Lists, Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

The Very Smart Brothas Guide To The Levels of Blackness

TetrisBetween Meek Mill, Candy Crush, and Very Smart Brothas, levels are having the greatest year ever. The fun part about levels is that they’re something people can understand, unlike Matrix 2 which nobody could understand, well except for the people who claim that they could understand it when nobody else could which makes some sense since, ya know, there’s levels to this sh*t. See what I did there?

By the way, its important to note that, “Levels” – the song by Meek Mill, the most yellin-est rapper of all time – is a smart dumb ninja song. It’s one of those songs that’s not deep at all, but some people will claim its deep, thereby informing you and everybody around you that said person who thinks its deep has either been to jail or is likely to go jail at some point. See also Pastor Troy “Vice Versa”. I do judge people who find “Levels” to be a song with any depth to it.

Moving on up to the east side…

While Champ did such a good job of illustraing the perfect levels of Blackness, it seems almost counterproductive to not discuss the various levels of Blackness that must exist for there to be a perfect level. You cannot have hot without cold which yields you the perfectly docile and splendid, warm. Just like you can’t have The most perfect color in the Republic and/or the Union, pewter, unless you have both black and white at the ends. If there’s perfect then there are various other levels. Like?

Like…

Really Really Black

You know something is real when you use the adjective twice (or adverb, I was never good at American). Things that are really, really Black are those things where pretty much nobody but (we’re talking 95+ percent) Black folks dwell, enjoy, participate in or appreciate like Detroit, Belly, weave pats, Donald Goines novels, Tyler Perry, red kool-aid flavored chicken gizzards, chicken gizzards, shooting dice on the corner or anywhere really, public school system in most major cities, etc

Pretty Damn Black

This level is where you still have a majority of Black people actively leading the charge for independence (what?) but you get a pretty significant number of others involved, and bougie Black folks are present but there’s definitely division amongst the reading ninjas. Such things that are pretty damn Black are: HBCUs, Project Pat, watermelon, Popeyes chicken, “Swahili” names, Kwanzaa, the last half of Mariah Carey’s career, Atlanta, Lupe Fiasco (he’d be more on the other side of Blackness except he’s gon’ full fledge conspiracy theorist lately), conspiracy theories, Final Call, Nation of Islam,

Perfect Level of Blackness

Covered by Champ

Not As Black As You Might Think

This is kind of explanatory. We’re moving to the side of things where there’s definitely some Blackness, but just because its led by the Blackness doesn’t mean that only (or even mostly) the Blacks indulge, though there’s still enough Blackness associated that we could claim them/it in the race draft. Such as? Wu-Tang Clan, Common (hey, he said its just coffee shop chicks and white dudes), hip-hop, Barack Obama, watermelon, fried chicken from Popeye’s, driving hoopties, saying hooptie, the itis, the sugar, the pressure, Bill Cosby, Drake, cognac, Moscato, etc.

And finally…

Not That Black At All (Or Just Black By Default)

This is the category where something is created by or inspired by the Blacks but has pretty much gone so mainstream that they’re just Black by default because they’re..well, Black, but they’ve transcended (though we’re still claiming), like Beyonce, Tiger Woods, Micheal Jordan, or Michael Jackson, Jordan’s, Lil Wayne, Kanye West (currently), crime (I keeed, I keeed), Scandal, The Butler, The Help, The Shoe Shine Boy (you’re saying that doesn’t exist yet? My bad), Soledad O’Brien, well you get the point.

Those are the levels of Blackness I came up with while listening to Meek Mill yell at me and tell me that he was a boss. I mean, there are levels to this since we probably don’t wear the same clothes or feathertickle the same women. It’s true.

So what are the levels of Blackness that you’ve observed? Or did I get them right? WHAT SAY YOU?

-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka lower.case.p. aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3

Damon Young

Panama Jackson is pretty fly for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future.

  • Aaron Smarter

    Soledad O’Brien??

    (My soul gently weeps.)

    • panamajackson

      Just saying…did any of us even know she was Black til her Black In America stuff? I think not.

  • Sahel

    Sahel Is satisfied with the breaking bad finale. Tiger Woods is Asian.

    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

      Don’t you spoil this for me. I’m only on season 2

      • Sahel

        “Considers AfroPetites request”

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          I’d be grateful if you didn’t…..

          • Sahel

            You belief in a team like the Panthers has charmed me. I will not spoil it for you

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              And what 0-4 team is it that you support????

