Congratulations to Kanye West, who raked in a chunk of BET Award nominations with his homeboy Jay-Z. Among the nominations for Video of the Year is the ever-so-bumping track “N*ggas in Paris,” the song that reminds you that no Black man on earth had ever been to Paris before Jay-Z and Kanye. Why read a book when artists are willing to give us instant history lessons?
I have to confess, the Jay-Z/Kanye collab was simply off the hook; I was quite impressed. In some ways, the music was a bit like a 30-ton piggy bank made out of solid steel, with absolutely nothing in the middle. Rarely do we get a chance to see such extraordinary talent utilized on such a shallow exercise of pointless and redundant materialism (Question: “You see my private jets flying over you?”Answer: “Yes, I saw the private jet in the last song, now please let me ride the bus in peace.”)
One of the odd revelations I had this morning while sitting on a train and reflecting on the awesome success of Jay-Z and Kanye was just how well it pays to be a n*gga. Being an honorable and intelligent Black man doesn’t pay the bills nearly as much as calling yourself a n*gga in front of thousands of adoring White people. But Jay and Kanye aren’t just regular n*ggaz; they’re international n*ggaz, which makes them better than the rest of us. Hence, these self-proclaimed n*ggaz dance and rap in front of millions of people and tell the rest of us to sit back and watch the throne in admiration.
What’s most interesting about the throne that Jay-Z and Kanye are asking us to watch is that this throne is built on a bed of dollar bills built by non-Black folks who pay these men to behave like coons.
Were it not for all the White folks willing to pay for such buffoonery, these men would have no throne for the rest of us to watch. So, as I mentioned earlier, it pays to be a n*gga, because thrones are most easily built through extreme n*gga-ocity and White psuedo-validation.
You think they respect you, but their admiration is actually due to your willingness to help them experience a contrived Black ghetto fantasy of Negroes with big gold medallions, diamonds in their teeth, tattoos all over their bodies.
Yes, brother, you are a caricature.
Congratulations on your award, Kanye. Your mother, the college professor, would be proud. But then again, I don’t think she raised you to go in front of White people and call yourself a “n*gga.” Malcolm might say that you were born on a throne of education long before you put those chains around your neck. You were raised better than that, so it is my greatest prayer that the next album will be just a tad bit smarter.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the forthcoming book, “The RAPP Sheet: Rising Above Psychological Poison.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.