Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Black Male Dysfunctionality

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University – Scholarship in Action 


As a fan of hip-hop, I couldn’t help but appreciate the talent of the rapper Wiz Khalifa out of Pittsburgh.  Fresh off the release of his new album, “Rolling Papers,” Wiz appears to be on the top of the hip-hop world.  The first thing I thought about when I heard Wiz Khalifa’s style is that he sounded remarkably similar to artists of my generation, namely Snoop Dogg and Too Short.

During a recent appearance on BET’s 106 & Park, Wiz Khalifa went out of his way to mention the influence that artists like Snoop Dogg and Too Short had on his career.  He’s made songs with both of them and even has a movie coming out with Snoop in the near future.  Like a son talking about the remarkable influence of his dad, Wiz mentioned that he watched these artists to learn what to do and how to be successful.

The concern that I have with young men using brothers like Snoop Dogg and Too Short as role models is that we are hard-pressed to find anything productive about their personal choices.  Some have compressed the existence of the black man to be nothing more than a haze of weed smoke, sexual promiscuity, weapons possession and bad financial choices.  The notion that black men are meant for something greater is lost by those who lead us off the very same cliff that has killed so many black men before (i.e. the deaths of Tupac, Eazy-E and the Notorious B.I.G. are cases-in-point).

Wiz Khalifa’s album celebrates nearly every dysfunctional habit that a man can embrace:  There is hardly any message that promotes the promise and potential of young black males, but we do find a litany of ideas that encourage men to break the law and waste their lives (i.e. the song "On my level," where he jokes about not being able to find his car keys because he’s so high and drunk – should he be behind the wheel anyway?).  What’s most interesting and saddest to me is that not only was Wiz Khalifa’s value system instilled in him by artists from my generation, but there are millions of other non-rapping young black male versions of Wiz Khalifa across the country who will surely suffer the consequences of toxic and self-destructive behavior that they are learning from hip-hop culture.

The tone of the BET conversation with Wiz Khalifa centered on the “You made it” message that we are tempted to use for hip-hop artists who may only be popular for a year or two.  But what we don’t tell our kids is that the career span of the typical hip-hop artist is very short, and the man that is on top today can be easily buried under a pile of debt, drugs and incarceration just a few years later.  By walking away from education and walking toward the very things that kill us, black males are teaching one another to perpetuate our own genocide.

I will admit that I love the beats and lyrical capabilities of Too Short, Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa.  But as a black man, I have to encourage all of us to take a closer look at these lyrics and realize how they impact the lifestyles being chosen by our sons.  At the age of 24, Wiz Khalifa has a lot of living to do, but it’s unfortunate that his elders have already taught him how to die.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



Filed under African Americans

10 responses to “Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Black Male Dysfunctionality

  1. There is a message just as important as the mental toxicity of ‘Americanization’ and it’s affects on ‘Blacks’. The message is that you are not safe in this Anglo-Elite environment no matter how you approach it. You can forgo the rap persona and become an educated lawyer like Johnny Cochran, or a celebrated educator like Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and still feel the wrath of a vile and highly racist society.

    A society steered towards disrespect towards ‘blacks’. Obama’s position in this country does nothing to solve that problem whatsoever as he is made to be silent about a racist card unsolved, unmentioned and highly problematic.

    The problems we face should be met with great psychosocial repair and broad media attention (similar to the new attention gays are getting). Similar to the attention the ‘white’ population gets every day to awash themselves in pride, beauty, and even more-so, a ‘Super White People Syndrome’ using all media constantly and well done. You can not watch any form of media and not see ‘whites’ pictured as wonderful, you can not turn on a television without finding yourself awash in the beauty of ‘whiteness’.
    That is fine for them, but not only does it send the wrong messages to them it sends those same messages to us all. No wonder we want to copy everything they do before, and when wealth is attained.

    Negative rap/hip-hop serves a purpose of psychological denigration on a sly. It is a brainwashing technique using music and video. It affects more than just ‘blacks’ it affects ‘whites’ also, but just as this negative funk is interpreted in one way by some, it is interpreted in other ways by others.

    As long as it creates wealth, the damage it does to the different mindsets is not considered, nor offset with just as much positive output. Therefore it is damaging on the one hand but entertaining and profitable on the other. It is too big to fail!

