“Niggaz are in a state of emergency…” – Ice Cube, “Death Certificate (1991),” “The Funeral”
Maybe I’m just getting old…
A week ago a childhood friend of mine, the same one I graduated with, told me he had an available ticket to the Rick Ross, ”State of Emergency” concert being held at the Chaifetz Arena here in the wonderfully blissful city of St. Louis. Since he is a writer for a publication I won’t name here, he gets free tickets. Terrific I thought. Now sure, I haven’t been to any of these really teeny bopperish galas of light and overly droning bass in over a decade. The last two concerts I attended were with Slick Rick/Dougie Fresh, and a Maize concert. But it was a good excuse to get away from the blazing artificial light emanating from my workstation, and plus I had been spazzing on my buddy the last few concerts he wanted me to go out with him to.
Initially, I had concerns about wardrobe. I mean, I’m an adult class man, the only types of clothing I have are”hard work” working clothes, and “office work” working clothes. My fashion sense went out the window when I had to pack everything away in order to survive wearing an outfit two weeks in a row. Trust me, when you are homeless doing 18 credit hour days, fashion tends to be the last thing on your mind. Then it hit me:
I mean, the homosexual dress code of today’s black male youth are absolutely stultifying in the absurd sense ( Aye, look!! Heterosexuals been getting killed since the beginning of time for being heterosexual, I don’t want to hear none of that heterophobic nonsense, damn you!!!). So, I decided to put on a nice dress shirt, and some slacks, nothing fancy, and nothing that would associate me with the swaggot population that I knew would be swarming the crowds seeking blood. Soon, it was time to call my good friend, and let him know I was on my way.
I originally avoided grabbing a bite to eat so I wouldn’t feel tired at the concert, but as I entered my friend’s home, his significant other (come on now, it sounds better than baby mama…) were watching a movie and having a family meal. I was offered a plate of chicken and couscous by the woman of the house, and I accepted (of course, I got good gawd damn home training). While I waited, I taught my godson the fine art of slapping fives. And it is always my eternal enjoyment to teach the cultural imperatives to the young. And, the couscous wasn’t too bad either…
When we arrived at the center, we spoke of family, and music as we walked from the parked car through the St. Louis University campus that sits next to the arena the show was being held at. It has been our two decade plus association to arrive at abstract conclusions of the social variety. A bond that seems to have appeased some god, and I am always thankful for that god’s existence. As I told my friend, I’ve been through so much that if any god wishes to claim me, I’m open, but it owes me, not me it. Sometimes in life the greatest blessings are simple people that you can enjoy without even wanting to expect anything from. As the years have passed, I’ve learned more and more to appreciate my friends that don’t expect me to be any great person other than my Self. Those that know me best tend to understand my strengths without attempting to apply any grand moral code, or to worry about me bringing anything other than the best I have. They also don’t demand anything of me other than my presence. A value that often gets lost in a world that seeks to place you in a box like a Ken or Barbie doll, seeking a market charge, while infringing on your right to simply be.
As we arrived at the concert center, I saw young women dressed very impressively, while the young men seemed to have crawled out of bed from a nap after work. I was seriously disappointed in the young male dress code in St. Louis. Although the sisters wore less than the strippers prepared for the after party wearing “Bottoms Up”(Bottoms Up is the name of a strip club on the East Side-Brooklyn, Il., to be exact)gray sweat suits, I can appreciate the attempt to look fashionable, hell, at least like some thought went into the outfit. I suppose, I shouldn’t complain, I didn’t pay to get in, nor did I come to see any young niggaz ass hanging over the brim of his pants. I salute the ladies of St. Louis for keeping it fly.
The stalling procedure, this is where the local djs pretend to be spinning records while actually allowing iTunes or phukkking Serato play previously selected songs. We didn’t have bad seats, about two rows from the floor, and six rows down from the stage. The youth element was definitely in effect, and I started wanting to take my belt off at certain moments. Totally joking here, but the crowd abounded in twenty something’s attempting to surpass a mind state as close to insanity as spending $130 on tickets to see two has been’s, a close to be done, and a bunch of not going to get further than this’. I know, highly judgmental, but come on, with the exception of Wacka and maybe Wale(who lost hella points with me), the average person on that stage was robbing the audience without a gun.
