Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Soft Bigotry Of Low Expectations Pt. 2

Just because he has a pensive look on his face don't mean that he nice.

There are way more things wrong with this Bilal-featuring turd* of a song/video than I care to go into, including the general implication that the civil rights movement never happened, the claim that blacks aren't first-class citizens or second-class citizens either, the suggestion at 1:24 that whites are a bunch of evangelical Huckabee-loving rubes, the "poor Saddam" attitude (no, we shouldn't have gone over there, yes, he deserved to be hung), the conspiracy theory where we went to Iraq to steal their oil, even the way out-of-date claim that gas is five dollars, forcing the video director to go back into archival footage from the summer to find a station with crazy prices. I understand that this song wasn't made yesterday, but still, it's in keeping with how half of this video is footage from the 60s because you can't find footage today of the shit Face is talking about, because de jure segregation just doesn't exist anymore. (Yeah yeah, it's hard to capture redlining on camera. But it's one thing to talk about carryover effects of past discriminatory practices, quite another to claim that blacks aren't even second-class citizens.) But things get really egregious when Face goes:

Can't afford to fill our prescriptions so we all gon' die
CVS is slanging dope on every block worldwide
Since Pfizer been having the dope game on fire
It's only right for a nigga to go get mine
If they ain't nickin', how they gon' survive?
If they stuck at the bottom, how the fuck they gonna ride?

Let's see if I can get this straight. CVS sells a lot of drugs. Drugs that Scarface admits are good for you (if we don't take them "we all gon' die"). CVS and Pfizer may overcharge for these drugs, although that's all very debatable, who says what's the right price to charge. (Thanks to Bush of course, Medicare now has a prescription drug benefit. Soon you can qualify Face! Not that you need it, of course, you're just identifying with us common folk.) Because they do this, it's only right for Face to go get his and sell crack. The high use in the hood of which you were just complaining about thirty seconds earlier in the song. I can't even unpack the logic here. That's like if some rapist dude with no game said, "Brad Pitt gets a lot of ass - so it's only right that I rape women." No, it doesn't work that way. Get some game/get a degree in Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, don't rape women/sell crack because you don't know how to get ass/make legal money selling drugs that are good for people. Pfizer's making a ton of money selling drugs that save people's lives does not justify your illegally selling a drug that destroys people's lives. What the FUCK were you thinking?

So what do critics have to say about this sterling slice of conscious rap? Well, good old Allmusic has this to say:

Bilal, an Ohio players sample, plus accusations that corporate drug companies are pimping harder than crack dealers all make "Can't Get Right" a standout.

Aw shit. Mr. David Jefferies likes the accusations. In a "ha ha, that's some out of left field shit" way? In a "that makes sense" way? In a "well at least it's cool that a rapper from the South knows what Pfizer is, gotta give him props for that" way? If I had to guess I'd go with 1 and 3, but you'd have to ask Mr. Jefferies himself. AHH says of the song:

With a serviceable Bilal on the hook, “Can’t Get Right” has Scarface dexterously connecting inner-city poverty/violence, the Iraq War, and the economy.

The shit's all lizzinked! The high gas prices are a plot to keep black people stuck in the hood forever! That way they won't be able to drive out and escape from future hurricanes! We went to Iraq to shut their oil supply down to jack up the prices! (As Face himself says, "Gasoline five dollars, how the fuck we gon' drive?") Finally, Antone over at Hip 2 Da Game thinks that this verse is the verse of the week. More like the stupidest, most morally perverted bullshit of the year.

* Redundant, I know. Bilal's very presence on a song ensures that that song will be garbage. (With the exception of Ghostface f. Prodigy, 'Trials of Life.' Nothing those two could ever do - prior to P's falloff of course - could ever suck. NOT with the exception of 'The Sixth Sense.' Gorgeous beat but Common is the epitome of his empty airhead self on that song.)


