Sunday, April 22, 2012

When "Political" Rap Goes Wrong: Please Stop! Mr. Ghetto's "Tribute" Video to Trayvon Martin Does More Harm Than Good

Capitalism is deftly adept at commodifying culture. It is a creative beast, a hungry octopus grabbing up anything from which it can make a profit. As such, the buzzards and carrion eaters are swirling around the public corpse that is the Trayvon Martin saga. I understand that brothers and sisters got to get their hustle on. Tragically, I do not think that the lumpen black proletariat embodied by "Mr. Ghetto" seem to understand that foolishness such as linking this video to Trayvon Martin's case--in an effort to get his song some attention--actually emboldens the supporters of George Zimmerman.

Some real talk for a moment. Frankly, who wouldn't shoot dead (metaphorically of course) the hooga mugga ign't wannabe thugs such as Mr. Ghetto and his kin (not the real folks, but rather the very idea and habitus they represent)...or at the very least get as far away from them as possible, praying that they do not get a Section 8 voucher and move in next door?

And yes, I know many black and brown strivers who would cosign that question.

Political art is so very difficult a craft and vocation. This is especially true in regards to commercial Southern New Age Race Minstrel "hip hop." Form and content work together to communicate meaning. Mr. Ghetto's "art" is an object lesson in why I prefer my MC's to talk about money, cash, hoes, and other assorted fantasies of the ghettocentric imagination. Folks should write about what they know: it is the first rule of being a successful author/singer/artist.

Unfortunately, Mr. Ghetto's talents as an MC are handicapped in this regard as well. It would seem that his creative gifts are rather limited:

Unless an MC is especially qualified, the spin control for the Trayvon Martin case should be left up to those more accomplished, articulate, and critically minded. Mr. Ghetto and his fans just need to stop. His "political art" and caricaturized blackness is better suited for Stormfront or Fox News than as an act of support and awareness-raising for the struggles facing black and underclass communities in America.


Anonymous said...


Please spare us your elitist posturing and condescending opinions on Mr.Ghetto's interpetation of the Trayvon saga.

Just like with OJ, you me and others have/are expressing our views on this event..

Who annointed you the arbiter of good taste especially when we are not depositing views about tie color and lapels??

Clearly you have issues with the "lumpen black proletariat embodied" but that is your problem not ours..

Art as always is in the eye of the beholder this protrayal of the Trayvon saga is no more unworthy of Fox or Stormfront than your commentaries..

I have the capacity to acknowledge Mr.Ghetto's vision as well as the hate speech of others..I am sadden that you don't but such is life and that is good..

I will never accept nor tolerate sanitized opinions like you offer on this site as the appropriate measure of dissent..

Bring it on Mr.Ghetto your iggnant view fills the bill quite nice as we engaged this new joint called the Trayvon saga..

d2 said...

Is the below necessary? I've got issue with your comment.

"Frankly, who wouldn't shoot dead hooga mugga ign't wannabe thugs such as Mr. Ghetto and his kin...or at the very least move as far away from them as possible, praying that they do not get a Section 8 voucher and move in next door?"

B/C certain folks within our community might not be at your level does not make it okay for you to say who wouldn't shoot them. Who does that? Just b/c someone hasn't had opportunities that you've had or been as fortunate as you does not mean it's okay to be condescending and look down on them. As Black ppl we've got to deal with racism and then also be hated on by our own.

Also F "the supporters of George Zimmerman"

Anonymous said...

This from CD a poser who hides behind the cloak of an alias"Some real talk for a moment. Frankly, who wouldn't shoot dead hooga mugga ign't wannabe thugs such as Mr. Ghetto and his kin"

Get the Fuck outta here CD there is nothing real about you flexing chatter on the internet..

Bougie Negroes....WTF
WTF...You need to step away from the people who are blowing smoke up your arse..

sledge said...

Not really being familiar with Mr. Ghetto I can only go by thses two songs.

I thought the N.O. song was actually pretty good. I'm not understanding how that song would hurt the murder case trial or give Zimmerman supporters more fuel.

That second song was a little too much for me personally. I suspect it was marketed at those still dealing with raging testosterone levels. Sex sells.

CNu said...

young sistas keepin it 110%.....,

chaunceydevega said...

@Anon. You can't account for taste. Sometimes you are going to agree with me, other times not. If you honestly believe that this type of "art" is going to help Trayvon Martin, and those of us who are legitimately concerned with black and brown empowerment. More power to you.

