This explains so much. I’ve been scratching my head wondering why the #BlackLivesMatter Movement has yet to Kanye a Donald Trump event. Clearly hip-hop (thus black people by extension obvi) is in beds with the man no hot comb can handle.
I found the above clip while guiltily skimming the Ennis Del Mar of my very existence, WorldStarHipHop – oh how I wish I knew how to quit you. I knew about ‘Country Grammar’ and ‘Up Like Trump’, but I can’t believe that Trump-name-drops date back 25 years and are so mindbogglingly numerous. Watching the video is like taking cruise through the entire history of lake rap. It’s reassuring to know that while the characters, beats and flows have changed over time, the unwavering reverence of obnoxious old white men wealth remains a constant.
“I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied.” – Ralph Ellison
Writings On Rappings
Dr. Dre Apologizes to the ‘Women I’ve Hurt’ by Joe Carselli
How Widespread Is Ghostwriting In Music And How OK With It Should You Be by Peter Robinson
A Rough Guide To Fictional Rappers In TV And Film by Jonny Coleman
Why LL Cool J’s Famous Album Almost Never Happened by Kathrine LaGrave
How East Coast And West Coat Hip-Hop Are Both Winning by Steven Zietchik
Why 2015 Is The Year Of Hip-Hop by Patrick Ryan
These Are The Faces The Of The East Side Detroit Rap by Liz Raiss & Matt Sukkar
Mac Miller Finds The Way by Rembert Browne
Trap-A-Velli Tre – 2 Chainz by Sheldon Pierce
Politics As Usual
G.O.P. Candidates Follow Trump To The Bottom On Immigration by The New York Time’s Editorial Board
Donald Trump Just Stopped Being Funny by Matt Taibbi
Donald John Trump says enough terrible things in day to eviscerate the career of a lesser politician for two lifetimes. Unable to stay content in own crazy for too long, he’s outdone himself this week with a self-appointed crusade against birthright citizenship – a matter that by all accounts was settled by the ratification of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution in 1868 and resettled by the Supreme Court’s United States v. Kim Wong Ark decision in 1898.
If you’re born in America you American.
‘Nah’ says Trump.
Illegal immigration is what is ruining America. Not failing schools. Not institutional racism. Not income inequality. Not gender discrimination. Not the criminalization of poverty. Not the personification of corporations. Not increasing obesity. But Pablo hoping a fence to kick it. Yeah he’s the problem.
This attack on birthright citizenship is the worst thing Trump has ever done because instead regurgitating the most crass of current conservative talking points at maximum volume in his signature, caricature style, he’s dusting off relic racist rhetoric and attempting to pass it off as political innovation. Like the Slave Codes, Chinese Exclusion Acts, and Immigration Acts of the first quarter of the 20th century, challenging birthright citizenship serves no greater purpose than for those in power to define what a “real American” at the detriment of everybody else. Such desries fall perfectly in line with old white men longing for the days humans of darker hues weren’t so bold in their assertions of self dignity and demands for equal respect.
Worse yet is that the the birthright non-debate at it’s core wishes to criminalize birth, being that children have no control over where they are born, talk less of if their births are coincide with made up rules and regulations established before their existence. Too we are a nation of immigrations and descendants of immigrants or decedents people who were kindnapped and violently forced to work for nothing by those immigrants. If one were to follow this ideology to its extreme wouldn’t that mean that none of us actually have a right to be here?
All this is kind of hard to wrap one’s head around, so allow me to make it easier. The 14th Amendment was a Reconstruction Amendment added in response to the Civil War the fuckedupness of slavery. Donald Trump wants to undo what was done in response to hate. He’s crossed the line this time from public headache to actual menace to society and he’s starting to have a real influence on how we talk about immigration.
This madness must be stopped.
Quick programming note:
A couple months ago I got a pretty nifty suggestion from a commenter (and I use that term sorta loosely because I’m like 98.7% sure it was an old roommate of mine trolling) that I find somewhere else to stuff my looser, more incoherent ramblings. So I found one: jasonmekkam.tumblr.com. You’ll find mostly words and images that fill my brain on the everyday but aren’t polished enough for Dollars Make Sense and aren’t small enough to meet the brevity of a 140 character limit.
