Dear Culture

Has Violence in Hip-Hop Reached the Point of No Return?

Episode 22
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In part two of this conversation, author & host Van Lathan joins Panama Jackson to discuss the role social media and the music industry play in the deadly violence plaguing Black communities. 

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Panama Jackson [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified. What’s going on, everybody? Welcome to Dear Culture, the podcast for buying about Black culture here at theGrio Black Podcast Network. I’m your host, Panama Jackson, and we have a special guest here today. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the one the only Van Lathan Jr. Thank digital handclaps. Glad to have you here. You’re somebody who? You’re. I’m a pop culture commentator. That’s literally what you are, what you do. That’s why we all know who you are. I’ll start from assuming you are a wonderful person, but I know you from all the pop culture stuff that you do. It’s like literally my bag, 100%. My bag is almost everything that you talk about. I was going to start somewhere else, but because of the unfortunate news that we all got this morning.

Chief Troy Finner [00:00:54] Once officers arrived they came upon a male who was deceased. That male has been identified as Kirshnik Ball. Better known as TakeOff.

Panama Jackson [00:01:07] When you heard about the news that Takeoff was senselessly killed this morning in Houston, Texas. I saw that this morning when I woke up. Like, what were your first thoughts?

Van Lathan [00:01:18] I was gutted. You know, I would love to say that my first thoughts were about Takkeoff’s friends, his family, the people around him that would that would, you know, immediately and most directly feel his loss. But I was angry. I’m not sure how many people are feeling. These same set of emotions. But I was mad. I’m angry. I’m angry that a 28 year old man is gone forever. And it seems to fit into this weird rhythm, this staccato rhythm, but very real. Every two, three months, every six months, we lose a human being that happens to be a rapper and we just have to deal with it. A Takeoff. If you being a cultural critic, you know that Takeoff in the Migos, right. One of the biggest acts in the history of hip hop. They changed around the rhythm of hip hop. These brothers were brothers that made it from. You know, North Atlanta to Mountain Dew ads to being the voice of the NBA finals. Like they had they had made it. They were out. They were golden. They made over. They were it was it was finished. You had a feeling that the book on the Migos had been started from something ended up somewhere. And so so for this this pain and this violence to boomerang. And come back and meet people at the top of where they are. It makes it sometimes feel like we’re living in the black hole where there’s no escaping some of the social ills that we thought that we could escape in the past. And it’s just a sobering reminder every time something like this happens.

Speaker 3 [00:03:23] King Von Essen, 40, was gunned down yesterday.

Van Lathan [00:03:26] As of 2022, there’s been a staggering number of rappers who’ve been murdered by more than half of those cases are unsolved. When you’re looking at the show, Hip Hop Homicides, you see such a commonality between all of these stories. And that was one of the things that really fascinated about fascinated me about it when I started looking at it was that. These are these are stories that spanned decades from different places, but they’re common mistakes that were made. The common themes in all of them. And that to me means that there’s something that can be done about it. And I’m not just talking about as it relates to rappers, I’m talking about as it relates to people that there are no murals for, that there are no songs written about that. There are no Reddit forums about. And it also just reminded me that and it’s going to remind a lot of people, I think, that there’s an entire generation of Black men who are living in war zones and we’re pretending like it doesn’t exist. Like we visited and we didn’t. We didn’t give you guys a thousand mile view of this. Wherever this stuff was happening, we were there. We were on Oblong. We’re on 63rd. We’re in Lauderhill. Right. We were in New Orleans. In the Ninth Ward. In the Third Ward. Right. We were in Canarsie, where Pop Smoke is from. We’re in Compton, south side of Chicago. Inglewood, wherever it was, wherever these things were, we we we put ourself on the ground there and gave people a lay of the land. And when you see it, you don’t want to ignore it. And not only do you not want it ignored, you don’t want anybody else to ignore it either. Hip Hop Homicides for me started off as a show that was a true crime show in a genre that’s exploding, obviously, but it ended up being an examination of cultural dysfunction. It ended up being interviews with mothers that were crying and never going to get sons and daughters back with children who don’t have fathers or don’t have mothers. It ended up being tales of communities that lost people that don’t know how to move on. It ended up being unheard victims, unheard families by people who didn’t get a say because it ended up being something that was really very meaningful to me and really changed me in a lot of ways. So I’m excited that people will get a chance to see it, but I hope that they care man. Like I sincerely hope that they are they care. And I hope that one day this show gets canceled. It’s the only show I’ve ever worked on that I hope one day we don’t have enough. Of these situations for us to do anything else about it, for us to do anything more subjective, like I hope is the only show I’ve ever worked on that I hope one day we don’t have to do it anymore. But for right now, I think is kind of needed. We’re on our way right now to talk to Audrey Jackson. That’s Pop Smoke’s mother, to get a sense of who he was as a man. That’s beyond the hip hop glitz and fame. Ms.. Jackson, how are you feeling since the news of Pop’s death?

