Older generations often scoff at the rap genre for its audacious lyrics, gaudy music videos, and affinity for exploiting and degrading women. For years, money, women, and material things have bombarded the radio waves connecting both minorities and Whites to the struggles of inner city artists. These artists put pen to pad and boast in the booths about their trials, tribulations, and uprisings to fame (often flaunting record label money that doesn’t really belong to them). But within the flashy pool of Soulja Boys and Waka Flockas swim a few true lyricists who make a conscious decision to stand for something. These rappers step out of the box, offering the occasional introspective, culturally sensitive and socially conscious verse to wake us up and bring us back to the here and now.
So what about the here and now? Monday J. Cole released the music video to G.O.M.D., a popular track from his most recent release, 2015 Forest Hills Drive. Lyrically, the song flaunts a pretty typical rap song skeleton. But between the crude language Cole pokes fun at the Lil Jon throwback Get Low and addresses the lack of substance within the most popular lyrics these days.
The song’s title itself is an acronym for a very colorful expression that Cole uses to relate to his very substantial music video. He juxtaposes his pre-civil war themed video with the lyrics and idea that Blacks have been kept down due to a secret envy or longing for our culture and the things we naturally posses (high amounts of melanin, hair that holds a curl, curves that aren’t filled with silicone, the list goes on). He states:
I know the reason you feel a way
I know just who you wan’ be
So everyday I thank the man upstairs
That I ain’t you and you ain’t me
Cole, acting as the light complexioned “House Negro”, is snubbed by his slave counterparts who possess darker hues and is greeted by the master’s friends, regarded as ‘the safe one’. The teams of dark versus light, Mufasa versus Scar, it’s all so trivial and Cole bringing the problem back to it’s genesis using a song as seemingly cliché as G.O.M.D. is powerful. While highlighting the color issues that are plaguing the Black community in the video, Cole’s lyrics provide contrast, singing about thanking God for being just the way he is.
This s*** is retarded
Why every rich black n*gga gotta be famous
Why every broke black n*gga gotta be brainless
The video, tackling as many social issues as it can muster within its 5 minute time frame, goes on to show a glimpse of what might be interracial love between Cole and the master’s daugheter. Meanwheile the lyrics jump from windows and walls to discussing issues with race generalizations, as shown in the quote above.
But just in case you’re thinking, one song and music video that slightly represent change doesn’t mean much if the entire genre is still flooded with denegration. And I agree, however, I contest that the progressive thinking doesn’t stop with J. Cole, other lyricists have adopted the concept and spoken out via song:I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015 When I finish this if you listenin’ then I’m sure you will agree
I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015 When I finish this if you listenin’ then sure you will agree This plot is bigger than me, it’s generational hatred It’s genocism, it’s grimy, little justification I’m African-American, I’m African…I’m Black as the name of Tyrone and Darius –Blacker the Berry, Kendrick Lamar
The aforementioned quote from Kendrick’s song Blacker the Berry is just one track from Kendrick’s most recent release, To Pimp A Butterfly. The album, as a whole, exposes the hypocrisy that the Black community has with race wars and violence, encourages self love, and Black unity. Juxtapose that with J. Cole’s focuses in the G.O.M.D video and you’ve got a good chunk of the problem along with a big part of the answer. So now that we know, now that the rappers have done more than rap, but actually called your attention to something more than strippers and 40s…will you actually listen? Or will the beats drown them out and their rhythmic rhymes coupled with quick tongues distract you just long enough until the next Migos hit drops?