Also keep an eye out every week for the brand “A Couple Pennies” section highlighting the best internets writings on all things rap from the past week. New edition drops every Sunday.
“I was learning that just being a Negro doesn’t qualify you to understand the race situation any more than being sick makes you an expert on medicine.” – Dick Gregory
Police Shootings Are About Class as Well As Race by Rev. Jesse Jackson
On Ferguson And The Enduring Resilience Of Black People by Kara Brown
Ferguson And America: One Year Later by The FADER
Police Abuse Is A Form Of Terror by Charles M. Blow
‘What The Hell Is Going On In Ferguson?!’ How #MikeMike Changed Our World by Kirsten West Savali
RIP Sean Price (3/17/72 – 8/8/15)
Sean Price, Rapper With Deep Brooklyn Roots, Dies at 43 by Jon Caramanica
Thank You, Sean Price by Daniel Isenberg
Remembering Sean Price, The Grimiest Rapper Ever To Do It by Drew Millard
Sean Price, Rest In Power by Sheldon Pearce
Brooklyn: What Did Sean Price Mean To You? by Bucky Turco
Norwegians With Allergies
Jerry Heller Expresses Himself by Amos Barshad
The N.W.A. Member Turned Pornographer by Jen Yamato
Writes Abouts Raps
Rapper Drops Clinton For Sanders by Dena Zaru
Getting Rowdy: Keith Ape and Real Rap in Korea by Jon Caramanica
The Influencer: A Decade Of Soulja Boy by Meaghan Garvey
Compton – Dr. Dre by Ivan Rott
Compton – Dr. Dre by Jay Balfour
Compton – Dr. Dre by Jeff Weiss
Compton – Dr. Dre by Samantha O’Connor
Free (Based Freestyles Mixtape) – Lil B & Chance The Rapper by Winston Cook-Wilson
Bang 3 – Chief Keef by Winston Cook-Wilson
Bang 3 – Chief Keef by Chris Gibbons
Politics As Usual
Inside The GOP Clown Car by Matt Taibbi
‘Black Lives Matter’ And The G.O.P. by Charles M. Blow
Tinder And The Dawn Of The Dating Apocalypse by Nancy Jo Sales
BET Isn’t Really Bringing Back Uncut And Mighty Casey Might Have To Sue by Byron Crawford
‘8 CDs For A Penny’ Company Files For Bankruptcy by Laura Wagner
If Don Draper got into the rap game he’d be a billionaire. In no other medium is the ability market, brand, and persuade more crucial to atypical success than in 2015 Hip-Hop. Conventional wisdom dictates the path to riches/bitches begins with attaining viral success by any mean necessary. It’s what matters mostest – you keep the creative innovation, lyricism and contextual depth and gimme the Twitter followers, YouTube views and Facebook likes. So last June when The Buttress, a New Jersey MC with a non-family friendly Twitter handle rhyming with LockBit, created something of an anomaly when she took down her music video for “Miracle Gro” from YouTube at the cusp of it’s increasing interwebs popularity. Who the fuck does that? Well.. she does. I found this out and more when I spoke to The Buttress herself a while back about everything from the GZA’s influence to atheism’s religious doppelgängerary.
Where in the world are you right now?
I’m in New Jersey – my home state, in my father’s attic.
On social media you make a lot of references to New Jersey as the ‘New Jerusalem’. You come up with that?
I didn’t. It’s used in like hip-hop and shit. I don’t know who the first person to ever say it was but I’ve heard it from various Wu-Tang members as well as various other MCs.
Oh shit that’s my fault then. I just must have never picked up on that.
You never heard that?
Nah and that’s like crazy because I fuck with Wu-Tang heavy. Maybe it because I’m just not from there that I didn’t notice.
Maybe you just thought they were talking about Jerusalem. That wouldn’t be too far fetched either.
Ya I guess. So how long you’ve been rapping for. When d’you first start?