Audrey Jackson [00:06:49] I am okay right now. You know, I try not to cry. I try not to kind of fully feel it because I don’t know if I’m going to be able to come back.

Panama Jackson [00:07:03] Let me ask you a question, because 50 Cent said something really profound to me in the first episode that I had a chance to see. And I’ve been thinking about it since, since I had a chance to look at it where he mentioned. I guess like he’s in. I’ll probably get this wrong, so just forgive me, but we’re kind of talking about the energy of the era that he grew up in was the same energy. But it’s just different now in the way that I guess it’s. And he was talking about the energy, right? Like the nineties where it didn’t seem like rappers were dying the same way as constantly like it happened on the nineties and early it happened. Right. I mean, obviously, the big the Pacs and the Biggies, like we those people, the Freaky Tah’s like those things happened, right? These things were happening. Yeah. Big of course, big L in the danger zone. But it’s like it feels so much more common now. Like it feels like. It feels like rappers have a different kind of target, like an actionable target on their backs. Now, like, if I’m not going to blame, you know, we all want to. Not we all. But there was all this stuff about PNB’s girlfriend posting locations and that’s not what happened at all. But it was a narrative that people would get behind like don’t be dumb, don’t be doing this stuff like this for you, do it. But people do stuff like that. That happened to a couple of rappers who had posted their their locations and dropped a pin or whatever. And the next thing you know, they’re no longer here. Do you feel like the era that, you know, you and I grew up in is different than this era now in terms of the way that I guess. The violence impacts the rap game because, you know, in the article that I wrote about this earlier, you know, I had to I had to be honest, like, look. Violence has been a part of hip hop. It’s just part of the DNA of it. You know, for better or worse, you know, sometimes in that, you know, I grew up I’m down south. You know, I was all about death row in in in, in Dr. Dre and NWA. I grew up on that stuff. That was like, those are my favorites, right? So it’s always been a part of it. It’s in, you know, I always have to say I have to thank my parents for not for not allowing me to turn into a nihilistic, you know, sadist because I was grounded. Yeah. But does it seem different after having gone through all these stories and having literally, like, delved into these crimes and homicides? Does it feel different then the nineties and early? Early 2000s?

Van Lathan [00:09:22] Yeah. Yes and no. So a couple of the stories that we did say we did Magnolia Shorty, who was killed in 2010.

Panama Jackson [00:09:30] Okay.

Van Lathan [00:09:30] Did we did Soulja Slim, who I think was killed in 2004, 2003, 2004.

Panama Jackson [00:09:39] That sounds about right. Yep.

Van Lathan [00:09:41] Yeah. So we did we did cover some stories that predate the current era that we’re in. Right. Okay. Kinks was a little bit earlier than kind of what we’re in right now, even though it was only like around. Seven or eight years ago.

Panama Jackson [00:09:59] Time for a quick break. Stay with us.

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Panama Jackson [00:10:16] And we’re back.

Van Lathan [00:10:18] So having a conversation with my mother. My mother was telling me about my aunt and my aunt. Spent some time with Prince. Let’s put it that way. All right. So I remember, because I was asking there, I was like I was home. We went to visit my auntie.

Panama Jackson [00:10:49] I love it. Any story involving Prince is always funny.

