A million fucked-up situations around the globe, decimating life, happiness, and the planet. Rape, kidnapping, genocide. Fires burning, water rising, drones flying. We're—what's the word?—fucked.
Clearly, there's nothing more pressing than the stupid costume Macklemore wore for an appearance at EMP. A poor goddamn choice, for sure, but I don't believe it was meant as intentional. Still, did no one have the cultural competency to say, "Hey, man—you might reconsider this"? (Nobody cared about the also-ill-advised mariachi suit—or the low-key-creepy race-play at work all throughout the "White Walls" video.) No, but a couple Seth Rogen tweets, a bunch of blog posts, and then Mack's bigging up the Anti-Defamation League, which, among other things, had close ties with apartheid South Africa (and hated on its opponents, Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu) and supports apartheid in Israel.
The cherry on top for me: At the end of the first day of "BenGhazi," I received in my inbox a song from another local rapper that contained a bar that wouldn't make CNN: "Quick to fire a Jew—Adolf." Wow. "Summer is mines!" the press release said. Like land mines? That sounds accurate. Then there's that "Adolf Hitler" song from another local a few years back. And speaking of CNN, I flash back to The War Report, wherein an MC calls himself an "Arab Nazi." There's Ice Cube in "No Vaseline"—"You let a Jew break up my crew." Okay, not necessarily that terrible. Ice Cube, "Black Korea"—oy.
The point here is: Mack's broken through, so his every move is watched, and clubfooted missteps like this are going to be savaged in the press—the hiphoppers sitting below sea level, however, still have their own strains of racism that they doesn't mind. Hiphop: mostly still cool with slurs against Asians and Jews—and everybody agrees that it's cool to hate women!
I think of a fairly recent video by a local rapper I've championed—prominently costarring an old-school Fu Manchu stereotype. Turns out the guy playing it was a bit player in the certainly questionable but unquestionably great Big Trouble in Little China. I looked up the credits of the video—and the director's name is Chinese. Failure. I thought to myself that I'd say something to the guy who made it, but face-to-face, instead of putting him on blast via a blog post or some such. I still haven't. So I'm a failure, too—are you? I was surprised I never saw anybody else say anything, either. Guess that's how shit keeps going.
On to better things. The Physics and trumpeter #1 Owuor Arunga are partnering up with organization One Vibe Africa (who are "dedicated to empowering orphans and disadvantaged youth in Kenya through music and the arts") to host the Madaraka Festival at the EMP on Sunday, June 1. Owuor and the Physics' Thig and Monk are all of Kenyan origin, so this fundraiser is clearly close to the hearts involved. Besides them, and plenty others, the show features Gabriel Teodros, Yirim Seck, and Black Stax. Bring your own heart and wallet, provided they're not the same thing.