Between the 1st and the 28th of February, Black History is having the best month ever. We just heard a few days ago that DMX is going to fight George Zimmerman #justcuz on Pay-Per-View or something which…you know what? Let me go ahead and say this. What if DMX loses? Zimmerman will basically be 3-0 against Black people. He killed Trayvon Martin, beat the system in Florida, AND knocked out DMX, something the legal system can’t seem to accomplish. Point is, if I’m DMX, I’m really rethinking this idea.
Moving on and back to Black History Month. During this month we of course get all of the necessary tributes and odes to giants past. But there are some folks who have made some fairly significant contributions to Black History, but under the radar. To discuss these contributions, I’ve enlisted the help of the VSB superstar, The Articulist, Shamira aka Sham-Diddy (clap for her) to help give some nouns their proper place in history.
I’ll start it out. I’d like to nominate Cam’ron. Why Cam’ron? Well, he’s possibly had a direct influence in one of THE most important aspects of Black History. You see, Cam renaissanced Harlem. Before Cam’ron and DipSet came thru and painted Harlem pink, Harlem had lost a bit of its cultural caché. I mean, it was still Harlem but it wasn’t what it used to be. Enter DipSet and Harlem once again rises and becomes relevant for years. I mean, DipSet took over America. And therefore Harlem World’s prominence was restored. And anybody who knows anythign will tell you that Harlem is a central figure to Black History. Sham-wow, What do you think? And yes, I just called you Sham-wow.
Shamira: *cringes at Sham-wow* But hey…the Articulist, huh? I rather like that. Gotta save that name for when I finally release my mixtape on DatPiff.com. Don’t worry Peej, I’ll give you co-writing credits.
We all know of my absolute stannery for Cam’ron. If you don’t get it, well…you MAAAAD, dawgie. Cameron Giles irrefutably influenced music, cinema, AND the news industry. And you know who else did?
William Ray Norwood, Jr. That’s right, Ray J the GAWD.
Oh, Ray, how do I love thee? Let me list the ways. Not only did he give us the seminal piece of entertainment known as “For the Love of Ray J”(Never Forget:”Danger, She Smashed The Homie”), and the ultimate Bitter Brian anthem known as “I Hit It First”…he provided what might be the best radio interview of the 21st century. Under presumably the finest of state-altering drugs known to man , he was Ray Charles to the FCC and proceeded to inform the public of all the ways he was better than us. And I have to say…he was right. I mean, I indeed do not have seven Rolls Royces outside. Nor do I have indoor/outdoor pools, and corresponding basketball courts. And MOST IMPORTANTLY….I do not have ride or die goons that are willing to defend my right to play piano in Floyd Mayweather’s living room (although if we were all being real with ourselves…One Wish goes, man. When’s the last time y’all listened to it?).
Basically, Ray J is all of the most ratchet parts of black twitter combined. He’s like Captain Planet if the five elements were Subtweets, Absurd Stories, B!tchmade Behavior, Delusions of Grandeur, and Wayyyyy too much free time on his hands. Brandy’s brother is tired of being humble, and we should all thank him for that.
P: Grand choice. Just grand. I’m an avowed Ray J fan. I own most of his albums (okay, I downloaded them on my Spotify Premium account, they’re on the same playlist with Jagged Edge) and listen to them after I read my leatherbound books in my mahogany scented apartment. It’s not quite as big as Ray J’s pool, but hey, we can only aspire.
One can’t bring up Ray J and his contributions without bringing up his one time Co-D, Lil Kim. Which brings up an important point. There are contributions, but then there are Black woman contributions which often go unnoticed, even when heaping ceremony upon our people. Michael Jackson did it first followed by Sammy Sosa (“these b*tches love Sosa” – Chief Keef), but Lil Kim took up the mantle for Black women by being the first Black woman to take Black Sheep’s seminal song “The Choice Is Yours” (the remix of course) to heart and go from this (Black woman, “Crush On You” blue/green wig video hot) to that (racially ambiguous, Canal Street Face/Off knockoff hood chick who put her camel toe on blast). While Lil Kim will never get the accolades she deserves as a rapper and for inspiring this generations misguided young women, she did become the first Black woman to Go MJ In De Face and that says something. Michael Jackson was an icon. So what’s her contribution you ask? She in the Black face arts. And a cautionary tale for kids everywhere.
S: Black face arts, though??? I wish I knew how to quit you.
