Sunday, September 05, 2010

Mickey Free - Last Of The Tight Wiggers

Mickey Freeland is part of the whole indie rap scene in Baltimore that I've been posting about here more and more in the past year or two, the Rap Round Robin shows and groups like Height With Friends and Rapdragons. He's been rapping in Baltimore for a pretty long time, though, in the group Wounds in the late '90s and solo records as Bow 'N Arrow and later Mickey Free over the past decade, the first time I heard him was on records with Cex and Height like 8 years ago. I never really met dude or talked to him in person until last week, though, him and his brother Chris have been producing a lot of great records lately, mostly for Baltimore rock bands like Wye Oak, both really interesting talented dues.

Mickey's always stuck out to me as one of the more compelling MCs and all-around artists in the scene he's in, and that's really been cemented with his new album, which he hasn't hooked with a label to officially release yet but is streaming on Band Camp right now. I love how ballsy the title Last Of The Tight Wiggers is, even though it feels like kind of standard for every white rapper to discuss his race in analytical or blunt or self-deprecating ways, I feel like wigger is an interesting word to use or reclaim, both because it's kind of politically incorrect and is a twist on the N word and because it's pretty antiquated slang and I almost feel like most white rap fans or even white rappers these days aren't the type to get called that anymore. But it also kind of reflects the fun, cocky vibe of the album, Mickey has sex jams and goofy skits and is kind of a throwback to a more laid back '90s style of hip hop even when there are some pretty contemporary sounds and influences on here. Emily Slaughter from AK Slaughter and Height and Wye Oak make guest appearances.

Mickey Free - "Shock" (mp3)
I remember this song being a standout at the last Rap Round Robin show, really dope.

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I heard this for the first time like two days ago and i can honestly say that i was impressed. I would say (or did say rather) title aside i liked it, but that was until it was brought to my attention that the cover is a call back to the Lester Bangs album cover. Production was right on time, in my opinion.
He is SO wack for tee shirt. So So So wack! I really dont know what this world and Hip Hop are coming to.....its starting to look like HH's doing more harm to society than good.

C Love
I dont think the description of an "offensive tee shirt" as "harmful to society" is good for hip hop. This is supposed to be rebel music....or expressive art, or something of the like. What happened to the "do what you do, however you do it" mentality?

You gots to be kidding me. There is Nathan rebellious about wearing a wigger shirt in 2010.

Its not even original...

more originality is whats good for hip hop.

It seems we dont come from the same place bruh. I respect your opinion doh.

c Love
haha why are we talking about the SHIRT like it's an actual shirt he was just photographed wearing and not the title of the album which was probably photoshopped onto his shirt for the album cover?

& anyone else....

though it means nothing to you - its just a "SHIRT"....

and wigger is just a WORD.... means a whole lot to others. Some of us are just sick of the way that ignorance in so society is so pervasive. It pisses me off even more when I see hip hop being blamed for the spread of the ignorance. Not art...are has meaning even when it offends. this shirt's statement is not clear.

Reality: Its a corny and bordeline offensive shirt...maybe not to you....maybe not to me.

never the less...its so amazing that hip hip is responsible for him even thinking it was cool to wear a shirt like that on anything viewed by the public. Someone probably told him his shirt was "DOPE"

riddle me this...what is a wigger...used to be a white person that acted black....NOW I ask...what is acting black? what is acting black when you make black music???

.....and we know white folks dont EVER say the real "n word". Im confused...his shirt didnt say "WIGGA" now that would have been hillarious and artistic.

I know....he was probably being "tongue and cheek" referring himself/themselves or other like minded individuals as wiggers.....

but I just dont get it. I need a disclaimer. Im all for art, but this to me is yet another example of a person who needs to pick up a history book and get some knowledge of self.

I guess this is the "white" version of flippling a negative word around into something empowering.....sorta like how some black folks have said we've done with the "n word" haha.

C Love
C Love,

I didn't say it's "just a shirt," I'm saying it's odd that we're discussing an artist's album title that's depicted on a t-shirt on the album's cover, and you keep talking specifically about the shirt, like your problem is specifically that phrase being on a t-shirt and you wouldn't have the same objections if it was just the title on the cover, no shirt. It's confusing and makes you seem possibly confused. You said that "a wigger shirt" is not original -- maybe there are thousands of people walking around with that word on shirts, but I've never seen it. You said that the shirt's "statement is not clear," when maybe you could've clicked on the link to listen to the record and hopefully get some context, if not exactly an explanation, for the title. And for the record, I've seen Mickey perform and met him, and as far as I know he doesn't go around town wearing the album title shirt all the time, so we should maybe just stick to talking about the phrase as an album title and not assume the shirt is a fashion statement he makes in his daily life.

