Why Dumb Down?
In my opinion, the most ignorant thing you can tell a person is to purposely "dumb it down." Still, I've heard people say this to rappers; I've heard people who write scripts for television shows and movies say this; and Jay Stephens, the VP of Programming for Radio One, and a morning show coach named Steve Reynolds said something similar to me.
They said, and I quote, “The 18-34 demographic in urban radio doesn't want to be enlightened, they want to have fun!”
I explained to them that this is the Barack Obama Era. People want to be educated, enlightened, as well as entertained. The higher ends of my demo are watching CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News more than ever. We had the highest youth voter turnout ever in the history of the U.S. during the last presidential election so that showed that our demo cares about things other than Lil Wayne or Drake.
I was told by Jay Stephens and Steve Reynolds that I was wrong, and to quote Jay directly: "20-year-old Black kids are still watching Nickelodeon."
Really, Jay, 20-year-old kids?
At 20, most young people are in college, some young people are even married with families with kids who are watching Nickelodeon. These guys really think that we are so dumbed down that we’re watching Nickelodeon at 20-years old? I proceeded to tell them stop insulting my culture and left another meeting with them shaking their heads like, “He just doesn't get it.”
They’re right, I don't.
I can't understand the mentality of this society that makes bright, intelligent people tell other bright, intelligent people to "dumb it down." I totally get giving it to the people in a way that they will understand. It's called putting the medicine in the candy, but all that "Fuck that intelligent shit, give people the dummy shit" talk, makes absolutely no since to me.
When I first started studying the 5 Percent teachings of Islam one of the first things they teach you is to show your greatest intelligence at all times. I feel like this is the way we should move all the time whether we’re doing radio, comedy, television, music or whatever. Show your greatest intelligence at all times.
I hear people call Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka, and Soulja Boy dumb. They aren't dumb; they’re just giving you what they know. I enjoy their music when I'm in the club the same way I enjoy Pillsbury Big Deluxe Cookies on my cheat days Friday and Saturday. The rest of the week I'm working out and eating things that are healthier for me.
Jay Electronica, Killer Mike and the Strong Arm Steady Gang are the people I'm into. They don’t dumb shit down for nobody, but they’re still human so they rap from a human experience. You’re going to hear them talk about sex, how fly a chick is, or blowing on some good green. We aren't perfect, we’re just spiritual beings living a human existence and we have that kind of balance. Elijah Muhammad said it best, “You’re not going to walk through the mud and not get dirty.”
But back to the point I was trying to make…
People call Gucci, Waka and Soulja dumb but they aren't dumb at all like I said. They are just giving you their experiences. That's what they know at this point so that's what they are expressing. The dummies are the ones who know better but choose not to do better. If you know you’re faster than everybody you’re racing, why purposely slow down? I had my homeboy Randy Roper, who’s a journalist; hear an artist named Louie the 13th. I think Louie is super lyrical and Randy agreed but proceeded to tell me that Louie has to "dumb it down."
When I asked why, he responded, “So people can understand, so people can get it. He's not going to make it being super lyrical.”
I understand what Randy was saying, but this is when we as a people have to make critical decisions and ask ourselves what are we doing this for? The money? The fame? If that’s your reason for doing your art I’m here to tell you that you don't have a passion for it.
Everybody that's rich off their chosen profession in this entertainment business, whether it's a Howard Stern or Wendy Williams in radio, or Jay-Z or Lil Wayne in rap, they’re rich because first and foremost they have a passion for what they do. If you have a passion for what you do and you strive to create great art everything else will fall in place. People that tell you to dumb it down are usually people who don't know how to create something new so they would rather create something that fits into the now.
That kind of mentality is not going to move the culture forward, nor is it going to help our people grow. Think about OutKast’s and Goodie Mob’s first albums. Hard, classic music; street but still had a message in it. If they had dumbed it down then who would they have inspired to be great or reach for a higher level of consciousness?
I remember my father used to always have Farrakhan tapes playing when I was younger but I never got into them until I heard Biggie Smalls say, “Deep like the mind of Farrakhan,” on "The Whut." I was like, “Word? Biggie’s acknowledging Farrakhan, well, let me see how deep this brother is that Biggie would mention him in a rap.” I’ve been hooked ever since, but what if Biggie felt like he couldn’t mention Farrakhan because the masses might be too dumb to know who he is? I along with millions of others probably would have missed out.
In closing, when people tell you to dumb it down tell them to kiss your ass. It's an insult to you and our culture. We must show our greatest intelligence at all times. Those that know better should always do better and teach better. We are spiritual beings living a human existence so I can talk about God in one breath and then talk about Gucci Mane in the next breath. That's not called being a hypocrite, it’s called being hip to everything that's around you. I can take a Bible in the strip club if I choose to because at the end of the day it doesn't matter if it's the Word or ones in my hand. It's what's in my heart and my mind that matters.
(And the reason I did bring the Bible into the strip club was because it was Christmas Eve I wanted to remind people of the reason for the season, but you don't hear me though.)
The stupidest thing to tell a person is to dumb it down. That's what got our society applauding mediocrity now. If you’re great, be great and remember that great people find a way to make those who are in tune with them greater not dumber. —Charlamagne Tha God