I do the vast majority of my work (podcasting, videos, etc.) in my Grandma’s basement. It’s filled with spiders, but it’s rent free and I get to see my grandparents just about everyday so it works.
The other day my brother and I were brainstorming about a brand new project we are working on that happens to be related to music. My brother is a very talented rapper and I dabble in the art of putting words together over a beat myself. As we were in the basement my brother tells me that LA Lakers’ rookie star point guard Lonzo Ball suggests that Issa (a brand new album by the rapper 21 Savage) is better than Jay-Z’s new album, 4:44. Having only heard Jay-Z’s album and being totally ignorant to who 21 Savage was at the time, I immediately rejected Ball’s statement, but then I decided to do my own research. “Maybe I should give this other rapper a chance to win me over,” I thought to myself. Thanks to Apple Music my brother and I proceeded to search for the album and began listening to it.
I was not impressed at all. As a lyricist and a person who makes a living with his words I did not enjoy the way 21 Savage put his words together over the music. His subject matter (gangster rap) wasn’t new, but the way he delivered his words to the beats was mundane, choppy, and elementary. I could only describe his version of rapping as thug nursery rhymes.
If you are a fan of rap/hip hop music and you enjoy 21 Savage’s rapping style then I want to use this line to apologize greatly for your lack of exposure to good rap music.
Now what does all of this have to do with our current President?
It actually has everything to do with good ole #45, but I will only focus on the three things 21 Savage and Donald Trump have in common.
(1) They both are sad reminders.
Gangster rap music is not new and to many it has never been uplifting nor empowering, but it has always been a form of artistry. The actual process of thinking of words and performing those words over beats is an art form. My first introduction to gangster rap music was that of the late great Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious BIG, and his album Ready to Die. I am not from the streets, but because I have had family in the streets I know how bad that lifestyle is. It’s not cool whatsoever. Christopher Wallace, however, was a wordsmith and had a special way to very eloquently tell the story of the street life in such a way that it made people think they were there with him. Listening to him rap was like watching a movie. His imagery was immaculate and his wordplay was that of a vocabulary wunderkind.
21 Savage is not that, he’s not even close. He’s not a good rapper at all. In my humble opinion he is a caricature, a symbol, and a sad reminder that the mainstream music industry is designed to only satisfy the palate of passive consumers. 21 Savage to the music industry is what fast food is to the food industry, good for the moment, but tragic for the long run. Mr. Savage is a sad reminder of that.
Donald Trump is a sad reminder of what mainstream white culture represents. Because the government taps my phones and reads my blogs that’s all I will say about him, for now.
(2) They both perpetuate bad stereotypes.
When you think of American history and culture you probably think of a few words or phrases: the American Flag, greatest country in the world, Apple pie, etc. We had President Obama who ushered in what we thought would be an age of diversity awareness, patriotic growth, a forecast of a more equitable America, and overall swag to leadership in the oval office. Now we just have a throwback of rich, white, and out of touch leadership. By in large, white conservative Christians still support President Trump which perpetuates the bad stereotype that old, rich white people simply don’t care about people of color.
On to Mr. Savage…If I came up to you and said: “Hey, I know this really dope rapper you’ve got to check him out!” What image pops into your head? Maybe that of a young black male? If you’re being honest, most certainly. And I am not one who buys into the philosophy that one black person represents all black people, but again, if we’re being honest, society looks at black people this way. Every single bad stereotype you could think of about young black males 21 Savage perpetuates it because he has a platform and what most people would call success. Not only does he glorify the street life with his rapping, he’s not even good at it.
(3) They both should inspire everyone.
Despite the negative things I’ve said about these two individuals the last thing they have in common is not a sarcastic jab at their talent, their followers, or the people around them. Donald Trump and 21 Savage are successful. Many would contend that they are massively successful, especially President Trump. This is a guy who had no political experience and is now the leader of the free world. Not only that, but he did it his way. He never compromised or changed who he was. I know a lot less about 21 Savage, but I do know he is one of the hottest rap acts out now which means that he has a lot of people that follow him and appreciate him and he’s not a good or original rapper. That’s incredible.
If 21 Savage can be a famous rapper with no rap skills and Donald Trump can be the President of the United States with no political experience, tact, visible soft skills, or knowledge what is stopping you from being great?