TAKE #15: J.Cole’s “Snow on tha Bluff”

WAIT IS IT STILL WEDNESDAY??? Can I still do a Take???? Because I’ve been in a time warp for the past 3 weeks. It’s been a mess y’all. Black folks are (still) getting killed by the police. The Rona is STILL on that BS, despite everyone going outside (with NO MASKS) and thinking it’s all done. I started a new job and quit after two days. I’ve also cried several times over the past couple of weeks, after going into emotional turmoil RIGHT AFTER the Week Fulla Lupe. It’s just….it’s just been a mess lol. But I’m back – again, for the time being lol – and I’m hear to talk about Jermaine Cole and “Snow on tha Bluff.”

If you haven’t heard yet, J.Cole recently released the song “Snow on tha Bluff,” where he took the opportunity to get some things off his chest about recent events. One of his main talking points in this song centered on an unnamed female rapper and the push and pull Cole is having regarding the rapper’s politics and modes of sharing knowledge and communication. He both acknowledges her hard work and the strides that she’s made towards Black liberation, while also questioning why she “attack[s] the very same niggas that really do need the shit that [shes] sayin.” He claims that she conveys a “holier” than thouness that prevents her message from reaching the folks who needs it and that the “queen[‘s] tone” bothers him.” Among other things.

And while he never addresses this woman by name, there has been a lot of speculation (understandably, and I agree) that he was talking about Noname (this has only been fueled by him bringing adressing the criticism he got, mentioning Noname by name). If you follow Noname on Twitter, you know how vocal she is about Black liberation, dismantling capitalistic systems in order to build something better, and holding celebrities accountable for both the unfair allocation of resources and fixing that unfairness. She also founded a book club – Noname’s Book Club, of which I am a PROUD supporter on Patreon – that centers on sharing and exposing others to the works of Black and Brown authors. She also, not too long ago, mentioned that she was ending her stint in music soon, citing her unwillingness to continue to perform for a majority white audience, receiving a lot of slack.

I’m a big fan of nuance. I try my best to look at situations like this from all sides. And I wholeheartedly believe that Cole meant every word in the song. And I do appreciate him for being open and honest about his struggles to stay current and on top of information. I appreciate his willingness to begin the song saying that his college degree doesn’t mean that he is 100% knowledgable on everything Black. And regarding Noname’s approach to Black liberation, I do think that sometimes the things she says can be a little out of reach for people who haven’t had the opportunity to engage with the same information and resources that she has.

HOWEVER.

Cole was hella corny for making this song. For multiple reasons. Number #1: I’m not a fan of Black men trying to tell Black women how to live their lives. Black men often have this need to be paternalistic towards Black women. Black men have often not stood up for Black women in the same ways we have stood up for them. And this is a truth that should be thought through even more intentionally following the very recent death of Oluwatoyin Salau. There was a Tumblr post that I saw the other day that said something along the lines of “the deaths of Black women never inspire national attention and movements the same way the deaths of Black men do” (Tumblr won’t let me log in on my computer, but I’ll add the link when I can). The information surrounding Breonna Taylor’s death was shared around the same time as George Floyd’s and people – read: Black women – had to actively bring Breonna’s name into the movement’s space because she wasn’t being talked about. The Say Her Name movement was created because Black women are always being left behind when it comes to conversations about Black liberation, yet we do the bulk of that liberation work. And Cole saying what he said and criticizing a Black woman for SPEAKING HER MIND, literally unprovoked, was unacceptable. The repetitive “she mad” in the verse is a callback to all of the times Black women get called angry and aggressive just for being passionate. And that’s WACK (no Tierra).

Number #2: Cole is a professional artist. He is someone who has more of a social and financial ability than most people to educate himself if he wanted to. He’s not a child. If there’s something he doesn’t understand, he has the responsibility to do that work. I’m not about to treat an ADULT PERSON like a child. WE OURSELVES should treat OURSELVES like children and approach things with a child-like curiosity and openness, but Cole is 30+ years old. And has money. If he hasn’t educated himself to the level he feels like he should be at WITH ALL THE ACCESS HE HAS then that’s his problem to fix. He’s not just some random Joe Shmoe with no money and no access to resources. He can get the information he’s seeking. Just like Noname can. And he owes that to the Black kids he’s raising and the Black woman he’s married to.

I saw this article earlier that I think talks more about why the song was disappointing, so I highly recommend reading that. There’s at least another 2 reasons in there for why this song is so irritating to me. Like I said, I appreciate Cole’s honesty; I always have. But this felt like a moment of him pointing fingers for not knowing about things. This felt like a moment for him to point fingers at others for making him a celebrity who benefits from capitalism despite having music that speaks to the opposite. This felt very much childish.

And someone who doesn’t call Lil Pump out for saying “nigga” when he had the chance (REALLY HE HAD A WHOLE CONVERSATION WITH HIM BUT WON’T SIT DOWN WITH THE PERSON HE WAS TALKING ABOUT IN THE SONG?????) and expresses admiration for XXXTentacion and Kodak Black really has no business calling anyone else out for what they do.

Anyway…y’all just need to leave Black women alone. Cause y’all are irritating me and my homegirls.


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