The Internet’s gone nuts over Soulja Boy’s latest, “Let’s Be Real,” in which he rhymes “fuck the FBI and fuck all the Army troops”
More than most people, I think it’s worth paying careful attention to what values artists promulgate in their work, but this nigh-unintelligible verse in a song so dreadful that even Soulja Boy’s incessant social media flacking wouldn’t have made it take off is probably one that we could have all taken a pass on. If I’m going to resent Soulja Boy for anything, it’s for not passing the Vistoso Bosses off to someone who could have made them take off:
In all seriousness, though, this is probably a controversy precisely because of its actual minorness. Soulja Boy isn’t an artist it costs anyone to take on. And he doesn’t remotely have a record of social activism that would let him pass this sentiment off as a provoked backlash to discriminatory authority the way the Black Eyed Peas reputation as conscious rappers and Justin Timberlake’s involvement let them slide on comparing the CIA to the Klan and the Bloods and the Crips in “Where Is the Love” when it came out in 2003:
It’s also probably a matter of hierarchies and timing. Culturally, we’re pretty comfortable bashing the CIA in part because we expect the agency to do less than admirable things in our service, and in part because if you don’t live in Washington, you probably don’t know anyone who works for an intelligence agency so they’re less personified for us. By contrast, we hold our armed forces sacrosanct, at the top of the hierarchy of people who need to be protected from insult or harm once they’re at home. And in June 2003, before our ill-fated invasion of Iraq had gone entirely to hell, I’d guess we weren’t as concerned with protecting our public servants from ill-considered words to excuse our failure to protect them from more substantive hurts.