I noted in the post that the title is politically incorrect (i.e. potentially offensive) and also called it, in my opinion, "ballsy." I'm also aware of the fact that most of the people who know Mickey Free's music are probably white, and a large number of the people who read this site probably aren't, so just posting about this album here opens the title up to some conversation or criticism it might not otherwise spark, and I welcome that, and I welcome your posts. I'm just hoping to calm things down a little and get some clarity here.

Also, the phrase is "tongue in cheek," not "tongue and cheek."

I understand whats being said....i think. Like I said (and i will reiterate) I like this record. To me the music is first and foremost.

However to touch on the matter at hand, if the album cover had a different title, and his shirt was some LRG shit with two hand guns embroidered on it and he rapped about pounds of DOPE (like a lot of other people who have been posted) would that make it better? Perhaps if he were a black guy that kept adding to the negative stereo type of black men (pimp, dealer, hustler) that would make it ok? Point I am making is, I think picking on an artist (especially a hip hop artist) over his choice of clothes is real C. Delores Tucker of you.
The shirt is a callback..I would say google Lester Bangs... better yet read up on who he was, before making a final decision. Expression is a funny thing to start censoring, especially when you can find a WAY bigger soap box to stand on. How about by the content of the art?

So I will take a Last of the Tight Wiggers, over Peel Yall Niggas Cap Back Records new single Babymuva Killa.
Hey guys,

Had to break this into two parts....

I pray that this dialogue is a good thing for you and not a reason for you to not speak to me when you see me in the street.  We all come from different background which will have informed our opinions of life differently.

I’m not upset at all about this topic....just stating my feelings.
My opinion, which is, grounded in something very real.

Al, I always assumed that the point of a blog is to inform, generate conversation and not necessarily to dictate the direction of it unless there was a specific question raised that the writer wanted readers to address or expound upon. I assumed I was following protocol.

I always come back to GN because you are informed and I like the variety of artists you showcase.

That aside…. I like to laugh and joke but the truth of the matter is that I’m a very serious individual. I am aware of subliminal seduction and so when I see it I am compelled to shine a light on it. Sometimes this forces me to say things that people may not be ready for or capable of digesting.

I have to assume that by telling me you've seen this guy were saying he isn’t racist/prejudiced or a prick in real life. Just to clarify…I never insinuated anything about him…..his background or views on diversity. Al, most black people don’t care about whether a white person speaks racially or not. We see the actions of the people and judge. I have been meeting/working with white folks all my life who "liked" black people but because they didn’t understand us……..have said things that were truly offensive and insensitive. Were they racist for those comments –no, should they be checked – yes. I’m a chief checker.

I didn’t know if it was an album cover, a tee shirt or a tattoo. The phase on his shirt caught my attention…so for that move …I give this artist a gold star. But train wrecks get your attention too.

"America" (especially those in the media) likes to say that black people mean something different when we say n*gga vs n*gg*r (which is very seldom said in my circle).

so with that understanding in mind...what does a white rapper mean when he refers to himself as a wigger? Were the wiggers a persecuted group?

Does this guy get a pass. Is he causing destruction to the white community by using such words? Why is no one up in arms? Are we saying wigger means nothing- Its just a word

Question - when a white man calls himself a wigger is itself deprecation. Is it a white joke to refer to yourself as a wigger?
The bastardization of hip hop culture is at an all time high. IMO it is only because of hip hop that this man is even wearing a shirt like. He’s not wearing it on his rock album cover…..he is not wearing in a room full of united wiggers…..he is putting out in the universe.

A few years back I was at a Guru show…..a dude was there with a tee shirt with a lil girl hanging from a noose. I made a bigger ta doo about that shirt that I am this one. My beef was the same. Why was a white guy at a concert of black music wearing a shirt depicting something that could have been offensive to many of the black people there? You know why…..because he didn’t care. It would appear that many times white folks are able to take what they want from black culture, criticize it then claim it as their own in an effort to keep it pure. Is his shirt pure hip hop????

This insensitivity to others is pervasive in our wider culture right now. It’s all about context to me. His was not clear. An image is worth 1000 words. Lets please stop calling this album cover art because its NOT.

I decided to post my thoughts on this subject because I did not want to belittle the intelligence of your readers and assume none would get where I was coming from or none would understand that shirts like this -regardless of the intent- are not universally understood.


1. C Delores Tucker ish - do you know how old I am? Delores Tucker had a valid point. When one stops being a hip hopper and becomes a parent, concerned member of the community, ignorant….you tend to not like misogyny, perpetuation of black on black hate and the bastardization of the English language (just to name a few).

I grew up with hip hip....30+ years...I have matured. When I was a child, I thought as one. So forgive this old foogie hip hopper and my rants on how hip hop is going down hill. It is what I feel in my heart. And I love this culture.