"Sanitized opinions." I don't censor or edit folks. I don't know what you mean. Please clarify.

@d2. I don't support Zimmerman's white populist conservative reactionaries either--I have documented that many times. You confuse poverty with "blackness." That is a common mistake.

White people don't embrace their poor and lower classes, many of who exhibit behaviors that would make Mr. Ghetto blush with embarrassment, as being "authentically white."

What I see here is not a fair representation of our people or personhood. Sadly, much of popular culture, aided from below and above, has reinforced the crippling premise that to be black is to be "ghetto." Tragic really.

Also, who is "boogie?" I am working class--barely. Again, those are slurs thrown about by folks who don't want to engage what is obvious and plain on their face.

I love and care deeply for black humanity. The lie that to be authentically black is to be part of the lumpen--is one of the worst lies of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is internalized racism par excellence. Moreover, to live in a "ghetto" does not meant to be ignorant, low class, or wallow in underclass culture. Most poor folks I know would shake their head at these ghetto authenticity games.

@sledge. Trust me it will. Those are the "no limit niggas" that occupy the nightmares of the white conservative imaginary. Ironically, they see all black people are perennial threats regardless of what we wear or how we comport ourselves. My concern as a student of popular culture is that their is a role for the artist in these conversations. But, it has to be well thought out and navigated carefully. We need to put our best fut forward and always be true to the politics of black respectability on these matters.

makheru bradley said...

From the perspective of the “psychodynamics of Black self-annihilation in service of white domination” Mr. DeVega, your comments (who wouldn't shoot dead hooga mugga ign't wannabe thugs such as Mr. Ghetto and his kin) are far more damaging that anything Mr. Ghetto says in “Close My Eyes.”

“Close My Eyes” is about the devastation of Black-on-Black violence in the 504. I’d prefer a more proactive response, such as Malcolm’s “Wake-up, Clean-up, and Stand-up,” but Ghetto’s reaction is not (minus his bodily gestures) inconsistent with Afrikan American conservative Christianity. I did not hear Ghetto mention the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Who is making that linkage?

The Walmart video is garbage and it belongs in the trash bin with your “who wouldn't shoot dead hooga mugga ign't wannabe thugs such as Mr. Ghetto and his kin” comment.

Malcolm X at the Hi-Fi Country Club, Charlotte, NC 1963

chaunceydevega said...


Fitting for a Sunday--this is no Amen corner. Disagreement is welcome. I meant that phrase as hyperbole and have qualified it.

"Mr. Ghetto's" production company posted the video and linked it to Trayvon Martin. But, it is part of a bigger concern about the relationship between popular culture, the popular imagination, and the inevitable lowest common denominator that is going to try to profit off of this case.

Love some Malcolm. Fitting that the late Brother Manning Marable's book on Malcolm X won the Pulitzer this week.

Anonymous said...


My pemise remains the same no one has annoited you the sole arbiter of Black thought ..

The harm that the Black poor bring to reality is at best a tear in a sea of water..

Your need to slay them has no merit other than to make you feel noble at their expense..

No one has put forth the premise that being authentic means one must be black and ignorant..It is your shallow analysis which taints your war against the Black poor..You have it backward the poor did not create itself..

In any event none of your defenses hold much water tonite. I think your reactions have revealed a fixture in your arrogant need to be noble ego..

To be continue

chaunceydevega said...

@Anon. Why in such a mood tonight? I have long been a critic of the conflation of blackness with "ghetto" and "poverty." If you don't see that narrative and meme as one that is dominant in the popular imagination and also internalized by many blacks folks you are not looking very hard.

I stand up against such nonsense whenever I see it. I don't feel noble or grand or superior. I do feel that common sense should dictate that we offer a strong critique of foolishness such as this Mr. Ghetto crap.

Who wants to slay anyone? I have relatives who are poor and black. What I do want is a serious conversation about black uplift, dignity, and respectability. As a people we used to be deeply invested in such concepts and understood them to be some armor, however minimal, against white racism and the psychological harm it does/did to us.

But yes, do I want to get rid of the pants sagging, ign't subculture that is a reflection of a deeply pathological world view, debased black humanity, and internalized white supremacy? Absolutely.

I can go to and fro on the issues of political economy, deindustrialization, and damage done by market forces and the State against black and brown communities and the urban poor. I can also discuss, with confidence, my concerns about black respectability and the ghetto underclass.

