also recorded his first ever collaboration album True Story with rapper B.G.. At the time, Carter was 11, and B.G. was 14, and was billed as “The B.G.’z”. When he was 12, he played the part of the Tin Man in his middle school drama club’s production of The Wiz. At age 13, he accidentally shot himself with a 9 mm handgun, and off-duty police officer Robert Hoobler drove him to the hospital. At McMain Magnet School, Carter was an honor student, but he dropped out at the age of 14 to focus on a musical career.
If you’ve seen The Carter documentary on Lil Wayne then you’ve seen the disturbing scene where Wayne describes being raped as a kid.
In the middle of The Carter, an obviously high Lil Wayne jokes openly about being raped at the age of 11 with the encouragement of his surrogate father, Baby—and informs Lil Twist, a 15-year-old member of Wayne’s record label Young Money, that Wayne is going to help him get raped, too.
This gives some insight into the relationship between Wayne and Baby Birdman. I’ve been thinking about using parts of this clip and the Jimmy Kimmel interview referenced in Amanda Hess’s Washington City Paper essay to talk about male sexual assault. In particular the idea that because men are socialized to be sexual all-the-time, then any predatory sexual attacks against men are okay. This terrible notion is essentially the idea that anyone who says “no” is really saying “yes,” and that men are saying “yes” all the time.
I wonder if kissing Birdman isn’t a power thing? A move of control? A sign of closeness? I don’t think it quite counts as parental given the exploitative sexual history between the two. The kisses don’t seem particularly sexual or erotic. Perhaps Wayne and Birdman are lovers. I don’t know and honestly it seems a little bit junior-high for a person with a Ph.D. to spend so much time writing about two grown ups kissing.
But then again, I’m not the only person fixated on this kiss.
The song Exodus 23:1, Pusha T’s diss track is actually fairly generic. Pusha T had to explain that the song was about Lil Wayne. Wayne confirmed it by tweeting: “Fuk pusha T and anyone who love em.”
This morning No Malice, the non-violent, higher road-taking, reinvigorated Christian half of the Clipse tweeted his opinion about the Pusha T/Lil Wayne beef.
“Well I LOVE Pusha! That’s my blood and I ain’t never kiss em.”
Obviously beef sells records, but I think that Pusha T chose Lil Wayne because he thinks that the kiss gives him some annihilating ammunition against him. You might call it a Ronald Reagan electoral strategy of fear. Making your arguments based on the assumption of prejudice in the general population. At the heart of the attacks on Lil Wayne so far is simply homophobia — and a particularly twisted desire to police male sexuality.
The Clipse brothers Malice and Pusha T are important parts of hip hop. Simply great rappers. Malice has focused on writing and his emerging career as a post-cocaine era ethicist. Pusha T is rhyming and working with Kanye. Pusha T’s April 2011 mixtape Fear of God provides evidence of the strength of Pusha T as a solo artist. Great beat choice and compelling drug raps. Again again and again. “Feeling myself,” “alone in vegas,” “blow” . . . a lot of hits on this tape.
But honestly the beat from Souljah Boy’s “Speakers going hammer” stuck in my head. It helps that the ending dialogue from the Pusha T version is so expressive of consumer identity and the stresses of entitled masculinity.
“She tells me: ‘oh I thought I saw you earlier. This guy had a Range Rover just like you.'”
“I said Range Rover! Where? This ain’t no motherf**king range rover, this is a G-55, one hundred thirty thousand dollars of winter time throw away money. You must be out your f**king mind. See I can tell you ain’t gonna be around long. You ain’t doing enough homework on your motherf**king n***er. Get it right.”
I was wondering who made the beat (Boi- 1da), so I went to check the Souljah boy original.
Souljah boy has been criticized for his pop sound and lack of depth. I only knew the few hits, and the reputation. But I know he is capable of quality rapping. Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka and Souljah boy rock one of my favorite tracks on “State vs. Radric Davis” “Bingo.” Souljah boy: “Souljah boy tell ’em/I’m icy as an icicle/so much money/I valet park my bicycle.”
But this video is something else. The black and white caricature of a staid white neighborhood. Souljah’s car culture with it’s requisite speakers going hammer and predictable rap video follow. His car speakers blow up lemonade pitchers and blow out windows. Streets->cars->strippers->house party->hot tub.
Souljah boy — the young artist criticized by older rappers (Ice T remains a critic) –manages to continually position himself as a youngster. He encourages and dances with two pre-teens who sneak into his hot tub party. As the DJ on the balcony cuts a couple of records, the camera shifts to extended shots of two kids playing DJ Hero 2.
Pitching the reality TV primed audience Souljah Boy’s simplicity and pop sameness might be marketing genius. To metastasize the now-antique symbols of hip hop authenticity (djing, microphones) into toys that can be purchased and actually used by the audience.
No salt thrown at Souljah boy or his handlers — the track and video are clever and enjoyable. But it also makes visible something important about pop hip hop. For a few frames in his video we can see the transition of old symbols.
Which is part of what makes Pusha T’s adoption of the beat and chorus all the more interesting.
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