It’s Thursday, just a little past 12 PM when the intro to the world premiere started playing for the Fire In Little Africa video “Reparations”. The live chat started to get longer and longer as the comments started to come in. The excitement was at an all-time high, mainly because of the controversy surrounding the first video being shelved. St. Domonick hosted a private screening of the initial video on a building wall downtown just off 3rd st. This caused many to use their social media platform to express their anger and outrage, at times even comparing their struggle to the same narrative of being silenced by “The Man.” But now here we are, the second attempt at an official release for “Reparations”.
The countdown finally finished and the video started to play, opening with a drone shot of the city and a voice talking over a dispatcher radio. Next, the video cuts to 3-masked men in a Chevy mid-sized car parked in front of a building. As one of the masked men closes the truck, the Vuelo shark logo can be seen (Good product placement). The video then cuts to the 3-masked men fleeing the scene as alarms blare in the distance. The car speeds off with the masked men celebrating their getaway. Finally, the car stops as the masked man in the backseat announces:
"DOM JUST DROPPED A VIDEO!”
The next thing that happens is nothing short of embarrassing. An all-white cast for a video that is called “Reparations”. This single term has been controversial when it comes to African Americans. We built this shit! We should be compensated for the trillions of dollars in unpaid labor our ancestors did. But anyone that knows history knows that it’s not uncommon for America to give reparations, this would include the Native Americans as well as the Japanese Americans that received reparations for America’s horrible attempts at wiping out their race. But African Americans have yet to receive reparations to the extent that these other races have. So when the “Reparations” video did finally drop. It was a disappointment!
As a journalist, I advocate for Oklahoma music. There have been so many times I’ve argued with people that Oklahoma has some of the dopest artists and our videos can compete with any mainstream artist. No question! But this video will forever be that rebuttal. “What about that ‘Reparations’ video?”. The Reparations video was a disappointment. A letdown. This truly hurt the brand. After Fire In Little Africa put out 2 amazing visuals “Shining” and “Elevator”. Not even counting the visual content that surrounded the actual album. It’s Reparations that totally missed the mark for what the project aimed at accomplishing. But mostly this video hurt the artists featured on the song who had an opportunity to showcase their talent on a major stage. This doesn’t represent the years that Oklahoma artists have put into creating a hip-hop scene that is like no other. This definitely doesn’t represent the ancestors who gave their lives to make sure that the next generation had a chance. YOU HAD ONE JOB!
Who is responsible for this? There are some conspiracy theories about the label [Motown] white-washing the album. The label had nothing to do with this video. The artists were actually involved with making the video. Well, not all the artists. That’s an issue within itself. The song is fire. All three artists brought it. The video is a total distraction from what’s really supposed to shine. THE LYRICS! The worst part is that all three artists had amazing verses. St. Domonick brought an energy to the track that helped shape the direction of where it was going. Even M.C.’s 8 bars were dope. He’s one of the dopest emcees, whenever he’s featured on a verse he always shines, and everyone seems to raise their bars when he’s on the track. Hakeem Eli’juwon is one of the stars of this album, and this song is an example of why that is. The way he switches flows. This delivery and the way he emphasizes certain words make for perfect moments in the track. He’s a star! And even his disappointment for the video can be seen with his reaction on Twitter. While M.C. has gone radio silent on the whole issue. There was one artist that seemed to relish in the chaos.
The original video wasn’t released because it went too far. I don’t think the city would’ve blocked this video because they were too busy with the cyber attack going on and the rush to get the unidentified bodies of the Tulsa Race Massacre reburied. If we talking about songs that really got the attention of the government there are two examples that come to mind. N.W.A. and their song “Fuck the Police”. They went to jail over that song. They even got a letter from the F.B.I. for the lyrics of the song. Another example would be the original lyrics of FDT. “Fuck Donald Trump” that was written by Nipsey and YG. The actual Secret Service called Universal to get the lyrics to the song. There actually is a law (18 U.S.C. § 871), which criminalizes threats made against the President and successors to the Presidency.” With the label pressuring them, they had to change the lyrics. But the point is. THEY DROPPED THE FUCKING SONG! They realized the impact it would have on the culture. And the result was that record numbers of voters turned out to defeat Trump during his second run for the presidency. Back to “Reparations”. I imagine they weren’t in so much hot water as the Secret Service knocking on their door. So a little change to a video wouldn’t have killed everything. Or it means that the people involved with making the video don’t like to be challenged creatively and won’t allow themselves to get over setbacks. But I get it. Your an artist. And your Sensitive about your shit.”
A white-washed parody of the Family Matters intro. Some might say that this video was made as a 'fuck you' to the establishment. "That we won’t play by your rules". I see it more as trolling for views. Did we just get Rickrolled? This was not a clever witty response. This felt more like Tekashi 69, a rapper who got famous off trolling the music industry. Trolling and Black Wall Street shouldn’t be in the same discussion. And if we talking about legacy. Something that will be hereafter your gone. Is this truly what you want to be remembered by? “We laughed at the establishment.” In the end, it’s one guy who thinks he’s gonna get this big laugh when the whole world is laughing at him.
For anyone to claim this idea for making a video ‘parody’ as a good idea doesn’t see just how just how big of an opportunity that was blown plus it’s still irresponsible to put out a video at this point in time. Especially with this being the 100-year centennial and the current social climate. It does nothing to push the conversation forward. This was a chance to educate and tell the story of your ancestors, for your ancestors. But instead, this was a win for the people who wanted to silence the argument for reparations as well as the ones who tried to silence anyone who talked about the Black Wall Street Massacre.
So in closing.
"Put this video in the same trunk that St. Domonick raps about."
If ya’ll need help creating a video. Holla at Tulsa Lines. Cause. THIS AIN'T IT!
"This Ain’t Making Top 5.
Burn that video.
Burn that film.
Burn that Harddrive."
And at least fix the song credits on the video:
Lastly, don’t watch the video. It doesn’t represent Oklahoma Hip-Hop and it doesn’t represent the legacy of Black Wall Street.
Jay-Z dropped one of the craziest tracks on which he airs out the family laundry on. You know. "Family Feud". And ever since then rappers have been following J's lead by spittin their own rendition of the track (Checkout the article "Family Feud: The Instrumental Rappers Are Using for Therapy"). Not to be left out M.C. has a few words for the state of rap in Oklahoma of which it would only be right that he use "Family Feud" for his track "Part Two".