Trey Stone said...

i'd just point out that Jeffries is probably All Music's worst reviewer (though dunno for sure, don't really read their non-hip hop stuff) and seems incapable of giving anything less than 3.5 stars. he's like some guy hired because they don't wanna admit that most rap right now sucks.

Andy Kellman does a good job when they actually have him review though, even though i disagree with some of his takes (and by "some" i mean his Timbaland and Kanye reviews)

tray said...

Yeah, I'm willing to give AMG the benefit of the doubt and assume that Jeffries is uncharacteristically stupid vis-a-vis the rest of their reviewers. He seems to have given the new Luda 3.5 stars, so that tells you something's the matter with dude's brain. But still, this trend of giving rappers below the Mason-Dixon line points for saying anything political, no matter how incredibly stupid it is, needs to stop. I can understand how some people might be like, "cool, Jeezy's going to rap about politics now, that in and of itself is interesting," that was my first reaction to the news of his album, but Scarface is an established name who's been speaking on political matters since The Geto Boys. He should be held to just the same standard that a Nas or Common is held to. Higher, actually, because Face is a lot more intelligent than either. He's just unbelievably stupid on this song. And got an even dumber video to repay his efforts. Like come on, footage of police brutality mixed with footage of Saddam's hanging? Still shots of idiots holding up "JESUS LOVES ALL THE BABIES" signs? A few more videos like this and I just might skip law school and start an anti-defamation league for white yokels.

Badmon3333 said...

You could make the argument that the egregious verse in question is actually a reference to the vast numbers of Americans 'hooked' on antidepressants and painkillers that they may not necessarily need... that in their own way, the drug companies are complicit in this legal addiction because it feeds them cash the same way as a regular dope dealer. Just a thought.

The Brad Pitt analogy certainly has merit, though.

Anonymous said...

wow. nicely done. i personally would have cut Face some slack because yknow living legend and all (much like rihanna, if you recall). but yeah i won't deny being guilty of this soft bigotry.

i tend to give points when rappers do this type of finger wagging. However, I dont fall into the camp that equates this finger pointing with unquestionable truth and/or flawless intelligence. the blame game shows a sense of general awareness for sure, and most of the time sounds a lot better than sounding like a you're clueless hamster on a wheel - just going through the motions of your life in 'the system' or 'the streets' or whathaveyou. i give points for those that step back, think on a broader scale and then make up justifications about their actions. This is slick lawyer-like maneuvering to me - i favour this in contrast to being totally unaware, and thats exactly what you're talking with the soft bigotry.

there's so many examples of this - lest see, its like the time people started giving dap to jay for being 'political' in American
Gangster. say for lines like "Tell him I'll remove the curses/ If you tell me our schools gon' be perfect/ When Jena 6 don't exist / Tell him that's when I'll stop saying 'bitch,' bitch!" Your initial reaction's gonna be to look towards where he pointed the finger at. and you go : yeah, why are we worried about words so much, when there's much harsher, concrete realities in the world that need mending? and i'll give him points for that. but then you turn around and look at the one pointing the finger and you go: hey wait a minute, are you gonna pretend like you were using the word "bitch" as a political statement all your life? Big Pimpin' is all about social injustice now?

tray said...

Good points Jay! Yeah, I mean, I guess you could say he's talking about antidepressants, but they do work for some people, have placebo effects for others (and we haven't yet found an ethical way to just give people sugar pills and reap the placebo effects without the side effects and cost of real drugs) - but sure, I mean, my grandmother's hooked on Valium. Talk about a throwback, I didn't even know they still made that shit. Still, though, Face should've said that if that's what he meant, instead he quite specifically suggests that drugs save people's lives, and then turns around and complains that CVS is slinging dope on every block. Life-saving dope? What? What muddled bullshit.

And yeah, that verse Jay tacked on to Ignorant Shit in a failed attempt to prove he could still rap like he could in 2003 was such an embarrassment. He really needs to shut up. I guess he thinks we'll always remember the good stuff and forget about this crap, just like Sinatra and his late work, but still, it's pathetic.