Blackness. It’s a dynamic state of interwoven race, ethnicity and culture that’s both unifying as well as mystifying. While being a member of the black community comes with an immeasurable number of intrinsic benefits and inherent perks (see: people assuming you’re cool/people assuming you can hoop/people always asking you to make playlists for their parties), it’s also overwhelmingly perplexing.
Last summer, the investigative-journalism task force here at Very Smart Brothas, through exhaustive research (and even more exhaustive brown-liquor consumption), compiled an initial exploration of black-ass mysteries and Afro-oddities that needed answers (you can read about it here). A little over a year later and we’re back confronting another round of unanswered questions of blackness and the enigmas of negritude. Join us on our journey as we continue to uncover black-ass mysteries.
1. Are black people the only ones keeping Pelle Pelle in business?
I’ve never in my life seen someone who isn’t black or black adjacent (I see you, Fat Joe) wearing anything made by Pelle Pelle. I went to a concert over the weekend that attracted a “35 and over” black crowd and couldn’t help but delight in the fact that I counted no fewer than six Pelle Pelles in the crowd.
Has anyone ever seen a white person in a Pelle Pelle jacket?
2. How old is the grease?
I mean, that grease has been in a tin on your granny’s stove since your moms was a shorty, and it’s not like you’ve ever seen anyone do anything but replenish and recycle the grease. But like, what’s the date of that grease’s genesis? When was that grease initially birthed? Can we carbon-date the grease? Are there remnants of the actual 1970s in that grease? Are we consuming trace amounts of the Ford and Carter administrations when we consume foods prepared in said grease?
We need to get to the bottom of this grease issue.
3. What happened to Uncle Charles, y’all?
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s classic “Crossroads” is probably the most peak Bone (Boniest?) song that they made. It contains all of the hallmarks of Bone that we came to love: harmonic thuggery, melodic hood introspection, dry ponytails and incomprehensible lyrics. And let’s be honest—outside of the first few seconds of the song, everyone only really knows one snippet of a piece of one lyric; say it with me:
“Why they kill my dawg and man I miss my Uncle Charles, y’all … ”
After that, gibberish.
This begs the question: What the fuck actually did happen to Uncle Charles, y’all? I mean, based on the contextual clues—like the fact that “Crossroads” is about death and in the video we see the physical embodiment of death (who looks a whole lot like Cerrano from the movie Major League, but I digress) come take Uncle Charles away—he is, in fact, dead. But how? Was he murdered? Did he die of old age? Inquiring minds want to know.
4. When’s the last time a Jehovah’s Witness has converted someone at the door?
I’m curious to know what their overall acquisition rate is in the first place, but do you think they tell the story at the Kingdom Hall about that one Saturday morning when “Elder Whitaker went 5-for-5 catching souls”? I hope they do.
5. Why does the chicken spot keep giving us coleslaw?
Look, man. We all just out here tryna function in these here food deserts, and the chicken spot ain’t doing us no favors with the lack of actual nutritional value in the food they serve, combined with the slow death they’re foisting upon the community every day in the form of high blood pressure, cholesterol and other obesity-related chronic illnesses.
Then, after they do all that, they got the nerve to hand us a soggy paper ramekin loaded with mayonnaise-doused cabbage and carrots with our order of deathbird to taunt us like it’s real food. Here’s an idea: Why not actually serve, I’onno, like an actual salad and shit to temper the prediabetic feast we’re getting handed through the bulletproof glass? But coleslaw is just nasty and an affront to blackness everywhere.
6. Where is Murphy Lee right now?
Hard to believe, but in the summer of 2003, Murphy Lee and Lil Wayne were essentially musical peers. Where did he go? Is he OK? Has anyone seen or heard from him or any of the other St. Lunatics for that matter? I hope they’re OK.
(Note: Tracey Lee, on the other hand, appears to be doing just fine and is currently an entertainment lawyer, so that’s how he’s getting down these days.)
7. Who decided that the Crown Royal bag was the universal receptacle for black valuables?
You know what? Never mind. It’s probably because there aren’t any banks in our neighborhoods, but there are plenty of liquor stores.
That one kinda solved itself.
8. What is kingdom come?
Is it a location? Is it a time? Is it a state of being? And how does one arrive there outside of a parental beating?
9. Are we still believing that those kids really belong to Michael Jackson?
Before we delve into this mystery, do yourself a favor and Google the following images by these search terms: “Michael Jackson circa 1975” and “Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson circa 2017.” Aight?
Now look at those pictures and ask yourself this simple question:
How are we supposed to believe THAT man made THEM kids?
I mean, look, Mike was crazy as cat shit and had more money than the pope, so you could’ve told me just about anything about him doing some wild shit that’s seemingly unmoored from reality and I would’ve at least accepted it as plausible even if seemingly improbable.
Like, if you told me that Michael Jackson had died eating undercooked unicorn meat, I would probably nod in agreement and say something like, “That shit happens” or “That’s why I don’t fuck with unicorns.” But I’ll be damned and a half if you’re going to have me living the rest of my life believing that these children are the genuine fruits of that man’s loins. Nope. Nope. Nope.
10. Who in the hell left the gate open?
Some things we will just never know.