Everybody has hip-hop dreams. For some, it’s showing up to the club in a stretch limo full of groupies and Cristal. For others, it’s being invited on stage by Childish Gambino to rap Chance the Rapper’s part for the chorus of “The Worst Guys.” Maybe it’s a pole-dancing lesson with Cardi B or being caught on some grainy camcorder video as a background dancer for a one-hit wonder on TV One’s Unsung.
My hip-hop dream has always been to get name-checked in a rap song—preferably not as someone’s “dead homie” or some herb that Megan Thee Stallion tried to finesse at the club. If Nick Van Exel can get a shoutout from Jay-Z in “Crazy in Love,” there’s no reason I couldn’t get a shoutout one day. Now it’s finally happened; I never imagined I would end up on a diss track, let alone a Bernie Sanders diss track, but here we are, courtesy of Mr. Tony Tig.
My personalized diss comes at the 1:37 mark:
“Jason Johnson still flapping your gums kissing Joe Biden’s ass like it was second to none”
First, a little context: I’ve got like fifty-eleven jobs. In addition to writing for The Root and being a professor at Morgan State University, I pop up from time to time on Sirius satellite radio and MSNBC to share my political thoughts and analysis. When you talk about politics on a regular basis, you’re bound to get some people riled up, and by some people, I mean Bernie Sanders supporters because, quite honestly, they’re the absolute worst online.
Now, of course, I’m not talking about all Bernie Sanders supporters; I have friends who support Bernie Sanders and I have great relationships with plenty of people who’ve worked for the Dem-curious socialist senator from Vermont. There are very fine people on both sides of Mount Bernie. I’m talking about the Bernie Bros, the obnoxious grievance factory of folks online who seem to specifically harass women and black people who do not swear everlasting fealty to their lord and savior Bernie Christ. If you aren’t feeling the Bern (which has always sounded like some kind of tropical malady to me), especially in the media, then you hate the poor, you’re part of the 1 percent and you club baby seals over the weekend, then sign them up for private insurance. I get criticism from supporters of just about every candidate but Bernie Sanders’ supporters and his staff are by far the most aggressive, but last week was different.
Enter: Tony, Tig, and Julisa.
Spurred in part by a Twitter beef between Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden and Bernie Sanders National campaign co-chair Nina Turner, Tig apparently had to get in the studio and bless the world with this diss track, “You Picked the Wrong One.” He brought smoke that I, and apparently other media types, want no part of.
Can I just start off by saying that god bless Tig, who, I’m sure, spent every bit of his evening (as he noted, his pen doesn’t sleep, ala Chino XL) working on this song that I had the absolute opposite reaction to then he probably wanted or expected. I laughed out loud. I hollered, I snickered and texted my editor, Stephen A. Crockett, Jr., and Panama Jackson of VSB and said, “Mama, I made it.” Then I texted that struggle rap to almost everybody he name-checked in the song and we all cackled. Then I took a breath, hit the gym, did some emails, grabbed dinner, sat down...then cackled again. Then I said he “Won the Week” on Joy Reid’s show because I was amused by the whole thing (legally, we couldn’t play his music on air, but trust me, we tried).
Never in a million years did I think I would get name-checked in a rap, and quite honestly if one were to make a top 10 list of MSNBC folks to get a rap shoutout that list would be:
- Ari Melber
- Ari Melber
- Ari Melber (in your best Dylan voice.)...
While I was only one of a few media and political people to get name-checked in the song, that didn’t matter. My rap dreams had come true. Unfortunately, I don’t think the same can be said for Tig and his partner, Julisa.
I am happy to give Tony Tig an extension on his 15 minutes of fame because anybody who has to rap about media pundits clearly needs the clout. I must’ve been living in this guy’s head rent-free for so long it’s going to show up on my taxes. Of course, as part of the 99 percent under a Bernie presidency, I won’t have to pay any so I guess that’s not a problem.
More importantly, being compelled to write a diss track because of Susan Sarandon—a privileged white woman who had the audacity to argue that voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the same as voting for Trump—is about the most Driving Miss Daisy-esque motivation for rap I’ve ever heard. Of course, since Tony Tig has referred to himself as the “Jay-Z of the West Coast,” I shouldn’t be surprised that he makes money as the smiling black face carrying water for white millionaires. Further, being the Jay-Z of the West Coast is like being the LeBron of the tri-state area, or the Bill Gates of a 7th grade math class or the Diamond and Silk of basic cable.
Now, I don’t know about Chuck Todd, Zerlina Maxwell, Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid, Debra Messing or Soledad O’Brien, but I won’t be coming up with a response track to “You Picked the Wrong One.” I’m not a rapper and would never pretend that I could match Tony Tig’s musical skills, the likes of which I haven’t heard since my parents bought me the Now That’s What I Call Hip-Hop, Vol. 1,534 CD for Christmas in 1994. What I am is a professor, and as such, I will save him a seat in my new class, STNT 101 (ST-ruggle Rappers Needing a-T-tention), along with Machine Gun Kelly, Everlast, Cam’ron and any other rapper who thought their big break would happen after punching up at somebody for no good reason.
One final note: Way back in 2008, when Barack Obama and Hillary were fiercely battling for the Democratic nomination, an enthusiastic Obama fan made a parody YouTube video titled “99 Problems But Hillary Clinton Ain’t One.” The video blew up, and while most people knew it was a joke, there was also some underlying misogyny to the whole thing. You know what the Obama campaign did? They reached out to the user and politely asked him to take the video down, and he did. Even though Team Obama had nothing to do with it, they didn’t want anything like that done in their name. Compare that to the fact that Sanders’ people are aware of this song (I’ve talked to them) and have been silent or even promoted this Speak & Spell rap monstrosity on Twitter.
In the end, I’m good with the whole thing, and I hope Tony gets some SoundCloud hits. I’ve checked something off of my hip-hop bucket list and now that I’ve heard his song, if I ever need a ringtone for that one cousin who’s always calling to ask for money, then I’m totally prepared. Now I’m off to my next hip-hop dream; I just have to hope that Gambino sees me in the front row.