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This or That? Rick Ross & MMG vs. 2 Black 2 Strong MMG

What do you think would happen if Rick Ross made a song about burning the American flag? He’d have to mention roasting wings from Wingstop over the fire, right? (Rumor is that as part of his Wingstop ownership deal, he has to mention lemon pepper wings at least once every five songs. This is yet to be a problem.) Gunplay (the guy with the swastika tattoo) would probably join him on the song, and the record would get yanked from radio and criticized worse than that track about molly in champagne.

2 Black 2 Strong MMG, on the other hand, made a song called “Burn Baby Burn” in 1990 with Chuck D. It’s about burning the American flag, which the rapper sees as “a symbol of oppression.” In his mind, the act of burning a flag is part of his freedom of expression, and he’s not happy with America – “F–k the red, white and blue, I’m not Captain America / 2 Black 2 Strong causing mass hysteria.” Chuck makes the racial struggle global as he shouts out Nicaragua, Brixton, Mexico, and a host of other places as well as Brownsville and East and South L.A. as a way of broadening the scope of the issue. Racism isn’t just an American phenomenon. Black oppression is happening all across the globe, and these rappers are keen enough to realize that a global coalition could help promote the problem on a larger scale.

You think Rick Ross would make a song like that? Not a molly-infused shot in hell.

2 Black 2 Strong runs with a posse called MMG, which stands for Mad Motherf—king Gangsters. It’s not some “aspirational” identification with a luxury car brand like Maybach Music Group. Seems like the last thing on 2 Black 2 Strong’s mind was material wealth. In an interview with BOMB Magazine, he had this to say about his introduction to rap:

“As a kid, if you like something, you want to pattern yourself after it. You see this singer, you want to sing, you see a rapper, you want to rap. I got inspired by most of the old time rappers—Grandmaster Flash, Kool Moe Dee, people like that. But what really got me was Public Enemy. They had a real social-conscious message to their rapping. Flash and them had messages, but they were street politics. Public Enemy came out with the government, black and white politics and everything. You know what I’m saying? That was good because I didn’t know about people like Malcolm X.”

Let’s think about Rick Ross and MMG for a second. What do they rap about that would make a young impressionable child think anything close to what was just described above? Street politics? Socially-conscious message? Nah, Rick Ross is all about making money. This is what people will justify his music with. They’ll say, “Hey! Who cares what he raps about? He’s doing something positive as an artist by becoming a successful role model. He’s not doing any of those things he says in his songs in real life.” That may be true, but he’s not really talking about anything of weight in his records (get it? Of weight?) Does making heaps of money negate the fact that his music isn’t what it used to be, or that he’s not teaching kids much of anything? He even had to exhume Biggie’s dead body for a single to get radio play. How desperate can you get?

2 Black 2 Strong MMG never had that problem. His thing was integrity, and in 20 years they’ll be playing his music before some bulls—t like “Devil Is A Lie” because “Burn Baby Burn” had a meaningful message. The Harlem rapper wasn’t concerned with getting rich or being played on the radio. He wanted to educate folks who were blind to systematic, institutionalized racism. The only thing Rick Ross is teaching kids is how to eat fried chicken wings and become a rapper after you work for the police. But he’s richer than all of us, so who are we to say?

 

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