Back when sampling was just becoming a Hip Hop phenomenon, there was a predictable backlash from a lot of the artists that were being sampled.
It seemed most of them weren’t too happy to hear their old songs distorted in ways that weren’t living up to their original intentions. You know, curse words added, themes changed, points missed.
And, of course, simply, a lot of those old artists felt like they were getting ripped off financially.
That last point was perhaps the only genuine one.
As far as the other arguments went, on the song “All That Jazz“, MC Delite from the group Stetsasonic dismissed them as ridiculous with the simple but salient verse, “Rap brings back old R&B/and if we would not/people could’ve forgot”.
Similarly, there’s somewhat of a backlash now over the fun so many people are having with the #CivilRightsTwitter hashtag.
Just like how the movie Barbershop got eviscerated because comedian Cedric The Entertainer’s character reduced the contributions of Rosa Parks to a woman who “Ain’t do nothin’ but sit her Black ass down“, the notion that so many people are taking pictures of many venerated Civil Rights icons and adding dialogue that certainly wasn’t being said at the time is being considered nothing short of disrespectful in some circles.
There are about three significant points that I think this argument misses, however.
- Tied into the point about Hip Hop and sampling, it’s key to never forget our Civil Rights icons, no matter how they’re returned to the forefront of our thoughts.
- The best jokes included in the #CivilRightsTwitter postings are done by the people that are the most knowledgeable about the movement.
- The Civil Rights icons themselves, to a man and woman, are all known as having great senses of humor.
That last point might be the most significant not only because the days of those Civil Rights icons were trying times and the need to relax and unwind must have been substantial, but also because of the understood correlation between intelligence and a sense of humor.
Martin Luther King wasn’t just Martin Luther King. He was Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King. Malcolm X allegedly read every book in his prison. Jimmy Baldwin is credited with over 20 literary works. Coretta Scott went to Antioch. Betty Shabazz went to Tuskegee and taught at Medgar Evers. Angela Davis went to Brandeis and teaches at UC Santa Cruz. Stokley Charmichael was Howard grad.
And since there’s never enough credit that can be given to HBCUs, let’s not forget that the original lunch counter sit-ins were organized by the great students of North Carolina A&T.
The movement had no room for dummies.
The likelihood is that most, if not all of our Civil Rights greats would be reading right along with #CivilRightsTwitter and either liking or retweeting.
By contrast, think of the movie Forrest Gump. Gump had an IQ of 75. Hilarious shit was happening all around him, all throughout the movie, but how many times do you remember him laughing?
Here are some of my favorites.