(Break ya self)
As the night progressed, and I began to confuse the not-so-much-a-strippers with the strippers I knew were actually strippers(don’t ask), the local guys that go around fucking the amateur strippers for seats at concerts finally brought on the first act. So out of the loop I was, I expected a fully tatted white boy with a drum set to come onto the stage. My friend corrected me, however,”Travis Porter, not Barker…” To which I responded blandly,”Ah…I don’t know them niggaz.”
I mean, seriously guys…the days of the S1W are gone and fully zombified, waiting to be charred by Will Smith in an East Coast brownstone somewhere. The brothers came on stage with their pants off the cusp of their ass, and just running around the stage. I thought I had been transported to the baboon section of the city zoo. There was nothing that supported the initial crowd response, and that was further supported by the lack of participation the crowd had when the monkeys jumped off stage and ran through the audience. I was honestly embarrassed for them. Not as embarrassed as I was for my friend spending $8.50 on what amounted to two cans of bud beer,but it was draft- although in a plastic cup- so I wasn’t too abashed. Plus I was driving (fuck you; I only play the responsible guy offline with people I love).
As a point of critique, I mean, I could easily just say the guys are hella cliché at the moment. The problem is, they are not only cliché, they don’t truly have the edge they think they do. The crunk sound is sexy, don’t get me wrong, but the lyrics don’t cause me any emotional double takes unless in front of minors. They are like the music to 80s porno, you represent a sound that should be hardcore, but all I hear is the twang of yesteryear’s knife point. Which is actually my critique of most of this era’s version of “gangsta” music: I grew up on Too Short and Ice Cube, writers that expressed a clear and pointed message that made the audience have to gasp in response. If you are going to go X-rated and controversial, do that, don’t do pop with curse words and think you are shocking the crowd.
One of the major concern express by me and my dawg throughout the concert were the speeches.
I have no problem with anyone addressing me about social responsibility, but the hypocrisy was so infused when Lloyd told us he was at the concert to bring about unity, that I stood up and yelled, ”Nigga quit lying, y’all here to make hoes get naked!!” Now mind you, I had nothing to drink, the only emotion was a sense of disdain for entertainers that didn’t have the balls to change in step, content that would be inappropriate for a concert held on Dr. Martin’s celebrated born day. I understood the feeling one in these types of artists’ position would feel, but in one segment Lloyd is telling us to be unified, then he loves the sisters, then where are the big booty white girls at. I’m no one to judge, true indeed, but hell; even I don’t send mix messages about racial solidarity: my dick ain’t even participated in an integration drive since my late teens. Not to say that is a good or bad thing, but geez, at least you get one message from Asylum. Further, the sporadic speech was, well, sporadic. My thinking was that these guys have enough money to pay a guy like my Self to write their material, and Lloyd was on stage stuttering. If you are going to do the Obama thing, either have a prepared speech written in the palm of your hands, or spend with us underpaid professionals.
Eh…more of the same. Someone-didn’t even bother to record the name- came on the stage with Lloyd and I was once again appalled by the need to wear one’s pants below the waist. Skinny jeans, flannels, and boxers briefs completely showing, not really understanding the connection between this aggressive rap, and maybe it is just me. I was also a bit peeved that these R+B singers can’t do whole shows without lip syncing. Some might feel this is unnecessary, but I can’t get away with half designing your project. I can’t act like I’m a designer. Kobe Bryant can’t act like he is playing, he has to play. So should singing be. Lip syncing is acting like you are singing-I would never pay to see you pretend to sing a song and you are supposed to be a singer. But, maybe I’m crazy for thinking that a person should actually have to do what they’ve been paid to do.
