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Mic Drop to Jaw Drop
Obligatory Seriousness on Fighting Words
I have just about zero and will probably never get more than whatever comments appear here on the stories behind the bitch slap heard around the world. As many of you have probably overheard, because who doesn’t watch TV and its equivalents, Chris Rock got smacked by Will Smith during the Oscars.
What I did hear is something I’ve heard many times before in hiphop. Smith returned to his seat having put fresh prints on Chris Rock’s face, yelled out “Keep my wife’s name out of your motherfucking mouth.” Considering that my favorite rap group, De La Soul, said something in one of my favorite joints called ‘Verbal Clap’ in the same flavor of bravado, I know the subtext. It basically works like this.
In the world of rap, there are real beefs and staged beefs. It takes an insider to know which is which and I’m not making any predictions on this matter. But beef is the subtext and how it works in the rap game is that one MC calls out another MC on one record, generally attached to a clever insult. The called out MC is then obliged to do the same. Such kayfabe can escalate beyond vulgar rhymed couplets to the point at which actual blows may be exchanged. The warning to keep my name out your mouth is the refusal to take the bait by the implication that the instigator’s rap is so weak, calling out a rival is the only way his ‘art’ can get attention. If I remember correctly, Nas is a rather legendary target and instigator in this regard.
Now it should be noted at this WorldStarHiphop moment that Hollywood is a playground for both Rock and Smith, neither of whom is likely to suffer even a smidge from this kerfuffle. It’s not as though Kanye West hasn’t played this game before. I would think it quite genius if the smackdown was staged because probably the only thing better than Hollywood publicity of a celebrity meltdown is a genuine moment of artistic brilliance. Hands down that still belongs to Chris Rock whose original mic drop became a mimetic masterpiece. Chances are he’ll never get a chance to replicate that brilliant moment, once in a lifetime is quite enough.
Facebook is always asking us stupid questions and just this week asked which celeb’s entire body of work we’d do without. The choices were [Eddie, Denzel, Lawrence, Will, Chris and Samuel]. Quite honestly I thought it would be a tossup between Fishburne and Smith. Nobody else could have possibly replaced Fishburne in Deep Cover. To be honest, nobody else could have possibly replaced Smith in Independence Day. But I didn’t answer the question because I have a paranoid feeling that the lot of such questions are merely a pretext for exiling us peasants to a desert ‘of our own choosing’. I still don’t answer because to do so rather legitimizes the exclusion of Jamie Foxx, Harold Perrineau and Jeffrey Wright. And yes we can forget Ice-T and Malik Yoba. Sorry baby, that’s the rules.
So let us flash back to Hamilton and recall the Ten Duel Commandments:
I have long been on the side of chivalry. I would much rather face a smackdown than a civil suit. That’s the long and short of it. I wonder beyond all reason if these two men have perhaps set a precedent that is appropriate for a society mired in post-modern fake apologies and weasel words.
Fighting words are a cornerstone breach of honor codes, but honor codes do not scale. In an open society where the rule of law is accepted and respected, the escalation of honor codes to the lethal force of chivalric dueling is extremely corrosive. I’m glad to be rid of it despite my EDC. Even my respect for the warrior codes I would expect for an officer and a gentleman require restraint in squabbles that might break bones. As wondrous as it is that we have evolved to get knocked out from a properly placed overhand right after which we know the fight is over, it is a very rare MMA fighter who takes on civilians. I cannot believe by any stretch of the imagination that Will Smith, as dramatic as it looked, didn’t pull that punch. Then again, one slap was all it took. Among gentlemen, one slap is all it will ever take even in the hottest of moments.
My Weasel Words
I’m sorry though. Did I say the bitch slap heard around the world? I already used that for Sidney Poitier this year. As for trial by combat, my jury is still out on that. I cannot imagine Putin v Biden would even be worth watching, but certainly worth staging.
So in conclusion, I’m going to give both Smith and Rock the benefit of the doubt that they both had the honor and presence of mind to both acknowledge and discipline their animal instincts, that is, if the beef is now settled. Certainly they will both be seduced into making more of this than it already is. I believe this is just about all the thinking that needs to be done and the less either of them talk about it, the better.
One question though. Was Jada there or not?