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A black man, a white woman and an impasse: Vince Staples and a concerned mother

January 30, 2019

Vince Staples performing at a show in October, 2015. (Tobias Nielsen/via Creative Common)


Imagine a story with two protagonists: a young, white, Christian mother and a young, talented, black, male rapper. The rapper has had national notoriety since he hit 21; the mother just found hers with a viral video denouncing his lyrics through tears:


“We wonder why this society is so messed up. Listen to the music,” she laments.


Now imagine this story is a nonfiction tale of the digital age. The mother’s despair, anger and sadness, stems from Vince Staples and his incisive song, “Norf Norf” getting airplay on a popular radio station while she was driving her offspring. In the video, she proceeds to bemoan a world where her children could be exposed to such objectionable material, like the song’s opening line: “B**ch you thirsty, please grab a Sprite / my Crips lurkin’, don’t die tonight.”


She takes offense to the song’s chorus, a repeating mantra of, “I ain’t never ran from nothin’ but the police.” She asks, is this what we want to teach our youth?


She sobs, takes a moment to collect herself, and repeats this line from the second verse: “Folks need Porsches / h**s need abortions.”


She questions what the young ones listening will take away from the line: “Cut class ‘cause it wasn’t bout cash.”


Her overall verdict is that this particular song is what is wrong with civilization – all of her fears crystallized in the words of one young, black man.


The woman’s diatribe was widely skewered by rap fans on social media. Cleverly-edited videos with her words in Staples' mouth popped up. The woman, who read every lyric verbatim, said “n***a” multiple times with the same kids she was so concerned about in the room as she recorded the video. She was much-maligned and came off looking ignorant, although her opinion came from a righteous, motherly place.




Vince Staples is quickly becoming a hip-hop giant. His sharp lyrics, gangster credo, modern sensibility and dark wit have made him into a lovable villain; fans marvel over his wordplay and slick, silvertongued, surgical flow, while shuddering at his harsh depiction of California gang culture, which he neither sugarcoats nor romanticizes. Also, his Twitter game is raw. One never knows what he’ll say publicly, but whether he’s comparing Donald Trump to Michael Jordan or explaining why he got into gang life (hint: “I started gangbanging because I wanted to kill people.”), his comments are always thought-provoking.




So, two Americans from worlds decidedly divided converge.


Read the full story at

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