              • Sahel

                As a stats guy,am neutral

                • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                  Ok then. Watch ya mouth about my Panthers.

      • WIP

        LOL, I saw the first episode and last night I saw the last two episodes. I’m not sure I need to see the middle.

        • BreezyX2

          Yes you do!

          • WIP

            i did notice that “Uncle Hank” appears to be “Big Jim” from Under the Dome…

            • BreezyX2

              Yes! You won’t be disappointed watching this series. Its soooo good!

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          what?! How do you even understand the nuances of all the character? Nawl. I can’t do that.

    • kidvideo

      Most fans would be satisfied by the ending…Now its one less show I gotta keep up with…four more to go.

      • WIP

        I’ve gotten roped into about 4 myself…

  • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

    I’ll slide in “Retro Blackness” throw that between “Perfect” and “Pretty Darn Black”. Basically like how Marvin Gaye go both What’s Goin’ On and Let’s Get it On back to back.

    • Rachmo

      But the down votes though?

      • LMNOP

        I wondered about that too. I almost want to start downvoting random comments now just to mess with people, but that just seems mean… and I don’t even like being anonymously mean.

        • WIP

          What’s the point of having down votes if you ain’t gonna throw ‘em?

          • LMNOP

            I save them for things I legitamately (how the *&# do you spell that) dont like though.

            • Rachmo

              legitimately and down vote for spelling errors

        • Rachmo

          I really would like to stand behind my down votes. So this is from me.

        • Kema

          I wanted in on down voting as well. :-)

          • LMNOP

            Take out all your passive aggression for the day here.

        • SuperStrings

          maybe people are already doing this. you have to be invited to the Random Downvoting Society..

        • Jay

          If Disqus was really bout it they would show you who downvoted you too. Then this would be a COMPLETELY different comments section.

          • LMNOP

            I think that would be better, then you could express your dislike without having to comment. I also realized from this that you can downvote your own comments, which is kind of hilarious/

          • Rachmo

            I would love that. Instead of verbally having to let people know I down voted them.

      • http://vagabondaesthetics.tumblr.com/ Ricky

        Maybe I’m grinding someone’s gears?

        • Rachmo

          Idk but I cannot just let my e-flirt buddy go down like that.

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          I downvoted here because you do grind my gears. Idk who else’s gears you grind though.

  • iamnotakata

    “public school system in most major cities” Crackin up at this…but so true smh I would add ratchet folks under this too…

    • panamajackson

      and you’d be accurate.

  • Jay

    There’s a level of blackness blacker than your “really really black” level. Let’s call it the “Really, really, REALLY f*cking black” level. Most of these things come from the south and most white people are completely oblivious to their existence. These include Dolemite movies, Betty Wright, Ricky Smiley, pork rinds, Lil Boosie, R.I.P. T-shirts, Black N Milds, the notion that dreaming of fish means that someone you know is pregnant, a family member affectionately known as “Big Mama”, and Blue Magic hair grease just to name a few.

    • iamnotakata

      LMAO!! Okay so yes you must be from the south because ALL of this is true!! The one thing I never understood and still don’t understand is the loyalty to freakin Boosie, I swear everyone in Houston at some point during a convo about music they are going to say free Boosie….smh

      • Jay

        I’m from the southernmost tip of Alabama. Didn’t have to think hard to come up with ANY of that. I’m surrounded by it on the daily. SMH. Boosie is like a god here. I don’t get it either. Not a day goes by that I don’t see at least 5 dudes rocking that 100% fade free high top.

        • IcePrincess

          Free boosie bad azz!

          • Sahel

            Do these free campaigns ever actually work

            • WIP

              Not for people accused of mvrder who hold up big guns in music videos…

        • SuperStrings

          lol at the fade free high top. that’s so true.

        • Shamira

          fo real, can someone explain once and for all the Boosie love…

          don’t get me wrong, Wipe Me Down BANGS but dayum…

          • Jay

            Wipe Me Down goes HAM!! #shoulderschestpantsshoes. But yeah… the icon status is perplexing.

            • Shamira

              I ROLL UP IN THE CLUB VIP

              that beat gets me hype every dayum time

        • dmcmillian72

          Jay, every time you talk about where you’re from I think to myself, “I wonder if I’ll ever meet him…if I’d met him before?” Lol! Seriously small world!

          • Jay

            What part are you from? My whole fam is from Toulminville and we ALL went to Leflore. I don’t live in Toulminville now, I’m in Midtown and I’m like one of 3 black dudes that hangs out downtown.

