RIP to Oklahoma brother Eric Harris, fatally shot last month by a Tulsa County Sheriff reserve deputy named Robert Bates who allegedly meant to grab his Taser. In a Tulsa World report, sources claimed that the sheriff's department falsified Bates's training records. Bates, 73, is also, apparently, a wealthy insurance executive and political ally of Sheriff Stanley Glanz. He has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter. You can't make this shit up—you can't make up for it, either.
I am not meaning to turn this column, which is ostensibly about hiphop music, into a tally of black lives lost at the hands of the police. It's just that a war upon black people is extremely relevant to any conversation about hiphop, close to mind, and completely inescapable—though if it is managing to somehow escape your notice, you should count your blessings. For extra credit, you can count the blessings of others, too, and think honestly about why they've stacked up the way the have.
For an extra credit card, hit up your boy Ja Rule, once an okay rapper, then a terrible pop-rap-singer, then a joke and has-been thanks to 50 Cent. Now he's a paid shill for Magnises, a bootleg "black card" aimed at (fleecing) millennials. "It's a very unique situation," Ja hilariously told Fox News. "Whenever you can marry the affluent with the less fortunate, you get... the birth child... which is called hiphop." It's Murdaaa! Ja also helped the troll-kings at Fox bring a Dave Chappelle joke to life by giving his completely worthless and terrible two cents on Baltimore and the 2016 election. "Who gives a fuck what Ja Rule thinks at a time like this?" said Chappelle in his classic 2008 "Where's Ja?" stand-up bit. "I don't wanna dance. I'm scared to death."
Just last week in old Baltimore, Ja's old label head Kevin Liles, a B-more native, marched for justice for Freddie Gray while being pestered by idiot-demons Geraldo Rivera (Fox News) and Brian Todd (CNN). They both, on camera, managed to mistake Liles for that other black ex-head of Def Jam, Russell Simmons. (Todd actually thought Liles was lying to him about who he was.) These make for one of the few moments in history that I wish Dame Dash actually was present to yell at somebody. Like, how much fucking insult—and mind you, this is nothing compared to the unarmed black victims of police killings—do you really think people will take?
Listen to Seattle OG and flawless world-class blend-king DJ Topspin's ace twist of Michael Jackson's ever-poignant "They Don't Care About Us" and Phat Kat's Dilla-produced "Don't Nobody Care About Us." The result is called "Ain't Nobody REALLY Care About Us," put out by the estimable Rappers I Know (shout-out the guy FWMJ). I remember there being a big flap over the lyrics of the Jackson song because of the "Jew me, sue me" line. I now pull your attention to other words: "Beat me, hate me, you can never break me."