Tuesday, October 13, 2009

When Old Folks & Rap Music Collide.

Confession: I was 18 years old once.

Some of ya'll might find this hard to believe, given all the grown folks' styled grease I spit around here. Part of being young is the lack of consideration for foresight, or that certain stuff might not be totally appropriate. You don't typically have to figure that sorta stuff out until you're older and have responsibilities and whatnot. Again, this is the cool thing about being young, you really don't have to be responsible (yet), and that's a great thing some grownups (whether secretly or outwardly) envy about kids nowadays.

That said, it always sorta pisses me off when adults (ie: me) try and squash the kids' fun all in the name of political correctness. Witness this latest display of "Old Negro Nonsense" from the administration of a prominent Southern HBCU.
Effective this week, N.C. A&T won't have anything to do with the vile-mouthed rapper Gucci Mane, who was scheduled to headline the university's homecoming concert on Oct. 31.

The concert will go on, as planned, before a packed house at the Greensboro Coliseum -- only without any connection to A&T. The university has withdrawn its promotion of the event and removed its name (although it also should remove the word "homecoming" from the concert's title, which remains on the coliseum Web site).

The contract with the promoter, Diamond Life Concerts, has not been legally voided. But if the university makes any money from the event, said Dr. Mark Kiel, A&T's vice chancellor for development and university relations, A&T "will not directly benefit." Kiel said those revenues would go to a cause that's consistent with the values that "drove us from the concert in the first place."

A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. rightly reconsidered the association with Gucci Mane, who flaunts gang colors, gang signs and gang themes in his videos and lyrics, which include such uplifting titles as "Murder for Fun."

Even in the hard-core world of rap, the artist is known for cold, remorseless themes that revel in cocaine and killing.

A&T had explored ways to void its contract with the artist, who has been arrested for murder (the charges eventually were dropped for lack of evidence) and served prison time for assault with a pool cue. The school also considered substituting another act, but it was too late, Martin said. "So we made the decision that we would remove our institution's name from all advertising, all marquees, all tickets, and we would withdraw financial support from the show so that we would not be in any shape or form associated with his message or his image."

The university should be especially sensitive to messages of violence given two murders of A&T students over the last two years and other shootings near campus. Yet somehow the school painted itself into this corner, again, by not learning from previous experiences with controversial homecoming headliners.

A new process is forthcoming, said Martin, who says the choice of performers poses the kind of question that ought to be debated on campus -- before the fact.

Other artists scheduled to appear include OJ da Juice Man, Nicki Minaj, Keri Hilson, Trey Songz, Fabolous, Mario, GS Boyz and FLY.

Of course, turning its back on hard-edged acts such as Gucci Mane is not without its costs to A&T: The concerts annually draw big crowds and make big money. More than 8,000 tickets already have been sold this year. But A&T would pay an even steeper price if it remained an active partner in such ventures: its reputation. Martin did the right thing.
Why the hell the school's administration felt the need to be involved in the lineup at an off-campus homecoming concert is beyond me. I remember having a pre-rape trial Tupac Shakur perform on the campus of my alma mater one year for homecoming. How is this any different/better than Gucci Mane?

Perhaps I'm biased because I happen to actually like Gucci Mane, mostly because his talent:popularity/hotness[1] ratio is the most skewed of any artist this side of Master P. When he's not in jail, that is. Mark my words, by this time next year, he will absolutely be the bigger rapper out of Atlanta. Get familiar.

I suppose I understand schools wanting to protect their images/integrity, but I thought homecoming was all about the kids.[2] And assuming it is all about the kids, if the kids want Gucci Mane, give the damn kids Gucci Mane. Besides, this strikes me as a bit of selective grandstanding, given the fact that the rest of the lineup includes such artistic luminaries as OJ Da Juice Man, Nicki Minaj, and Mr. "LOL :)" himself, Trey Songz.[3] Stevie Wonder, Phylis Hyman, and Donny Hathaway they are not.

Intervening and selectively altering a homecoming concert lineup sounds like the worst sort of "we know what's better for you than you do" paternalism that makes most students look at administration as "so out of touch" in the first place. Between this incident at A&T, and that nonsensical "dress code" imposed at Morehouse, it seems like school administrators are gettin' high off their own supply.

Fall back, Old Folks! Stay outta the chill'rens way and let them have their fun. Enough already.

Question: Does the school administration have the right to selectively remove performers from an off-campus concert to protect the school's image? Isn't this a form of "freedom of speech" suppression? Do you also like Gucci Mane, or is he just another rusty-mouthed, untalented bum?

N.C. A&T walks away [Greensboro News & Record]

[1] And by "hot", I mean his ability to rhyme aimlessly and clumsily about absolutely nothing, yet still come off sounding pretty good. Maybe it's the Zaytoven production, I can't quite figure it out myself, but cop one of his mixtapes and tell me it don't bang.

[2] Most HBCU's have a companion "old folks concert" with people like The O'Jays and Gladys Knight for alums. Or maybe it was just my school.

[3] Boy, was that Trey Songz vs Sandra Rose tweet-battle epic or what?!?

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