Lil MouseToday’s installment of “Not Everyone Is Built to Be a Parent” is brought to us by the folks who gave the OK for young hip-hop upstart Lil Mouse to launch his music career and a wretched music video to go along with it. Clearly the boy, who hails from the South Side of Chicago, aspires to be a rapper. No harm in that. Plenty of other kids (and much to my chagrin, a disproportionate number of past-prime adults) share that same dream. But in a video that is garnering both heated criticism and an undue amount of support, Lil Mouse is coming out the gate using his budding fame for all the wrong things.
Standing in front of a BMW fanning a wad of money is 1) so stereotypical it gives me heartburn and 2) a flagrant stab at glorifying the materialism that’s at the root of the drug violence in Chicago and just about every other city in the first place. Adding insult to the already limping morality, he’s flanked by younger kids who are none the wiser that they’re being party to somebody’s sociocultural fail. Then, to top it all off, the child has the nerve to throw up his rusty little middle fingers and sing a hook that goes: “F*ck around, f*ck around, f*ck around and get smoked.” Lyrical ingenuity it is not.
The part that frustrates and saddens me at the same time is there are grown folks involved in this mess. He’s not paying for music videos with lunch money he stashed and income he got from cutting lawns and delivering newspapers. Someone over the age of 18 with a job or, at the very least, an active credit card, is financing his nonsense. And they see absolutely nothing wrong with the combination of his rhymes, his subject matter, and his age. All cool in their book. I’m sad for him that he doesn’t have the kind of people around him who tell him to pull his pants up, watch his doggone mouth, and become part of a solution, not the ongoing problem. I don’t necessarily expect a 13-year-old to automatically know better (though it would be nice), but the adults around him certainly should.
Which brings me back to the whole “Not Everyone Is Built to Be a Parent” thing.
Look, rapping about violence in “urban” (read: minority or, even more appropriately, read: black) communities is about as original as making a New Year’s weight loss resolution. The bulk of hip-hop lyricism has been built on vivid depictions of hypersexuality, drug slanging, and routine outbreaks of shooting because the bulk of hip-hop artists come from places like New York City. Los Angeles. Philly. New Jersey. And there have been some predecessors who beat our little homeboy to the punch reppin’ for Chi-town. (Not the least of which are two of my favorite rappers.)
But if he really wants to describe the reality of what he sees in his neighborhood, he should verbalize the fear he feels or the hope he has, not the same ol’ same ol’ rehashing of the street bullcrap. It’s not cute or endearing just because it comes from someone who’s barely out of middle school. And in fact, the kid is getting pimped because a 13-year-old rapper is already gimmicky. Factor in his potty mouth and R-rated subject matter and he’s really an anomaly. Perhaps this ‘hood glorification has created some kind of locational Stockholm syndrome, an effect that arises when folks can't get away from the violence and disparity, so they just embrace it.
Any way you slice it, though, this poor kid is getting pimped. No fan here. But I gotta admit, I wouldn’t have liked it no matter who was behind the music.
Is Lil Mouse’s music offensive or is he just expressing himself?