Can a f–kboy every change his f–kboy ways?
I ask this because of David Banner. The “Like A Pimp” and “Play” rapper now says he is ready to own up to his misogyny – well, sort of.
According to the Huffington Post:
During a recent appearance on Essence Live, Banner explained that his conversations with black women led him to understand that black women didn’t feel protected or wanted in their community. As a result, he wrote an open love letter to women through his latest single, “Marry Me.”
Banner also took responsibility for past actions — anyone remember “Play”? — and explained what he learned the most from having “Get Like Me,” a number one song in 2008.
“When I had the number one song — as far as hip-hop was concerned ‘Get Like Me’ with Chris Brown — I got a global peak [sic] at how America is portraying black men from America,” Banner explained. “And at that time, reality shows — as we know it now– first started to take off so for the most part, what people got from black men globally was rap videos and reality TV shows, and honestly, we looked like monkeys. But I wasn’t living what I was speaking for the most part – as far as the positive aspect of it.”
If you haven’t heard the song or seen the lyric video — particularly seen the video — you are truly missing out. “Marry Me” is a romantic little tune featuring Banner rapping about marriage over violins while a dude (also known as Rudy Currence) riffs and runs like Trey Songz. Not to be outdone, the video features a floating earth-shaped engagement ring over a spaced-out background, which is reminiscent of an old-school Myspace profile that could have belonged to a conscious “queen” named Empress-something.
I will admit: The song and video have some charm. I could see it being played at weddings and engagement parties all across Black America. And in some respects, I prefer it to most of what passes as R&B nowadays.
With that said, I fail to see how this song or Banner’s proclamation is meant to make Black women feel more protected and wanted in the community. Heck, I fail to see how this song or video has anything to do with Black women at all.
For one, there are the lyrics. In particular, the chorus:
They say I’m an urban myth
They say black men don’t exist
Prove them wrong, won’t you marry me? Marry me
And they say I’m nothing but a stat on sheets
But here I am on my bending knees
Prove them wrong, won’t you marry me? Marry me
So I’m asking every woman and girl
All over the world
If you wanna get married, you can marry me
I might be a little confused here, but is Banner, by way of Currence, suggesting that all women “and girls” marry him specifically, or that women and girls should marry men like him? Either way, it is pretty damn self-centered and presumptuous, as well as slightly creepy.
Not only are we once again putting the onus of “proving” the worth and value of Black men on the backs of Black women (“They say I’m an urban myth…prove them wrong”), but Banner wants us to do so with no assurances that he is actually ready for marriage.
I mean, what is being said in the lyrics that actually speaks to love for Black women and girls (again, yuck)? If anything, the lyrics read more like Black women are being used as shields to mask insecurity about what other people think of Black men and masculinity.
Not to mention the “every woman and girl…marry me” line sounds no less gross than the dudes who womanize, but claim to do so out of their love for women. You know, like a pimp?
But that is just the chorus.
In the first verse, we get a little more clarity on Banner’s new views about protecting and making the Black woman feel wanted in the community.
More specifically, he raps:
Baby, I can feel your pain, let me heal your pain
If you leave with me, you’ll never feel the same
I’ll steal a plane, fly over hills and plains
Reach in the clouds, even steal the rain
So a seed can grow, believe me and know
I’m a king, you’re a queen
I’ll leave you, no
Got you covered in the best gold
I know you see the threshold, come get carried
Let’s get married
And as you can read, Banner’s new views on women sound a lot like his old views of women.
What I mean is that Banner has been called out on many occasions for both policing and holding Black women to respectability standards he has even failed to live up to. More recently, it was comments he made on Twitter that got people riled up. He said, “If you want a man that respects the way you think then show more mind than a–. If you cater to the savage qualities of a man why are you surprised that he continues to be savage? That is how you got him.”
Again, the responsible party for a man’s “savage” behavior is women. Moreover, only certain women, particularly the conservative and the traditional, are deserving of respect. And the more women are “respectable,” which in this instance only means appearance as opposed to her character, the more a man would be willing to give her the courtesy of actually listening to what comes out of her mouth.
In “Marry Me,” Banner continues to promote the idea that respect for women can only come through traditional and conservative means. In particular, single women are in pain, and marriage to a man is how we “heal” a woman from pain.
Never mind that women in committed relationships, including some married ones, can also can be pained at the hands of their partners. And never mind that even a good marriage has never been a cure for sexual assault, street harassment, domestic abuse, a rapper calling a woman a “thot” or a “b–ch,” poor pay and other real-world pains that women experience.
That sort of introspection into “feeling a woman’s pain” would require more than a promise of “the best gold” and a free airplane ride to chase raindrops. Like actual advocacy on behalf of women.
It is important to note what Banner actually said during the interview with Essence. More specifically, the part when he talked about mending bonds between Black women and men, which he feels were broken only by slavery. Although Banner calls himself a Pan-Africanist, he points to the Rockefellers, the Kennedys and the Bushes – three families that have been marred by all sorts of domestic problems – as examples of strong families that Black folks should be emulating. By doing so, the only value Banner places on marriage is its alleged ability to create wealth and power.
He also said, “Me talking to so many women, they would always tell me just black women in general didn’t feel protected nor did they feel wanted. I said, especially in my career, I’ve done enough damage myself, so when I speak, no way am I criticizing other men and what they do in their music, but I have to sort of cleanse my soul and balance my vibrations out.”
While inviting Black women and girls around the world to apply for the job of his “queen” might be cleansing to his soul, the reality is that real empowerment of women comes from the very thing he is refusing to do. And that is talking to and calling out other brothers about their disrespect – even if it means falling on his sword and actually owning up to his first.
He also talked about how the song made his sister cry because she didn’t think there were Black men like him. And then he added, “So um, I hope that, you know, Black women especially support me.”
And there is it. It’s about Black women supporting his project and not necessarily about offering support to Black women.
It is hard to say for sure if Banner is playing off of the insecurity some Black women have about marriage just for spins and downloads. But it wouldn’t surprise me considering we have seen this sort of pandering before. Folks like Raheem DeVaughn, LL Cool J and Ne-Yo have made decent careers giving adulations and making hollow promises of respect to Black women.
But if he is serious, he is going to have to do more than this song to prove his love for us. Just because a f–kboy decides that he is now ready to settle down and marry does not mean he stops being a f–kboy. And if this ring for our “queens” is still wrapped up in counterrevolutionary and dangerous ideas about proper womanhood and everything that supposedly ails us, then he can keep it.