I’ve spent the better part of the last week wondering why in the hell Chrisette Michele was singing at Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Not because I don’t think she’ll engage in nonsense for a check - the girl was just touring for Love Jones: The Musical after all - but I simply can’t figure out where in the Venn Diagram of the United States of America there manages to be an overlap between possessors of MAGA hats and folks who are just REALLY into the hook to Aston Martin Music. The only person I can conceive of is Marjorie Harvey,* and she decided not to waste her couture thotwear on that poorly attended excuse for a day party that was the inauguration. Which brings me right back to square one, with Chrisette allegedly selling her dignity for 250K under the pretense of “building a bridge” — a justification that no one saw it for.
Listen, if you’re gonna sell out for a check, you've gotta commit to it. You don’t just get to say “I was selling my soul to the devil but it was out of love” and not get dragged. Just admit that you signed up for the club for the free pizza because funds were low! But not only did Chrisette refuse to own up to the situation and take the jabs in stride, she took it upon herself to address all of the haters in what I can only describe as a diss track disguised as a spoken word poem, and the lyrics honestly leave me with more questions than answers.
(This is probably the part where I should let you know that I think most spoken word is goddawful. The last performance I went to was on a date, and a woman talked about her menstrual cycle for four minutes. I made a resolution right then to never engage anyone trying to fulfill their dream of a Love Jones era romance. But sometimes you have to suffer for your art, and therefore here I am, enduring two minutes of Chrisette’s nonsense in iambic pentameter to dissect for the masses.)
“I am the black song Spike Lee won’t sing / I am the black voice inauguration bells ring/I am the black sheep disguising the scared wolf/no I am the black elephant in the room red scared shook/White house invite see you call me their coon/I am the butterfly growing from history’s cocoon/ I can carry the mantle with God as my goon”
What the hell are these metaphors? How the hell is she a butterfly, a sheep, and an elephant at the same time? And who exactly is the scared wolf? Paul Ryan? Questlove? Her wig stylist??? Spike Lee’s vocal chords?? God???? Does God look out for animals too??
“Church folks may not clap but i’ll sing their song/Hip hop for Jay Z now you say you lost one/R&B for def jam, rich hipster for brooklyn/But Spike won’t pay me, a crook from Crooklyn/I’m still Black girl, Magic/I’m still American, tragic/I’m still born again, miracle/And we’re still on the borderline, pinnacle”
The first line is exactly Chrisette’s problem: insisting she’s doing something for people that no one asked her to do! No one asked you to lift every voice and sing, girl! It’s not giving a voice to the voiceless when the silence is intentional. Also, Spike hasn’t done anything besides decline to use your music after you showed your ass, but I still haven’t forgiven him for Chiraq so that’s about the closest thing to a defense he will get from me.
“The brink of love or destruction, this is the junction/where we divide in consumption of social media productions/or will we finally unite, win the 200 year fight/70s fists up that’s right/did MLK die for my rights or just spite/And I'm No Political Genius.
She is definitely not a political genius if she thinks the fight for equality is only 200 years old.
"For John Lewis and Ben Carson/Questlove, Spike Lee, and before them/I won’t divide now/That’s not smart now/God before me, I won’t back down/This is my damn America now."
I just want to know what Ben Carson is doing in this list of names. I thought we had evicted him in the last racial draft after he lied about being held up at a Popeyes. Lying on a chicken sanctuary is a top five offense for which Carson has been condemned to a lifetime of dry-ass Popeyes biscuits without water.
“Came on a boat, now I’ll rock it/give me the mic, now I’ll rock it/gave me the vote, didn’t profit/and I'm no political genius/but these aint politics as usual/I’m no mad dog, but I rebel/may I revel in the freedom of speech/in the art of standing for peace/Basquiat-style paint streets/on the front lines let’s meet/we can sing one song, victory/and one anthem, land of the free/as one army you and me/some political genius though, ill never be.”
Invoking Basquiat — a Black man who used his art for political commentary against racism, capitalism and basically everything a man such as Donald Trump stands for — as some sort of longwinded rationalization of getting paid to sing at the inauguration has to be one of the grandest moments of cognitive dissonance I’ve seen since the time I went straight to Popeyes after hitting the gym. And the only anthem I care to sing is the Dipset Anthem.
I apologize to all 72 of Chrisette’s fans. I haven’t paid much attention to her music since she appeared on that sham of a series finale for Girlfriends and it’s possible her music is truly capable of turning 63 million racists into decent human beings one note at time, the same way it’s possible that I could give up Popeyes for the rest of my life. But in this reality, Chrisette needs to take her L in peace, take $5 out of that quarter mil check, and console herself with a Popeyes chicken box.
Most importantly, spoken word makes everything worse.