Friday, December 13, 2013

Eat the cake, Anime: On White Cluelessness (and Beyoncé)

Dear Kitty Pryde,

Hey there, White Writerperson. How goes it? Good, I assume.

I have just been introduced to your work via your liveblogging of the new album, BEYONCÉ for VICE. You, like me, were hyped and extremely eager to dig into this surprise album that appeared out of nowhere like a new face on the proudest sidepiece in Hip Hop, Lady Potato Head herself, Lil Kim. Do you know her? Of course you do. Anyhow, your enthusiasm shined through in your writing and it was a generally readable unterrible stream of consciousness. Congrats.



Let me back up.

You probably don't know me. I'm sure you don't, actually. I'm a regular ol', though brilliant, Coloured person with nothing going on worth co-opting in that predictable and shameless White way you may be used to, so why would you know me? Silly me. But you certainly know my family, The Keepers of the Cool. Your VICE bio lists you as a rapper, so I'm sure you're more than familiar (and enamored) with various aspects of our wonder. I don't blame you, though. We make the pop culture world go 'round. We're everywhere. We made Off the Wall and gave you "My Neck, My Back." Even when famed Culture Vultures like the Mileys and the Robins and the Biebers and Macklemorefish strut and gesticulate porcelainly with rapper hands and objectify and jiggle their long, curveless backs and call it twerking. We're there.

You're welcome.

But if we're to coexist in this world, there must be some tweaks to this Culture Creator-Culture Appropriator dynamic, okay?

So, this morning I handed over my coins and pressed [PLAY] while going about my morning. Email. Porn. Coffee. Checking around to see how the world was reacting to this bomb She just dropped, I happened across your post:
"Oh, look, excessive capital letters and ellipses with more than three periods. Drugs. Or Immaturity. Or enthusiasm. At least one for sure. Let's have a gander." -Me
So I'm reading. The first thing that gave me pause was when you referenced Skrillex while commenting on "Haunted." Skrillex. King of ElectroGoutPox and eardrum-daggering AudioSyphilis. That's what you took from it. Alright.

You were initially apprehensive about "Blow."
 I CAN'T DO THIS I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN DO THIS
But then,
Alright, it's a Daft Punk song now. False alarm, I'm fine. 
And later,
DUDE THIS IS LITERALLY A JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SONG EXCEPT BEYONCE IS SINGING IT
Because the White makes everything alright, I reckon. If you look out the window to your left, you'll see that we've arrived to our first Teachable Moment.

Teachable Moment One:
Everything isn't influenced by Whitefolks.

After the opening of "Flawless" which features Nigerian literary Superthug Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, you thought it sounded like a Miley song.
Uh oh, I already feel like Miley Cyrus is about to happen to me. Wait, I  think I've heard this one. If Miley Cyrus is in it this time I'm gonna be so fucking mad.
You hear a bass-heavy beat in 2013 and the first person that pops into your white mind. is. Miley. Motherfucking. Cyrus. This tells me everything I need to know about you, your family, your point of view, your music, your breath, and the color of your gums. In a word: HELLTHEFUCKNO.

For you, a person who has made it to adulthood and toured alongside Danny Brown, to deflect so frequently to White references shouldn't be surprising. Yes, all of your musical references here are White. That doesn't lessen the irritation, though. You must know that, despite being the mascots of the drippings of the Cool that we ooze effortlessly, you don't own any of it. You, a rapper or something, can't possibly think Miley or Justin or anyone lacking melanin originated any of their conveniently Blackened antics. Don't they teach that in White Rapper School?

Any White musician worth their weight in cocaine should know that.

Required reading: this little ditty I penned on Convenient WhiteBlackness, inspired by WhiteBlackness Champion, Justin Timberlake.

Then.
THEN:
If that name is a Miley Cyrus pseudonym I'm going to bed. Dang, it's getting feminist up in this track.
Naturally, "that name" refers to Chimimanda, whose contribution you later dismissed as an annoying "soundbite." Okay.

Teachable Moment Two:
Learn about a culture other than your own.


