Brown Sugar (XXL having a female editor...HA!)-- it's how you survive the business.
But the Awards this year was the single biggest example of mass "niggotry" © Phonte I've ever seen. Ever. Seriously. It was like a real life version of the Boondocks when they're doing their Gangstalicious and Thugnificent stories. And the worst part about it all is, this event is put together by a white girl.
I think I've made it fairly clear about how I feel about white folks in Hip Hop. If you're cool, ingrained in the culture and genuinely have the interest of the people at heart-- great. I've worked for and with many, many great white folks in my day, who I have the utmost respect for. But they earned my respect because they respect me and my people. Ozone Magazine routinely shows me that it doesn't respect my culture and my people. And really, it has nothing to do with the type of artists that are featured in the magazine. It's the way that information is presented and the information that is NOT presented that I have a problem with. But it seems like, because they are one of the only publications that routinely acknowledges southern rap artists, they get excused. Because all of the New York publications basically ignored and marginalized the accomplishments of southern and west coast artists for ages, Ozone gets a pass. Artists who are ordinarily intelligent and connected to the real movement defend the publication once they get acknowledged by it, because the publication speaks to an audience the NY magazines don't really reach like that. It's a catch 22.
Still, I have to say that I was disappointed when, at the artist panel, I heard one of my favorite rappers, Killer Mike, publicly defend Julia Beverly. He insisted that the audience give her and TJ another round of applause because even though people say that she exploits the culture, the truth is, folks wouldn't have been there if it weren't for her. True enough. By my question is: Been there for what?? Does the fact that rappers were able to "come together" for a weekend totally negate the coonish shit that dominated the event? I say, hell no. Let's be proactive. Let's sell our chains, dip into our album budget a little bit and put our OWN shit together-- on some positive shit. Seriously...Alright, I'm off my soap box.
Now, I did the clean version of the 2008 Ozone Awards Most Memorable Moments, but here's my list of personal encounters with the coonery.
Niggotry Moment #1-I gave David Banner "wood." So, I'm back in the GHETTO ASS media room during the awards show. To all of you who don't work in media, let me quickly break down the concept of a media room for you. When you're a writer/photographer you don't actually get to sit in the audience during awards show-- you go to the "media room" and wait for the talent to come back for interview/photo opps after they exit the stage. Usually, there's space in one particular area of the room for the artists to stand and get interviewed, and there is also a television in the room so that the journalists can watch the show as it's being taped. There was no such organization at the 3rd Annual Ozone Awards. There wasn't even a TV for us to watch what was going on. What was in the media room, however, was blunt guts on the floor. Apparently, even the media has began mimicking the wack ass music, and is now saturated with fake journalists with no professionalism. Here's a free clue: if your publication/website/dvd magazine has the words "hood," "ghetto," "street," "grind" or "hustla" in it-- your shit is probably destined for failure. Sorry.
But back to Banner.
So, I'm interviewing dude, and our videographer is taping it, along with a couple of other folk. Everything is going good for a few minutes... then it happened. Dude abruptly stops clowning for the camera and bursts out... "Man. I got wood!"
I pause, caught completely off guard. He can't really mean that he has actual wood right? Maybe this is a new slang word that doesn't mean what I think it means. Uh, no. This dude was dead ass serious. He then launched into this long ass, uncomfortable diatribe about how I am naturally pretty, don't have to dress like a hooker to get his attention and how he would like to wake up next to me in the morning and kiss me open-mouthed, funky breath and all. Yeah. Meanwhile the cameras are rolling and the dudes around me (do female journalists who cover hip-hop exist?) are laughing. Let's just say he embarrassed the shit outta me © Nia Long in Love Jones. I still don't even know how offended to be. The funny thing about this is that when I interviewed him over the phone back when his album was first scheduled to drop, dude kinda snapped on me for asking him political questions and not focusing enough on his music. David Banner, you officially get a thumbs down.
Niggotry Moment #2- I almost get trampled to death trying to interview Chingo Bling. So I'm in the hallway of the Hilton, outside of the conference room where the artist panel is going on. I spot Texas rapper, Chingo Bling. Now, let's just make it clear that I'm not at all interested in interviewing this cat. He looks like a rapping cowboy and I'm just not feeling it. But my Overseer has told me that I have to get local content, so it is what it is. I'm standing next to dude, waiting to ask him for a quick interview. Then Rick Ross walks by, and pauses to talk to some folks. Everyone gets all distracted (I'll tell you why in a minute). All of a sudden, outta nowhere, *someone from Carol City Cartel, hustles up and before I know it, he's punched DJ Vlad, who was right next to me and Chingo, in the face. He proceeds to try to stomp dude. I run. Very quickly. Hell, I almost got knocked over in the process. **Update: DJ Vlad is now suing Rick Ross for $4 million.
Niggotry Moment #3- Some dude punches a horse. I wasn't there to see this, but one of my co-workers saw some dude punch a horse outside of Club Glo while being harassed by a cop. Read that again, ya'll. He punched a horse. The f-ck is wrong with ya'll?
Niggotry Moment #4- I see a guy with a R.I.P. Bernie Mac shirt ONE HOUR after he passed. Seriously, ya'll. It was like an hour and a half tops after news broke that Bernie Mac had passed. Which lets me know that those shirts were made prior to his death. Who does that? I mean, sports teams do that for championship games and the Superbowl and whatnot, but who does that for human beings lives? Come on, ya'll.
Niggotry Moment #5-The influx of fake ass diamond chains. I'm talking about EVERY damn body had a chain on. Now I'll be frank. I know next to nothing about diamonds, jewelery, or how to spot fakes. But I do know that Young Bullet, Shawty No Name and Lil Parolee do not have the bread to purchase chains large enough to cover their entire scrawny ass chests. And don't try to tell me they're dope boys. I ain't buyin.
Niggotry Moment #6- The women. Man, I've talk about this time and time again. Ladies, it is not necessary to wear skirts so short your ass literally hangs out, wear crochet dresses w/ no underwear or bra, let niggas spray paint your body like you're a walking billboard, or wear weaves down to your ass to hang around rappers. Trust me, they will acknowledge you regardless because the simple truth is, there ain't a lot of us around. Hell, I gave David Banner "wood" in jeans, a tank top and no make up (because it sweated off my face standing outside on the red carpet for two hours in the Houston heat). So, stop it... I beg you. Seriously, I'm begging you because it makes it hard to defend us. It makes it that much harder for me to be taking seriously when I walk into a room full of dudes to do my job. Just stop it.
Niggotry Moment #7- Trae punches Mike Jones for...not representing Houston enough? Like, really dude? You wait until the Ozone Awards to punch this cat in the face? Grant it, Mike Jones may have needed punched in the face- hell, I don't know. Dude appears to be pretty annoying, so I'm not questioning your judgment there. But when you wait til half the rap community is in your city to punch dude publicly, you make it look like a publicity stunt- which is... well, kinda corny, man. Sorry. If you wanna see Trae's explanation, hit up The Rezidue. Again, I'm not buyin.
Niggotry Moment #8- Rick Ross' entourage. I'm not even going into the whole police officer turned biggest dope boy since Ricky Ross 30-day transition plan. But dude was on some whole other shit at the awards. Every time he walked by (which wasn't often) I swear, the music to Omarion's "Entourage" popped in my head. I mean, Ross got the big pink diamond chain hanging around his neck, dudes were swarming him like he was a hot chick like Mya (who was there)... the whole thing was a bit much. Meanwhile, the cats who actually may have deserved that much attention (Willie D, Bun B, Scarface when he showed up briefly on the red carpet before bouncing to coach his kid's football team) didn't get it like that.