“He will talk about the tour. The upcoming show. His upcoming album, etc. We are no longer talking about the SAE show cancellation at the University of Oklahoma.”
So said Waka Flocka Flame’s publicist in one of our last email exchanges, just before I was set to speak to the rap star. To be fair, when I originally reached out to Waka’s team about setting up an interview to preview his upcoming concert this Sunday at Music Farm, there really wasn’t anything new and noteworthy to discuss with the hip-hop artist. Sure, there’s the long-awaited new album, Flockaveli 2, that is rumored to drop in June, but the scheduled release date has been bouncing around the calendar for over two years now.
Then the shit hit the fan when members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma were caught on video chanting, “There will never be a nigger in SAE.” Waka responded by cancelling his performance at the school, which was scheduled for the following month. It was then that the rapper found himself accused of poisoning the minds of our youths by those guardians of moral integrity, the crew of the MSNBC morning show Morning Joe. Co-host Mika Brzezinski stated, “If you look at every single song, I guess you call these, that he’s written — it’s a bunch of garbage. It’s full of N-words, it’s full of F-words. It’s wrong. And he shouldn’t be disgusted with them, he should be disgusted with himself.”
Catching up with Waka by phone, I ask him how it feels to find himself caught up in a controversy that he didn’t create.
“My generation didn’t grow up on the stereotypes and all of the other shit that the media portrays,” Waka explains. “We don’t understand it. We barely even watch those TV stations.”
The argument over the lyrical content in hip-hop is as old as the genre itself. It seems that every couple of years there will be a think-piece published, usually by a Caucasian in the entertainment industry who’s been caught saying something racially insensitive, pointing out certain offensive words commonly used by rappers and stating, “If they can say it, why am I getting so much heat for it?” Think Bill O’Reilly’s crusade against Ludacris’ Pepsi endorsement deal, or Don Imus’ defense of his “nappy-headed hoes” joke.
The situation exasperates Waka, and he says he notices a double standard within the industry. “Let me tell you something, brother,” he begins, “I hear the whole world blaming hip-hop for this, that, and the third, but not one time have I heard people say anything about rock ‘n’ roll, for worshipping the devil, and telling them to kill and commit suicide. Dig what I’m saying? Rock ‘n’ roll is no better than hip-hop, and hip-hop is no better than rock. Country music is no better — all they talk about is drinking moonshine and sleeping with girls. It’s the same damn thing. It’s just that whenever black people talk about something in the music, it becomes a problem.”
Outside of this debate, Waka is keeping busy. He has his current The Turn Up Godz Tour, as well as a series of mix-tapes dropping every five months or so. And last year, he made guest appearances on the VH1 reality show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. There’s also rumors of a spin-off starring Waka and his wife, fellow cast member Tammy Rivera.
“It’s just a new experience for me to build from,” Waka says. “I’ll be honest with you. I feel like it’s time for the world to see real families on TV — a real, young couple as the head of a real, unpolished family.”
Of course, one of the dangers of having too many projects brewing at one time is that you can get overwhelmed and your main enterprise can become diluted. Waka states that this won’t become an issue with him. He realizes that without the music, there is no reason to perform.
“To be honest with you, I don’t really give a damn about album sales,” the star admits. “I make music just to do shows. I love doing the shows, man. If my album goes gold, great. If it goes platinum, great. The album isn’t exciting — it’s all about the music that I get to turn up at the shows.”
For Waka, getting blasted on cable news may grow old quickly, but it has caused a large number of his fans to vocalize their support of the man.
“Honestly, I’ve had more white people showing up, saying, ‘Thank you, Waka Flocka.’ They all feel guilty because of what happened,” he says. “The whole world is racist, man. When people realize that they can’t just live with their own, that they have to live amongst everybody, then we can fix it.”