If you want Mr. Ghetto, the character not the person (hopefully, they are different people) moving next door to you, then by all means more power to you. I want to keep him and the type of folks who channel the energy and values of this Walmart video far far far away from me.

Anonymous said...


Interesting reply of yours it appears because I challenge your continued assualt against the Black underclass ( which is an easy and lazy effort done quite often of late) I am must be in a sour mood?

No I am just tired of this tired parade of yours..It serves what end? Nobody wants losers living next to them of any color or creed so what is your point?

Your deflections and shallow retorts simply do not dismiss my principal argument the "poor did not create itself" as such your laments against them add nothing of value in any analysis..

The very idea that the iggnant have created a sub culture which provides them solace and a cultural utility to the pathology of white supremacy never crosses your mind because you apparently shared the same contempt for them as whites do..The notion that they have created an alternative to white supremacy simply never has crossed your mind..You doth protest and it appears you also exhibit some degree of the soft bigotry of low expectations...WTF

It is you that has been slayed by the power and glory of whiteness this truth of course would never cross your mind of course because you are smarter than the iggnants..The biggest fools are the most intelligent is what my elders often taught me.

Please spare me your ego that somehow you are progressive for daring to have a conversation about the poor and self dignity ,You are starting to sound like the clown Cosby.

The truth is simple it is not the ghetto underclass whch has failed them until you have the courage to acknowledge this truth about our community's shortcomings then at least on this point I must award a point to the asshat CNu for at least his understanding of this truth...

Snap out of it CD...Stop reading your clippings and staring in the mirror..

chaunceydevega said...

@Anon. My friend. If it is who I think it is. I like interventions. Throwing water in the face of the sick, drunk, mentally ill, etc. is an act of humanity and friendship. Yes, structures matter. No, I do not subscribe to a simple functionalist model that says x material conditions produce y culture.

People have agency. That is true of those in the subaltern too. I am not willing to valorize structurally, culturally, politically, and other maladaptive behaviors. You can see "resistance" and "nobility" in pants sagging ign't mess--and frame it as intentional and reflective. And please do explain how those such behaviors create "cultural utility" or "solace." I am very curious.

One can understand a thing; that does not meat that we must excuse-make for it. As I often say those same poor folk you want to lump together into one black mass/culture don't like this crap either.

Anonymous said...


Your posturing reflects the behavior of an inquistor/presector.

You claiming your interest is that of an intervenionist is yet again that noble paternal theme of yours surfacing. I do agree that intervention has a role but I reject the judgemental slant.

Acknowledgment of course does not equal excuse that is a given. I remained unimpressed by your take on the poor

CNu said...

CDV, slide the free one of these invisibly onto WARN's homepage so that you can clock this trifling jiggaboo whooping his gums from the dank luxury of his elderly mama's basement webtv system...,

You'll soon find out he's here more often than you are.

d2 said...


1)“I don't support Zimmerman's white populist conservative reactionaries either--I have documented that many times. You confuse poverty with "blackness." That is a common mistake.”

I’m not suggesting that you support Zimm’s supporters but it seems that you care what they think when you say this “in an effort to get his song some attention--actually emboldens the supporters of George Zimmerman.”

Where am I “confusing poverty w/ Blackness”

2)“What I see here is not a fair representation of our people or personhood. Sadly, much of popular culture, aided from below and above, has reinforced the crippling premise that to be black is to be "ghetto." Tragic really.”

I don’t think it’s a fair representation of our ppl either but they are our ppl and have a right to express themselves. I feel like you’re being condescending. How does your post help our ppl? Or move us ahead? I don’t think it does.

3)Also, who is "boogie?"

Never called you boogie. Although I think you are some instances. What you said about these ppl is something a boogie person would say.

I think you kind of have a Bill Cosby tone in this post

Anonymous said...


I can't speak on behalf of CD however he is a good guy and really wants alternative opinons and dissent..

Clearly he is an intellectual and a elitist but his body of work and heart is in the right place..

Because he is a professor he like most of them often cannot handle students or others who don't embrace their dogama, teachings, opinons etc ..Notice on this issue he is simply unable to grasp the notion that the Black poor has value and provide a social and political utility..CD simply lacks the real life experience to understand the reality and influence and utlity of the Black poor so he uses them as a butress and a talking point often..

Of course he has a blind spot since he has never been a part of this collective i.e The Black poor as he noted he has relatives etc..

I was advised by my mentor ro keep pushing CD he will come around

chaunceydevega said...