This is not a discussion of the lesser of two evils.

"Last of the Tight Wiggers, over Peel Yall Niggas Cap Back Records new single Babymuva Killa"

Both are incredibly corny and equally destructive…..yet it is the latter that will be publically scorned and disparaged...blamed for the problems in the black community. Just think about when Nas wanted to call his album "N*GG*R". it was “sooooooo offensive”. why is that word more offensive that WIGGER? is one a joke or artistic license/expression and the other verbal poison?

For the record.....I don’t know the artist's music. But so what. His shirt "blowed" me. He lost one. And I seriously doubt I can understand why he would entitle his album as he did from listening to his music. To run with a title or theme like that means that the whole album should be on that topic (cohesion)……I doubt he is breaking down the creation and psychology of a wigger. It isn’t that deep.

Eminen is arguably the most influential if not talented rappers (not white rapper, not wigger) of all time. He never resorted to such corniness. He is the gold standard for me on how a person of another culture/nationality can adopt the stance and posture of another and pay homage while charting his own course. Eminem, as far as I can tell, would never wear a shirt like this because Em knows that even though it is white kids that primarily buy his music he is still making black music and there is some stuff you just shouldn’t do if you wish to be taken seriously by all.
C Love,

It frustrates me that you'd rather deal in absolutes than consider context, and that you'd spend who knows how many minutes writing these comments without taking an undoubtedly smaller amount of time to listen to the record or google Lester Bangs and get an idea of what the album cover is a reference to:

This is a famous photo taken in the 1970s of the late rock critic Lester Bangs. Now, I think it'd be totally fair to consider Bangs an asshole on the basis of that shirt, but given that Mickey's shirt is clearly a takeoff of it, it's a little more ambiguous as to interpreting it as a serious statement or satire. And I totally agree that white people who listen to or work in hip hop have a tendency to think they have a 'hood pass' and can say anything, and often say some tasteless and off-color shit. I also think that not everything can be excused by satire, especially in matters of race, and it's a very slippery line to satirize racism without indulging in or encouraging it on some level -- shit, that's pretty much why Dave Chappelle left his show. I just feel like I'm talking to a wall here and that we're not actually debating because we don't necessarily disagree, you just want to speak in such absolutes that any straying from your line of thinking is by default a disagreement.

"I have to assume that by telling me you've seen this guy were saying he isn’t racist/prejudiced or a prick in real life."

NO. I was very clear about simply stating that in my experience he doesn't go around town wearing that shirt all the time, so we should evaluate and refer to the phrase first as an album title, not as a t-shirt slogan. I think he's a nice guy based on my limited interactions with him but I'm making no pronouncements about the quality of his character, that doesn't really enter into it.

"so with that understanding in mind...what does a white rapper mean when he refers to himself as a wigger? Were the wiggers a persecuted group?"

That's a really big leap of logic.

FYI, I moderate comments now, so please don't try to post the same thing multiple times if it doesn't show up right away, I try to approve all (non-spam/non-troll) comments as quickly as possible, and if you click a bunch of times it just goes into the spam folder automatically.
sorry al...havent posted to blogger in a while...i kept getting error messages after I was told my post was too long. I tried to break it into two parts.

Al, arent you happy to know someone is reading and posting comments to your blogs? Isnt that the point when your point is not just to hear your self talk/read your own thoughts?? Why do you feel the need to comment on how many hours Im giving energy to you? Are you calling me a loser lol???? Im being part of the community you created via GN. Just thought you needed some of my womanly, aquarian energy.

I respect your opinion on the subject. I hope it does sound like an absolute. There is no room for wiggle on this subject. If N*GG*R is offensive and should be should Wigger. back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I'm not calling you a loser, again I welcome all comments and appreciate having different voices in the mix. I'm just saying, if you're gonna keep posting on this topic, at least address what other people are saying instead of sticking to your one talking point you've already well established.
im all about this interactive exchange of ideas....

long live James K. Polk.
Polk was a bear of a man, word to Martin Van Buren.
Any white person that has ever really been friends with black people or understands what black people have been through historically would never wear a shirt like this.
I would like to state for the record that I'm going to just assume that anyone who continues to refer to the album title and cover art depicted in this post and the iconography it's appropriating and referencing as simply a "shirt" has serious serious reading comprehension issues and/or needs to take more time and care in expressing themselves.
Al, why do you need to get so smart?

reading comprehension issues? you are really "going in" on folks who are making your blog relevant aka readers aka contributors.

C Love
I respect my readers and commenters enough to assume they understand that when I'm rude with them or argue with them it doesn't mean I don't appreciate them or don't enjoy the back-and-forth. It's all good, I'm just saying I'm sick of the word "shirt" here.
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