If I Was Thugnificent

Jose Vilson Jose

Thugnificent, Boondocks

Last night, while I got adjusted to my work-sleep schedule, I decided I’d catch the season premiere of Boondocks, a cartoon known as much for its concentration on the African-American experience as its satire and perverseness. In other words, it kicks ass. Last night’s episode focused on the campaign and election of Barack Obama and the contrast between the consciously apathetic Huey Freeman and the rest of the world, topsy turvy over the historic events leading up to Obama’s presidential term. I loved the pot shots taken at the wavering politicians all through the election, the Obama fanatics who almost assaulted Huey for (not) feeling the way he does, and the racists and bigots all across the spectrum.

I almost fell out of my seat when Aaron McGruder, the creator of Boondocks, mocked the Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am. and the celebrities who suddenly found their political side, even as they fumbled over the basic tenets of government. McGruder demonstrated this through his rapper character, Thugnificent, who has a transformation after finding out Barack Obama was running for president. He went from pimped-out superthug to buttoned-up sweaters, collars, and autotune, a novelty of Will.I.Am’s music. A few months into the campaign, Bill Maher invites Thugnificent to his show, where the other guests were understood to be white liberal scholars and politicians.

Immediately, Bill Maher (voiced by himself) questions Thugnificent’s authenticity by asking him what the three branches were. Thugnificent stumbles. Actually collapses and chokes on his own top button to a rousing laugh by these supposedly liberal elites. At first, I laughed because McGruder makes an excellent point: rappers who wish to represent the Black (or any race) populace need to have read more than a booklet or a website news release. They should know the issues at hand and have a deft understanding of the subject at hand. Otherwise, they run the risk of being severely outclassed, as many musicians have.

I, however, still have reservations about ridiculing anyone who finally found their door into politics through a man who looks a little closer to them and has a (somewhat) clear message. I voted for him as president of the United States, not Messiah or leader of the revolution. And I’m sure most rappers who never saw themselves reflected in the political process felt similarly. There’s still disproportionate discrimination on many levels, and the government we entrust to protect us often doesn’t. If I was Thugnificent on Bill Maher, then, I might have said something like this:

“Yo, the three branches of government are the law, the judge, and the gun, ‘cuz if I don’t follow the law, I’m either seeing a judge or a gun. And that’s why this system don’t work for me. My Obama ain’t perfect, but all you people kept us out forever. Now, we about to be up in the White House and not cleanin’ it up! And my issues are simple: I want my money, I want my Michelles, and I want to have my own pistol. I might be more Republican than most of you fake gangstas out there. But dick ridin’ Obama actually got all my dudes in the booth. F*k outta here!”

Or something like that, I imagine.

Jose, who’s got a whole bag of black M&M’s from M&M World, but isn’t eating it all at once …