@D2. Bill Cosby was right. He didn't say anything that a person riding the city bus after high school lets out would not confirm to be true. The controversy, and how folks like Dyson et al. responded to the obvious in the pursuit of their own interests, was the real story there.

@anon. Again, let's clarify some matters before I get the day started. One, I am not middle class. I grew up one check away from being "poor." I am still one check away from sliding out of low working class status. I have also helped many dozens if not hundreds of those "poor" young people you mention in direct, substantial, and meaningful ways. Many are doctors, lawyers, and professional precisely because of the financial and mentoring resources I was able to direct to them. I talk the talk; I also try to walk the walk.

Professor? Far in the future, one day if I am lucky.

I hold black people, and all people, to very high standards. Because I am a black pragmatist I also understand the realpolitik facing our people. Poverty of circumstances does not equal poverty of mind or intelligence. At times, your excuse making sounds the a soft bigotry of low expectations.

I do get your social capital/adaptive culture argument. The problem is that such "cultural capital" has zero utility outside of a four square block area--unless you are able to market it somehow to the black culture industry and perform some version of new age race minstrelsy like mr. ghetto.

Please help me understand how and why I should respect this ghetto underclass "culture" you want to embrace and protect? Pants sagging, black on black violence, a criminal youthocracy, urban blight, out of wedlock births, limited life horizons and skewed life chances? Help me, I want to know.

Anonymous said...


There is nothing in my discourse which excuses away Black decadence/decay/ignorance.

I respect your body of work but I also reserve the right to augment it with my experiences as you do.

The Black poor encompasses more than your sterotype list which BTW can apply to any racial bandwidth in our nation.

I simply have reservation about your "Cosby" role model dogma..

To Be Continued>..
My premise is straight forward those who are under duress and subject to daily insults including levels of soft bigotry of low expectations( something you have against the Black poor sorry but I am not purchasing your issue) create a social and even cultural reaction to their status

This reaction is often very cosmetic ( pants saggin, angry attitudes etx) but it is also life altering including role modeling on how to keep hope alive, hustle skills, survival with a difference and all manners of real time activism to systemic white contempt

It includes the cultura; transference lessons of what/how to deal with white america and others who facilitate the oppression of the Black poor this includes Black Apologists etc..

You claim to be a Black pragmatist but are you really ? How can you assign this title to you given your dismissal of the Black poor as a given.

CNu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CNu said...

decadent, ignorant, rotting, and useless as you are - sprawled there in ya elderly mama's suburban michigan basement whoopin-them-blacker-than-thou-gums on another man's Johnson pleading for validation....,

Razor said...

While I do not think it was wise for to CD use the "hyperbole" related to why someone would want to murder Mr. Ghetto, which for CD, who has demonstrated a very decent and very loving heart to all people of color, represented a rare emotional misstep, I accept his " could be more plain" apology to Mr. Ghetto. In defense of Mr.
Ghetto, I do believe, that he was, in his own way, trying to show some genuine love to all the brothers who routinely get jacked by white authority and white authority figures. I will admit though, that beyond that, musically his effort was ok, but his lyrics were rather weak, uninspiring of the magnitude of this moment in our history, especially if your are going to tag the Trayvon Martin tragedy. The Walmart effort was to me just minstrel-like, negative-ghetto trash. I have to admit, that it appeared that CD, in a weak moment, piled onto easy target, a apparently ignant target. But, I admit, that was my first reaction too.

Have I come so far since my own poverty-stricken childhood that I have become somewhat highly educated, that I have become bourgie? I don't think so. Has CD?
I don't think so. Why?

I have yet to see CD let any of the Black bouguies off the hook. I believe what CD was indirectly asking of Mr. Ghetto, and by reference, any rapper that going to use the Trayvon Martin tragedy as a launching pad, was to up his game on an artistically respectful level befitting the moment. Was that expectation asing to much of someone just because they come from an impoverished background? I don' think so.

freebones said...

ok, i say this with the best intentions: what the hell am i reading? i don't even get what you guys are arguing about.

i like learning about other peoples' viewpoints on issues i have not much experience in, but i'm lost here.

the initial post made vague sense, but the comments... none whatsoever.

can anyone summarize what the debate is about in simple terms for a white boy who predominantly studies simple black and white things (no pun intended) like numbers?

RiPPa said...


Yeah, the obligatory "this is life in the hood when somebody dies," song, being passed as a "tribute" of sorts does little to dispel the stereotype associated with black men who wear hoodies. If anything, Mr. Ghetto's offering serves as a message to white folks to buy more guns. Sure it's ridiculous to think that white folks will see this video and run out and purchase guns. But hey, this fool has me going to Walmart looking for half-naked women, so go figure.

chaunceydevega said...