Well, if we’re going to bring up black women presenting cautionary tales, we’ve gotta thank none other than Yandy Smith for showing us the other side of that ride or die life. For too long, the men of America have been able to champion Tameeka “Tiny” Cottle as proof of the rewards you reap when you hold your trappin’ man down. Yeah, you might have a few outside kids who’s ages in the timeline of your allegedly monogamous relationship make you question everything you know about how conception works, but hey, its the 21st century. Break babies are de rigeur!!! You give that man a firm…er…”handshake” while visiting him in the clink, and he’ll reward you with everything your heart desires. You might even get a TV show out of it that positions you as the modern-day Cosbys, cable-knit sweaters and all!
OR….you can be in your Bronx studio with two kids, only one of whom is actually yours, wondering how your fairytale went wrong. You may end up believing that your fiance who thought he was Big Meech, Larry Hoover, whipping work, hallelujah has gotten shafted…because after all “there are still murderers out in these streets.” You may convince yourself that after a year in federal prison, they are still working on getting him out on bail. You may even find yourself going to K. Michelle for advice on how to raise a man! (Spoiler alert: her answer? You can’t)
And you may even find yourself uttering these words with sincerity: “I mean he’s in jail, what else does he have to do but think about me all day?”
Yandy Smith reminds all of us that while your degrees may not keep you warm at night…your dope boy probably won’t either. More importantly, she taught us that if your man’s name ends with an S, pronouncing it is optional. Or maybe you only pronounce the S when you’re mad? The jury’s still out on that.
P: You know, I have no idea if you pronounce the “s” on the end of Mendeecees either. Maybe its like the “p” in Ptolemy, pneumonia, or pbreakfast. I think the most important contribution that Yandy and Mendeecees have made is this: we live in a world where a ninja named Yandy and a ninja named Mendeecees, met, fell in love, and procreated. In terms of Black name scrabble board, they motherf*cking WON at life.
I’d like to toss in Dwayne Cleophus Wayne (Brooklyn, NY/Hillman College) for his contribution to the Come Up. My man showed up to college as a nerdy doofus on some Can’t Get Right from Life steez. I mean, he weng from Walter Oaks questioning if his mother liked him to having the baddest chick in the game wearing his chain. He pulled Whitley, Freddie wanted him (my big haired muse), and even Denise Huxtable considered it even for a second. If anything, he’s the wavy lightskint girl whisperer which is a contribution all to its own. He went up in Byron’s wedding and said, “don’t be mad. Your b*tch chose me. So we can handle this like some gentlemen or get into some gangsta sh*t.” I may have the lines a bit wrong on that one. Point is, Dwayne Cleophus Wayne doesn’t get enough credit for his contribution to Black Cool. His guidance is the truth, the light, and the way towards realizing your full potential and pulling a bad ass light skint chick. Konishiwa, b*tches.
S: Dwayne Wayne did prove that Nice Guys (TM) can indeed win, internet proclamations be damned. He ruined poor Byron’s life though. Dude went on to marry Olivia Pope’s mom and became the evilest evil to ever evil. (YOU. ARE. A. BOY.)
I just realized that we’ve offered all these women without shouting out the realest chick that ever did it. That’s right…Remy Ma.
For those of y’all who are not acquainted with Remy Ma. Lemme learn you a lil bit. She is the leading lady of Terror Squad. A mentee of Big Pun. She’s the chick in the Ante Up Remix that makes you wanna fight everybody. She taught me that my life is not complete until I am able to utter the words “who’s that peeking in my window/nobody cuz I live in a penthouse, baby.”
She has also been in jail since 2007. Now I know what you’re thinking. Another cautionary tale, Shamira? Au contraire, mon frere. She’s a teacher. What’s that lesson, you ask? Money and friends don’t mix.
You know how the story goes: you shy against lending your friend a few Gs, they avail themselves to it anyway, promise to pay you back with their next paycheck, and then they’re waiting for their tax refund…next thing you know you’re in front of a bar at 4 AM mad as hell. What’s a girl to do? Well, probably not shoot the girl in the stomach…allegedly….and rifle through her purse for your money while she’s laying there wounded…but that’s besides the point here guys. Remy Ma knew how money alters friendships and so she just had to explain it to the girl. Forcibly? Perhaps. But I bet the girl won’t forget it.
By the way, we have so many “Free (Insert person who absolutely did the crap he was arrested for but we like him so it shouldn’t count here)” Movements…Boosie, Max B, why not Remy? Patriarchy, I tell you!! I mean, she has two Source awards. TWO. I would argue that “There’s Something About Remy” stirs something in the little hoodrat inside all of us. I should start said line, and y’all should Support Black Businesses, because it’s February. I mean, if Mama Jones can do it, why can’t I?
*Toe wops all the way to the T-Shirt printing store on 125th St*
That’s what we have. Who do you have that made a significant contribution but flies under the radar? And why?
Happy Black History Month.
(Also, if you are offended and feel that we’re trivializing Black history month…bye Felicia.)
-VSB P and Shamira