            • dmcmillian72

              I seriously almost CHOKED! I went to LeFlore my junior and senior year…when they turned it into an all day magnet high school in ’88! 0_0 I was raised in Grand Bay so we were bussed there. Those were seriously the BEST years of my teenaged life! :)

              • Jay

                You’re a little bit older than me. I would bet good money that you went there with some of my uncles or aunties though. No joke, there has been at least one member of my family at Leflore since the 60’s… back when it was Toulminville High School. My parents met and graduated there.

                • dmcmillian72

                  Woooow… Truly small world! I probably did go to school with your relatives, especially if they were at LeFlore from 88 – 90.

                  So where is “midtown”? I’ll bet I know where you’re talking about with some good descriptives, but I haven’t heard of any part of Mobile being called that now. When I visit my parents, I rarely go into Mobile although my Aunt re-relocated from Atlanta to Mobile last summer. She’s up the street from the malls…off of Airport Blvd.

                  • Jay

                    The area around McGill and Murphy is midtown… basically everything between Spring Hill Ave., Government Blvd, Broad St. and The Loop.

                    • dmcmillian72

                      Gotcha… I know exactly where that is. Nice chatting with you! :)

            • Kimonimoni

              I thought I was the only mobile native around these e-streets.

              • Jay

                Another one…? Wow.

            • PortCityBlues

              From Prichard….Live in West Mobile now….went to LHS. The blackest thing ever is hog head cheese and saltines from American Supermarket on HWY 45.

              • Jay

                Wow! Yall should comment more often.

    • SororSalsa

      I think the fish dream might be somewhat universal. I saw a play yesterday where a white trash (no mention where she was from) check mentioned dreaming of fish, and her suburban white neighbor asked if she could be pregnant. Since I was one of 3 black people in the audience, I’m going to guess that this has crossed over.

      • LMNOP

        Maybe it’s just true. I don’t dream about fish and I haven’t been pregnant in years, so I’m guessing that the opposite is true too, and that avoiding fish dreams is a good form of birth control.

      • SuperStrings

        What about death happening in threes?

        • Londa

          I thought it was just bad/tragic things, in general, that happened in threes? Not that I am superstitious…

          • LMNOP

            EVERYTHING happens in threes. Death, bad things, good things, sneezes.

          • SuperStrings

            yeah you could be right. I mostly tuned out of those conversations when I heard moms, grandma, aunties talking about it.

    • Msdebbs

      Jay you forgot sweet tea, biscuits n gravy, pickled eggs & hot sausages. Oh and crab boils are very popular in my city..jacksonville fl

      • Amber

        I think many of those things are just southern not necessarily black

        • Joanna

          Hot sausage might be black. I don’t think I know anyone else who eats them except super ethnic people from Miami. But we’re a people unto ourselves, really.

          • Jay

            One word: Conecuh.

            • Joanna

              Welp. You win.

            • Thriftybynature

              That is some good sausage tho. lol

      • SuperStrings

        Sweet tea is my vice

    • Todd

      Yeah…I’m not that Black, and I’m OK with that. Though the RIP T-shirt thing started up North…jussayin’.

      • panamajackson

        I have a lot of those. Le sigh…

    • SuperStrings

      Pentecostal church

    • panamajackson

      I think this is fair. Though I think those are less southern than mostly just Black.

    • sharitaatx

      DEAD @ Blue Magic hair grease! That and Royal Crown ( I think that is what it was called) was a staple in my grandma’s house. It was her “pressing grease.” I swear that I can still smell that stuff from time to time. I was a work and a co-worker had an aroma therapy candle and I walked by and said “That smells like pressing grease!” Being that I was the only Black person that worked there it began a serious Q&A about Pressing one’s hair.

      • Jay

        I remember Royal Crown… in the soft container that always manages to get bent on the side lol. Yeah, my mom is a hairdresser and I have 5 sisters… This reminded me of something else. Crown Royal bags being used as containers. Not Crown itself because EVERYBODY loves Crown but the bags are ubiquitous in southern black households.

        • sharitaatx

          YES GAWD@ the CR bags! We carried our marbles in them as kids.

        • Shamira

          I have a crown royal bag on my dresser right now. lol. Havent fully unpacked from my move yet and I used it to hold random knicknacks

    • Agatha Guilluame

      The white dudes around my way have suddenly started smoking black n milds…is nothing sacred to hipsters….