Van Lathan [00:10:51] We went to visit my auntie one time and we went to Minneapolis and I was like, How she did, why does she move? It was like, Why did she move to Minneapolis? Why, why? Why does she live up there? Like, why would she live in there? We went up to Minnesota, then we went to Canada. The whole thing is like why she moved up there? My mother was like, Well. She wanted to meet somebody and she ended up meeting them. She hung out in their crew, in their circle for a little while. But it’s not like things are today. And I was like, How? How are things are today? She was like, Well, if you’re going to do something like that today, you have either had to wait to these huge people came through to your city or you have to go to them, right? So if you want to, she’s like, if you want to meet the Jackson five, right? The Jackson five had to come to where you where. You have to travel to where they were going to go. Right. She’s like, now with the way things are. You’re literally one message or one place from meeting the biggest people in the world. Because fame is no longer an insulator from for from your proximity to these people, we’re all digitally connected. That changes celebrity in a lot of ways. And it makes things a lot more intimate and. It makes you more killable. I’ll just be honest with you, because. People, number one, they know where you are a lot more, okay? Because it’s not just like, hey, we in Vegas, this person’s going to be here. The entire nation knows, you know, everybody knows where you are at any given point, right? It doesn’t you can’t even go someplace and be there and not let people know where you are or else you didn’t even go there. Right. And then number two, because all of this stuff is so front of mind to so many of these people, these street beefs get magnified in a way that I don’t think that we’ve seen before. And one common thread that we saw on social media is we saw proximity be something that got people killed. We saw location be something that we got people killed, got people killed. We also see this ever present conversation on social media, whether it be on Reddit, whether it be on Instagram, whether it be on Twitter, whatever it is of people talking to one another and upping the ante on all of this stuff. We also see other people getting involved with this and egging people on and not letting beefs die. The first time I ever knew that Pac had a problem with Big was with Hit ‘Em Up came out. That’s the first time I knew that they had a problem. I didn’t know there was no problems before it because everything that was going on with them, every single thought that he had about them, he was telling it to people in his inner circle. What’d no Twitter. He wasn’t going to go sit down with Tabitha Soren or write or Donny Simpson and tell Donny Simpson and Sherry Carter how much he that’s a throwback for you and tell him how much she cared about that. Now you have an emotion about somebody. You take it to a place where it’s magnified. You take it to a place where it’s all of this other stuff. JA Rule 50, all of this. We heard about all of this stuff after it already happened. We were never wondering what was going to happen when these two guys run into each other, because we’d already heard about run ins that they had had. Social media, the connectivity of people. It’s created a different culture, has created a much more dangerous culture, a much more intimate culture, in a way to where beefs don’t become beefs anymore. They become blood feuds. And it’s a difference they don’t become like I don’t like this guy becomes a whole echo of people on your side, like pumping you up to do something and a whole echo of people on another side popping you up to do something. And then all of the sudden there’s no way to escape it. And it is not about them pumping you up to actually go out and be violent against somebody that you don’t like. It’s about them pumping you up to floss, to have jewelry, to have money, to have sections in the club. And that’s the kind of thing that gives somebody like a Pop Smoke killed, because Pop Smoke is not seen as a human being. He’s seen as a target, as a conduit to being able to stunt because we’re almost living in a mutated form of hip hop, everything that the nineties and the 2000 seem to be about now it’s almost mutated into this. I’m not going to blame it all on the music, but like I’m not going to blame the music for the majority of it. But. A lot of the things that people said when we were growing up are things that were said on records. But then these guys were going out, try to stay away from all of that stuff. Right now, it doesn’t even matter if you’re not really doing it. The energy that 50 Cent is talking about, 50 doesn’t understand it. I don’t mean to drone on, but 50 doesn’t understand because 50 said my entire purpose when I was doing what I was doing was to get money and leave it all behind. And not have to hurt anybody anymore and not have to get hurt. Like it wasn’t to have the most bodies and be the biggest goone. It was to actually have the most money moved to Connecticut and leave the entire thing behind. Leave the block, as it says now. It don’t matter how much you got, how much, wherever you are, like. They want to know that you really bought what you’re talking about because they shootin each other up. So I think I went off for like 4 minutes there and I can’t even scratch the surface of the differences. Then, like people was talking about being savages, we birthed real savages. People was talking about being killers. We birthed real killers. We’re not even talking about the rappers, the ones that have killed, the ones that are in jail, the ones that like are really picking up guns and going to work. You know, we covered some of those guys on this show. It’s a different animal out there. Maybe it seems that way because I’m old, but. It’s totally different.

Panama Jackson [00:17:14] We’re going to we’re going to session we’re going to take a real quick break and we’re going to come right back and talk a little bit more about Hip Hop Homicides. And I have some other things I want to ask you about just because I have you here. So we’ll take a quick break here on Dear Culture.

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Panama Jackson [00:17:55] All right. We’re back here on Dear Culture. We have Van Lathan Junior here talking about the show that he’s hosting called Hip Hop Homicides. And we were just kind of talking about the different eras of hip hop and how we got to this place where shows like like like you’re doing are necessary or the stories have to be explained more. And, you know, part of the difference you mentioned a couple of things that I thought were really poignant, where, you know, we didn’t know anything about the Tupac biggie beefs until we hit him up comes out. But nowadays, the entry into hip hop is so low. Like, I don’t even think these guys are really rappers. It’s just a means to an end. Like, you know, it was a career choice at one point. Like, I want to try to be a rapper, like I’m going to leave all this other stuff. Got to do it now was just like, I got 10 minutes to make a quick song in my in my opps and I’ll drop that out there. It gets spread immediately. And all of a sudden, like you said, these beefs just kind of they fester and they grow and everybody has a say. So everybody’s a part of it. Like it’s to the point where interestingly, like, I feel like there’s a. I guess there’s always been a different world with rappers and like citizens, so to speak, but. You know, like everything everything is so interconnected now because of social media. And the way these things work by people who are even the rappers are making all the money, are as involved in the beefs and all this other stuff that. You know, you mentioned hoping the show gets canceled. And I hope so, too. Like, that is my hope. I don’t know how you get to that point. With social media being the way that it is. I don’t know how you I don’t know how you stop the avalanche that that’s easy to get. Start with one simple tweet and all the everybody’s in the same place. Everybody’s on social media in the same ways. Like, I don’t know. I guess my question here is. You know, you found common threads through doing this. Did you also see the potential for the common solutions for a lot of these? For a lot of these cases?

