Noted poet laureate and Tennessee philosopher king Indo G, of short-lived affiliation with Three 6 Mafia, once quipped, eloquently over a sample from Curtis Mayfield’s “Give Me Your Love”: “when I die, die, if I die, remember me, ballin/when I die, mama, don’t you cry, remember me ballin”. His words resonate as sharply today as they did on his 1998 hit, “Remember Me Ballin’”.
Jazmine Sullivan apparently either don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care about that musical memo sent by Indo G. Recently, a gospel artist named Thomas "TC" Clay passed away and Jazmine “Lions, Tigers, and Bears” Sullivan took to Facebook to write the most self-centered tribute to the dead homie of all time. For starters, ninety percent of it focused on the fact that he was interested in her and the interest was not reciprocated, but to make that even more fucked up, she explained just HOW she curved him at certain points. Only upon his passing did she wish she had gotten to know him better…FOR HER OWN SAKE. Her words, not mine.
And the coup de grace, in her outgoing statements she pointed out, cutely, that he probably still has a crush on her in heaven. And because no terrible tribute is complete without a picture, she added a contemplative selfie, of herself.
Look, I don’t know Jazmine Sullivan personally. I’m sure she’s a sweet girl. I mostly don’t like her music, though I acknowledge that she can sing. But she might be a bad person at worst and an asshole for certain. And more importantly, she has no idea how to pay tribute to the dead homies. As the African-Americans, especially those of us from the inner city where nobody can read, we're all poor, and there’s a war outside that no man is safe from, one thing we know is how to pay tribute to the dead homies.
While there is humor in what I just said, it is also insanely tragic how much loss many of us are familiar with at an early age. No lie, I lost my first friend at age 16 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound sustained while cleaning his gun. I’ve been to more funerals than I care to remember and am actually a bit envious of people who have never been to funerals outside of grandparents or old relatives. Unfortunately, that’s not my life.
But because Blackness cannot be defeated, we manage to turn tragedy into celebration and take the opportunity to pay tribute to the dead homies. As part of the African Americans, our creativity shines through in nearly all of our endeavors. It is in that that vein that I’d like to examine the different ways to pay tribute to the dead homies.
Jazmine Sullivan’s pays tribute to the dead homie
This is the least effective tribute because not only is it not a tribute, it’s a non-eraseable, perpetual shade that cannot be rebutted. Screen shots are for real. For all we know, he was trying to holler at the chick BEHIND her every time he saw her but history will always paint him as the dude that couldn't bag Jazmine Sullivan because that's the narrative she intentionally painted. Also, in most tributes to the dead homies, said tribute includes a picture of the dead homie and not a picture of the person paying “tribute”. Point is, do not get Jazmine Sullivan involved in your tribute for it will be failure on every single level one might fail. It is T-Boz acting in Belly bad.
Pouring Out Liquor to the Dead Homies
I’m not sure the exact originators of this tradition (EDIT: Shouts to the comment section for the originators!) but it is the most common and ubiquitous “ceremony” celebrated from the hood to the suburbs. It is also the most curious to me, if only because, like, exactly how much are you supposed to pour out? Most folks I know pour out a sip but, I mean, is that really enough? And if you see the live homie generously pouring out some to the dead homie from a bottle you put in on, can you ask him to chill out or is that disrespecting the dead? I’m all for pouring out to the dead homies but it ain't like they're going to drink it or put in on a new bottle. I’d just really like some guidance.
For instance, can you pour out cheap liquors? Like do the live homies ever go buy a cheap bottle in tribute to the dead homie? Does André qualify? Why don’t more people pour our champagne in celebration, anyway? Nope, we out here pouring out the finest of brown liquors. Once, I noticed a dude I know pouring out some Henny XO – a bottle that goes for as much as $150, by the way – and figured that the dead homey might understand if we just poured out some Smirnoff. I’m just saying.
I’ve got a few of these and while I understand the sentiment, I’ve long felt they were a bit…misguided. For one, it always seems like the least artistically inclined in the family always gets tasked with their production. This pretty much guarantees that same pseudo-cursive font on all shirts with some “cool” picture of the dead homie and either their name or some shit like RIP MookMook, God’s Walking Your Pitbull Now. Or some such fuckery. Amazingly, nobody ever uses Comic Sans on these shirts.
Thing is, I’m all for the tshirts since you know, why not? It’s just that there’s really no good place to wear those outside of family functions (including family reunions). It’s just odd to wear them out to the mall, or CVS to pick up a Plan B or something. They’re not as functional as it seems. Plus, you watch those bitches once and the picture gets faded and it looks like you’re rocking a dusty ass tshirt which I can’t imagine the dead homie would approve of since typically, let the liquor tell it, the dead homie was fly as fuck.
Vigils At the Scene of The Crime
I live in DC. This, sadly, means that there have been a lot of gone-too-soon deaths. What happens a lot here in DC are candelight vigils at the scene of the crime which has always struck me as odd since typically, here at least, crew and niggas-gon-nig beef is how the homie got dead in the first place. This ALSO means that a gathering of the friends and family of the dead homies is pretty much a basket of kittens for the shooter to finish his business. And that has been the case several times in DC in the 15 years I’ve lived here. I remember one such vigil at a cemetery where the shooters came back and sprayed folks AT THE CEMETERY. Talk about irony.
Point is, when shooters remain at large, public vigils have always seemed an odd way to pay tribute to the dead homies since nigging is alive and well, especially while pouring out some liquor to the dead homie in your RIP tshirt.
Smoking Their Ashes
When Tupac died in Las Vegas in 1996, he was allegedly cremated (assuming he’s not in Cuba) and members of T.H.U.G. Life allegedly smoked his ashes, which, eww.
Look, I’m sure that I really like a lot of people that I know. But what I’m not gon’ do is be outchea smoking dead homies and having their spirit inhaled into my lungs. That’s fucking creepy. Also, slightly cannibalistic and perhaps a bit evil. Smoking the ashes of somebody seems like some witchdoctor shit. And if that’s your wave, do you booboo, but I most certainly will not be smoking your ashes so do not suggest it to me or ask me to do it. You will be very disappointed in what you see once you’re the dead homie as I accidentally drop your ashes while I’m on the way to dump them hoes into a river.
A safe and effective form of tribute as it lasts as long as nobody paints over it and can involve several different facets of what made your life mural-worthy. In fact, I think having a mural of yourself painted is probably one of the highest honors in the hood. Plus, you can get the community involved. There’s really no downside here. Of course, being mural-worthy is no small feat, so perhaps a picture on folks FB pages is the best some of us can aspire to, but a mural is a mural.