  2. Nikki

    I agree with you Dr. Watkins these people have control of the majority black male mind and they are running them off to their deaths. I will however go one step further, we need to get rid of Snoop Dog and all others like him and that includes their female counterparts.

    Black men are taking their man hood lessons from the scum of the black community. I see no innovation or a person pulling themselves up when I look at these rappers. I see drug dealing or ex drug dealing scum who is very uneducated. Rappers like Chuck D don’t exist anymore. Chuck D was college educated that is why you didn’t see or hear him referring to black women as hoes, bitches, etc. You would never catch Chuck D promoting marijuana or any other drug including alcohol and cigarettes.

    I don’t like any of the music by Snoop and his counter parts because I know listening to a drop of it will destroy you. It is truly evil music. It glorifies everything evil and every false image of life such as easy money, sex with out consequence, drugs okay and not only okay but cool.
    Black people must regain control of their children minds and that means getting rid of rappers and their music. My mom guarded us well and did not allow us to listen to things that were bad.

    Also black people need to understand we can not praise evilness and then at the same time tell our children to stay away from it. You can’t live on both sides of the fence. You must condemn it or keep it but it can’t be both ways. Common sense tells you to get rid of anything that destroys you.

  3. EJ

    Does anyone notice how the “white power structure and media” pushes the most ignorant and degrading black artist to the top as the best in the biz. The likes of Lil Wayne, Gucci man, Soldier Boy, etc are the worst artist you can find to uplift black peoples minds. However, the media pushes their garbage to everyone. And the women are now a big part with the Gimmick Nicki Minaj killing the black woman’s image. Why don’t you hear Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def, Dead Prez and other positive artist that have great lyrics and beats at all? They want to keep us in the dumb down cycle if ignorance. The Public Enemy and KRS ! consciousness era has been tuned out on purpose by those who want us stuckon stupid and killing ourselves. I look at the battle with Nelly and KRS ! as a great example. Nelly is a pop artist who had nothing but booty shakers and bubble gum tunes he rhymed about. KRS was a mental threat who has done speeches at major universities across america. But who do youthink the white power structure pushed the money behind? Nelly. keep the nonsense as the success and the knowledgable drowned our…Just my opinion


    I guess that you know him personally? You don’t well I do. I have know Cam for over 16 years and he might look upon Snoop and too Short as MUSICAL role models I really don’t think that it goes that much further then that. Wiz, is very intelligent youngman that has had the strong parental and family support that the other two mention did not have. He did associate himself with gangs coming up, did not go in and out od jail, no baby mama drama as far as I’m (and many others) the only crime that he has committed has come from the assinine prohibition of smoking hemp. Apparently your judgement comes from an interview instead of doing real research on the person which at least is unfair to your readers and also to the rapper known as Whiz Khalifa. Cameron has grown up knowing his father, respectful of his mother women and other adults. I have seen this youngman grow up from a 9 year old kid to what he is today. I for one is the first to say that I’m proud of him. His family from his mother to his grandparents are educated and very supportive of him BEFORE he became a rapper. This by the way brings up another point, why do people feel that it is the responsilbilty of someone else to guide their kids? My son is a couple years younger than Cam and looked up to him but did not emulate his lifestlye come to think of it he respects him as the person that he is but went on to begin a career in the military which he is doing quite well. How? Because as his father I took an active role in his maturity and did not depend on the media to guide him.

    Why I’m on the subject, to all of you so called “black leaders” that find it so easy to condemn some of these rappers (even if it is deserving) what are you doing to promote the ones that the record companies will not. You know the ones with the positive messeges. How about instead complaining that the record companies won’t produce/distribute what they have to say, create your own? Between the Jesse Jacksons, Bill Cosbys and the Al Sharptons I’m sure that they can get together and form their own clean record label.

    Don’t be so quick to Condemn but try to Amend!

  5. My beats need work, but most of my words don’t. I even tell people to pull their pants up. Can I get some backing?

  6. God's_Angel

    This article is so true on so many levels. Some of these artists are like the Pied Piper. They are luring our children down a path to destruction. The sad thing is, these artists don’t even realize it, because they are still “children” themselves.