Van Lathan [00:19:45] Yeah. So I did. We did. We absolutely did. And I think that social media. I hope that people I hope that people watch this show. Just so they can see the impact that social media is having on all of these cases. Okay. Not here to be to get off my YA guy. But I’m telling you that like people are dying over Instagram. Like they’re dying over Twitter. There where we’re in a situation to where and it’s not just their fault. It’s our fault, too. Look, I’m not going to ever play holier than thou, the great. The great thing about working at TMZ is that means that you can never play a holier than thou ever. Ever. You just lose the moral high ground for forever, right? That’s a great thing. I never had to try to be that. I never have to try to be the guy who’s preaching at you. But I can shake people and let people know that. I talked to the mothers of dead people. And I asked them, Do you think that social media and the climate created on social media had an impact on what happened to your child? And almost 100% of the time they would say, yes.

Panama Jackson [00:21:09] You know.

Van Lathan [00:21:11] We all love Twitter and Instagram. But as the same way we make cultural rules for everything else, there have to be some cultural rules about around the way we relate to and communicate with with one another in public spaces. Because if not, all we’re doing is letting audiences of unknown people put batteries in other people’s backs to do crazy shit. And, you know, their entire YouTube community is dedicated to the murders the war. What’s happening in Chicago right now? It’s not gang violence. It’s akin to living in Fallujah. It’s akin to living like we’re talking about this, like the West Bank.

Panama Jackson [00:21:59] That’s crazy.

Van Lathan [00:22:00] There is there. We interviewed a kid named FBG Cash. We interviewed him in April. Right. We were there in Chicago, lovely place. Chicago, with beautiful, amazing people. Everywhere we went, Chicago, we found amazing people just trying to live their lives the best way they could meet this kid talking to him. He’s cool, you know, he’s 29, 30 years old. He’s he’s he’s he’s he’s trying to live out the legacy of his man, FBG Duck who was killed. He hits me up. He connects me with somebody else. It’s like, Yo, Van, when you come out to L.A., come to me. I’m like, Yeah, we can hang out here we are hanging out Chicago, y’all. Cause, yeah, you know, cool dude, cool guy, funny kid. One day I wake up, he’s dead. Lured into a situation. He didn’t even make the premiere of the show.

Panama Jackson [00:22:54] Wow.

Van Lathan [00:22:55] I talked to him in April. He’s, like, dead in July and it’is like. This is what’s going on. And it’s. It’s. It’s like. It’s. Nobody has any hope. And all of these things are tied up together. Right. You put something on social, you put a song out. Now you got to die. It used to be that these dudes would meet up and they will find each other. Worst case scenario, somebody the streets handle the streets. How the streets would handle it. Rap game had a rap game had a rap game handle it. It’s about songs it’s about beef. Might be a fight. Not anymore. A lot of these things are intertwined. The rap becomes the streets. The streets become the rap. Rap has never been more like a soundtrack to the streets right now. On the streets have never been colder than what they are right now. Seems like I know they probably haven’t know that they have it, but it seems like we’re getting a. We’re getting a dissertation in the way people can kill people right now and is happening on this record. So, look, I hope that when people see Hip Hop Homicides. But they understand that obviously, you know, we have to litigate certain things, we have to ask certain questions. But there is a deeper meaning to the show to me. And there’s a deeper edict to the show. The show, to me is more about not even trying to find out. Who killed Pop Smoke is trying to find out if we killed Pop Smoke. If we killed FBG Duck. When I say we, I mean the culture is that. Is there something that we like? Can we save some of these kids? Can we save some of these young men? Can we are there things that we’re missing? And you know, as long as this stays like this, like I’ll keep putting this on people’s faces and I’m willing to be the corny guy doing it because it can’t all be about fun if somebody dies at the end of the night.

Panama Jackson [00:24:59] Now. That’s real. That’s very real. Time for a quick break. Stay with us.

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Panama Jackson [00:25:34] And we’re back. All right. I’m going to segway a bit and I’m going to ask you an extremely ironic question. But I got to ask. I listen to all the podcasts. Like I said, you’re in my bag. That type of stuff you talk about is the type of stuff that I’m talking about. And I’m having conversations both online and in a. Are you tired of talking about Kanye West?

Van Lathan [00:26:00] Of course.

Kanye West [00:26:02] First of Kayne. What’s your what’s your name?

Van Lathan [00:26:04] I’m Van.

Kanye West [00:26:05] And I’m sorry for disappointing you, Van.

