Are You Still Down?

I'm the unofficial 6th member of Bone Thugs N Harmony, White Chocolate Bone
I’m the unofficial 6th member of Bone Thugs N Harmony, White Chocolate Bone
Let me start by saying I like Justin Timberlake. I’m not so much a fan as I am somebody that appreciates his music, and I liked the fact that while recording his first album, he wanted to distance himself from the Pop sound/music that he made with Insync. I like that he seems like he would be a cool person to get drunk and hangout with, and I also like that he seems to not take himself too seriously i.e. his Saturday Night Live appearances.

Now, despite all the things that I like about Justin Timberlake, I am not ready to consider him one of “us.” Despite the obvious reason, there is something about him that just makes it hard for me to fully accept him. I alluded to before I liked all his albums, including his new album The 20/20 Experience, which I think is one of the best R&B albums of the year, so far. It doesn’t make me want to change religions, but it is a solid album.

I like the fact that he is able to make soul music that appeals to many ears, and while he is no Jon B or Robin Thicke, I think that his brand of blue eyed soul is the closest you’ll hear to soul being played on mainstream nowadays – especially compared to what is considered R&B these days. That’s not a knock on him, it’s not his fault that today’s R&B singers are really rappers masquerading as singers, or the fact that every song sounds liked it’s been gene spliced from the previous song. No, like I said I think he actually makes soul music and should be commended for it, it’s just easier to stand out if you are a hooker in church.

There was something that I couldn’t put my finger on, and after a post on Facebook from a friend of mine a few weeks ago about why she isn’t completely sold on JT (either), it started to make sense. As silly as it may sound, I don’t think that JT is fully down for the cause.

The reason why I say this is because I think JT enjoys the comfort of our support and collaborations with our artists, but then at the end of the day he goes home which is on the other side of the tracks. Basically he is good enough to hang with us end exploit our culture when it is convenient for him, but then retreats back to familiar surroundings when it’s not.

One of the reasons why we love Jon B and Robin Thicke – besides the fact that they make soul music – is they appear to be genuinely invested in our culture without seeming to try too hard, sometimes better than some of us and are proud of it. From their black wives, mixed children and the fact that they seem like people who are so in tuned to the “black” experience without trying to be one of us, I’m sure you’d be able to find them at the family cookout playing spades and dominoes and talking shit with you.

I know we supposedly live in post racial times where interracial dating is at an all time high, and I also know that who you date or are married to does not define you as a person or determine just how “down” you are. But still, I can’t help but think that if JT wasn’t getting money with us we probably wouldn’t see this much of him.

What do you think? Am I being unreasonable in basing JT’s level of “downess” off of who he is engaged to? Or do you agree with me?

Talk to me, I’ll talk back.



6 thoughts on “Are You Still Down?

  1. This questioning of JT’s “down-ness” isn’t really anything new, and frankly, I think it’s long since reached the “beating a dead horse” apex. Who cares?!?! There used to be a time when white folks making soul music or, music traditionally dominated by black people wasn’t questioned and scrutinized nearly as much as it seems to be today. (though I’ll admit, white Disney girls doin’ all types of ratchet shit has reached an all-time high!) Michael McDonald, anyone?!?!

    As you’ve stated, JT is good at what he does. As long as he’s not outed as a bigot, I could care less how “down” he is with black folk.

    You do make a good point about the R&B landscape as a whole being dominated by rappers trying to be R&B singers. Cats do need to step they game up!

    1. I just question is “down-ness” because I wonder how genuine his affection with us is. If he wasn’t making RnB albums would he mess with us? When he’s making movies I don’t see him highfiving Timbaland.

      Don’t even get me started on the current state of RnB, like I said it’s not his fault that his album could be considered one of the best so far this year. It is a good album, I’m not going to take that from him but to say an album that came out in the third month of the year is the best of it’s genre for the year has a lot more to say about the state of the genre than the actual album itself.

      When did it become cool for rappers to sing and for singers to rap???

  2. Good write up. It makes you think. I don’t know much about his personal life but now that you mention it he does seem like that. When he was doing movies and what not I didn’t see him high fiving Jay or anyone else. Has he ever even dated a black woman? Not that he has to just seems he may have. I wrote a poem about this that says something like, so being black is the in thing…I wonder when the path of prosperity expires, when rap lyrics can no longer sale micky d’s and gap attire, when they no longer have a need to roc-our-wear and they decide to put that black stuff aside where all the other negro artifacts reside.” Nice work. Makes you think.

    1. Hey thank you for taking the time to not only ready but to comment as well.

      Yeah I wonder if JT didn’t make RnB would he mess with us. I’m not mad at him for getting the best of the best to work with (Neptunes, Timbaland, Jay-Z…) but I wonder if he was just an actor would he be trying to kick it.

      Again thanks for checking us out, I hope that you continue to do so.

  3. You know you sound like Rob Parker in this situation right? LOL… BUT….Like you, I appreciate his contributions to the game as well. Not a fan but my girl likes him so I tolerate it. I also feel there’s definitely something there that’s always been questionable, dealing with his loyalty to the artform he’s representing. I think a lot of us have that feeling we can’t put my finger on. And honestly liken it to it being like when you have a friend and he’s cool when he’s hanging out with you, but then when the heat hits…he flakes out on you? That’s what I think is what that feeling we get from JT….It’s like he’s been trying to make up for not saying anything in the Janet Jackson debacle. I mean, it’s not like he stood with her like “well if she’s banned I’m banned, cause it was a accident gaddammit!!” Now he’s rapping with Jimmy Fallon and all. (What? It’s like their 3rd History of Rap mixtape & shit right?) but yeah that’s what it may be. He really wants to be down, but doesn’t what the pressures that goes along with it.

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