In our previous article “How the Noname/J. Cole Controversy Speaks on Celebrity Culture”, we went in depth on the controversy between two music artists, Noname and J.Cole who both write music on the plight African Americans and Blacks face in America. In response to the article, I came to rebut the statement made in that story, “Noname was right and J. Cole blew it out of proportion.” Although, I am not in favor of Noname being “right”, I will state the truth: who was right, when were they right, who was wrong, and when they were wrong.
Let us begin by pulling up the receipts also mentioned in the other article.
It first began when George Floyd was murdered by police and not many celebrities or companies were doing anything in favor of Floyd’s justice. On May 29, 2020, Noname, what seems like, furiously took to twitter saying:
We all know that tone can be depicted through text, so based off of Noname’s purposefully written tweet, one can sense a little bit of tension and shade. Primarily, her choice of words such as “yall favorite top selling rappers” was the start to this going downhill. You never hear other artists say “your favorite rapper” before they say something uplifting. It’s always in a bar or track dissing someone when artists say “your favorite rapper cant do [this] or dont have [that]”. If you’ve ever heard a bar or track dissing another rapper either famous or underground, you know what I’m talking about and you know deep down that she didn’t even have to say that.
Then she says “not even willing” basically saying at the very least of J.cole’s work and personal life, he can’t make a song or tweet about what’s going on in the world, even though he’s made plenty before that still relate to today’s injustice. That sounds like a diss to me whether it was directed towards rappers like J.cole or not. She then writes, “niggas…no where to be found”. Noname definitely sounds disappointed and upset which she has every right to be.
Everyone in this world is entitled to their own feelings. And that’s where J.cole comes in. Many people say that he took it overboard and is in his feelings about the tweet. Well let’s start there, if he feels attacked by Noname it’s for a reason. As mentioned many times in his music, J.Cole does a lot of overthinking and having to deal with a lot of mental things. The reason he responded in the first place is because he felt guilty of being one of those celebrities who wasn’t doing as much as possible towards the movement at the time. The fact that he even went to make a song telling her that she’s checking him and he needs that, says a lot about the misconceptions people have on this story. Here are the lyrics to that part of the song:
J.Cole admits that he isn’t the hero the world thinks he is. This goes for many celebrities who are put on a pedestal and are expected to live up to the expectations of the world. He comes with humility in his voice and his lyrics saying that that hero is not him. He then explains that the tweet she posted was definitely valid and because he is open to criticism he will listen to what she has to say. I don’t see or hear the disrespect or diss in this but let us continue. Later in the song he says this:
The first line shown on this image of the lyrics has been my argument since this whole situation began. J.Cole has been out here protesting! Why do people expect everyone to have Twitter fingers and post about everything they are doing? Thankfully, we have celebrities like J.Cole who does things for a cause without publicizing it! When he says “most people is sheep” I conclude that he is saying everybody is going to follow and retweet stuff just because it’s a trend and not because they actually want to see a black revolution. He even offers Noname a better way to approach people like him and these situations. Don’t holler and get mad about what people are not doing; but be patient, kind, and give love in the process. Can you not agree?
J.Cole then gets really transparent and gives it to us raw and uncut saying this:
J.Cole so humbly and respectfully admitted that Noname was right but her delivery was just off. Pause. How many times are we told that regularly? At least I can say that I have been told that many times before. This is the message he is trying to give but people took it and flipped it like how most stories in the media are. Many say J.cole was out of line, but how is he out of line by calling another black woman a queen, saluting her for the work and activism she is doing, saying she is smarter than him, and suggests a more efficient way she could say exactly what she has to say because she is absolutely right!
In the article favoring Noname, it states “Here’s the thing though, it’s not a black woman’s job to educate you.” Keep this in mind because I will touch on this right after my next few points.
Noname responded to J.Cole making a very short song called “Song 33” which made me realize something totally different. In her song, she raps about Toyin, who was an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, kidnapped then found dead after exposing her rapist.
