CIVIL WRITES: The Buddy System

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?


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.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Cardi B Explains Why She Wants To Trademark “Okurrr”

Cardi B hopes to secure as many “bags” as possible. In response to backlash and burning questions surrounding her decision to file to trademark “okurrr,” the 26-year-old rapper took to social media Friday (March 22) to defend her latest money move.

Since people tend to ask Bardi to use what has become her signature catch phrase, she figured that it was time to cash in. “You think I ain’t gonna’ profit off this sh*t? B*tch white folks do it all the motherf**king time,” she said. “So you gon’ be mad at me ‘cuz I want to get some motherf**king money?

“While I’m still hear I’ma secure all the fucking bags,” Cardi continued before adding that there are a “lot of ways to get rich” in 2019.

The Bronx native caught heat for wanting to trademark the word because she wasn’t the first to say “okurrr.” Cardi already revealed that she started using it after she heard Khloe Kardashian saying it, but the word was originally popularized in drag culture -- most notably by Rupaul’s Drage Race contestant Laganja Estranja, in 2014.

However, Rupaul attributed the word to Broadway actress, Laura Bell Bundy, who used it in YouTube skits dating back to 2010. In the skits, Bundy pretends to be a hairdresser named “Shocantelle Brown.”

Although Bundy caught criticism for her little character, which was deemed racist, she typically gets credit for bringing “okrrr” (different spelling) to the internet a full decade before Cardi made it mainstream.

No matter the origin, it looks like Cardi will be the only one profiting off of “okurrr.”


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Kanye West, EMI Working Towards Private Settlement

Kanye West and EMI could be close to settling their legal drama. Each party filed documents requesting a stay of the case to “explore the potential for a resolution,” The Blast reports.

West sued EMI in an effort to “gain freedom” from his contract, and to own his publishing. In the lawsuit, ‘Ye argued that his contract ended in 2010 under California law, which bars entertainers from being tethered to an agreement for more than seven years. The multi-Grammy winner, who signed the deal back in 2003, also accused the company of slavery because the contract doesn’t allow him to retire.

“Even if the contract were not lopsided in EMI’s favor (it is), even if its terms valued Mr. West’s artistic contributions in line with the spectacular success he has achieved for EMI (they do not), and even if EMI had not underpaid Mr. West what it owes him (EMI has), he would be entitled to be set free from its bonds,” the lawsuit reads.

EMI hit back with a countersuit filed in New York, instead of California. The suit pointed out that the 41-year-old rapper signed multiple contract extensions, in addition to accepting millions in advances.

According to The Blast, West and EMI now feel that putting a hold on the legal proceedings will be beneficial to both sides “and the Court by enabling the parties to engage in meaningful discussions in an attempt to resolve this action without having to incur the burden and expense of litigation and motion practice.”

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