  • Jay

    I, for one, submit that “Vice(uh)Versa” is Pastor Troy’s “Dust in the Wind”.

  • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

    What about the level of black anti-blackness? Uncle Ruckus? Stephen (Django)? I know quite a few folks who fall under this category.

    • Jay

      Old Bill Cosby, uber color-struck rappers, black people who hate natural hair, Halle Berry’s post-millennial vagina…

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        Wait, aren’t all rappers color-struck?

        • Sahel

          Not 2 chainz

          • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

            Nor is this wonderful man :-)

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3TiZNgV30o

            • NomadaNare

              I’d make a song about her too…

              • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                I want someone to write a song like this about me. How they loved me and how I ripped their heart out and made them feel like they could never love again. *deep sigh :-) *

                • Sahel

                  So essentially,you want to cause pain lol

                  • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                    That was my comment, I was editing to add more but it did this -___- Anywho, I just want to be a real life Siren.

                    • Sahel

                      Siren huh,those funny things that were in the Odyssey. So to survive AfroPetite,don’t listen to her singing.

                    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                      Lol yes, I view them as irresistible creatures of passion though.

                    • Sahel

                      They were monsters that lured men to their deaths. Stop romanticizing evil,this is why we lost Eden

                    • Yoles

                      every time i see your eden comment i laugh… literally

                    • LMNOP

                      Wait but didn’t they lure men to their deaths by being irresistible creatures of passion?

                      Also, you see how long men have been blaming all their problems on “irresistible” evil women?

                    • Sahel

                      Because its not our fault lol. Odysseus was going home to his wife and nearly lost his entire crew. Those poor men.

                    • LMNOP

                      Because they just couldn’t say no to those evil temptresses.

                    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                      Odysseus was a fugg ninja who got in his own way.

                    • SuperStrings

                      Well his name does mean “trouble” lol

                    • Joanna

                      Hahaha, except Odysseus thought he was slick and pissed off Poseidon. He could have avoided the entire ordeal by keeping his mouth shut

                    • Sahel

                      So what your saying is your against love and a man finding his way home

                    • Yoles

                      i think that’s a succubus… i could be wrong, but i think i am right… all i can remember is they seduce men and are almost irresistible or something like that

                    • Sahel

                      Still evil.

                    • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                      I learned something new today. Thank you!

                • Guest

                  Lol. Wouldn’t you rather this instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DghkIfsLA8

                • NomadaNare

                  Lol. Wouldn’t you rather this:

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DghkIfsLA8

      • Todd

        Considering her choices in Black men, I think Halle Berry’s vagina being colorstruck is for the good of civilization. Apparently, it turns the softest dudes into thugs. Imagine what it would do to regular brothers.

        • Sahel

          Most probably open warfare. But her P must be the counter power to Erica Badu’s P. You can’t say the world is not without balance.

          • Todd

            Perhaps government research should mandate that they give 3somes to a group of Black men, then find a group of age-education-and-job-matched Black men. It would be interesting to plot out the results.

            • Sahel

              Nah,look at what crack did in the 80s. If they narrow it down and the results made public. Women would use that power for evil

    • SuperStrings

      Like Armstrong Williams? I also know some Uncle Ruckus types. It’s sad.

    • panamajackson

      We could do that as well…

  • Sincerity Hightower

    how did popeyes chicken land in two categories ctfu at that…where do the biscuits land? do 2520’s like or even know about the biscuits? what about pioneer and churches?(sorry my west coast is showing) those fall under really really black for sure.

    also i must say Cosby is def in right category. After indulging myself in a Duck Dynasty marathon (dont judge me i love Uncle Si) the show modern dads came on and i ended up watching quite a few episode and all except one (all white) listed cliff huxtable as a dad they model. i was shocked idk why though but i was.

    i will say i am surprised “the pressure and cognac” fell under not that black but you learn something new everyday

    guess there will always be extremely Libyan and not so Libyan ha

    • nillalatte

      “do 2520’s like or even know about the biscuits?”

      If they are from the South they do! That’s a breakfast staple.

      • Todd

        I have a deal for the South. We’ll teach you how to make a decent bagel that isn’t a glorified white bread ring, and you can teach us how to make biscuits. Man, I made the mistake of getting some biscuits from Fairway once. (For you non-NYers, Fairway is a local chain similar to Trader Joe’s, or a Whole Foods that won’t completely bankrupt you.) While the biscuit was huge, I was PISSED! Like wait…you can make great bagels, but f*ck up biscuits? Grrr…

        • LMNOP

          Oh, you don’t have your own great biscuit recipe, Todd?

        • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

          Bagels are wack. I’m a firm advocate for Krispie Kreme.

          • Todd

            It’s because you have been given inferior bagels. Come to a bagel shop in some random White neighborhood in NY, where they bake them fresh everyday with skills, and you will now begin to witness the strength of Bagel Knowledge. *cues N.W.A*

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              Nawl. I think you’ve just been given inferior donuts.

              • Todd

                Anything that isn’t explicitly Southern gets ruined in the South. Remember the line at the end of Goodfellas where Henry Hill asks for Spaghetti and Marinara Sauce and gets egg noddles and ketchup? Yeah…that’s pretty much how y’all do things. Trust me…get a bagel done right, and come back to me. Krispy Kreme’s alright, but it’s not real!

                • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

                  Never seen Goodfellas and the South enhances everything and makes it better with hot grease. You need a deep fryer in your life.

                  • SuperStrings

                    The state fairs are the best in the south. Deep fried ice cream, deep fried twinkies, deep fried anything you can think of .

                • SuperStrings

                  You shall not blaspheme the name of Krispy Kreme.

          • Kema

            All hail Krispy Kreme!

            • sincereluv4life

              this looks amazing

              • WIP

                I get a pain in my chest just looking at it…

                • sincereluv4life

                  I need to be as healthy as all of ya’ll (after I find this sammich)

            • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

              God is good.

      • Kema

        Exactly! A lot of things attributed to black people are really just southern things blacks brought with them when they migrated north. I’m in VA and in August we had VA’s biggest festival which is the watermelon festival. Stereotypes would have most people thinking it was a black festival. It was not.

    • OjiMcGillicutty

      Everyone loves Popeyes down south! Heck I was shocked to see a mexican at captain d’s lololol

      • Msdebbs

        Not I….I prefer KFC & got into some heated arguments about which is better.

        • sincereluv4life

          I agree, kfc tastes better- I can’t get w/ the popeye’s lard taste

      • WIP

        I will not have stomach boiling off all that Popeye’s grease, LOL. I’m not a fried chicken fan at all though.

        • Yoles

          me and you whitney…

          i do not like fried chicken… something about the skin… i do adore shake and bake though… oh well

          • LMNOP

            Your taste buds watching out for your arteries.

      • SuperStrings

        I always hit El Pollo Loco when I’m in Cali. They opened a few in Atlanta, but they didn’t make it. Neither did Fatburger. I’m just waiting for In-n-Out to come here.

      • http://brown-c6h12o6.tumblr.com/ AfroPetite

        No. Bojangles > Popeyes

    • Todd

      You guys still have Churches’ out West? They closed all of them in NYC. *now choosing between which version of “Going Back To Cali” to use, the LL Cool J one or the Biggie one*

      • Sincerity Hightower

        yep churches are still alive and thriving out here

    • panamajackson

      Thing is, Blood pressure affects lots of people. And French people love cognac. I think we view ‘yac as a Black drink. but white folks got it on lock too.

      • Todd

        Word. The French started selling it to Black people since a) sales were going down and b) Black people have loved brown liquor since the time of the slaveships. The French get money, Black folk get a new drink, and we all win.

  • NomadaNare

    I’d like to add to Jay’s beyond really really black list: lock braids, the divine nine (yt ppl don’t even know these exist), Kem, Frankie Beverly and the Maize, Richard Wright, Ann Petry, Ralph Ellison’s 2nd Novel, Nella Larson, chicago steppin, go-go, bounce, juke, bmore club, Curtis Mayfield

    • Msdebbs

      Rose Royce too…

    • Todd

      Word on the Divine 9. When I explained to my White roommates how the Divine 9 get down, they seemed confused. Like what, people actually serious dance at those parties? And people aren’t three sheets to the wind drunk 20 minutes in? That said, with the copious amount of liquor that stayed in the apartment, they had plenty of brothers and sisters explaining to them while they drank their Amaretto. :)

    • Kozy

      had to google a few of those, but i agree.

    • Rachmo

      Frankie Beverly and Maize makes me want to two step so hard a a 40 and over club while saying things like “Ya’ll don’t know nothin bout this”

  • OjiMcGillicutty

    Maybe the perfect level of blackness is some variation of the characteristics, likes/dislikes and attitudes associated with the levels (listed above) and sub-levels yet to be explored. Idk I’m no professional. lol