Panama Jackson [00:26:07] Because so I had this conversation with the homies recently because it’s like, bro, we keep having to have conversations about Kanye West.

Van Lathan [00:26:15] Right?

Kanye West [00:26:15] But oddly, he’s also spawning a bunch of conversations that we might need to be having about cultural currency, about the way things work, about the value of Black life, about brands, about. It’s like it’s the it’s like a bizarro world where Kanye himself is irritating to no end. And yet he keeps opening these doors of all these conversations that we might need to be happening.

Van Lathan [00:26:42] Which.

Kanye West [00:26:42] Almost somewhat validates what he’s doing. It’s just he doesn’t know how to do it later. He’s a cancer unto himself, but he’s not always wrong. It’s just he’s it’s the shoot, the messenger kind of thing, right? Like he just, you know, and also randomly, I rewatched the TMZ clip like the got to be one that I read in your book like is one of the biggest like one of the most, I guess, biggest moments in your life was the the situation with Kanye. And I didn’t even realize Candace Owens was in the room with that, because you’re tried to say something to you and you and Kayne were going back and forth, and she didn’t get a chance which is great. And one of the biggest things I’m upset about Kanye with is the fact that I know who Candace Owens is, and she’s a part of our discussions in the world in a legit way. But like. The Kanye conversation. Everything I just said, he’s creating all these conversations I think we do need to have, even if he’s doing it irresponsibly, whatever, like he’s he’s he’s even showing how not to conduct interviews. He basically gave a show for if you want to know how not to do an interview with a celebrity, the Noriega drink champs interview, was it right like this? Literally you could do a class on this, like just watch this and let’s analyze and dissect. So. How do you think this all looks five years from now? Let’s let’s assume Kanye gets his phone taken away, seeks the help he needs, gets his family life back together, because that’s my biggest concern for him, like the family and the kids and all that stuff. But let’s say all of the all of the foolishness stops here, right? Five years from now, how do you think we look back on this whole this whole Kanye saga?

Van Lathan [00:28:13] I don’t know. It’s one of the more interesting things has ever happened.

Panama Jackson [00:28:21] Like facts.

Van Lathan [00:28:23]  So. O.J. happens. I’m like 15, 16 years old.

Panama Jackson [00:28:29] Right.

Van Lathan [00:28:30] And my dad, God rest his soul, he goes. Yo son will let you know something. Like what? O.J. is guilty of sin. Okay. I know everybody’s frustrated, everybody’s mad, and we’ve got a right to be because O.J. is guilty, you said. And he goes, Oh, well, as you know something else. O.J. going to go right back to being white after this is over. So I don’t want you to get worked up or disappointed because you’ve seen me really beaten O.J. Drum very hard. I didn’t know nothing about the world, man. 15, 16 year old kid. You know what I’m saying is, like, you see me beating O.J. jumped very hard is like said, you know that if you think that ten years from now so I’m going to go down, are you going to be able to rely on O.J.? He’s like, you’re not. Tha’s the way it goes. So there’s a forced identity that he that he had.

Panama Jackson [00:29:25] I was about to say that was profound. Actually, that was profound.

Van Lathan [00:29:29] It was a forced identiy that he had because he understood the way things work. So for Ye. It. The reason why I say that is because. For Black people, protecting each other is a pro evolutionary trait. Like the one thing that we owe each other as Black people is to protect one another. Right? We knew everything else about being Black. We legislated everything else. Like there’s this one Black community. Right, but. Parts of the country you go to, they put sugar in their grits. Parts of the country you go to it’s salt. But we we we are 40 million people. And as much as people think we’re the same. We’re very diverse. But the one thing that we all have to do is protect one another. And so for Kanye who is? Who has refused to protect Black people. Like refused.

Panama Jackson [00:30:26] Right.

Van Lathan [00:30:27] Came at George Floyd, Kanye just, literally. I’m just waiting for his true, unvarnished opinion on Dr. King pretty soon it’s coming. Right now it’s coming. It’s coming. Right. It’s coming. So, you know, Kanye gave us. The standards of the ancestors who gave us a little Harriet Tubman slander. You know, he just he just picking people off. But it’s still our knee jerk reaction to protect him when he when he’s feeling the same. Now, I’m done with that. I’m I’m over that. But I know a lot of people aren’t. So when Kanye does rebound. What he is thinking a little bit more clear and that time will come. There’s going to be a time right now where he gives a full throated, wholehearted apology for this entire era. He’s only 45 years old.

Panama Jackson [00:31:23] Yeah.