@Razor. Thanks. You got all that I was trying to say.

@Free. I don't get the upset either. Help a brother understand!

@Rippa. I am looking for those good women who douche shake booties and buy drawers at Walmart too. Maybe it is a New Orleans thing.

Weird Beard said...

Perhaps you are getting some guff from the perspective that you are making attributional errors regarding the culture of poverty, a.k.a. black underclass. It seems CNu takes the stance on the far end of the spectrum of personal accountability. You seem to cite structural factors to explain a number of issues, yet your blanket of structural issues seems like it isn't large enough to cover the toes on this particular issue. So you have people on the farther end of the structural issues spectrum lumping you and CNu together, because from that perspective you both are too far toward personal responsibility/contextual blindness/white oppressive narratives.

d2 said...


I thought Bill Cosby was out of line. Eric Dyson IMO was on point.

There has been a lot of talk about white people (how they would view Mr Ghetto, how his performance might "embolden" Zimmerman supporters. Who cares? The type of white person that is going to judge a race of ppl based on a youtube video should not be our focus IMO. Our ppl are not monolithic as my professor used to say. We've got rich, poor, educated (college or street)etc. I'm just trying to support my ppl. A ppl that has gotten dogged from the gitty-up(1600's) and is still getting dogged till this day. Who am I to pass judgement on another brother or sister? Constructive criticism in a respectful way yes, ridicule no.

Ms. Bunny Easter said...

You knew they were coming; the opportunists, the narcissist, the greedy, and the ignorant. When Al Sharpton gave the press conference after George Zimmerman’s arrest, I was troubled by one of the men at the podium. It was Pastor Jamal Bryant; the Bentley driving, millionaire home living, scandal ridden, mega church minister. I knew he wouldn’t be able to resist displaying his divinity before millions of people. Ministers are some of the most self-serving narcissists on the planet. He was the last one to speak. When he did, it was almost a sermon.

The salacious activity of a minister and his church is the last thing you want media to focus on in this very important case. Yet, knowing this, Bryant felt compelled to make himself the center of attention.

The next narcissist to seek attention by exploiting Trayvon’s death was Russell Simmons. A couple a days ago, I heard he was going to appear on the Geraldo Rivera Show. Of course it was to discuss the case. I was appalled! When did Russell Simmons become spokesperson for anything but cultural debasement, blood diamonds and predatory bank cards? He tried to hone in on the Occupy Wall Street Movement. But they saw him for what he was.

The last thing the Martin Family needs is a pack of backward, rabid hyenas, confiscating their child’s death for their ego, vanity, and a few bucks. But as Chauncey has revealed about Mr. Ghetto, that’s exactly what is happening.

It’s very sad.

Dani said...

Am I the only person who enjoys watching Mr. Ghetto and his people fuck-up/disrespect Walmart? However ig'nant he may be, the man has a sense of humor and I can appreciate that... Or is he dead as serious?
And I have to agree with Razor - I do think Mr. Ghetto was trying "to show some genuine love to all the brothers who routinely get jacked by white authority and white authority figures." His linking it to Trayvon Martin case was counterproductive and also stupid, but I do not believe he was being exploitative. I ain't saying he's an angel - I'm just sayin'... Maybe he's simply a bonehead.

Mr Ghetto's rapping(?) in his political song is so whack that it made me blush a couple of times -Did you see his boys singing along in the background?? The wannabe Nate Dogg hooking?

Anonymous said...
Racist Black Pastor says Trayvon got what he deserved

Anonymous said...

Two things:
1. "Tragically, I do not think that the lumpen black proletariat embodied by "Mr. Ghetto" seem to understand that foolishness such as linking this video to Trayvon Martin's case"

No, Mr. Ghetto and others like him, do not realize there is a correlation between how you portray yourself and how others see you. But then, I don't think he/ they, really care. Self reflection is not necessarily a strong suit amongst the ghetto class.

2. I knew I was going to hate having watched these videos. Walmart! Whhhhyyyyy?!

CNu said...


sabrinabee just had her "where is the pride?" moment.

the no_limits_nigga apologists will be along very shortly to award you your "handkerchief head" prize any minute now for self-hating bougie Tomism...,

Anonymous said...

Then I will have to wear that "prize" because that is just shameful. My stomach was turning watching that video.