Monday, May 5, 2008

Jill Scott's "The Thickness" and Social Relevance to Black Girl Self-Esteem


My early issues with Jill Scott, back in 2000 when "Who Is Jill Scott: Volume One" came out were rooted in my selfish comparisons to Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, and Eryicka Badu (and to some degree, Angie Stone). I played her first album over and over, and could not get passed how self indulgent I thought the album was. However, at the time, I was experiencing several run in's with bad spoken word, riddled with empty metaphors and man-hating jargon that drove me to adopt a prejudice for anything that resembled spoken word. So for that year Jill Scott fit the bill and was well within range for me to fire my criticism.

But Jill Scott's "The Thickness" (along with "Golden" and her ENTIRE third album) reminded me of her gift. We must not forget, she penned the hook for The Roots "You Got Me" that Erycka Badu sang; not to mention her single "Long Walk" garnished attention (though my favorite from her is "The Way"). Scott's "The Thickness is a harsh insight at the early hormonal development of modern day girls. The quick blossoming of tits and ass, to distort the internal human within, has caused a horrifying exploitation for female advancement. The song is primarily driven by the struggle for Black women, yet it's directed at all women. All women who are exposed to the ass shaking and lip licking that passes by in videos that has "nothing to do with the song." Jill Scott puts it out for us in plain English and does not attempt to bury her message in quasi-metaphors; but rather unleashes the Urban frustration with mind boggling reality that evokes head bobbing, several "Mms" and "Mm-hm's" (to indicate that we're with her) and laughter. She reveals self-hatred at it's core. The type of hatred that begins with popular culture and mis-education. That expands from Urban rhetoric only intended to manipulate rather than motivate. That explodes into several years worth of confusion and curses behind mindless mistakes that eventually causes an apocalyptic life shift and mis-directed hatred that black women often turn inside out (when they become disillusioned of eventual happiness, and settle into pessimism).

Scott's message is "self responsibility." Not so much the Bill Cosby or John McWhorter ideology, but the old method of black folks on the block where all the neighbors were deputized to whoop the ass of any child that was acting out; not to mention a child that was walking her way into self destruction. In other words, Scott encourages self responsibility with a little help from the entire block. For we are designed to teach one another; and by allowing a hands off approach when one sees a girl's self destruction in sight denotes that the voyeur would do well to have inflicted the problem they're selves. Scott tells us that we are responsible. And the problem is NOT an individual problem. But a community problem. The inner separation in Urban life has caused an uproar of Li' Kim's and Foxxy Brown's to swan dive to their untreated psychosis, while allowing themselves to be bitch slapped by societal stereotypes (not to mention the proverbial R. Kelly piss in the face of now allowing themselves to be called a "bitch"; along side "nigga", they are the two most universally used insults to ever lose their meaning). Scott's attempt is to derail the Jezebel before she does too much damage; and if we don't unite and put a stop to it "It is our fault!"

Thank you Jill Scott.








22 comments:

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Angelfly72 said...

Jill Scott is an incredibly talented lady. I haven't checked out her album yet, but I will. What passes for R&B these days makes me nauseous, and artists like Ms. Scott are the only reason I bother to consider purchasing CDs. But enough about that.

I would hate to see the neighborhood go back to folks whuppin' on anyone's kids (I'm old enough to remember those days), but the feeling of being a part of community is definitely something that is missed. I'm not sure how weave the virtues of love of yourself and others, respect yourself and others, personal and community responsibility, creativity and reverence for life, but I think artists like Jill Scott at least bring attention to the issue. Perhaps she's sounding the call to action. Even if she isn't, I'm determined to do my part of helping bring those sorely missed virtues back into the community.

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About Me

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writer, actor, & producer in training. in 2005, along side my partner in film and best friend since childhood, we produced and executed 3 films. to this day i am still working in "the business" to the best of my abilities and moving forward to the "next level." currently i am producing a film project, co-writing another, awaiting word on a stage play for New York, and pursuing my next one-person show. i'm also in school pursuing my Ph.D in Social Science.