Van Lathan [00:31:24] That that that time is coming. I’m interested in what are people going to say? Because this is now going to be buttressed up against an entire other community where he is being talked about in the same breath as Gobbels. The propaganda minister of the Nazi Party. Like it? It is. I’m interested in how that is. And really there is a deep divide happening right now and Kanye West his rhetoric is making a lot of guys that I know ask questions that I never thought that they would ask. So I’m getting people calling me up and going, well. Shouldn’t we. Shouldn’t we be against the Jews? Shouldn’t we be this? Shouldn’t we be that? Should we be this? I My, my God, man.

Panama Jackson [00:32:20] Yeah. The discussion has been crazy. The type of discussions I’ve been in in the past several weeks. I’m like, Man, I’ve never thought that I’d be having these kind of conversations or here. Where I’m having to literally debate the way that people think. Black men a’int deep. We’re having all the most in-depth conversations in Black, the Black community in general, obviously. But like, it’s it is it is crazy.

Van Lathan [00:32:43] So and so what I would say is that if if there was something festering and it’s time to be brave enough to bring it to a head. I’m with that. I’m telling you right now, man. The the. The Gospel of Ye is it’s just not what we think it is, man. Like that brother needs some help. That brother needs some guidance. And the scariest things is the scariest thing is this. None of these words are his. Yeah. He’s literally listening to the last thing that he heard from somebody and regurgitating it out to you to the point where it’s not even fully formed. And I’m not saying that in any way to let him off the hook, because there is he’s that is what it is. But I’m just saying that that’s the most dangerous part of about it. The most dangerous part about it is that he’s actually a loud, powerful puppet. And that’s scary.

Panama Jackson [00:33:46] No, I’m with you. Time for a quick break. Stay with us.

Maiysha Kai [00:33:49] Don’t forget, you can listen to theGrios Writing Black podcast hosted by me, Maiysha Kai. This isn’t your typical writing podcast. We interview any and everybody that has anything to do with writing from comics to poets to authors to journalists, to politicians and more. Remember, that’s Writing Black every Sunday, right here on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, download theGrio’s app to listen to writing Black wherever you are.

Panama Jackson [00:34:19] And we’re back. I’m ask you one last question. This hopefully this is a brief one and then we’re going to cut to break. But this is going to be a another sidebar. You have the podcast you do with Charles on the Prestige. On the Prestige podcast, you all do Atlanta.

Van Lathan [00:34:35] Yeah.

Panama Jackson [00:34:36] Where does Atlanta belong? Does does Atlanta belong on the Mount Rushmore of TV?

Van Lathan [00:34:42] Of TV?

Panama Jackson [00:34:42] Cause I’ve listened to  every. Uh, well, let me say let me I don’t want to just say Black TV, but I’m mostly invested in Black television shows. Where. So where do you think Atlanta fits in with with all of this? Like, I listen to every one of the episodes I’ve done about this, and I’m always you know, I can’t believe you never saw A Goofy Movie that was like, I’m loving having a goofy Black argument with people for decades at this point. What’s it feels like decades? It’s very intuitive. Even at 15 years old was like a Goofy, Goofy a brother, y’all right? So where do you think Atlanta sits? In the television landscape. It’s a genius. Show was brilliant, but when it’s all said and done, are we going to be talking about it the way we talk about The Wire? What do you think?

Van Lathan [00:35:25] Oh. I think Atlanta is the Kawhi Leonard of television shows.

Panama Jackson [00:35:32] That makes that makes sense to me. How about that?

Van Lathan [00:35:36] Is this the Kawhi Leonard of television shows it? When you look at it, when you look really hard at it, you go, you know, is there anybody better? When the show is cooking good, because like I remember, her brother used to say Kawhi is best two way player in the league. Offensively, defenses like that. Kawhi Leonard, the best player in basketball, like he he’s one of the biggest difference makers and he’ll snatch two. He’s got the stats, he’s got everything. But there’s just something that like. He plays when he wants to, right? No regular season MVP. There’s like a staccato way in the way that he made his impact. And that’s the kind of in and out. Kind of same thing with Atlanta. It’s a show that. If Atlanta’s six seven years but it’s like is only going to be four seasons those four seasons spread out over like six or seven years. It it doesn’t want to be main stream. It doesn’t want to be it doesn’t want a Nike contract. It wants to be New Balance. So I don’t know if Atlanta even Atlanta wants to make you think and it wants to be artsy, but I don’t know if the show even wants to be great. And that’s probably why, you know, you won’t. I don’t think greatness is is something that it’s aspiring to. I think it’s inspiring to propel art way forward. And it did that. It propelled Atlanta, propelled art, Black art way forward to me. So it’s like. One of the things, of course you look at it, but then when you step back, it just doesn’t feel like it’s as important as some of the rest of the shows that we might talk about.