    Some Hip Hop is the new crack cocaine. No one knew the devastation that crack would have on the Black community until years later. Young men just felt like they were making a living…getting money. By the time they realized what crack was doing to their community, it was too late. They were addicted to getting the money, just like tha addicts were addicted to the crack.

    Same with some of the Hip Hop out there today. The lyrics that encourage dysfunction is killing our kids slowly, but the artists won’t realize it until years later. And by that point…will they care? Or will they care more about getting money, then the survival of their own race?

  7. Denise

    The moral character of America has been declining on a larger scale since Nixon was parden for his crimes. Coporate Ameria rules this country and whatever makes a profit that promotes of destruction of people of color wiill be promoted. I just wish every rapper would put a positive rap song on their CD. This is a battle of the hearts and minds of people and the critical thinkers better start fighting back or in 20 years we all will be saying coulda, shoulda, woulda. We are facing a sunami of destruction.

  8. Jack

    I just tripped across this blog… I happened to type in something about Chuck D (who I always considered amazing and heroic, well, a hero to me anyway) and ended up checking it all out. I appreciate a lot of what’s said here, but I’ll say something that a lot of people might not like, based on the comments made already, but which I think is truth, and truth that those same people need to internalize:
    WE white people (most of us- we don’t all act or think together) are not against YOU black people. It’s not going on- as an insider (I’m white, lived in the suburbs, been around racists and non racists, lived in many states, traveled extensively, been around rich and poor, etc.) I can tell you there is no “group mentality” that anyone is out to screw over black people.
    At one time, yes. This country was horrible to black people. And at times, terrible things are still done by people. But most of us- most people of all colors- are not as against black people as these comments would indicate, or the media would indicate (stand up comedians, movies, etc.).
    You can’t be a fly on a wall as a black person and see what the all white tea party, or football party, or whatever party is like. So let me tell you. It’s not a bunch of white people telling “nigger” jokes and conspiring against black people. It’s one asshole in a hundred using that word, and 10 percent ignoring it, and then rest either walking away, scowling at that asshole, or bitching him or her out. I’ve never put up with it from other white people, but can I just say- since I finally get to interject a fresh voice into a closed club- it doesn’t happen often, and no one is conspiring and out to get black people. Maybe there’s some somewhere, in fact, I’m sure there are, but most of us would be glad to kick their asses when they tried to enlist us to their cause. It wouldn’t make it to the black community because white people around them would put a stop to it first.
    No one is conspiring to ruin black people. The culture is backward, in a spiral, and it is dwelling in negativity. Yes, white people started that. But only black people can end it. It’s not the Klan killing young black men. It’s young black men. It’s not white people beating up young women, abandoning the black children and mothers, it’s young black men. It’s not white people making black people eat shitty food, poisoning themselves, it’s black people. You could say “that’s all that’s available.” It’s true. Cuz it’s all that’s selling. If people stopped buying fast food and alcohol and tobacco, the stores for it would go somewhere else more lucrative. But they go to the money, and the market. Because they don’t care about black people enough to conspire against them. They just want MONEY. They don’t care AT ALL about black people. Not for, not against. Just “how do they affect my bottom line?” and that’s it. Generally, white people are not against black people. They’re not for them. They aren’t for or against anyone at all. They just want their MONEY. Just like anyone.
    And in music: there’s no one conspiring to put shitty rap out to destroy the black community. In fact, they don’t care if anyone black or white lives or dies. They only care about one color: green. Just like anyone in any business, it’s all about dollars. This music is out because it makes people money. People buy it that are black, mostly, until it catches on and the white kids find out it’s “cool,” and the “artists” do it to get wealthy. And with a lack of good opportunity in the urban areas, kids emulate the most mercenary behavior, and the adults glorify it, because it’s how they got where they are. Chuck D? My hero? The man I had the pleasure of interviewing back in 1994? He’s not on the radio nearly enough. It’s not because of a conspiracy. It’s my fault, and your fault that we didn’t demand his music, and instead we gobbled up the garbage made by 50 Cent, or whoever. Let’s be honest: That moron only became famous because he got shot over and over. And that, apparently was enough to make him a hero. To some anyway. Me? I pick Chuck D.

