Could this song be the most culturally relevant rap song of the year and in recent memory? YES…. But is it?
SOOOOOOO, the 300lb tatted up man boobie having elephant in the room is still Rick Ross’s controversial lyrics on Rockos U.O.E.N.O.
“I die over these Reeboks, you ain’t even know it/Put molly all in her champagne/ She ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that/ She ain’t even know it.”
Included in this quotation from the rapper who at the time was a paid endorser of Reebok brands is his rhyme that references his willingness to die for what is his property, in retrospect this seems extra ironic and interesting considering the fallout from the controversy that surrounded these lyrics and their endorsing of “date rape” or “date rape culture”. In the end Ross was dropped from Reebok, one of the biggest endorsement partnership that either side of that relationship possessed. A subtle but potentially more important aspect of this severed relationship between Reebok and Ross’s “Maybach Music” brand is the loss and seemingly now adversarial attitude of Meek Mill. Meek seemingly did some work himself to promote Reebok and specifically its “Reebok Back” campaign, it remains unclear whether he was signed by Reebok at the time of Ross’s dismissal. What makes an artist like Meek potentially more valuable to a brand like Reebok even if he isn’t an employee is the direct link he has to the youth market, which for a sneaker brand is highly important. More so than Ross, who is still undoubtedly of a higher stature in almost any arena (for now); Meek brings a more devoted and impressionable brand of followers who relate more to someone who is 5-10 years older than them rather than Ross’s 20+ year age gap between he and the average high school age kid. It seems implicit that a sneaker company like Reebok might value this relationship, instead they have Mill stating very publicly his opinion on the company post Ross.
“Fuck Reebok. We wear Puma’s. That’s what we do. We wear Puma’s. As far as the Rick Ross situation with Reebok, I just don’t approve of none of that. I don’t approve of no companies trying to dip and dab in our culture and then when you make a mistake they dip out on you. So, it’s like they still making money off of our brand,”
Since then Ross has released a second (first seemingly on topic) statement of apology, but it is most likely Mills statements and attitude toward the brand that has Reebok CEO, Uli Becker meeting with Ross again. Producer Swizz beats who is a contemporary of Ross and currently endorses Reebok has a penchant for involving himself in things that are even higher than his usual stature which I’m guessing played into this meet up.
In my opinion the biggest issue of this whole matter that somewhat came and went, most likely because of the severity of the subject of Rape; is the freedom of speech/artistc freedom aspect of this topic and the idea that what is at the end of the day NOT an actual happening or sworn admission (a song lyric) is being reacted to at as such. Hip Hop is a culture and rap a form of music that is based on not only rebellion, but on freedom; freedom to say what ever it is that your thinking. If what you chose to put forth is true or false, peaceful or violent, uplifting or degrading it really should make no difference, it is expression and art. When looking at the issue in historical context you have to wonder what makes Ross’s snafoo (or lack of morals, depending on where you stand) so unique, when others like Ice-T , Eminem or really any rapper with any semblance of content have gotten away with seemingly controversial lyrics.
This is the million dollar question, and frankly I could offer up a few guesses, the first being Ross’s constant seemingly unintentional but highly noticeable habit of making himself more of a caricature than any other (highly relevant) figure in rap history ever has. But like many things brought to the forefront by this song, that is a topic for another day and much more time. Frankly you could teach a graduate level course on some of the implications of this incident and the ramifications associated with it; which by the way I would happily pay to attend regardless of getting college credits.
So alllll that considered as if Ross’s pretty much first released song post Molly Gate which happens to be titled “Poor Decisions” and has a chorus of “Rich Niggas Makin Poor Decisions” wasn’t enough to get your interest; add in that Hip Hops most Political, Societal, cultural and really anything that is worth pontificating on Rapper Critic, Lupe Fiasco happens to also be featured on the track . This all adds up to a recipe for a song that COULD possibly transcend itself both musically and also from a relevancy standpoint. Wale (who im a HUGGGGE fan of) and who is credited as the main artist on the track (the labeling of the feature artist on the MMG compilation albums is one of the 10 mysteries of the modern world) unfortunately ends up as an afterthought.
Lupe being on the track and really even being listed on this or any article or blog post next to the name Rick Ross is a headline in itself. Since day 1 it seems Fiasco towed the line of being outspoken in both song and comments as to what is a detriment to the black and really any poor or underprivileged community, but somehow still managing to not exile our outcast himself TOO MUCH from his peers who seemingly fit the bill of what he was describing as a negative or harmful influences. On his first album, still one of my favorite songs “Day Dream” he rapped
“Now come on, everybody let’s make cocaine cool
We need a few more half naked women up in the pool
And hold this MAC-10 that’s all covered in jewels
And can you please put your titties closer to the 22’s
And where’s the champagne? We need champagne”
HMMMM? can we think of who in rap MOST fits the bill of this described behavior? Cough* William Roberts III * Cough.
