Skip to content

Black Like Me…

Listening to songs off Mos Def’s pretty good new album “The Ecstatic” I wonder what he learnt playing Chuck Berry in the movie “Cadillac Ranch”.? Berry never rested on his ethnic identity, he roared through it. Maybe he had no choice but he sure had every reason. The social effect of Berry’s blackness is much closer to Dred Scott than Mos Def -the discriminations he had against him lead to jail and could have lead to much worse.
Even Public Enemy had a valid reason to place themselves in the public arena as a victim and advocate of black rights. But it isn’t true of today’s succesful enetertainers and the only thing left for middle class blacks (as opposed to poor blacks who, like poor whites, have a different problem) to do is take a victory lap.
This is about President Obama but it isn’t only about President Obama. It is about Richard Parsons and Jay Z; it is about Denzel Washington and Al Sharpton:it is about the end of a war. And at the end of the war soldiers lay down their arms and go back to civilian life but this generation of black people can’t let go -it’s all they have ever known.
I realize that when 50% of all black males have been to prison it is hard to call victory. But it is truer to accept the change has indeed come than to refuse to give up a fight that is over. The result is wrong minded albums like “The Ecstatic”. The result is a refussal to accept that the responsibility for black successes and failures lies with individuals. I never thought white success (or Lebanese or English) success was a reflection on my abilities. They aren’t. Cultural empathy is notsocial empathy, it is one thing to see the Knicks successes as your own, wuite another to see the Presidents success as your own to the detriment of an acccurate assessment of your own life.
All over Def’s “Supermagic” is a call towards a super black vibe defined by skin pigmentation: same as it ever was. I wrote about WW2 propaganda the other day, but this is a different type of propaganda. Perhaps there was a time when Oprah and Angelou’s artisitically iffy but culturally barrier breaking black pride was neccessary. There was a time when Mos’s work with the Roots needed to be heard by some people. But is this that?
What’s important is always is the new music and how it is said and both are OK here but neither are great and without an edge of greatness their political brightness lose its deft. If your gonna live and die by ethnic bally hoo even smart word play like ” Testin’ your ate in the delirium, sounding fate booming all over your eminence, skin on skin again, put it all, get it all, get in then… ‘ has to paid off sooner or later by “there it is, boogieman”.
Compare to Cam’ron’s “Crime Pays” -he is still too gangsta for his own good but the concern here is fiscal more then visceral.
Or compare it to the hedonism of dance-hop or Colson Whitehead’s color neutral novel “Sag Harbor”. In an interview on NY1 the black upper middle class man went out of his way to say the struggle continued but he simply had no choice: he might have meant it if he thought about it, but he shouldn’t have had to think about it.
Well, “Supermagic” is a very good song and Def has a point but perhaps next he can take his victory lap and get back to living again.

Leave a Comment


Support Let Me Help Inc by shopping at

Going Steady: New Singles 9-24-21 – 9-30-21

By Iman Lababedi | September 28, 2021 |

an anthem for the ages and a thrilling version

US Top 10 Singles Dated October 2nd, 2021

By Iman Lababedi | September 28, 2021 |

The Kid Laroi leaves Scooter Braun for Britney Spears management company

Bob Dylan Announces His Never Ending Tour: It Will Last Till 2024!

By Alyson Camus | September 28, 2021 |

the tour is also billed as ‘world wide tour/2021-2024′

US Top 10 Albums Dated October 2nd, 2021

By Iman Lababedi | September 27, 2021 |

Drake remains in the penthouse for a third week.

Sneak Peaks: Upcoming Album Releases 10-1-21 – 10-7-21

By Iman Lababedi | September 27, 2021 |

if I can’t get the one I saw in 2014 I’ll take this

L.A. Burning, West Coast Concert Picks: September 27th To October 3rd

By Alyson Camus | September 26, 2021 |

Japanese Breakfast play the Regent twice this week

Governors Ball 10th Anniversary At Citi Field, Saturday, September 25th, 2021: Latino Spoken Here

By Iman Lababedi | September 26, 2021 |

Frat like ill-mannered louts and late comers Latin-American

UK Top 10 Albums: 9-24-21 – 9-30-21

By Iman Lababedi | September 26, 2021 |

Drake beating out Lil Nas X

St Vincent At The Hollywood Bowl, Friday, September 24th 2021

By Alyson Camus | September 26, 2021 |

her style had many moods and her instrumental palette was wide

Governors Ball 10th Anniversary At Citi Field, Friday, September 24th, 2021: Gen Z Takeover

By Iman Lababedi | September 25, 2021 |

organization plus good luck

Scroll To Top