Late August 2016 a rapper known as Yung Joc decided to go Five Heartbeats on his hair.
Needless to say, The internet nearly died in hysterical laughter. Now I’m not going to lie — this hairstyle of his looks out-right ridiculous in my opinion. The things that have been said all over social media, like the fact that he looks like “that cool but strict female police officer” is hilarious.
Of course, any mass social media response is followed by critique of that said response. Some people remarked a form of colorism; the logic being that had Joc had been a light skinned man, there would be no issue. Others social media critics took aim at what defines masculinity, and seek to champion men who use their hair and clothing to attempt to blur the lines of feminine and masculine associations. On the other side of that school of thought is the ongoing notion that there’s an attack on black masculinity as a whole, and Young Joc is now playing his part in behavior modification of black males. Being radical here, but I think all schools of thought are worth looking into.
One of the most predictable arguments that keeps happening looks like this:
“How come no one had this problem with Prince?”
Of course, this is where I find fault.
Let’s talk about Prince
Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) was simply the most innovative musician in the world. Prince was an artist at an apex level; as a polymath he knew how to play any and every musical instrument he can touch. Prince was a master technician in regards to fuckadelia, rock, pop, and R&B; often he would fuse different styles of music in one song. For a man with a deep talking voice he had a mythological vocal range. There’s no one who was more relentlessly experimental and skilled in the world of music than Prince. There was not a note he could not reach. There was not an instrument he would not touch. Prince had more styles than Wutang, with more flavors than Baskin-Robbins.
Of course, Prince was known his flamboyant style and showmanship. Prince become an androgynous sex symbol, known for his frilled clothing, deep voice and piercing eye contact. Prince practically created a whole color association for himself (When you think Purple, you think “Prince”). For this reason, it seems like Prince is the go-to person when it comes to defending any black male who placed their style of clothing or hair out of the norm.
Let’s look at a pattern here
Yung Joc with this ultra-perm isn’t the first attention-whoring black male who people attempt to defend by invoking Prince. Jaden Christopher Syre Smith was among the first in 2016 to, at least appear to fully embrace wearing female clothing.
Predictably, many feminists championed Jaden Smith for his bravery, attempting to take the cross out of cross-dressing. Also predictably, there was a huge backlash (blacklash?) from those who seek to defend and protect black masculinity, feeling that black masculine form suffers all forms of attack. Like clockwork, folks began invoking Prince’s name in defense for the young Jaden, which was where I found tremendous fault.
The problem with comparing Jaden Smith with the Musical Demigod Prince is this simple fact: Prince has talent; Jaden Smith does not.
Sure, Jaden Smith was adorable and believable as an actor in The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), but when it came to everything that followed, such as After Earth (2013) we all began to realize that this boy has no freaking talent. At all. He simply isn’t that fucking good. While he does borrow his father’s looks, he does not possess his father’s acting chops. Jaden Smith probably felt compelled to dive into acting and rapping because of his Hollywood near-royalty lineage, but damn he has no skill.
Comparing mere mortals to gods
This is the same problem I have with Yung Joc; these are mediocre people in regards to their professions. Sure, Yung Joc currently is a better rapper than Jaden is a rapper/actor, but when you throw Prince’s name around so recklessly these two fools get dwarfed big time.
People keep on forgetting or selectively ignoring the level of skill Prince was. The level of talent Prince was. In short, Prince can do anything he wanted because he was that fucking good at his job. Prince was in fact greatness. Meanwhile, the last time Yung Joc held greatness was when he grasped a Michael Jordan rookie card.
Let’s also keep in mind that Prince’s eccentricity was organic and was NOT a public relations ploy or attention-whoring tactic. Prince didn’t act like Prince to become memes or break the internet. Prince’s eccentric style of dress and appearance didn’t exist because he needed to create buzz about himself; his musical skill and productivity created his buzz. To put this in another perspective:
- Prince: Eccentricity ≠ Fad (Self-Identity)
- Yung Joc: Eccentricity = Fad (Attention-Whoring)
I didn’t count Jaden on that one, because being that he’s still young he might be trying to find his identity still (still doesn’t change the fact that he’s talentless). But the point still stands; Prince’s androgynous style wasn’t a well-constructed fad make to compensate for a lack of talent.
We can also add the fact that Prince was in fact made fun of, laughed at all throughout his life. So the notion that Prince was immune to criticism is invalid.
While I like to make the strongest point (skill, talent, genuine identity) first, allow me to also add the fact that Prince came from a different era in time where music was largely experimental; new self-identity being found in black people and women in the 70’s, with the 80’s following, shaking off the disco and psychedelic drugs from the years prior. Prince in short, was a part of the glam-rock era while Yung Joc is not. Prince can also name Little Richard as an influence to his music and showmanship, and it shows because it’s genuine. If Yung Joc could name Prince (or Little Richard) as his musical influence, it’s safe to say that his music would sound a little different.
Anyway you slice it, folks need to stop comparing fad-chasing, attention-whoring mediocre celebrities to musical legends each time someone attempts to literally go style over substance, overcompensating for a lack of productivity and talent.