Rapper J. Smitty, a lumpen mass of Redditors about yay-high.
A Missouri police officer is in hot water this week after appearing in a racially charged music video for Independence-based rapper J. Smitty's song "Before This Bomb Blows Up (Racism Goes Both Ways)." St. Joseph officer Zackary Craft was suspended for his role in the video, in which he can be seen holding a sign that reads "Cop Lives Matter" and at one point reaching for his gun while the rapper addresses the black community with the message "Keep your nose clean and obey simple laws, pal / and maybe the police won't be so quick to fucking draw down."
For his part, Craft has said that he was "appalled" when he saw the finished product, and according to his attorney, Morgan Roach, he agreed to appear "without knowing the words, content or context" of the video. Which, if true, was pretty stupid of him.
But lost in the controversy is the message of the song and video themselves. It serves us well to dissect this offering as we would any piece of art, in order to get to the heart of the artist's statement.
0:00 We open on a white screen with black text that reads, "I make music based on how I feel at that moment. I may wake up tomorrow and feel differently, but this is how I feel today. Don't tell me how to feel and I won't tell you how to interpret music." Which mostly seems like a fair deal, if a little damaging to one's own credibility to essentially exclaim that "my opinions change with the goddamn winds; I honestly have no idea what I'm saying half the time" right from the outset.
0:15 Next we see fat Fred Durst in a fedora, or perhaps the singer of Smash Mouth in his post-hair-bleach days, holding a sign that reads "A proud white man is a racist," which then switches to say "A proud black man is courageous," juxtaposing the statements against one another in a way that is roughly as powerful and moving as director J. Smitty's stunning and inventive use of an all black and white motif. Even more impressive: All of the words on both signs are spelled correctly.
0:33 Further scrawled messages stating "I am a proud white man" and "Good luck changing that" are held up as the song's hook is repeated by a female voice: "Please excuse me while I rhyme / I need to get this off my chest / I need to say what's on my mind / before this bomb blows up inside me." It is mostly notable for its rather generous definition of what a "rhyme" is.
0:45 More white people with inscrutable signs now. One presumably written by a Jack Nicholson fan reads "You can't handle the truth" on one side and "I'm not sorry that this offends you" on the other, which is kind of confusing because I honestly don't think of A Few Good Men as a particularly offensive movie. Another, held by a man wearing an American Eagle shirt, says "I hate this society." When the man flips it to the other side, we are stunned to see the reason: 'I can't take a shit without offending someone." Poor fella. Probably lactose intolerant.
0:55 Fat Fred Durst is rapping now — OH WAIT, that was J. Smitty all along! The walking embodiment of an Old Country Buffet parking lot wearing Ray-Bans, he fires off his opening salvo: "Black versus white, yeah, I guess we're on this shit again / I thought that it was over but I'm thinking it may never end." It is easy to feel bad for him. The systemic struggle of people of color probably weighs pretty hard on a rural Missouri-based piece of chicken-fried steak pretending to be Macklemore.
1:06 OK Smitty, I know you really wanted to use the cool reverb / echo effect on the word "white" for your soon-to-be classic line "I'm done feeling bad for you just because I'm fucking white" — I get it, it gives it more punch. But Smitty my man, you lost the beat altogether on that edit. Back to Fruity Loops.
1:19 Smitty delivers a line dismissive of the "whining and complaining" of African Americans in regards to how "cops are quick to pull it," referring to their guns. Seemingly unironically, as he derides those whiny complaints, a stone-faced white girl appears onscreen holding a sign complaining that she can't say the N-word.
1:45 Smitty holds up a framed photo of the KKK. Then he smashes it to the ground.
1:51 Smitty holds up a framed photo of Al Sharpton. Then he spits in his face.
1:56 Smitty holds up a framed photo of Jesse Jackson. Then he impales it on a wrought-iron fence post, puncturing it through the eyeball.
1:45-1:56 Is it just me, or did the KKK get off relatively light in this sequence?
2:14 "Is it a coincidence we have a black president / chiming in on racial issues, ignorant to no extent," Smitty raps, except I don't think he meant what he said. "Ignorant to no extent' would mean "not ignorant at all." This is not likely to be Smitty's intended message, since while the line is delivered we see a man holding a sign that reads "Fuck President Obama" and Smitty himself draws his finger across his throat, insinuating that he would like to kill the president.
2:19 Smitty holds up a framed photo of President Obama. Then he smashes it against a brick wall and angrily throws the pieces to the ground. I am now entirely confident Smitty does not know what "to no extent" means.
2:35 Smitty decries slavery — "It's a part of history that never should have happened" — while holding up a framed photo of Anthony Johnson, a black man from colonial times whom Smitty asserts was "the first American slave owner." Interestingly, Smitty does not smash this one; it survives the video intact.
2:45 A man so old he looks like the living, walking embodiment of racism holds a sign that reads "80's babies screaming slavery" on one side and "GTFOH" on the other. He is grinning ear-to-ear. He is just so, so happy to be a part of this.
2:52 Smitty found that photo of Obama again, now out of its frame. He crumbles it up and lights it on fire. For those keeping track at home, that means that every single black person who appeared in this video did so in the form of a picture, which was subsequently destroyed in gleeful fashion. Except for the one who apparently owned slaves — that guy came out fine.
The video ends with Smitty lighting a cigarette with a Zippo lighter that has his name engraved on it. He looks proud of himself, and of his work. But he shouldn't be, because even beyond its extremely racist subject matter, this is godawful tripe. Just a steaming, irredeemable pile of horse shit. Just as bad as bad can possibly be.
Luckily it's just how he was feeling on the day he made it — he "may wake up tomorrow and feel differently." That would probably be good, though I'd never tell the man how to feel, per our agreement at the video's outset.
But in keeping, he won't be telling me how to interpret his music, either, and it has thereby been interpreted as an absolute blight on humanity that never should have seen the light of day in the first place.