Showing posts from September, 2018

Lupe Fiasco's DROGAS Wave

            Lupe Fiasco is one of the few rap artists in active dialogue with his own catalogue.  This, in many ways, makes his work some of the most literary in the genre.  His newest album,  DROGAS Wave , is an example of this.  It presents the urban Black American experience through allegory no less effectively than its spiritual successor, 2007’s  The Cool .              The Cool was a novel – the story of a zombified young Black man murdered by the very streets he pledged himself to -  complete with its own Grim Reaper-style villain.   DROGAS Wave is a short story collection.  Every song is an episodic tale, each connected thematically to the sinking of a slave ship in the Caribbean.  Many songs reference drowning and the metaphorical fight to keep one’s head above water.  Also like  The Cool , Lupe has not allowed himself to be constrained by the concept album.   DROGAS Wave  is less saddled with this thematic story than enlivened by it, allowing Lupe to play within the imagin

Durag: A Short Personal History

The first time I ever wore a durag, my cousin tied it on my head and said, “You look like a gangbanger.” It was a compliment.  His sister agreed and they laughed because I was the baby of the family and the softest by a mile.  I ran to the bathroom and found in the mirror there a boy looking back who did look tougher, meaner; his soft, curly hair covered by the black flap of polyester.  As children, we’d already been taught to understand that something as simple as a tie-cap was a symbol of thuggishness.  Someone, somewhere, had already stigmatized the durag for us.  We’d already bought into the criminalization of a simple hair accessory for no other reason than it was a Black hair accessory. And since we were proud of our Blackness, in our childish logic, we aspired to this equated thuggishness, too. I practiced my mean mug in that very mirror with my cousin’s durag on my head, cape out.             The first stigmatization, of course, came not from the accessory, but the hair itse