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Rapper J. Cole is regarded as one of the “good ones” when it comes to rappers. The bar is not all that high, still he’s considered more thoughtful than most. But today, he finds himself at the center of some controversy in his attempt to tone police a Black woman in our fight for liberation.

In his newly released song, “Snow On The Bluff,” Cole raps about “a young lady out there, she way smarter than me.”

“N*ggas be thinkin I’m deep, intelligent, fooled by college degree

My IQ average, there’s a young lady out there

She way smarter than me.”

It starts off so promising. It seems like the song will amplify a Black woman fighting against capitalism, White supremacy and police. Great.

But the lyrics start sliding fast down a slippery slope.

“She mad at my n*ggas, she mad at our ignorance, she wear her heart on her sleeve.

She mad at the celebrities, low key I be thinkin’ she talking ‘bout me.”

We’re all allowed to be in our feelings so I thought Cole’s next verse was going to be about how he got over himself and opened up to the knowledge that this rapper was offering via her Twitter feed.

“Now I ain’t no dummy to think I’m above criticism so when I see something that’s valid I listen

But sh*t, it’s something about the queen tone that’s bothering me.”

There’s more.

“…Just ‘cause you woke and I’m not, that shit ain’t no reason to talk like you better than me.

How you gon’ lead, when you attacking the very same n*ggas that really do need.

The shit that you saying? Instead of conveying you holier, come help us get us up to speed.”

And then lastly, a suggestion.

“If I could make one more suggestion respectfully I would say it’s more effective to treat

People like children, understanding the time and love and patience that’s needed to grow.

This change is inevitable but ain’t none of us seen this before.”

You can read the full lyrics to the song below.

I think we can all see the problem here. There are several ways to fight for injustice. J Cole acknowledges that this very smart, young woman is spreading good, thorough, well-researched information. Yet, he takes issue with the fact that this woman’s tone is more abrasive than he would like.

The internet quickly surmised that fellow rapper Noname was the woman he was subbing in the song.

For those who don’t know, Noname, the Chicago-born rapper and poet, launched a book club to highlight work from writers of color, the LGBTQ+, and other marginalized communities. It began when Noname shared that she was reading, Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Black Self-determination in Jackson, Mississippi by Kali Akuno and Ajamu Nangwaya. One of her Twitter followers shared that they were also reading the book and asked if they could share notes. Noname ran a poll asking if her fans would be interested in a bookclub.

They were.

But in addition to the book club, Noname uses her platform to speak to issues of injustice and liberation for Black people—which includes messages against capitalism, patriarchy, prisons, and prioritizing one sect of Black people over the other. The book club is more than just entertainment and information for the members. It’s also a place where people can donate money to send reading materials to people who are incarcerated.

She’s doing the work.

And J. Cole doesn’t like that she’s not “nice” in her tone. People. Black people, our people are literally dying, being stifled under oppression from all sides and J. Cole put pen to paper to ask her that she fight for liberation with a smile?

It’s all too much. For as much as J. Cole is regarded as one of the good ones, he dropped the ball here. It was misogynistic to assume that a way using her voice in the way she wants should be tone policed by a Black man who felt personally attacked by her messages.

At the rate Black women are suffering at the intersection of race and gender, the demand that she be nice or polite is another example of a man trying to control a woman advocating for herself.

With so many structures being dismantled, it’s odd that J Cole dedicated an entire song to critiquing a Black woman’s approach—when he, by his own admission, agrees with her message. There is too much going on for all of this in-fighting.

When people called him out for this, Cole, who rarely uses Twitter came through with an entire thread in defense of his lyrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps if Cole had done some more reading, he would share Noname’s tone for the cause. But since he doesn’t and is just a n*gga who be rapping—which is fine—maybe he should save his critiques for the people, especially Black women who are doing more.

If you’d like to support the work Noname is doing, you can donate monthly to her Patreon which provides books to people who are incarcerated. You can learn more about her book club, here.

You can read the people’s thoughts on J Cole on the following pages.

 

 

 

Judging by the date and time, this one wasn’t even about J. Cole but it’s relevant.

 

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