The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Destiny Child's "Soldier"

Being black myself, I discuss racial matters on this blog, partially because I believe any writer should have an internally consistent philosophy, and I want to let people see how I think on a variety of issues. Partially because I feel there is much insanity on this very touchy issue. But let no one think that I believe the problems in the black community are solely the creation of those outside it. Case in point, the lyrics of the song "Soldier" by Destiny's Child, an extremely popular song on the radio and, I believe, in the clubs. I think it is disgraceful. Allow me to take it apart line by line to tell you why.
Hey (I need a soldier)
May I assume she is referring to a gentleman known for the capacity to resist or inflict physical damage? A fighter. Of course, the temptation is to suggest she wants a "soldier" for a local drug dealer--someone who carries a gun, and gang-bangs.
Well you got it, I'm the hottest around
The lady is implying she is sexually aggressive and available. Fine. Young men pay careful attention to such words. The world over, young men behave in whatever way they believe will get them laid. In a very real way, women are the standard-bearers for responsible behavior. When they offer sex without commitment or responsible performance, the community suffers.
They'll know it when they see rollin' Impalas around
(I got a soldier)
With the top down, feelin' the sounds
Quakin' and vibratin' them thighs
Ridin' harder than guys
Wow! We're flashier and more aggressive than the men! In that wonderful line from "EdTV", "Men are the gas. Women are the brakes." Well, the motor is revving in the inner city, but no one's at the wheel.
With the chrome wheels at the bottom, white leather inside
When them flames be spittin' at you, tell 'em don't even try it
To shoot it with 'Chelle, and kick it with Kelly, or holla at B
You gotta be G's, you way outta ya league
My my. In order to have sex with these highly desirable women, you can't be a doctor, or a lawyer, or an Indian chief. You have to be a low-life, violent, criminal thug. Wow. How inspiring.

[Kelly]
We like them boys that be in them Lacs leanin' (leanin')
Open they mouth, they grill gleamin' (gleamin')
A mouth full of gold teeth! The dental community must be drooling.
Candy paint, keep that whip clean and (clean and)
They always be talkin' that country slang we like
And be certain that you don't accidentally speak in complete sentences or with correct grammar, or we'll boot you out of bed. Yassah!
They keep that beat that be in the back beatin' (beatin')
Eyes be so low from that chiefin' (chiefin')
Chiefin'? Never heard this. Might one suspect it is a term for some kind of drug usage? We're describing a real winner here.
I love how he keep my body screamin' (screamin')
A rude boy that's good to me, with street credibility
"Street credibility." Hmmm. Someone who has established his bona fides as a thug. By going to jail, perhaps? Killing someone? What standards do you think they accept?

[chorus]
If his status ain't hood, I ain't checkin' for him
Better be street if he lookin' at me
I need a soldier
That ain't scared to stand up for me
Known to carry big things, if you know what I mean
Wow. Subtlety. "Big things." Could they be referring to his wallet? His genitals? The size of his "gun"? That sounds about right.

If his status ain't hood, I ain't checkin' for him
Better be street if he lookin' at me
I need a soldier
That ain't scared to stand up for me
Gotta know to get dough and he better be street
He'd better be loud, ignorant, violent, and criminal---with money. Do you think he earned it selling cookies door to door?





I know some soldiers in here (where they at, where they at)
They wanna take care of me (where they at)
I know some soldiers in here (where they at, where they at)
Don't mind takin' one for me (where they at)
Another wonderful support of correct grammar. And hey! A call out to a man willing to get shot for his hoochie. Who says romance is dead?
I know some soldiers in here (where they at, where they at)
They wanna spend that on me (where they at)
Wow! I love the vast difference between these girls and common street whores. And the difference is...umm...help me out here...

[Lil' Wayne]
Hey, see cash, money is a army
I'm walkin' with Purple Hearts on me
In other words, I've been shot in the process of earning money. Think his 7-11 got stuck up? Me neither.
You're talkin' to the sargeant
Body marked up like the subway in Harlem
I run a crew, and carry more lead in my body than "Fifty Cent." Just the kind of guy moms used to love for their daughters to bring home.


[Michelle]
I like them boys over there, they lookin' strong tonight (strong tonight)
Just might give one the phone tonight (phone tonight)
Homie in the Dickies, in my zone tonight (zone tonight)
He don't know it might be on tonight (on tonight)
In other words, I lubricate for hoodlums. Step right up.
Ooh he lookin' good, and he talkin' right (talkin' right)
He the type that might change my life (change my life)
Everytime he look at me, my girls be like (girls be like)
That one may be the one tonight
And my friends support me in my values. Charming.
####
When I speak to a morbidly obese person, my bet is that, dollars to doughnuts, there was emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in their past. I've already compared the black community in general to an abused child. Fine. But regardless of whether there is abuse in your past, YOU have the responsibility for working your way toward a meaningful, healthy life. I am ashamed of the way black intellectuals have given a pass to the hip-hop community. "It's the inner city perspective," they say. Bullcrap. Plenty of people in the inner cities are raising families, working jobs, caring for ailing parents, living lives of grace under pressure. How many songs about these things do we hear? This is pimping out the impressionable young girls who worship Destiny's Child, for the almighty dollar. This is cultural SUICIDE, people. Self-inflicted genocide. And nothing less.

Steve



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