Um.. I started rapping actually.. I mean I’ve been rapping other people’s lyrics for a while but I didn’t actually write my first song until Halloween Eve 2012 so almost three years ago now. Actually the first verse on “Miracle Gro” is the first rap I ever wrote.
Who influenced you?
A lot of people. I didn’t really get into hip-hop until I was like in college and the first album that really won me over was Liquid Swords with GZA obviously. That’s still Wu-Tang but you know that’s his solo album and my boyfriend at the time gave it to me and I was like “yoooooooo, this is so fucking good.” And then from there I don’t know I started to listening to some kind of trap stuff. I was kind of into everything. It was kind of like a free for all. More recently within the past year I’ve been trying to school myself on like older hip-hop as well as.. I just realized there is so much amazing shit I’ve never heard and that’s like blowing my mind.
Like within the past year I’ve really gotten into Fu-Shnickens, you know their album nervous Breakdown. That album is awesome and it’s like totally inspiring as far as like style goes. They’re kinda goofy on like some cartoon shit but just like the skill level of Chip Fu who i think is like the most famous MC from the group is like insane. And then like um.. who else.. Busta Rhymes with like Flip-Mode Squad Is like a huge influence. I got into Aesop Rock a little bit this past year. I’ve been listening to a lot of KRS-One. I haven’t really been listening to new stuff. I feel like there is so much good old stuff that I’ve never heard.
I really like weird – I wouldn’t say like horror shit from the early 90s but kind of the more like agro but not gangsta. Like kind of like Gucci. Like even Busta has a little bit with like his lighting and fucking crazy noises and shit. That’s what inspires me.
Your album’s Behind Every Great Man title obviously stems from the phrase ‘behind every great man is great woman’. What significance does the phrase have for you?
That phrase like always really offended me. I see it on t-shirts or they’ll be like a picture of MLK with his wife in the background or some other great historical figure and it’s like why does it always have to be that the woman has to be in the back. Like “behind every great man there’s a woman” so whatever, that’s supposed to make me feel good? Why can’t she be standing in the front. That’s how I feel. So like with the title track of my album I’m saying like “behind them, conspiring” – kind of taking advantage of that idea that women were quiet and behind the scenes and people don’t want to hear from us so I’m like if that’s the way that its gonna be so then ya I’ll be back here like plotting my master plan and I’m about to pull a fast one on everybody. You know?
That’s dope. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
I guess by definition I would have to say I’m a feminist because I believe in equal rights between men and women. I don’t believe that we’re there yet and that’s something we should aim for. At the same time I never want to be considered a “feminist artist”. I find art that has too much of a social agenda to be very much one-dimensional. I think the best art doesn’t need to every explicitly state anything. You make statements with subtly – to present the essence of something without every saying “This is what I’m trying to do.” I don’t enjoy things that are too socially or politically conscious. When when I read (political journalism) or whatever I’m into that but as far as art goes I like it to be kinda separate. But I am a feminist. I still don’t know how I feel about the word. I’ve wrestled with that recently but I think I’m okay with it.
There’s a track off your album called Funeral. You also made a video for it. On it you seem to be rapping entirely from the perspective of Andrea Yates who in 2001 infamously confessed to drowning her give kids in a bathtub. Other than a bit of resemblance between the two of you, what drew you to her story?
Well I always kind of sympathized with her. I was raised really Christian. I don’t know if you knew that but it’s like really apparent in a lot of my lyrics and like she was really religious as well. The reason she drowned her kids wasn’t because she was like getting back at her kids or her husband or just like being a crazy evil bitch. She thought that by killing them when they were still innocent that she was saving their souls and sending them to heaven. So she’s kind of like an incidental hero which is like insane because this woman murdered her children. But like in her mind she did the right thing and she said she found it really hard to do so it’s kind of heroic. From my personal experience I was really Christian for a while. When I was 14 or 15 I started to feel like my faith was really slipping and I was so scarred of going to hell. I felt like if i could kill myself while I still technically believed in God I could go to heaven too. I’ll save myself by killing myself now because I know if I stay alive for much longer I’m not going to believe and I won’t have any more faith and then when I die i’ll go to hell. I got over this thank God and didn’t do that but I feel like I kind of understood why she did what she did. It’s so fucked up but I like kind of respect her. I felt like no one has ever really talked about that so I thought that would be pretty good content for a song.
