Monday, February 1, 2010

TBG Beats: Shuck n' Jive

M'man Sam writes:

Did you see the video that Nas did with Nick Cannon? The shuck and jive one? It was pretty over the top and I thought the song was actually a little too catchy (though that was probably part of the point).

Blackface? Watermelon? Massa?

Oh, Nas. You
marshmallow militant, you.

I agree with both your points, Sam. Particularly, the inherent catchiness of this intended-to-offend ditty. What can I say -- I'm a sucker for the Old Negro pronunciation of the letter "R". I'm just not sure that the intended message will get through to the audience.

The video feels like an ineffective outtake from Chappelle's Show -- satirical, but simplistic. And, without any of the barbed-wire substance that makes great satire stay with you. Am I supposed to be shocked by the blackface? Sorry, Nas, but Public Enemy's use of it in the
Burn Hollywood Burn video was infinitely more effective.

In 1991, Public Enemy was a much more credible messenger of Black pride than Nas has ever been. Nas has been screaming "hip hop is dead" since his 2006 album of the same name. But, let's not forget that in the face of scathing public criticism from the same bojangin', money-makin' acts he was criticizing, Nas softened his stance to avoid alienating his dwindling fanbase.

As I wrote in
my review of the album, Nas has always been more bark than bite.


SHough610 said...

I felt like it had been done better before. I'm not a big fan of it, but Spike Lee's 1997 movie "Bamboozled" also made a much more effective point about how Blacks are portrayed in the media (and did it more compellingly).

One aspect of the video that bothered me was seeing some people I knew watch it and laugh, not getting the satire. It also seemed a bit hypocritical for Nick Cannon to be protesting when he had seemed to buy into the sort of roles that he's criticizing.

Of course, that's not entirely fair. One of my professors in college made a very good point about women and minority actors/actresses: because of the few *good* roles available and how they often go to the most known stars (Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington, etc.) women and minorities are forced into roles that they might not want in order to make ends meet.

That Bootleg Guy said...

I was one of the six people who saw "Bamboozled" during its theatrical run. It's been a long time, but I remember thinking that - like a lot of Spike Lee's movies after "Do the Right Thing" - it was overly long with the message getting lost in the whole "A Spike Lee Joint" approach to filming.

I really should see it again, because over the years, it's obvious that everyone liked "Bamboozled" more than me and I'm willing to see if I'm wrong on this.

SHough610 said...

I agree with you on it actually. I don't think that Spike will ever top Malcolm X or Do the Right Thing (both of which were filmed during what you referred to as the last great Black cultural Renaissance). He is too enamored of the digital filming techniques he used and he's beginning to be engulfed by the bitterness that marks his public persona as he's gotten older (look at the embarrassing spat with Clint Eastwood and the following controversy that he changed history worse than he claimed Eastwood did) but it's still a decent movie.