African-American music once filled radios with the lament of the poor. In the 1930s, Billie Holiday sang, “Them that’s got shall get, them that’s not shall lose.” In the ’60s, Stevie Wonder sang that he was “a poor man’s son from across the railroad track.” In the ’70s the Temptations sang, “Money, I ain’t got none. Job, can’t find one.” In 2010, Lloyd Banks rapped, “Beamer, Benz or Bentley, my jeans are never empty.” African-American music is now a song of conspicuous consumption and product placement.
Why can’t even the very good takes on American life, like the shame of turning away from poverty that Leonard Pitts writes, be free of stultifying errors like these? Does anyone, Lloyd Banks included, think that Lloyd Banks is on par with those other titans of black music?
Is “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” even an analogous song to the other three? “God Bless the Child” (not released until 1941) is among the most treasured songs in the American songbook; “Uptight” was No. 3 on Pop Singles and topped R&B Singles for more than a month; “Masterpiece” went to No. 7 on the Hot 100. “Beamer” got all the way to No. 49 on the Hot 100 and peaked at No. 5 on Rap Songs.
This is really not much different from any of the many asinine “OLD MUSIC > NEW MUSIC” Tumblr macros, except that Pitts uses this as fact to buttress an argument that needs making. Even those crusaders clearly on the side of the angels ought to also have the inclination and ability to line up the facts behind them.
we’re going to have the “poverty/recession-conscious rap exists and is literally everywhere” bonanza again and this shithead is the reason why
That writer of that piece was Leonard Pitts, who google says looks like this:
That other picture is of some random dude who got quoted in the article. Just f y i.
Though your point about a repeat of the conscious/recession rap convo is still otherwise on the mark.