Alright, that may have been a bit mean, no apologies, but I recognize the asperity of the update. Boo. Fucking.Hoo. Moving on…
Okay, yeah, I remember this. So, we are all waiting for Trina to get the stage, and by that time I’m even on my feet joining in the always melodious ritual of booing the hypeman during the artist intermissions. It really does something for the soul to yell acrimoniously in unity with hundreds of others. In the midst of the glorious screams of impatience, I further aided and abetting by yelling, “UT oh!!” I mean, I did come to enjoy my Self…
Trina is a very attractive woman. I’m not much for diva rap though. The diamond princess’ outfit wouldn’t allow me to focus on lyrics as I not only anticipated a nipple slip due to her right strap becoming loose on her top( I honestly thought she was going to let it just fall out, that would have been cool.), but also due to my preoccupation with her stilettos. The manner in which she was force to hop, (yes, hop) across the stage was simultaneously graceful, but also distracting. I was also disturbed by her lack of energy, which was coupled by the reality that I didn’t know much of her catalog. Then there is my memory of the old Trina with arse out to the Netherlands. I like double dipped thick women, and as my cohorts of Summit might tell you, I don’t allow the debate about “healthy figures” to distort my love of the natural Black woman’s proportions. The stripper pole that I anxiously prayed for never arrived, and her constant use of the middle finger with regards to unfaithful former lovers and bloggers left her on what has become known affectionately as “The List.” More on that at another date.
I’m not a big Wacka Flocka fan. I’m not. I’m often found using him as the butt of a few of my jokes. Alright, maybe more than a few. However, I had to commend the young man for his energy and crowd control. Of all the acts, including Rick Ross’, I felt he had the most influence and brought the highest level of vibration. I was alarmed by the children (yes, under the age of 13 type children) that gravitated around him as he left the stage to command the floor. I was appalled by him placing what had to be a child of around five or six on his shoulders as he told the baby to chant with him, ”Guns up.” I was also left disgruntled with the sheer level of homosexual fanfare of the young brother that couldn’t control his emotional responses in front of me. I am not sure what caused his body to lose all of its former solidity, but by the time Flocka left, the young man’s gestures possessed the consistency of a used rubber band. I suppose my heterophilia places certain limits on certain levels of male appreciation. I remember the words of one O’Shea Jackson, ”I was taught, back on my block, you don’t ride nobody’s jock/For anything he do, fuck him and his crew/UNLESS you was getting paid too.”
Okay…Rick Ross. There really wasn’t much for me to say. He opened up with classics that I stood up and recited (“Every Day I’m Hustlin’” was once nominated to be the Asylum’s anthem), but unfortunately, he has lost much of the fanfare that allowed his overall stage presence to be felt. By the sixth song he was calling Wale back out to harness his energy. By that time, over half of the crowd had begun to disperse. I don’t know how these young ballers get down, but I don’t spend ten cents on something I’m not going to sit all the way through. I also felt that his performance was more of a storyline he wanted to tell. Wrong crowd, wrong presentation. I believe that Rick has an ability, and possibly a level of artistry that the fans of Wacka Flocka truly need, yet his use of lights to symbolize the pyramids, his timing, his constant monologues between songs don’t command the attention of today’s push and click youth psychology. I know that his performance would have been greatly captivating if they spent a little more of the money the promoters so tackily reminded the audience they had to spend to bring acts such as his to the Lou. Storylines of that level of abstraction often need props and visuals; most of the young people in the audience probably think the yellow lights were used to signify unity with Whiz Khalifa.
Overall I thought it was a cool experience. Of course, I didn’t pay, and you could have put me in a room with thousands of my people listening to just about anything, and I’d have had a grand time. Regardless of the present state of my social life, I do know how to have fun and how to engage my enjoyment centers. I do, however, see the direction some of the “artists” would like to take. I would extend this bit of logic: the people still just want music, most of the people in that audience don’t know the difference between a double up and a tenth; stop catering to the lowest denominator in your lyrics because it is simply not common. Music is energy and repetition. Pick up a few more books besides the ones you think Tupac’s library was limited to.
A few more thoughts I had during the night…