Immediately after, noname says this:
By the looks of things, Noname isn’t only angry about celebrities not supporting the movement for black justice but also the silence of our own black men when it comes to black women dying and being raped! THIS is what I can completely agree on. Then instead of J.Cole writing a song about rape culture, he writes a song to respond to Noname, like that is what he’s giving his time and energy to. I do agree with Noname one hundred percent. However, J.Cole is not “completely wrong” and Noname is not the victim here. I actually don’t think anyone is right.
The only thing they both are wrong for is even choosing to go back and forth about this. I mean, Noname I can use your same lyrics against you! How are you criticising J.Cole for making music to respond to you instead of the issues in the world when sweetie…you just did the same thing! Why go back and forth with J.Cole who just said he does not feel secure enough in himself to do what you’re doing. He literally wrote in his song to Noname “Can you walk with me…fill me up with wisdom and some courage, plus endurance to survive, help mine thrive”, and instead of aiding his “cry for help” you diss him some more. This is what Black men mean when they say they do not feel the love and support! When they ask for help WE SHAME THEM! And we wonder why the mental health of black men is drowning.
Yes, us black women also have a cry for help and protection that we feel black men dont give us, but is this a battle of who gives or receives something first?! Why does it have to be tic for tac in our community?! Black men PROTECT, RESPECT and HONOR your women! Black Women SUPPORT, AID, and give ENDURANCE to our men! So, going back to the quote (and please take what I will say as educational- something you can learn from and apply or even shift your perspective in a lighter direction) “Here’s the thing though, it’s not a black woman’s job to educate you.” Maybe it isn’t our job to be their teacher, but look at our society and tell me who is willing to teach the black boy besides the black girl? How are we going to protest for the police to stop killing our men but turn around and say it’s not our job to do this or that for them?
Instead we should be saying it IS our job to do so and so. Since slavery, the only time a black man was able to learn to read was when a white woman felt sorry for him. The black boy had to be extremely special in some way to have the privilege of learning to read. Therefore, it is our duty to give them the guidance and strength they need to fight for us and protect us, our children, and communities.
Personally speaking it starts with the women. Yeah they say it starts with the men but how will they get the energy, drive, strength and courage to start when they do not have the source to get those essentials? Black Women we are the source! We fuel them with gas and they take us on their backs. If that is not part of your duty as a black woman then I RESPECTFULLY suggest you reevaluate some things on the issues we’ve been soaking in, but again it is a respectful suggestion to move in the right direction; the same applies for men- if your job as a black man isn’t to protect, provide, and love black women, then please reevaluate yourself.
If J. Cole had black women to care and support him, and lead him to the right black men who will then teach and show him, then who knows, he could be our generation’s Tupac! Please don’t forget he has a white mother who was a drug addict and a black father who wasn’t present. He was not raised on black girl magic; he wasn’t properly taught how to deal with situations dealing with the oppression of black women.
Yeah, he can talk about the injustice and police brutality in his songs but to actually apply it is harder for many people. All he knows is how to fight for himself which is the majority of our community but amazingly that is slowly changing and it will continue to evolve. That’s why some choose to be advocates and others choose to be activists-there’s a difference but both are very effective.
Advocating is like sharing the knowledge and educating people on why we want change or what should be changed, while activism is physically applying or protesting for the change. While this conversation is not meant to discredit nor disrespect any artist, writer, or reader, I do want you all to grasp the message: it is not and should not be about who’s right or wrong in the bigger picture. Rather, how can we help and guide members of our community, black men, women, and children to a brighter future through education, support, protection, planning and organizing.
In light of this whole situation, on June 21, 2020, Noname did come out with an apology via Twitter stating:
i’ve been thinking a lot about it and i am not proud of myself for responding with song 33, i tried to use it as a moment to draw attention back to the issues i care about but i didn’t have to respond. my ego got the best of me. i apologize for any further distraction this caused.” She later added: “madlib killed that beat and i see there’s a lot of people that resonate with the words so i’m leaving it up but i’ll be donating my portion of the songs earnings to various mutual aid funds. black radical unity.
I am extremely open to your thoughts on this article and would love for you all to comment and share this story with your friends, family, and followers. Help me spread the word on how we should and could be interacting and aiding each other as a community fighting for a revolution. Now is the perfect time to be an advocate for the BLM revolt!