CIVIL WRITES: The Buddy System

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Civil Writes / March 2, 2010

Enough is enough with the winter snow. Blizzards obstruct my biz boogie. If you live in New York or any other east coast state I’m sure you relate. There was, though, a positive to Jack Frost keeping me on house arrest: I was able to catch up on neglected magazines and websites. I caught it all––the good, bad and ugly. Amidst it all I stumbled on some really cool footage of America’s hottest current tour, BP3. In case you’re age 50 or live under a cultural tombstone, the tour is headlined by Earth’s grandest rapper Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and co-starred by Trey Songz (think 2010 Jermaine Jackson) and Young Jeezy (think 2010 Jimmy Jump). Prefacing the footage was a drop from Jay-Z’s faithful buddy and constant hype man Memphis Bleek. The ensuing M Easy quote is what struck a chord in me: “You know what it is, if he there I’m there, and you know we everywhere.” The “he” Bleek referred to would be Jay-Z. Translation: wherever Jay goes I’ll be tagging along.

At first I thought, “Dude’s still coattail riding. How lame is that?”  The idea of me not standing on my own two as a man is unacceptable. Another man deciding my worth to this world is unfathomable. Imagine if Jay-Z woke up tomorrow and didn’t feel favor towards Bleek anymore, the G-5 flights, five star hotel stays and spotlight would disappear with a snap.  How would Bleek feel in the middle seat of a cramped Delta flight? How is he comfortable with a man who didn’t procreate him having that much government over his lifestyle?

Then I checked my judgment. I thought what else would I expect from Bleek? He’s already admitted to having his entire rhyme catalogue scribed by Mr. Carter. Would I rather him be another struggling (wack) rapper or simply a 31-year-old floor manager at Target? Would I respect him more if he were the aforementioned instead of Jay-Z’s beneficiary? The answer is probably not.

After all, there is a place for the Memphis Bleeks of the world. They may be disposable, but they do provide a service. Spliff Star adds to Busta’s showmanship. Randy Jackson played a significant role in MJ’s Off The Wall sound. I’d love to never witness label money be spent on another D-12 or St. Lunatics act again but the fact remains that a chief can’t run a tribe without Indians.

And I swear. I’m not sitting home green-coated wishing I were above the clouds playing cards with Jay. Don’t get me wrong­; I’d love to whip a couple of my homies in spades aboard my G-5. I wouldn’t even mind being a guest on one of my talented friend’s private flights. I just can’t imagine that friend’s worth dictating mine. I must represent some value once I leave their presence.

Which tells me that my initial reaction was based on the perception, goals and standard I hold for myself. Also the delusional arrogance in Bleek’s “we be everywhere”––as if he played a part in Jay being everywhere––admittedly irked me. Yet criticizing these Turtles for eating hardy with the silver spoon they’ve been gifted seems wrong now. Looking down on these people as less of a man or artist is a little contradictory, because if Bleek couldn’t accept that being a rapper was not his calling or squandered his access into a lucrative industry or chose to be bitter and envious at his friend’s greatness, I’d have far less respect for him. Maybe even some disgust. What about you?

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Bonsu Thompson has accomplished more in his career than most journalists dream of. The Rolling Stone 2001 “Hot Interviewer” has penned for mags like Details, XXL, Penthouse, SLAM and KING as well as notable brands such as MTV, VH1, Rocawear and Translation.