Just for reference sake it should be noted that what makes Fiasco an especially interesting character in these matters and really in general. Although he is a self proclaimed skateboarding, Japanese culture loving nerd who came from a 2 parent household with a Karate Sensei for a father; he is also from the South Side of Chicago (one of if not the most dangerous neighborhoods in America). He is the long time business partner and mentee of Charles “Chilly” Patton who in 2007 was sentenced to 44 years in prison stemming from a 2003 bust of over 6 kilos of Heroin (approx. $1 million street value). Patton was credited as a Executive Producer on Fiascos 2nd album The Cool (in my opinion one of the greatest hip-hop if not albums in general of the 2000’s, but you don’t care bout that). So in other words the nerd skateboard rapper is seemingly more similar in background to “BIG MEECH, or LARRY HOOVER” than THE BAWSSSSEEE Rick Ross himself. I’m referring to the rapper, not to be confused with the real life UBER drug kingpin Freeway Ricky Ross. When he is not making appearances on the “Joe Rogan Experience Podcast” Freeway Ross is currently re suing for the 2nd or 3rd time rapper Ross for theft of his “identity” a case he has lost in the past. Yea I know…
Now over the past few years fiasco has become increasingly less concerned with stepping on his peers toes, or being perceived as “dissing” them or being too good for others. A recent appearance and semi rant on Power 105.1’s Breakfast Club comes to mind. These actions and behaviors you would think would hurt his popularity and ability to be embarrassed by his cohorts. However because of a combination of his seniority “in the game” and his somewhat Niche status as the rare, commercially relevant but yet socially and politically rebellious rapper, Fiasco has become it seems somewhat of a go to, or a stamp of approval for certain artists (mainly rappers) who feel they need to show some versatility or a different deeper side. On a lyrical side he has since the onset held a coveted spot in that his name can often be used to describe a type of rap or verse,
“yea his flow on that song is nice, but he came off too Lupeish”.
That being said I think what we have with this record is Ross employing Lupe for a song that by title and timing you would think is his attempt to mend ways with the public; that he hopes (and probably does) want to have him back in their good graces. For Fiasco, the question that so often follows many of his decisions remains, WHY?
I feel like a song that features these artists and has this title and these implied topics and background HAD to be monumental and VERY REAL. Unfortunately on initial first few listens, that does not seem to be the case. Much like many of Rick Ross’s attempts at clarifying things, the song and his verses specifically come off as way to surface level, unspecific, and not very honest or real. Fiasco delivers what he is known for, in a verse that is thought provoking and probably more well put together and complimentary of the beat (produced by Jake One) than he has been over the past few years. Seriously Lupe is pretty damn NICE on this song, that now makes 2 verses in a row where I wasn’t let down by the lyrical prowess of a rapper who was once the games best prospect. BUT, and to me this is the biggest butt (no Nikki) of the entire subject, what makes Lupe’s verse and thus overall appearance on the song fall short and really stick out in a bad way is that there is NO acknowledgment or bridging of some kind of proverbial gap that explains why he is seemingly endorsing an artist who seems to be the antithesis of everything he claims to be against. An artists (Ross) who Fiasco has both directly and indirectly “dissed” on numerous occasions throughout the years. When I say dissed I don’t mean in terms of the traditional “I’m better than you because…” line of attack, but he has really spoke to in very aggressive ways the specific actions and almost moral choices that rappers (specifically ross) make and how they are a detriment to societies and to Hip Hop Culture as a whole. I mean for god sake even on THIS SONG itself (Bad Decisions) his lyrics read;
“Coveting cars over community,
Rappers influence your shooting sprees,
Turn around and publish bars like, eh, it ain’t got shit to do with me.
Easy to record bars so Ruthlessly”
Seem to fit all too well with the common stance that Ross has taken when confronted about his lyrical content. It must be stated that the “Easy to record bars so Ruthlessly” line is a subtle 10, not sure why? Do your research young pad wan.
Wale like his collaborators does what he is known for, which is to say he somewhat effortlessly puts together an eloquent and often multi entendre layden verse. Holding just enough content to give you a gem or two to think about but also not so much as to turn off the new fan base he holds of young, female and gangsteresque individuals.
It should be noted that at Sundays nights Hot 97 Summer Jam XX in New Jersey (pretty much the biggest yearly hip hop centric concert in the world) when Ross came out during French Montana’s set, he received arguably the 2nd or 3rd biggest individual applause/excitement of the night when he rapped “Lets get these hoes on a Molly” from Montana’s single “Pop That”, a song that had been released in 2012 and has remained highly popular even currently. Keeping that in mind we are reminded that although the outside world (women’s advocacy groups, etc) may have made Ross and rap in general public enemy number 1, the core audience seems undeterred.
Overall a pretty solid sounding song, but definitely not what it could have been.