What’s your stance on religion today? Like you said a lot of your songs touch on religious themes and similarly your videos feature a lot of religious imagery.
I think that organized religion in any form.. I don’t think it’s bad but I always think its unnecessary. Even with more esoteric religions I don’t ever see the need to be like “this is what we think.” Come to your own conclusions. I consider myself an atheist but even atheism has become an organized religion now. I’ve heard atheist radio shows where they’re sign songs that sound like (hymns). There is a church of atheism now which is bullshit now. I just use (atheism) as a word that mean like you don’t belive in god but ya.. I think all organized religion is stupid. All of it.
One of the things I’ve noticed about your music.. I’m not even gonna front, it’s way darker than anything that’s out right now..
No it is, it’s like almost a couple decades removed in either direction of everything that’s kind of going on in hip-hop right now. With the current state of rap being all about making instructional-dance-rap songs commanding listeners to snap this or lean that, do you feel there is room for you to be embraced by a fan base?
Honestly, yeah. Definitely. I think like, like you just said a lot of hip-hop lis just instructional dance videos right now and it’s my impression that like people are like over it. People miss substance. They’re lamenting the loss of it in YouTube comments all over the place. I’m very in tune with what people write on the internet and that’s why I found your article in the first place because I was just fucking searching myself like “I wonder what people are saying about me right now.” I think people are sick of hip-hop not having substance. Now I’m not saying that I’m so deep or whatever but I’ve gotten a lot of feedback like “your lyricism..” or ” your imagery..”, people are really into it. I fell different every day but lately i have been feeling like there is a place. People really like the same things that I like about myself. They’re not just grasping onto some other thing like my Miracle Gro video (laughs). People are liking my other shit and that’s the kind of shit that I like to make. So yeah, I think there’s a place. definitely.
Bringing everything full circle, you mentioned miracle gro. You pulled the video off YouTube. You’ve mentioned numerous times on Twitter why but one of the things you just touched on was like having a diversity of things to choose from. Kanye West had ‘Jesus Walks’ and ‘Workout Plan’ on the same album. Eminem had ‘Kill You’ and ‘The Real Slim Shady’ on the same album. Way different songs representing a single artist. Do you not think it’s possible for a world to exist where a ‘Funeral’ and a ‘Miracle Gro’ can live together in peaceful harmony?
I totally think that that’s possible. That’s why I took the video off in the first place even though that’s not what I usually do. I mean that was before anyone was really paying me any attention. I mean I had a small fan base, I mean like its still pretty small but I felt comfortable with it because I knew that everybody was familiar with my other work and what I’m really about. So I think that if maybe if I’d already established a name for myself based on the aesthetic that I’m usually portraying, the one that I’m trying to push forward, then it would have been an entirely different story. But like instead people are being introduced to me for the first time with this video. It’s cheeping the numbers. Everyone is like oh all your other videos are going to get play too and they were getting plays but it was nothing compared to what the “Miracle Gro” video was getting. I didn’t want that to be my entrance into the public sphere. That’s what really scares me. I like the song. I think its good but it’s not like what I’ve been trying to go for with my music. I would definitely release that song one day like if established myself as the kind of artist I want to establish myself as. I just really didn’t want what people knew about me to be like “Oh have you ever heard of The Buttress, like that’s ‘Miracle Gro’.”
I feel that. That makes a whole lot of sense. It’s still interesting to me though – the reason why I wrote about the song in the first place is that yeah I was drawn in by the “Don’t be mad that I fucked your dad” line, it’s funny – you can’t deny that but there is such a strong message at the heart of the song. You talked about the best art being subtle – there were so many smart, positive jabs at the idiocy of modern gender roles and societal expectations of how women should talk about sex. Even though it’s like a 180 of a “Pilgrim” or a “Funeral” I still thought it represented a lot of you so ya..
