Lyfe Jennings is a singer of considerable talent.
But recently, he made a song that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.
Below are the lyrics for one of his recent songs: Slave.
Aye yo, yo you don't get your ass over here Slow this shit down a lil bit
Hum ah ah your heart is racing like 100 miles an hour Don chicka nee ya hum ah ah that pussy dripping like you just Got out the shower don chicka don hum ah ah got that ass hopping Just like a frog don chicka nee ya hum ah ah got your legs Shaking like two wet dogs This ain't the part we fall in love this is the part we kiss and fuck Do all the things we said we never do
I'm gon' beat it like a slave so you don't run away Got the whips and chains Call me master I'm gon' beat it like a slave And work you everyday, do everything I say I'm your master, I'm gon' beat it like a slave I'mma beat that pussy like a slave
Hum ah ah your booty moving like Your body just got foreclosed Don chicka nee yo hum ah ah your milk is pouring like you own a Bowl of cheerios don chicka don hum ah ah and we even moving With every stroke don chicka nee ya hum ah ah pull out all your
Hair like amber rose undies on the floor This ain't the part we fall in love This is the part we kiss and fuck do All the things we said we never do I'm gon' beat it like a slave so You don't run away got the whips and chains call me master I'm gon' beat it like a slave and work you everyday do Everything I say I'm your master Beat that pussy like a slave Beat that pussy like a slave
Beat that pussy like a slave
Let's ignore the misogyny.
Let's focus on the white supremacist context of this song.
I listened to Slave.
I read about the backlash.
I watched Lyfe Jennings defend himself (as well as apologize in passing).
But you know what?
The only thing I felt for him after all that was pity.
Below is a bit of what he said in frustration about his career:
"You know what's weird is that y'all know that Lyfe done put out positive music my whole career. They ain't never supported my stuff," the 41-year-old soul singer hit back in a short clip. "You ain't never supported Boomerang, you ain't never supported S.E.X., you ain't never supported all that good music I did for Black people. And then you're gonna try and put something like this on your page? That's what's wrong with you Black folks right now. You always wanna grasp on to the most negative but you can't support the good."
(Check out BET's article on the matter here: https://www.bet.com/music/2019/09/17/lyfe-jennings-defend-lyrics-comparing-sex-to-slavery.html).
What do y'all think?
To me, this song sounded like a cry for help...
I don't know if you get where I'm coming from with that, but it's what I felt.
The pity I felt for Jennings grew to pity for all Black people, and it triggered a cascade of thoughts...
It made me think of American segregation. It made me think of how the Second Amendment doesn't apply to Black people. It made me think of The Invisible Man. It made me think about the Jewish puppet masters of the hip-hop industry who only want to acknowledge and sell Black death. It made me think of #OscarsSoWhite...
It triggered the discomfort I felt watching Spike Lee's Bamboozled (particularly the tap-dancing scene). It made me think of how Lee reacted when he got an Oscar for BlacKkklansman (his first cop-out film if you ask me). (Check out Lee, clad in purple, jumping for joy onto Samuel L. Jackson below.)
Spike Lee is a genius.
He's been making incredible movies for decades. But People of Non-Color have repeatedly snubbed him.
And we know why, don't we?
It's because his movies gave agency to Black people and avoided centering whiteness. His movies always challenged the white supremacist ways of the USA. His movies showed them the messy, ugly truths of race relations in the USA.
Lee has weathered professional ostracization all these years. But make no mistake: constant marginalization is a stressor that wears down even the strongest of us. In this image of Lee above, I could see years of suppressed stress be released: just because of this bit of long-overdue acknowledgement. I was happy for him to some degree. But I won't lie: that happiness was muddled with resentment:
I didn't like how much they tossed this picture (of Lee jumping on Jackson) around in the media outlets. I felt like they were mocking him. I don't know if you get where I was coming from with that, but that's how I felt.
My mind flowed to other Black entertainers (singers, dancer, actors, etc.) in history that came to achievement through degradation. I thought briefly of Hattie McDaniel and her stereotypical mammie role in Gone With The Wind. She was the first Black American to ever win an Oscar.
What could she have been and done, if only she could have been given a fair chance?
"What do I gotta do for you to notice me?"
That was the summative thought. All in all, that was the way it would sound if I had to sum up the pitiable sentiments from Jennings' perspective.
Occasionally, you may hear Black people speak as if acknowledgement from wider society (white society, due to their larger population) doesn't matter. They opine: "If they won't give it, then let them keep it. We don't need it, cuz we can do our own stuff over here."
Sounds tough. And bold.
You can tell that they're over being hurt.
But being "over it" doesn't absolve the stress of being an outcast overnight.