Panama Jackson [00:37:18] That is a that is a great insight. That’s another hour long podcast in and of itself or everything you just said. I’m like, Yo, I can we ain’t got that kind of time, so we’re gonna take one quick break. So thank you for that because I’ve since I listen to the podcast, I’m always wondering like how you what like when you all get to the end of this. This is the last season where you all are going to like couch this show in terms of everything else. But yeah, I’m going to. I’m with you. The Kawhi thing makes a lot of sense to me. I will take one last quick break and we’re going to come back with some Blackfessions and Blackamendation with Van Lathan.

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Panama Jackson [00:38:18] All right, we’re back here, dear culture. We’re still here with Van Lathan and we’re coming to the end of this podcast. But you know what that means? We always do a couple of things to end the show, too, to illustrate just how non monolithic the Black culture is. Right. We all love to say it ain’t a monolith, though, and people prove it left and right. I’m gonna tell you. Then I got to be honest with you. The strangest Blackamendation I mean Blackfession we’ve ever had on here was a host of one of our other shows that did the show. And she told me she puts ketchup in her grits. I was not ready for that, bro. Like I literally is a southerner that actually I retched for a second and I actually probably had to pause the taping of the show because I couldn’t handle it. I needed a second to genuinely reflect on life and how she got here to begin with. Like, how did we get like that anyway? So that was the craziest thing that I’d heard. But a Blackfession being a confession about about Blackness, about your personal brand of Black something people would be surprised to learn about you considering who you are. What you do in everything you know about.

Van Lathan [00:39:20] Is so crazy. Because when you said that at the beginning of the show, I was wondering, I was like, Oh, geez, I wish I had. I wish I had like more time to think about it because I get a lot of crap for the goofy movie thing, but I don’t think that’s a big enough one.

Panama Jackson [00:39:41] Yeah, I think I think the episode of Atlanta put more emphasis on a goofy movie than the goofy you put on a goofy movie. You know, I’m saying like he created I’ve had conversations, so many people that I know haven’t seen the movie. And I’m surprised because I watched it when it came out and I probably haven’t watched it since, but all of a sudden there’s all this. It. It put a spotlight on something that I don’t think anybody had been thinking about. If you weren’t in that small amount of people on the Internet who think about this stuff way too much.

Van Lathan [00:40:08] I got one.

Panama Jackson [00:40:09] All right. But you got.

Van Lathan [00:40:11] So I’m a good dancer, right?

Panama Jackson [00:40:14] Okay.

Van Lathan [00:40:14] I’m a good dancer. Fat boy can go.

Panama Jackson [00:40:17] But.

Van Lathan [00:40:19] Dog. I’ve never really been able to figure out the electric slide an.

Panama Jackson [00:40:23] I knew you were about to say that as soon as you said dancing.

Van Lathan [00:40:28] It’s like shout out to my man Gino. So my man, Gino Walter, Gina McLaughlin down there in Baton Rouge. That’s my man, Gino. We will be doing the electric slide, right? We’re doing the electric slide is like and Gino would be to help me do the electric slide. You know, it would be pointing. It’ll be like, you know, the heat, you know, because I get confused, right? Like I get is like, you go forward, you go back, then you you fake like you’re going to do it and then boom, boom, boom. I’m one of those guys that doesn’t a couple times it goes up and it goes and sits down and and all of the dances that were offshoots of the electric slot, the Cupid Shuffle, like all.

Panama Jackson [00:41:14] They all have directions.

Van Lathan [00:41:15] They all have the right. And for some reason, I don’t know if it’s my dyslexia or whatever it is. I just never I’m not a confident electric slider. I’m just not.

Panama Jackson [00:41:27] You know, it makes sense, though, because for one, the songs that people do, the electric like you people do, it’s a cami. I mean, it’s a candy, right? Like the electric slide has a song, but everybody does it the candy. But people be out there trying to get cute with it, too. They be. And their own little spin is swag on it. So if you if you are already struggling with the timing, that can throw you completely off right

Van Lathan [00:41:47] In Louisiana girls they they twerk with it like they do.

Panama Jackson [00:41:52] They drop it low.

Van Lathan [00:41:54] On my life. I appreciate the ass, but like I’m trying to get my shit together and.

Panama Jackson [00:41:59] Right, and myh ccount is off.

Van Lathan [00:42:00] I think that also to be real with you I punted on it early on I didn’t really put the time in because I’ve only because I’m so intimidated by it. You know what I mean? I don’t really I don’t really do it as much as other dancers that I know. All the dancers from down home, I can do them. But like electric slide I’m off with that one.

Panama Jackson [00:42:19] You can get the Josephine Johnny on, but they’re like, Oh good.

Van Lathan [00:42:23] Lord, have mercy. Got these hoes fighting, the God. That’s all of that stuff I’m good with.

Panama Jackson [00:42:29] All right, all right. Well, that’s that’s a Black that’s a Blackfession from Van Lathan. Time for a quick break. Stay with us.

