Let’s face it, folks: The Lil Wayne we once knew is long gone.
In a recent sit-down interview with ABC’s “Nightline,” the New Orleans-bred rapper was asked for his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement. Now, anyone who listened to even half of a Weezy mixtape has savored the fullness of his crime-filled Hollygrove upbringing. Given his racially-charged track “Georgia… Bush” alone, where he takes aim at President Bush for Hurricane Katrina, you’d expect him to support BLM, or at the very least respect its efforts to seek justice for blacks. Instead, he seemed outright baffled by the thought of it.
“What do you mean,” he asked reporter Linsey Davis before she broke down the movement’s creation. “That just sounds weird… I am young, black, rich m*therf*cker. If that don’t let you know that America understand black m*therfuckers matter these days, I don’t know what.”
Funny thing is, Wayne is very familiar with BLM. It’s clear from various clips making their rounds on social media, including his sit-down interview with ESPN’s “Undisputed” back in September. With Skip Bayless, he name-dropped BLM but expressed that there’s “no such thing as racism.”
“I have never dealt with racism, and I’m glad I didn’t have to,” he told Bayless. “I don’t know if it’s because of my blessings, but it is my reality. I thought it was over; I still believe it’s over.”
But how can someone who witnessed firsthand how this country allowed his hometown to suffer devastation and someone who has spent time in the prison system be a stranger to racism?
— Nigel Int’l D. (@Nigel_D) November 2, 2016
The root of his problem can be likened to O.J. Simpson’s back when he was on top. Wayne clearly feels that his worldwide success as a black man places him above the problem, not a victim of it. “I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin to do with me,” he said on “Nightline.”
And fans can tell.
Aside from valid outrage over his flippant attitude toward black social issues, this whole spectacle begs a more important question: How much should we expect from black entertainers in regards to social activism and commentary?
In the past two years, we’ve seen the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Common and, most recently, Solange deliver our pain front and center beautifully both on and off wax. But does that mean we must hold all those on hip-hop’s main stage accountable to do the same? In sports, Colin Kaepernick’s got the whole NFL going nuts over his peaceful protest against the police brutality and systemic racism running rampant in black communities, but does that mean we should expect all black athletes to become activists?
In short: Yes, we should hope for a sense of unity on these matters. In reality, though, all black folks in the spotlight won’t, and we have to let go of that expectation. Because honestly, accepting your proverbial seat at the table takes some soul searching, some compassion and some clarity of mind. Unfortunately, that ain’t for everybody.
There is an immeasurable amount of appreciation when accomplished, well-respected black celebrities speak on our behalf. They may not understand it, but they give us a voice when we don’t feel we have one. Their gifts to express our emotions embolden us with pride, so when they drop the ball, it’s disheartening.
There’s a lot to be upset about with Wayne’s recent behavior, especially after dropping one of his best verses as of late on Solange’s “Mad,” a song about our struggles. At a certain point, though, we have to stop worrying about the black folks who are willfully blind to what’s going on.
Who knows why Wayne is letting black folks down and contradicting who we all thought he was, but all celebrities aren’t created with equal wokeness. We need to accept that, otherwise we’re just gonna continue to be mad.