  9. Jack

    I’m a white guy, but living three blocks from the most segregated line in the entire country- Mack Avenue in Detroit/Suburban Detroit, I also have some pent up “race” conversations I need to sort out. But instead of doing it how we usually do it- among our own color, I’d like to talk to you folks, since I kind of stumbled onto the site. I’m sorry I have so much to say, but also, I’m not. I think I need to get this off my chest, and if you tell me I’m wrong and explain to me why, so be it.
    By the way, obviously, I’m speaking in huge generalizations here- “black this, white that,” etc. I’m talking about the general trend of the messages I hear from black speakers and white speakers. I don’t claim to know how anyone is inwardly who is black, more than I can tell you what’s going on in the head of some other white person, I just can tell you what messages I perceive people sending. And at the risk of being perceived as racist because I’m white and talking about race issues, I’m going to go out on a limb here. Honestly, I think most people are terrified of doing what I’m doing- writing to predominantly black people about race topics- I think the feeling that we collectively have, generally, is a fear of a hair triggered person shouting “racist!” at them for speaking about race, or just being white. I’m going to give the group some credit, and assume the best. I think that if I’m honest, and have an open heart, that people of all colors will want to understand where I’m coming from, just as I want to understand them. Because people, of all colors, are more alike than they are different. Here’s an example.
    I was fortunate enough to travel to the Bahamas. It is all black, and completely different from the United States. They speak English, but the people there are incredibly hard working, motivated, positive, kind productive, generous, and humble, even though often poor. Am I saying that Americans are not all of these nice things? No, I’m just saying that they embody these things more than we do, black and white. They are a culture to learn from. If any racists around me ever try to imply that black people are worse than whites, pointing out crime, drugs, etc. in black communities, I just point to the Bahamas. It’s clear it’s not genetic. It’s cultural. Down there, when you walk past an 18 year old black man on the street, do you know what he says? “Good evening.” And the white person says it back. And neither one is afraid, and neither one is bowing to the other. They are equals.
    One gift I dream of giving my son: to enroll him in school there. So he can learn from them. I don’t think he could learn a huge amount from the black community here, without learning a lot of negative with it. Or from the overall generally white community. But he can learn from that black community. A lot. They have figured out so much, and never learned what we should forget. Things that ruin our relationships as people.
    Some racist people would say it’s blackness that makes black communities have problems. I say it’s poverty.
    And this might make some people very upset, but I’m going to give you the real deal, how I really think, with no bullshit, and I’m going to do it because I think it’s always good to see how someone else is looking at your situation from the outside: it’s not racism (not how we’re used to thinking of it), it’s not oppression, it’s not even poverty any more, though poverty caused it. The problem, as I see it: I think a lot of black culture is very backward and negative. It is self defeating. And it is black culture and some of the associated value systems holding black people down. Way more than any Klan, police brutality, or conspiracy of any kind or fashion that I’m inundated with when I hear many black speakers. It is the negative self defeating behaviors, and the eagerness to continue to point the finger, not accepting responsibility for yourself, instead of pushing through for what is best for YOU. No, black people did not initiate the mess they are in. But only they can get themselves out of it.
    The best illustration is self professed hit man, thug, drug dealer, pregnant woman beater, murderer, and hero to so many young black men, The Notorious B.I.G.: making the dedication to a song to all the people who thought he wouldn’t amount to nothin, that called the police on him, because he was just trying to hustle to feed his daughter.” Suddenly, a victim of circumstance. Acting persecuted, and yet, perpetrator. How many rap songs are there complaining about racial profiling by cops “thinking every nigga is selling narcota” (NWA) while every other song reinforces the stereotype they’re accusing the police of believing? If that’s not backward, I don’t know what is.
