Laughing at the “Young Con Anthem” because neither “Serious C” nor “Stiltz” have skillz is all well and good, but there’s more to their awfulness than the sort of schadenfreude you get watching the first two weeks of American Idol. For the uninitiated:
This breed of rap is all about establishing and maintaining identity, which you do by asserting your authenticity and questioning that of other rappers—either by attacking it whole cloth (coastal feuds) or its legitimacy (street credibility). The Young Cons talk up their own game like some white Wu-Tang. Ideally, these assertions of identity should be such that when they “manufacture poems to microphones, bones fracture.” (Let that play while you work and your dull life will turn into a Jim Jarmusch film.) What makes the Young Cons so tellingly awful is that they sat down to forge a statement of identity, produced something entirely incoherent, then looked upon their words and declared themselves ready for battle. Their awkward juxtapositions and clumsier delivery foreground conservative schizophrenia:
Bail out a business, but can’t protect an infant.
My conservative view is, drill baby drill,
You can say you hate me, but I’m praying for you still.
The Bible says, we’re a people under God,
AIG was hooked up by Chris Dodd.
A classy gift ain’t an Ipod.
Then there’s the lyric people have held up to the most mockery:
Three things taught me conservative love:
Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged.
Saving our nation from inflation devastation,
On my hands and my knees praying for salvation.
They’re not talking about coalitional politics here—the necessity of compromising with constiuency X despite their outlandish positions on Y in order to get disappointed by someone new—they’re claiming as their authentic identity the ideological incoherence of political coalitions. They haven’t put the cart before the horse so much as glued the horse to its side and demanded it be pulled down the mountain; then later, as they sift through the gore and gristle that had been their horse and cart, they turn to us and say, “We meant to do that.”
One last thing: is Scott Johnson “almost certain that this is the first time the word ‘inherently’ has made its appearance in hip-hop” because he can’t understand a word black people say or because he’s never even tried to?