Friday, June 27, 2008

Hating on Soulja Boy: Not the Way to Go

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I see all the hatin that's been going on with Soulja Boy lately. I wrote an article on the topic earlier, since I saw some of the artists I grew up on getting real mad at the brother. I don't blame the brothers for getting upset on this, since Soulja Boy is definitely something different. I can't do the dances, and I don't want to do them. In fact, I would rather you cut off my testicles and feed them to the family dog.

But with that said, I have to hate on myself just a little bit. I grew up hard on West Coast music that we love so much: Ice -T, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, NWA, Spice 1 and Tupac. Is that really what we want our kids listening to? Let's be honest: the music we were bumping to in the 90s was some dangerous sh*t! Brothers got shot on every record, and being in the hip hop game was flat out crazy.

So, if I have a choice between teenagers dancing to punk-ass songs that sound like they were made on an ice cream truck vs. rapping about peeling each other's caps, I would rather our kids be safe and happy. To the OGs in the game: let it go. Times change. At the same time, we have to give the west coast more respect and start letting them have more spins nation-wide. West coast rap has always been, in the words of Ice-T, "The bastard child of hip hop". Well, Cinderella needs to go to the ball too, since the west coast rap game has some serious ballers.

As for Soulja Boy, let that young brother make his money, he was broker than the Ten Commandments last year and now he can provide for his family. Let the kids dance instead of kill each other, we don't want them ending up like Biggie and Pac.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About College". He does regular appearances in national media, including BET, CNN, ESPN and CBS. For more information, please visit

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Soulja Boy, Kanye v. Ice T: Black Scholar Boyce Watkins Talks Hip Hop

Soulja Boy’s music?….not that great to me. But then again, it expresses a type of greatness that I probably can’t comprehend. It’s as if I am an expert in German and Soulja Boy did an Edgar Allen Poe in Chinese. If you go to Youtube and check out the hottest artists in America, you might see that a video has 3 million views, maybe 7 or 8 million if they are really hot. Soulja Boy? Try 30 million.

So Ice-T, you might think Soulja Boy’s music is garbage, but there’s a whole generation of brothers, sisters, white kids, Asians, Africans, Latinos and even Martians who disagree with you.
I speak on a lot of hip hop beefs when I appear on BET, CNN and The Wendy Williams Experience. That is also when I got a chance to witness Ice-T behind the scenes. I respect Ice-T. The man’s game is nuclear war-like and I even looked up to him when his musical career was colder than icecream in an Eskimo’s ass. But never once, even at the peak of his career, has he ever done anything hotter than what Soulja Boy did with his Superman joint. Soulja Boy did more with his “15 minutes” than a lot of artists do with 15 albums.

With that said, Soulja Boy has a lot to prove. First, he has to prove that he can actually write some lyrics that make a lick of damn sense. I don’t exactly sense lyrical brilliance in Soulja Boy’s music. He also has to prove that he has staying power. If I’m still listening to Soulja Boy when he’s a crusty old man dissing some 18 year old artist, then I’ll know he was onto something.

Ice-T, in his “apology” for telling Soulja Boy to “eat a d*ck”, issued the heaviest pimp-timidation I’ve ever seen dropped from one black man to another. Now I know why he was a successful pimp, and I seriously thought he was gonna back hand Soulja Boy through the camera. Ice T (who I actually believe to be a genius) played politics with Soulja Boy, reminding him that by coming at Ice-T, he was also coming at all of hip hop and all of the west coast. I can’t disagree with that, since Ice T’s roots run deep. This brother was dropping records before Soulja Boy was Semen Boy, Embryo Boy or Aluminum lunch box Boy.

But Soulja Boy can come back at Ice T with this: “Grand Daddy OG, you got the whole west coast sewn up, but I got every 18 year old in the world dancing to my song. When you’re rollin on 24s in your wheelchair, they’ll still be reflecting on how they were bumpin to my song on prom night.” Soulja Boy is a lock for the “Greatest Hits of the New Millenium” soundtracks being sold on paid TV programs at 3 o’clock in the morning in the year 2032. My man had a classic with that song, there is no denying that.

