By Imani Brammer
Dear Bobby Shmurda,
I have danced to your song “Hot Nigga.” It’s on my iPod and I love when it plays. What does this mean? It means that I enjoy a catchy beat, a nice flow and even better, a fun dance to complement it. However, for a while, I didn’t know that you were rapping about murdering people. I was simply lured in by your beat, flow and dance alone. The lyrics were dissonance: mere noise that did not register in my mind. Though mainstream rap is often frowned upon, not all the time am I compelled to listen to politically conscious music like Common and Mos Def (though I adore them both, and also have them on my iPod). Sometimes I want to simply hear a beat, hear some words that flow and dance without digesting or internalizing the lyrics. However one day, when I was listening to your song without dancing, I actually heard what you were saying and it disrupted my fun. I can no longer listen to your song with a clear conscience. I try to deliberately block the lyrics, but hearing myself say, “errbody catchin’ bullet holes,” is just not OK. I am too well aware of your mental disease to even enjoy this track like I want to. Not only are you spewing disease, but also you are spewing self-hate and in the words of a Caribbean: fuckry.
Recently you performed in a conference room for Epic Records. I watched as you danced and lip-synced to a song titled “Computers,” running across the room, pulling up your pants (that were deliberately seated low) and shooting an imaginary gun. As the song finished, you stretched out both arms and looked to the sky as if you were king. You were proud, and they, (who I assume were the executives of Epic Records), were proud as well. They watched you in silent perplexity and dry clapped in unison, palms lightly patting the other, just enough to make an audible, “this will do” sound. It was cringe-worthy. Just so you know, the “civilized” claps are the worst ones. That’s how you know people ain’t really feelin’ it. They do it out of social obligation. Your lyrics re-affirm your inferiority to them.
You see, your ignorant performance is not only a mockery, but it is their money. It is their testimony that the mentality of the black race is emblematic of disaster. Essentially, the circumstances of what you considered your stage in that conference room looked oddly familiar to an auction block: black man on top, baring himself to that of the highest white bidder. The thing is, they don’t care about you. They sat at a table listening to you rap about killing people and they gave you a petty clap.
Please realize what you are depicting. In essence, you are representative of a slave. You are willing to work for The Man, as long as he’s reciprocating a couple of dollars worthy of bragging rights. Though financial freedom is something we all strive for, your freedom is at the cost of you, as well as the race you represent. You see, the inferiority of the black race was built upon the idea of criminality; we were always criminally responsible even when we weren’t. We only held value when we represented money for our owner. We were only property that produced cash. Right now, you Bobby, are representative of property, rapping about everything that criminalizes you, like killing your kind. In case you haven’t noticed yet, they’re paying you because you are upholding the black narrative: “Blacks are wild. They’re monstrous. They’re criminals. They must be tamed.” The more you uphold this, the more white supremacy perpetuates. They depend on you to remain at the top of their Eurocentric hierarchy. Perpetuating this hierarchy does absolutely nothing for you. Blacks have fought hard to not be depicted as villains and here you are with lyrics like, “we droppin bodies bitch. They say shootin is my hobby bitch. And I’m a problem kid.” You are blatantly telling them you are a problem. This is how it translates: “The black boy has said it himself! He’s telling us to be afraid of him! It’s best we stay alert and take pre-caution: shoot first, lie about it later,” re-affirming that the recent white police on black male homicides were “just.” You basically just told the system to shoot you because you are wreaking havoc on their “good” society.
Moving on, the cover of your EP shows you wearing a ski mask with wide eyes and tongue out, looking wild, disheveled and suspicious: the perfect formula for the perception of the black man in a white world. Your cover is reminiscent of a minstrel show. Bobby, please don’t allow yourself to be a mockery. There are young black men who die because white society deems them to be uncontrollable nuisances. Don’t be that confirmation.
Bobby, you need to be freed. When slaves sought freedom, they taught themselves how to read. Please seek your freedom by way of knowledge, because performing in a conference room full of white business people who can care less about your well-being isn’t it. I understand that you represent Brooklyn, well, Brooklyn has plenty of public libraries. Utilize them. It’s knowledge for free at your own discretion.
P.S: This part of the letter is dedicated to racist police and the American government:
Please do not shoot this young man. He’s already dead. His hands are already up in surrender to white supremacy. He does not need to be in jail; he has been imprisoned his entire life. His music is emblematic of this. Instead, treat him like a white criminal who just shot a couple of schools: place him in therapy. He needs a therapist who understands the evils of the American system and who could help him to fight through this. Again, Bobby Shmurda has already surrendered. Someone. Please answer his SOS.