Hip Hop Fridays: The Sins of the God MC By Hadji Williams
God MC, the great I AM of hiphop. Not sure who birthed the role first. Maybe God MC just willed Himself and His omniscience into existence. Maybe He (no female God MCs allowed) is the alpha and omega of the game— was always there like the sun; heads only had to raise their eyes to recognize. Maybe God MC was borne of the hiphop’s take on NOI teachings and Five Percenter philosophy. Remember how Guru took headz above the clouds proclaiming I, Self, Lord And Master as other MCs like RZA and Poor Righteous Teachers praised GOD as ALLAH aka ArmLegLegArmHead? If you think that sounds crazy, try asking poor blacks to follow Christianity and Catholicism—western-based religions that have often exposed white-skinned privilege and in more than a few instances often supported the destruction and degradation of blacks and indigenous people of color throughout history in the name of whites.
Then again, maybe the God MC is a natural extension of believin’ the hype. After all, MCs were always cocky on the mic… always teflon-skinned me-against-the-world mic warriors. But that was borne of being black in America— a dynamic where young black males, including MCs aren’t seen so much as human as much as savants— creatures possessing talents that are more innate than intentional (think: Bright Eyes from Planet of the Apes.) According to many, our creativity manifests in spite of us. MCs flow as birds fly— not because they chose to, but because it is what they do. Recognize: Just 10-12 years ago, rap still wasn’t accepted by the masses as “real music” and hiphop was just “an urban trend.” In fact it wasn’t uncommon for mainstreamers like Jay Leno, David Letterman, etc. to note that, “you can’t spell ‘crap’ without ‘rap’.” Others went so far as to call it, “just (niggers) talking and scratching up perfectly good vinyl.”
Despite all of this, MCs were originally Griots: flame-spitting torchbearers. The Griot was the voice of urban black struggle— frontline reporters for the Black CNN. They spoke for those who couldn’t. Recognized those who otherwise would’ve lived (and died) ignored. They educated and brought truth to combat society’s lies. They honored our fallen soldiers. They bridged divides and connected generations, all while moving the crowd and bringin’ tha noize to a world that did (and often still does) everything possible to keep black youth quiet.
But the God MC is different. It’s the Rockstar cliché — fade to black. Originally, Rockstar was the young, mostly white male’s vehicle for getting laid thru displaying creativity: build a rock band and the girls will come. “Rockstar” was about attitude over aptitude, competition over culture. I’m a rockstar because I say I’m a rockstar. Even if our music sucks. Even if I’m a skinny, pasty-faced kid in wack clothes— I am great. The Rockstar Mantra: Get laid. Get paid. Get famous. The God MC is no different.
God MC is God because he says so. Not Jehovah, but J-Hova. And who died and made Jay-Z God MC? Shawn did. God MC doesn’t write rhymes. His freestyles are better than your written. God MC conjures entire albums out of thin air. His flow exposes holes that they find in yours. Every bar He spits spreads the gospel of I AM. If cash rules, God MC spits of his stupendous riches. If crime pays, God MC confesses infinite sins on wax. If sex is prosperity, God MC has ludacris amounts of hoes and pimps all over the world. (Even Hova’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” followed the blueprint of 80s rockstars Motley Crew’s monster hit “Girls, Girls, Girls.”) Regardless of your fantasy, God MC will provide. He’s a holy hustler, baby— he’ll sell weight to gravity.
My first burning bush came as a l’il nappyhead: May I bow before His divine majesty? Um-hmm… (Smooch) Enough! Come your Highness, they await you.” And there; on my first pause-tape—the first GOD MC trinity: Ricky Walters anointing himself Slick Rick The Ruler, then morphing into the lowly prophet Ricky D., all to spread the gospel of his own greatness to the grimy masses. (Ya’ll can’t deny it. Crumbs.)
Then came the true and living all-time flow of all flows: Rakim, a.k.a. Mr. Gomar-Oz-Dubar. (All hail the honorable, infidels.) Mr. 18th Letter ate up 21 MCs at the same time. He took phrases rarely heard and flipped ‘em into daily words. Some of his rap patters still surround Saturn…Follow procedures/Crowd couldn’t believe it/Nobody been this long awaited since Jesus… Amen.
As I said, before, in the church of hiphop Jay-Z is still God. He held it down for 7 summers—an eternity plus by hiphop’s standards; he’s amassed a catalog’s worth of street psalms that folks recite like the rosary. He’s birthed more imitators than both MJ’s and crushed more false prophets than any. And while he’s retired, J’s still the ultimate God MC. Why? Gods don’t retire as much as people stop believing in them; and for right now, Jay remains the truth.
These days, Hiphop’s been reduced to a thunderdome of children of lesser god MCs: The God Pimp MC. The God (Hustla) MC. The God (Ish-Talkin’-Nigga) MC. The God (Murderous Thug) MC. The God (Drug Kingpin) MC… Their flows vary, vernacular switches, their levels of success and popularity vary, but the basic foundation remains: I am… You must love me. (Amethyst rockstars, all.)
And it’s precisely this runaway ego-tripping that’s killing the art of emceeing and the larger hiphop as a whole.
Nuthin’s more damaging to hiphop and more comforting to the establishment than legions of God MCs step 'n' fetchin’ thru 6-figure videos pushing the gospel of sex, paper, crime and I am. At the end of the day, the God MC is corporate sponsored breads ‘n’ circuses— he keeps the masses dumb, dancing, subdued, amused and divided. And for a consumer base of nearly 75% non-blacks who have no connection to the struggle or communities that birthed hiphop, the God MC is at best a disposable idol that they can build up and tear down at their leisure and at worse, a new millennium minstrel show with flyer gear.
But what’s God MC got to do with hiphop? Nothing. Not that any brutha should turn down the chance to feed his fam and manifest a lifelong dream. But idea that your value/talent must be tied to degrading women and humiliating fellow artists and lowering yourself to almost Caligula-esque heights is beyond self-destruction, it’s artistic and cultural genocide.
Everyone wants to MC, but no one wants to be a griot. Griots serve their culture, they’re humbled and honored to be part of the art form and they see their talents and positions as blessings and opportunities to enlighten and warm others. Conversely the God MC is only out for self. He has an innate god complex and can serve no one but himself (again, no women allowed). He has an ego and craves the worship of others. For a God MC to simply be an emcee, he’d have to be born again as a man. And that’s just too hard.
Besides, in a culture gone commodity, there’s no profit in telling truths and creating art that may well alienate three-fourths of the consumer base. This is why Griots aren’t on the Viacom Video Network or Clear Channel. It’s why the soda, cigarette and liquor companies won’t underwrite the Griot’s next tour. But as long as the God MC spreads the pre-approved gospel of I AM, the pop culture universe is His. Because Rockstars are cool and God MCs are even cooler.
Hadji Williams is author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: HOW TO SAVE YOUR JOB AND YOUR LIFE FROM CORPORATE AMERICA. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his blog at www.knockthehustlechronicles.blogspot.com
Friday, July 8, 2005