Now you directed many of your music videos. You have a short film you shot posted on your page. Do you want to get into filmmaking?
Yeah that’s like my ultimate goal. I consider myself a filmmaker first and foremost. Part of why I got into rap was to supplement my video making career. I was trying to do all these music videos for artists and a lot of things kept falling through – rappers are so fickle. I wasn’t able to do as many videos as I wanted… I mean I started rapping for other reasons as well but then I was like “Yo I want to make video!” and then that just really took off. What I really love about [making music] is making the videos. My goal is to do feature films one day. I make short films. I’m making one right now it’s called “In The Shade Of The Living Night” and that will be up probably before the year is up. I’m trying to shoot another one soon. So ya I’m trying to keep that moving just as quickly as the rap. Right now my ultimate goal is feature films. That’s what I want to do more than anything.
You put a dance hall video up on YouTube, ‘Queen Cobra‘. You fuck with dance hall heavy or what?
I’m a huge dance hall fan. I love dance hall so much. You know I just love music and sometimes I’m just like I want to mess around and do this today. I feel like I’m kind of an imitator in a lot of ways; that’s how I learn stuff. Not that I’m like a biter or anything but I’ve learning everything from like talking and listening to people who do it well. So with the video it was just a kind of fun “look what I did mom”. I would never try to make a serious career out of it, even if people liked loved ‘Queen Cobra’. That would be just entering a territory I don’t want to. I think people can see that I appreciate dance hall and did it out love as like an homage and not like making a mockery or anything. I’m not trying to disrespect anybody but yeah the response has been positive. I’ve had someone like tell me “Oh I listen to it at the gym.”
Ya that’s what threw me off.. sometimes rappers will use different voices for like one or two bars but like you went for the whole track. But I was like “damn this is dope” so I wasn’t mad.
Well I’m glad (laughs). But ya I don’t really promote the track. I don’t know if we should get into this, but being racially sensitive – like I’m not trying to step on anybody’s toes. Someone made a comments about it once and I was like ‘I’m not trying to do that’. I’m just having fun with my shit, you know? Like if people can’t see that I’m a fan of Dance Hall then I don’t know.. It only comes out of a place of love. It’s just fun for me.
Coming from a racial perspective have you gotten any backlash for being you?
Honestly no not really. Like I’ve gotten a few comments. Like I got a comment on my Vine the other day like “You’re not black; stop trying.” And I’m just like okay.. I haven’t gotten a lot of comments like that and I notice a lot of people, like white rappers do get comments like that,. But I feel like the ones that do get criticized for that kind of thing are people who are putting up a front. I feel like I’ve been embraced by a lot of black people and maybe it’s because people can just see I’m being myself. I’m not on some wigger shit you know. I’m crazy; I’m rapping about drowning kids. I’m not trying to pretend like ‘yo I’m from the streets of New Jersey. I just love hip-hop and that’s like the vehicle that I’m using for my art but I’m not trying to be something I’m not. I’m just being myself and people are cool with it. There are people who are not into the idea of white people rapping or whatever and that’s okay. You don’t have to like it.
I think it was Kool Mo Dee who once said “To me hip-hop means come as you are.” That’s always stuck with me. Finally my hardest question: If you had to choose one superpower would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
Wow. Okay let me think.. Being invisible or flying..? How fast can I fly?
As fast as you want.
Oh shit.. Uh.. I think I would choose being invisible because I feel like that would have more practical applications. But actually the more that I think about it I think that flying would actually be better because then you would never have to pay for airline tickets.
But you do run the risk of getting shot at though. By like the military. They might try to shoot you down so I don’t know. Shit.
You gotta pick one. I ain’t letting you off the hook.
Ugh.. like dude I just thought about it. Like I’d be so done if I was just flying across the Pacific Ocean. They would for sure shoot me down. And I don’t have time to learn like air traffic controls and shit,
If you were invisible you could sneak on the plane and nobody would know you’re there.
You’re right! Okay, I want to be invisible.
Previously: Don’t Be Mad That I Fucked Your Dad