Look, White Writerperson, I imagine your cozy Cave of White Clulessness is comfy and fantastic. I'm sure it has central air conditioning in the summer and heat in the winter and a friendly, well-dressed Negro gentleman at the door to help you with with a smile when your non-burdens get too heavy to bear on your own. And all the coleslaw and unseasoned chicken one could ever want, I'm sure. Color me relieved envious, really.

But here's where you get to be a good Privileged Person and learn about a culture other than your own. I know Chimamanda, a Regular Black Person Who Isn't Doing Anything Worth "Borrowing," isn't a pop culture icon. But do yourself a favor and look her up. She wrote Half of a Yellow Sun, for fuck's sake.

To suggest that Miley would dig deep enough into the barrel of Blackness, doing overtime at the Appropriation Station to adopt a Nigerian pseudonym is telling: You, too, know how serious your skinfolk take their culture vulturing. It's a full time job. So vast, our Sea of Awesomeness, right?


Teachable Moment Three:
Learn how influence works.

French fries do not influence potatoes. Britney does not influence Janet. Justin does not influence Michael Jackson. Lessors do not influence The Great Ones. Similarly, Miley Cyrus does not influence Beyoncé. Now bite your motherfucking tongue.

To say such a thing is akin to saying that the car influences the paved road on which it travels. The Great Ones Blacked Excellently so that the latecomers could siphon that Black Excellence for profit and Blackpoints. Not vice versa.

Now, we arrive to why I felt compelled to even remember your name.

Teachable Moment Four:
Eat the cake.


You know Miss Tina Turner, yes? Think: pre-Beyoncé.

Wait. Let me make her more relatable:
With famous white guy, Mick Jagger
With me? Okay, So you got to "Drunk in Love," which features Blue Ivy's Dad, or Beyoncé's BABY DAAAAADDY *Miley blackgirlface*, Jay Z.

You:
My Jay Z senses are tingling, I'm pretty sure he's about to rap and I really hope it's EXACTLY like his verse in Suit & Tie. Yes, it definitely is. Is this the same exact verse? I'm pretty sure it is. WAAAAAIT HE JUST SAID "I EAT THE CAKE, ANIME". JAY Z JUST FUCKING USED THE WORD 'ANIME' AS A PUNCHLINE. THIS IS THE BEST SONG I'VE EVER HEARD. Am I supposed to be like explaining what these songs are like? I don't know what kind of music this is.
The important part:

 WAAAAAIT HE JUST SAID "I EAT THE CAKE, ANIME". JAY Z JUST FUCKING USED THE WORD 'ANIME' AS A PUNCHLINE. 

Do they teach context clues in White Rapper School? Damn you, failing American education.

Alright. Because we're friends now, I'll break this down for you slowly. I know rappers talk nonsensically and talk about silly things like bling bling, and phat, and Coogi, and Africa, but with the exception of Lil Wayne and Lil B, there is typically some sort of discernible logic in punchlines, even when not drugged.

Care to share with the class what you think "Eat the cake. Anime," means?


He doesn't know either.

Anime, though. Is Jay calling his wife Goku because of her blonde hair?

I don't think so.

That's because Jay Z was referencing a pivotal scene in What's Love Got To Do With It? wherein a high Ike Turner forcefully suggests that Tina Turner, real name Anna Mae Bullock, eat the cake that he ordered to celebrate their upcoming tour.




There are no rappers in the movie, so I understand if you don't care. BUT it's worth the time investment. You'll learn something.

Therefore:

No: Eat the cake. ANIME.
Yes: Eat the cake, ANNA MAE.


Listen along. Fast forward to 4:35.


What he said:

Catch a charge I might, beat the box up like Mike
In '97 I bite, I'm Ike, Turner, turn up
Baby no I don't play, now eat the cake, Anna Mae
Said, "Eat the cake, Anna Mae!"

And while the line was in fact poor in taste, it's important to know what was actually said.

You're welcome. I don't blame you for not recognizing that reference because I can admit that I don't understand certain things about your culture, such as why Flo Rida is a thing. That's your fault, not ours. Oh, and french kissing dogs. I dunno.

Now, go forth and prosper listen to motherfucking context clues next time.

-Alex

(edit: Read what happened after this was published, here.)

View the rest of my writing here.

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