By Dakari Thomas
After numerous critically acclaimed mixtapes, California-based rapper YG released his debut album “My Krazy Life” in 2014. Track 6 of that LP has a skit titled “Meet the Flockers” that explains the process and emotions he associated with robberies in his neighborhood.
“First, you find a house and scope it out. Find a Chinese neighborhood, ‘cause they don’t believe in bank accounts,” YG raps. The skit was generally passed over, as more focus was put in on the album as a whole.
Now, a nationwide protest has emerged from activist and Chinese American groups arguing that it perpetuates Asian stereotypes and provides step-by-step instructions on robbing their households.
On Sept. 21, 2016, a petition called the White House to “ban the song from public media and investigate legal responsibilities of the writer.” It garnered more than 100,000 signatures before Oct. 22, meaning the Obama administration will review it and issue an official response.
YG has yet to respond and I would be very surprised if he didn’t in a big way. It will most likely be controversial and continue to rub the Chinese American community the wrong way.
While I completely agree with why the community is appalled by what is basically an audio manual on how to rob their own, getting it banned serves no purpose to their cause.
I feel the same way about racist and sexist bigotry that is promoted throughout some conservative demographics, but you can’t silence them.
Stating that the rhetoric YG is referring to is harmful and stereotyping is all that is needed. Getting it banned won’t matter.
It won’t stop the people who grew up as YG did or stop the people who listen to his music from believing certain stereotypes.
Getting the Confederate Flag removed from South Carolina’s Statehouse, where it had flown for over half a century, won’t change the beliefs and feelings some Southerners have for that flag either.
The same goes with hip-hop and some of its artists. There won’t be a time where the suppressing of the sound will actually change the thought process connected to the ignorance.
We’ve seen this before with the wave of rap censorship efforts that permeated the 1990s and strained the relationship between mainstream media and the hip-hop community. The reason that era continued to prosper is because people don’t care as long as the music is good.
The obvious retort would be that carrying out some type of action, such as petitioning to get the song banned, will show protestors are actively attempting to make a change. To the contrary, history has shown us protests actually help the artist.
2 Live Crew’s “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” was ruled as obscene by U.S. district court Judge Jose Gonzalez, and banned from being performed or sold in the state of Florida.
The media attention to the case and the arrest of an store owner actually boosted sales of the album, which wound up with a double platinum certification by selling over two million copies.
With the ease of accessibility to obtain music and the impact of social media, protests aimed at YG can now take big artists like himself and really elevate his brand to a superstardom level.
Attempting to berate an artist for furthering ignorance through his platform is ignorant in itself. A large portion of hip-hop culture and music is predicated on ignorance.
Your best bet is to bring light to the issue, and distance yourself from those not on your side of the cause.