[00:42:36] theGrio Black Podcast Network is here. Everything you’ve been waiting for, Black culture, amplify, find your voice on the Black Podcast Network. Listen today on theGrio Mobile app and tune in everywhere. Great podcast are heard.

Panama Jackson [00:42:51] And we’re back. Do you have a Black commendation, which is a recommendation about something by a friend about Blackness that people that you think people should check out anything you got going on, anything that you listen to, anything that you think people should check out?

Van Lathan [00:43:03] First of all, my Blackamendation is books I want you all to read. Very important, but as a specific book, the book is called The Sword and Shield is by Neil Joseph. Right. Okay. And the reason why I want people to read this book, if they have the chance to read this book, is because the book is about Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Right. And it’s about how their lives were tethered and it tells their life, both of their lives from the. From the perspective of how they juxtapose one another. And if you look at the lives of both men. American made them into really the same person by the time their lives were over. The the Malcolm X have become, to a degree, less radical. Dr. King had become, to a degree, more radical. What I even to a degree the more radical right. And the way Dr. Joseph, who was a professor down there at the University of Texas. The way Dr. Joseph uses each guy to contextualize one another and to compare and contrast one another, it’s brilliant. It’s brilliant. And it really talks about the man who led the struggle, the strife, and what it meant to be in that fight in the sixties. And I think it would do a lot for our understanding of each guide with very two very important guys for us to for us to be able to talk about. So the sword, the shield. Bye bye bye, panel. Joseph, you guys go check that out.

Panama Jackson [00:44:38] All right. I’ll make sure to check that out. So that’s a I have a lot of books. I’m I’m a book person. I run a book club. I’m one of them people. I do not have that book in. I feel a little bit ashamed about that one. So I will make sure I check that out.

Van Lathan [00:44:51] For one more thing. One more thing. Go ahead. Perfect. Perfect. Saturday night movie. Perfect Saturday movie. For my older for my younger Black people. I know you ain’t never seen this movie. I want you to watch this movie. Uptown Saturday Night Let’s Do It Again. I’m telling yall right now, the Blackest is best movie combination. Now there is somebody in this movie.

Panama Jackson [00:45:18] I was about to say, can we recommend these? Can we recommend that movie, those movies?

Van Lathan [00:45:23] We. We. There is somebody in this movie. Damn, I forgot.

Panama Jackson [00:45:29] I mean, I don’t know.

Van Lathan [00:45:32] It’s so hard, you know, just. Just watch more. Can you watch more? Just. You know what? Watch the last dragon was.

Panama Jackson [00:45:41] There you go.

Van Lathan [00:45:42] Oh, great. I don’t know, man. This is so.

Panama Jackson [00:45:44] Long.

Van Lathan [00:45:46] Alright brotha.

Panama Jackson [00:45:47] It is hard. Listen, my brother, we appreciate having you here. Dear culture, in the in the off chance anybody listening does not know where to find you or where to check out hip hop. Homicide is not. Please tell people where they can find you, how they can keep up with what you’re doing and what you got. You know, when does Hip Hop Homicides come on?

Van Lathan [00:46:07] Hip Hop Homicides comes on this Thursday night on Wetv. It will stream on All Black next Monday. You guys really need to hip check out Hip Hop Homicides. It is entertaining. It is infotainment. It’s very timely. But you also have a fun time watching the show. You’ll have a is as much as you can. You’ll have a fun time. I would say a fun time. You’ll have an enriching time watching the show. The show is it’s it’s entertaining. It’s is it’s is infotaining and it’s very necessary. So if you care about what’s going on, you might want to check out the show. You’ll be enthralled with what we are able to produce. And I’m very, very proud of it. Everywhere else you can you can give me at Van Lathan, Twitter, Instagram, all of that stuff. But most importantly, I want you guys to love and take care of each other and really consider each other when you’re making decisions. That’s all we can ask for right now.

Panama Jackson [00:47:03] Yes, sir. Well, thank you for joining us here, Deer Culture, which is an original podcast of theGrio Black Podcast Network. Please send all emails, suggestions, email scams, pyramid schemes, or this stuff to podcast at the dotcom. Dear Culture is an original production of the Great Black Podcast Network. I’m Panama Jackson, my producer Sasha Armstrong. Regina Griffin is our managing editor podcast podcasts. Van Lathan Thank you, brother appreciates you, appreciate all you do. Keep working. I wonder how you get the time, but keep doing it myself here for theGrio of Panama. Jackson have a Black one.

Maiysha Kai [00:47:50] Don’t forget, you can listen to theGrios Writing Black Podcast hosted by me Maiysha Kai. This isn’t your typical writing podcast. We interview any and everybody that has anything to do with writing from comics to poets to authors to journalists, to politicians and more. Remember, that’s Writing Black every Sunday, right here on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Download theGrio’s app to listen to write in Black wherever you are.