Over the past few weeks, we have examined underrated Blackness in multiple mediums — all unique, all bold, all transformative.
That said, of all the instances discussed, none of them — not even Bobby’s Doodie Bubbles — hold a candle to the unapologetic hood fabulousness that was Redman’s episode of MTV Cribs.
Let me set the scene for you. It’s a pre- 9/11 New York. Cribs had already been airing for a few months, showcasing some of the worlds biggest entertainers living in the most lavish accommodations their success had to offer. And let's, for today, forget about the fact that the bulk of them rented estates purely to stunt for the episode.
(The bulk of them, for the record, means almost all except for Mariah Carey. Nothing about her living in an 11,000 square foot Tribeca penthouse, that had twice as many bathrooms as bedrooms, and entire books of fan mail, with $1,000 per inch butterfly wallpaper, rings false. You could say Mariah has an entire wing dedicated to a puppy playroom that she only enters for a pick me up whenever she stumbles onto one of the 37689 times Drumline is playing on BET” and I’d be like “yep, sounds about right.” Because she’s Mariah, and Mariah does Mariah shit.)
For the life of me, I don’t know why MTV’s casting team reached out to Redman; How High hadn’t premiered yet, and I can’t imagine that they wanted a peek into his life off the strength of "Da Rockwilder." They probably wanted Method and settled for what they could get. Kind of like when you attend a Wu show knowing the entire group isn’t going to be there but hoping for at least Ghost and Raekwon, and being greeted to the likes of U-God and Masta Killa instead. (Editor's note: I get the analogy you're trying to make here, but Meth and Red at that point were pretty much on the same level. The drop off from Ghost to U-God, though, is about the size of the Grand Canyon. If you're expecting Meth and get Red, you might be disappointed, but you'll still have a good time. If you're expecting Ghost and get U-God, you're breaking a bottle over someone's head.)
At any rate, Redman agreed, and decided to grace Viacom with an authentic look at his residence in the Black side of Staten Island, which is a far cry from the Mob Wives’ style ostentatiousness that folks associate the landfill-that-apparently-also-counts-as-a-borough with.*
Redman’s tour included, but was more than certainly not limited to, the following gems:
1. A nigga-rigged doorknob. Because who has time to sit around and wait for the electrician to come fix your shit?
2. A headscarf in bed. Presumably to keep his curls popping.
3. A screen door that was missing a screen.
4. A walk-in closet that was missing a door. Which didn’t stop him from stunting in it.
5. A shoe-box filled with loose cash on top of the fridge. Because niggas don’t trust banks. I guarantee you that it’s 2016 and there’s a Checks N More check cashing place with Redman’s information on file.
6. Passed-out houseguest, whose excuse for being caught up on the floor was “you know how it is when you’re sleeping on a leather couch and it gets all hot? When it’s too hot to sleep on the couch, I just go right to the floor. It’s a cooler situation.” (For the record, I completely agree with Red’s cousin here. Being sweaty on a leather couch is just not an optimal circumstance.)
7. A porn bookshelf “for the freaks.” Sincere question for the fellas: Has turning on some porn for female company unprompted ever set the mood? I’m pretty sure I would immediately pack my things and go; but hey, if it works for you, zero judgment. (Editor's note: Depends on the woman. And the quality of orange juices in your fridge.)
Red hadn’t even bothered to tidy up the joint before MTV’s camera crew rolled through. He later claimed it was in the name of authenticity, but I’m pretty sure he just came home late from the club and forgot, kind of like when I pass out before my late-night seamless order arrives and awaken to 26 missed calls on my phone.
In a sea of palatial properties and stunting for the — well there was no gram back then, so I guess Myspace? (Editor's note: The was no Myspace then either, Shamira the millennial) — Redman showcased how he could still live his best life absent the ostentatious accessories. What’s more Black than making even the most relatively mediocre circumstances sound like the hottest shit ever? We can all only aspire to be as proud of ourselves as Red was of the Herbal Essences collection in his bathroom.
Happy Black History Month everyone. *Raises a chicken thigh in toast*
*Shout out to all the Africans in Park Hill Projects, I spent many a weekend getting my hair braided (read:overcoming my tenderheadedness) there as a young lass*