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Minstrel rap is back

Minstrel rap ain’t dead, it just took a vacation for a couple of years. You know how black people like to take extended periods of time off from work. As the saying goes, when the weather is too hot, niggas don’t wanna work. When the weather is too cold, niggas don’t wanna work. And when the weather is just right, niggas wanna have a barbecue!

I’d have to check, but as far as I know, it’s been a couple of years since there’s been a rap song that specifically references chicken. Of course, there’s been any number of songs that are embarrassing to black people in some form or another. Take for example Soulja Boy’s entire oeuvre. And hardly a day goes by when there isn’t a video on World Star that functions as a reminder of the sad state of affairs in the black community, a la the video of Derrion Albert’s head getting split open to the white meat. (Rest in peace.) But there’s been a conspicuous absence of actual white meat. If I didn’t know any better, I might even suspect it’s had something to do with Barack Obama being in office.

A few years ago, you could hardly swing a dead cat on the Internets without hitting a video of black kids dancing and singing about chicken. There was “Fry That Chicken,” and “Chicken Noodle Soup,” and “Chain Hang Low” by Jibbs’, which features an interpolation of the song “Zip Coon” aka “Turkey in the Straw,” a classic minstrel show number. If you count turkey as a form of chicken, which isn’t that much of a stretch (I’ve gotten the itis from both), that’s enough for a trend story in the New York Times, the newspaper of record. You couldn’t help but think that there was some conspiracy by the major labels to push minstrel rap as the proverbial new ska. I said as much in a post for this site, which was referenced and/or ripped off wholesale in a number of media outlets. At one point, there was even a public radio show where Jesse Jackson commented on it. And I know it’s referenced in some book, which also includes a footnote explaining the meaning and origin of the term tall Israeli. The author emailed me a while back, I guess to see if I’d be pissed if he called me an antisemite. On the contrary, I viewed it as merely another stepping stone to cementing my status as the leading black public intellectual.

But I digress.

Over the course of the weekend, two new videos hit the Internets, suggesting that the minstrel rap trend is far from over. The major labels might not be behind it as strong as they were in ’06, when there was still a glimmer of hope from rap album sales, but that hasn’t put a damper on the DIY spirit. As far as I can tell neither of these new clips was produced with the aid of the aforementioned tall Israelis.

One definitely wasn’t. It’s a clip of a baby, on a table, doing the stanky leg. Whatever that is. It’s like those dancing baby commercials from the late ’90s, except it’s so real and it’s so sad. The youngest person in my family (that I’m forced to deal with on a regular basis) is 27, so I don’t know jack shit about babies. But I can’t imagine the baby in this video is any older than a year old. It’s a wonder it can even stand up on its own, let alone dance far better than I can. If it doesn’t grow up to be morbidly obese (i.e. even beyond the standards of black strip clubs), that ought to serve it well in its career working the pole. (If you haven’t seen this video already, it’s posted on my own site today, under the title “Why we can’t have nice things.”)

The other video looks all slick and professional, and features a number of cars that probably cost quite a bit, if only for the umpteen inch rims, leading one to think that a white person must have cut a check in order for it to be produced, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the funding came from the proceeds of the black Muslim trade. After all, it was filmed in Chicago. The video “Chicken Waang” by DJ Solo was posted on the Chicago rap blog just a few hours ago, but already it’s caused it’s share of commotion. The consensus in the comments section seems to be that it’s an embarrassment for black people in general, and Chicago rap music in particular. As if Chicago rap music needs any more embarrassments this year.

Watching the video for “Chicken Waang,” which features an entire neighborhood of people posing with bottles of barbecue sauce (no, really), and shaking their asses next to $600 cars with $6,000 rims, you wonder if it ever occurred to any of these people what an embarrassment this video would be. But then you’re reminded that it could have been a lot of worse. This video may have been produced in the same area where Derrion Albert brought a whole new meaning to the term white meat. It came from the same city and the same overall class of people anyway. Obviously, the thought process is just way different than it is most other places.

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