Why This Tweet Is Dead Wrong

September 16th 2014

Alece Oxendine

Mike Brown's murder has prompted almost everyone with an opinion to weigh-in, including several celebrities. New Hip-Hop artist Lecrae tweeted this:

Lecrae Tweet

Now on the surface this tweet seems OK. But there was something that bothered me about it. Why can't anyone who has experienced inequality or injustice talk about it, regardless of their standing in society or what they say? Before I go any further, here's Lecrae's follow-up comment from an interview with Billboard on how people interpreted his tweet:

"I'm not saying that if you do rap about lawlessness, you're not qualified to ask for justice, I think that's how people took it. What I'm saying is, that kind of inconsistency, when the majority of your songs talk about killing people, and then you are screaming for justice, that inconsistency in people's minds creates apathy and says, ''Why should I care about what you're saying, because I just heard 10 songs about why you don't respect the law, and now you want the law to work on your behalf?'"

Although I see where Lecrae is coming from, his follow-up comment still doesn't satiate my deeper issue with his original tweet. I argue that the people rapping about lawlessness are the ones who should probably speak about it the most. IBobby Shmurda wants to rap about catching bodies 'bout a week ago and in the same breath demand the end of gun violence, he should. If his audience is in a section of Brooklyn that is affected by gun violence, speaking up would carry a lot of weight. That's how street credibility works: you lived it and rapped about it, so I trust you if you speak out against a greater inequality. This audience won't feel a sense of apathy like Lecrae argues, but rather a sense that someone from their block "gets them". Plus rappers are performers. If it were any other art form (or race) where an actor plays a bad guy but is personally a crusader against injustice, I doubt people would question why they turn around and ask for equality and justice. 

Here's a better example: Atlanta rapper T.I. commented on the looting in Ferguson after Mike Brown's death:

TI Instagram

(To My People)Look at us. Rebels without a cause. Soldiers without a general. A lost generation. Ready for War. No strategy,no training. Armed only with our grief,aggravation, and passionate disdain for our treatment in America. Sick and tired of everything...especially ourselves. We'd rather use the tragedies of our environment as an excuse to act-out,go-off,or turn-up, rather than use our education,talents & future opportunities to get-out,speak-up,& make-a-change. Look at us... Too Enraged to sit around & do nothing. But Too Entrapped in da cycle of vengeance/hostility to do anything WORTH doing. Look at us. So upset with our conditions that we've gone into "Fuck-it" mode... "Fuck-the-world" "Fuck-the-Police" And even "Fuck" the wishes & request of a grieving mother,father,family who lost a son...who's memory they would NOT like to see tarnished by OUR negative ACTIONS/DECISIONS. Naaah G,that ain't the code, this ain't da way. What I see us doing is just as futile as swinging wildly into the wind,waiting on the air to get tired. One question to MY PEOPLE: What are we changing...Really? Look at us. Destroying our own community, but continuing to spend money in theirs. Refusing education... re-volving in the same cycle of ignorance instead of e-volving out of it. I must admit that I TOO am disgusted wit America's treatment. I TOO demand change. But Goddddaaaaamn man.... Look at us!!!!! Although I too am at fault to a degree & I admit that I may not have all da answers... I do have a fun fact for you. Insanity is...Going about things the same way,expecting a different result. U wanna different result? U must take different action. What else do u expect? Look at us!!!

T.I. served 11 months in jail on federal weapons charges. His work has gotten considerably less violent but he did appear on the controversial misogynistic song Blurred Lines. So for Lecrae's tweet to be true, people shouldn't listen to T.I. because there are major inconsistencies in what he raps about and his statement above. Looking through the comments from T.I.'s instagram proves otherwise: most support and agree and appreciate him speaking up.

There are a lot of mixed messages in pop culture-- that extend far beyond hip hop. If Lecrae's tweet is extrapolated, why not say that Paul Newman is a hypocrite for playing a bank robber on the silver screen, but launching a prolific charity (Newman's own) off the screen. Life, unfortunately, contains mixed messages and the entertainment world is based on the fanciful, which hopefully, most can separate from the practical.

Even though I disagree with his comments, I admit I'm a fan of Lecrae's music. We are not monolithic and could and should speak up about equality and justice no matter the circumstance. Too many people are too quiet on the issues that matter.