It was not my impression that Soulja Boy started the beef, and that is the dividing line. It can be hurtful when you are young in the game, trying to get your respect and an old cat just broadsides you like that. Kobe went through it when he joined the Lakers, which was Shaquille O’neal’s team. Tiger Woods went through it when white men didn’t believe a black man could dominate professional golf. I applaud Kanye West for coming to Soulja Boy’s defense. Kanye made it plain: This is not 1996 anymore. Tupac and Biggie are gone, gangsta rap has turned into something else, and many college sophomores were born during the same year as the tv show, “Yo MTV Raps”. I grew up on Ice T’s music, and I remember 1996. I listened to Tupac every morning before class, and NWA got me through college. So, I respect the west coast, I respect Ice T and I respect hip hop. But there comes a time when the old school has to add another wing of the building and make room for the new school. Soulja Boy is a respected member of the new school, whether we like it or not. Don’t player hate, collaborate and respect this man’s achievements.

Traditions in hip hop are like pillars of a building. On one hand, they give you stability and a strong foundation. On the other hand, they can be rigid constraints that demote progress within the institution. The more I listen to old school rappers complaining about young entrants, I stop hearing rappers, and start hearing “grumpy old mufukaz”. Instead of offering Soulja Boy a meal he would probably refuse (“eat a ….”), maybe Ice T could have invited the man into the studio. Ice T, your game is strong, Soulja Boy can learn from that. He can also learn a lot from the genius that kept you from getting pimped by this rap game, we know how those contracts work. Soulja Boy doesn’t want your game to die, he wants it to multiply. But if you come off as an old hater, your legacy will blow away like dust in the minds of the next generation. In other words, don’t become a lyrical Bill Cosby…..haterology won’t go as far as constructive critiques when you’re dealing with a fellow soldier.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and author of "What if George Bush were a Black Man?" He does regular commentary in national media, including CNN, BET, ESPN and CBS. For more information, please visit

Video: Dr. Boyce Watkins talks about Ice T, Soulja Boy and Kanye West

Monday, June 23, 2008

Nappy Headed Hoe Don Imus Insults Black Men - Dr. Boyce Watkins

I received a call today from a producer at WVON in Chicago. My good friend Roland Martin (the black dude on CNN) and I are going to discuss Don Imus tomorrow morning at 8 am. I like WVON, it's literally my favorite station in America. There is a great deal of tradition there.

I was involved with the first removal of Don Imus from the air, as I worked with Rev. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton on the phone to talk about ways to get him off the air. I mentioned that if African Americans engage in a unified effort to challenge his corporate sponsors, we can bring him down. That is what Jesse and Al did, and it worked. As a Finance Professor, I always look to the money first. That is the most critical element of power in a capitalist democracy.

You can imagine how disappointed I was to see Don Imus back on the air so soon. I admit that when I saw Imus appear on Al Sharpton's show, I really believed he was truly sorry for what he did. For him to repeat his actions is simply baffling, and I wonder out loud Rev. Jackson and Rev Sharpton feel the same way.

I recorded some of my thoughts on Don Imus below. The fact that this man can do what he did the first time, get back on the air and repeat the same stunt one year later is yet another reminder of just how little respect African Americans get in white media. No, it's not mainstream media, because mainstream media should reflect viewpoints from all perspectives. The truth of the matter is that most media is owned by people who are not black, so people like Imus and Bill O'Reilly can get away with this stuff without being forced to engage in any form of respect or responsibility. The ownership structure of American media is an artifact of 400 years of slavery and economic exclusion of African Americans. Our grandparents never had the chance to own CNN, FOX or NBC and they also did not have a chance to own the corporations that financially support these media outlets. African American wealth was stolen from us and now lies, in part, in the hands of companies that support racism on the airwaves.

So, the networks continue to insult black people and there are no consequences. Personally, I am getting tired of this crap. What is most ironic is that no matter what anyone says about black people on the air (lynching Michelle Obama, killing Barack Obama, calling Mrs. Obama a Baby's mama, calling Barack a terrorist, or calling black women Nappy headed hoes), someone is always there from the right wing willing to rationalize this behavior. It reminds me of a relative I had with a drinking problem. No matter how much you pointed out his weakness, he always had an explanation. America's addiction to racism is a lot like the addictions of my uncle.

It's actually kind of pathetic.

The video is below:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dr. Boyce Watkins Rapping on Camera

I'm not a serious rapper. I have too much respect for the brothers who have real skills out here. But I love hip hop and I consider it to be one of the most creative, intelligent and provocative forms of self-expression in American history.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to bust a rhyme or two. For the haterologists out there, just remember: this is my first time!!!!

Either way, enjoy this:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dr Boyce apologizes to Tupac and Method Man

Dr. Boyce Watkins speaks on his conversation with Method Man about the late Tupac Shakur.