Having privilege is the power to shape your own reality and the realities of others. As a man, I have the privilege of being able to look out into the world and see myself in all the works around me. This is truncated by the reality of my Blackness. I can see the reflection of white men around me and find ways to identify. As an aspiring ally, I can understand that Black women must live in a world formed and shaped by masculinity and whiteness. I do not write this with the hope that Black women will appreciate my “wokeness,” in fact I fully expect that I am missing things that are absolutely important. Instead, my goal is to put in some work towards reducing my blind spots, while hopefully reaching out to other men who aspire to be allies in the hope that they will do the same. In the end, I’m just hoping for another sip.
Other De La albums, like “De La Soul Is Dead” and “Stakes Is High,” have journeyed with me into the night of grey, but none merit the attraction of A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory,” which I play several times a year. My affection for “3 Feet” is a received idea, in the purest sense; a hometown allegiance bookmarked; an unconscious pledge of fealty to an act who made other acts possible. These are historical moments rendered as emotional reflexes. I wasn’t around for The Sonics making people want to make even noisier music in the sixties, nor Patti Smith turning her poetry into punk in the seventies. Those moments belonged to strangers and all I had was their recorded output, which was butt. I didn’t care about Patti Smith or Sonics records. I heard no fire. (Many years later, when I saw Smith live, I felt fire.) I listened, because people told me to, and they were right about a lot of stuff. “Beggars Banquet” is tite!