    There are huge sanctions in the black community against moving forward though. There is jealousy. Some might feel left behind if others succeed, as though there was a race, and the other guy won. I don’t know why people do what they do. but often people that try to better themselves are ridiculed for “acting white.” Misspelling is intentional and aspired to. (I had a friend who made a hip hop magazine, who asked me to proof read it and correct errors and for a joke, I circled “phat” and replaced it with “fat,” etc. And he went back and put Z’s where the S’s should have been and refixed “Does” to “Duz” etc. Because it wasn’t cool to spell things “white.” You know which culture doesn’t care that much about race any more? Our culture as a whole. You know who they’re really into discriminating against though? Poor people. It’s not being blackness, it’s being classless that closes doors now. (in their opinion. The opinion of those who run everything, give out the money, etc.) You know what culture is OBSESSED with color? Black culture is. Listen to white comedians. They make jokes about all kinds of things. Listen to a black comedians. they talk about race. Obsessively. Like it’s all there is to think about.
    I understand why people don’t want to just do how they’re told, and spell how they’re told, act how they’re told, etc. I don’t either. But I learned to. And i”m pretty good at it. Why? Because it is necessary to make money. It is necessary to walk the walk and talk the talk of commerce if you want to participate. LEARN THE LANGUAGE OF MONEY. You can act as black as you want, 16 hours a day. But learn how to act “like you’re a good drone employee” and take the man’s money. That’s a skill all the white people have to cultivate: to kiss a small amount of ass to survive. Or put up with bullshit anyway. It’s not some kind of “betrayal to his race” for a black man to put up with bullshit once in a while. Because it’s probably not about race. Why did that guy treat you badly? Maybe because you’re being an idiot, or maybe because he’s an idiot, but it’s not all about race. Unless someone says it is, it probably isn’t. A an insider, it’s not the priority. Money, and class are the priority and the reason to discriminate one way or another. This country doesn’t hate black people anymore. It now looks down on poor people.
    But anyway, if we try to appear classy, or suave, or well spoken, or “not poor” or whatever, to appear like you give a shit in order to have someone hire you, to survive, to feed yourself and your family. I’m not “acting white” when I speak to a job interviewer in what he considers “proper english.” I do it to show that I will do what he wants me to do, jump through his hoop, to show that I would work hard for him in return for money, that I don’t believe I’m entitled to it, that it’s something I have to kiss his ass to get, to some degree, and then he hires me. I normally speak a lot of slang, but when I need to, I can turn it off like a faucet. And I already wear my pants around my waist, so that gives me a distinct advantage over someone not doing these things. Why not even the playing field? Figure out what it is that the people who have what you want are doing, and do that. Not emulate the behavior of others around you who are struggling.
    Wear your pants around you knees so low that you need a motorized cart once you hobble into Wal-Mart (yes, I actually saw that happen, a healthy man, who had so much trouble holding his pants up, he finally got a cart) and no one will hire you. EVER. Because it looks like you’re an idiot and can’t even work a pair of pants. And wherever the real racists are hiding, you can bet they love to see the pants around the knees of young black men, because if they ever did go color blind, they could still see who to be nasty to.
    I won’t say no one that’s white is anti-black. I’ll just say, however many of those racists you think there are, there’s less than that. And if you ever meet me, please don’t ever confuse me with one of them. It’s the worst insult I could receive. I know I look the same, (I actually DO look a little like Richie Cunningham) but give me the benefit of the doubt. And please don’t judge me on the color of my skin either. That’s the one thing I’ve never gotten to shout out to an all black conversation, so thanks for giving me this opportunity. And sorry I talk so much. I have a big mouth. But I’m also willing to listen.
    I might as well tell my name. In fact, I’m very proud of it. My name is Jack Livingstone. I am the great nephew of David Livingstone, the famous anti slavery crusader. He did other things, but this was his greatest accomplishment, in my opinion. If anyone would like to write to me about this issue, I would be glad to speak to them about it. I care a lot about the world going forward and getting a more positive understanding going. And if I’m wrong. Tell me. I don’t want to continue being wrong if I am. I only tell my perspective, not because I think it’s necessarily right, but because I think when you’re having a problem, an outside view is a good thing. Especially if the viewer can tell you what glass walls holding you back are real, and which ones are not. I welcome the other perspectives that will disagree, as much or more than those that might think I might have some points. I don’t want to be “right,” I want to find what is right. Please give me feedback. There is not NEARLY enough conversation between our races.
    If you take nothing else from what I said, take this: white people are not against black people. If they were, they wouldn’t have elected a black president. It wasn’t just black people that knew he was a great man, you know. If we can know that, we must care less about race than some are saying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s