Rap Music Is The Greatest Catch-22 Of All Time

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Words by Tony Grands

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Rapper Beanie Sigel was scheduled to start a prison sentence in a couple of weeks, stemming from a tax evasion charge, which carried a penalty of two years. However, yesterday (August 29) he was approached by police & arrested on drug & weapons charges. This isn’t Beans’ first run-in with the cops, & his often-strained relationship with the authorities is well documented in his music also.

As news of Beanie’s arrest went viral, the internet backlash began, & the once highly regarded MC was relished to names such as “loser,” “dumb ass,” & “waste of a life.” While this type of online antagonism isn’t surprising, what is a bit odd is that rap fans constantly clamor about a rapper’s authenticity, yet when a guy like Beanie Sigel lives the exact life that he raps about, he gets insulted & dismissed.

That’s hypocritical to the “Keep It Real” sentiment that Hip Hop heads & fans so adamantly adhere to. Make no mistake, I think a person that continually puts themselves in harm’s way is an idiot, but in the wide world of ridiculous rapper antics, repeated prison appearances (from a rapper who truly embodies that lifestyle) seem more like a merit than a dishonor. Go figure.

As much of a 2 Chainz fan as I am not, I can appreciate the level of unwarranted ignorance he brings to the rap industry. (Truthfully, he’s not that bad, though.) Before I even ventured into his catalog, I’d hear his songs pumping from cars in traffic, so it was obvious that his influence is palpable & his demand is high. It was only a matter of time until bits & pieces of his personal life began bubbling to rap music’s gossipy surface. The two most eyebrow-raising facts about him that I’ve learned so far are A) he is thirty-six years old, & B) he graduated from Alabama State University. Yes, that’s a college. Talk of his outstanding collegiate career (he played basketball, too) eventually spread like wildfire & it appeared as though half of his fan base became detractors, due to his perceived level of intelligence.

He’s been referred to as a “liar” & a “fraud,” much like Rick Ross The Rapper was when people found out that he once held a full-time job. Because, you know, real niggas don’t feed their kids with legal legal tender & what not.

Lupe Fiasco is probably the most popular case of rap music’s “Catch-22.” For every calculated step he makes to enrich & enlighten, he has to defend his position in all cardinal directions against political adversaries, rap revolutionaries, & self-indulgent imbeciles who prefer to be uneducated. His latest song, “Bitch Bad,” is a look at the complexities behind the urban usage of the word “bitch,” & what we can do to make things better for the future generations. However, when the video dropped (which featured actors applying Blackface make-up to their already Black faces), Fiasco was crucified by listeners & critics alike, for being too vocal – read: preachy – on Hip Hop’s responsibilities to the community. This singular, well organized song has polarized the rap world, jotting a thin line between Hip Hop holy men & rap’s propaganda pushers. Lupe Fiasco may be the most beloved & hated rapper in the business. At least until someone else grows a big enough pair of balls to fight the power in a similar fashion.

For what it’s worth, goon rapper Plies was a victim of the same irrational subjugation once it was discovered that he graduated from the University of South Florida & held a degree in nursing. For all the progression the culture has made, there are still numerous unturned stones that need tending to.

Rap fans may never totally unify on what’s important to the culture, but here’s a starting point; if you can’t keep it real, at least keep it right.

Words by Tony Grands
@TheTonyGrands

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8 comments on “Rap Music Is The Greatest Catch-22 Of All Time

  1. realnagan says:

    sadly i think it’s down to the business side of the industry for perpetuating the blacks in blackface that is the mainstream. what the major labels push and sadly what the consumers want. Prefer to see a dumb arse “gangsta” spitting about the tired ol bitches, money and violence schtick ,and yeah Grand$, the Catch 22 of actually not acting and living gangsta and being caught is looked down upon to.
    Bloody weird. anyways you put it down much better than i can in your post #props

    Modern Western society doesn’t appreciate intellect and education, i reckon it extends beyond hip hop and into society in general. Athletes, reality tv douches and entertainers are more in the general public’s eyes than cats like scientists. Might be the internet generation to a degree, young cats think they know it all, and someone telling em diffrent is seen as preachy maybe why concious music isn’t as popular nowadays *shakes old man fist* (speaking in general of course)

    BTW I’m a Lupe stan, dude is truly underrated

    Great Post again, sir

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  2. markdub7 says:

    You rap about your real life, a l Beanie Siegel, and you get persecuted for doing shit that gets you locked up. You rap about things that you haven’t done, albeit very cleverly, you get written off as fake like 2 Chains. It truly is a catch-22.

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. We’re so hard on rap artists. I don’t know of any other genre where the artists have to prove that they have really lived the life they write about in songs. Ain’t nobody fact checking Adele lol.

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  4. Curtis75Black says:

    You know what the beef is, when you got someone like Plies, Rozay or a 2Chains who rap with the ignorance of a 3rd grader yet did what they did in their personal, it’s a slap in the face of all Hip Hop Fans. Of course, these cats want a career and want a fan base but to be a doofus to get it is sickening. Especially since they rep college with degree’s in Nursing and what not. To the majority, their thoughts are, “Why are you rapping” ? I really don’t expect to see a man/woman that have a degree in engineering to be repping “Trap Music” even if they can spit. As for Sigel, after a while you just have to grow the hell up. After a while that “Keep it Real” dies down, especially if you’re been in the game for over a decade. Now it’s about feed your family on the regular. Can’t do that locked up !!

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  5. Soulrise says:

    While I don’t agree with most of the criticism that’s been directed towards Lupe’s new video I wasn’t really feeling it either. This editorial hit the nail on the head for me: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/08/raps-long-history-of-conscious-condescension-to-women/261651/

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