Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GFUNK In Yo Trunk: Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


I’m sure at some point in your life you have heard this quote:

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become your character.
Watch your character, for it becomes you destiny.

While there are multiple lessons to learn from these lines, I will focus on one. Specifically, the one that makes me think about hip hop (in my life, everything comes back to hip hop…everything.) This is where the idea of the self-fulfilling Prophecy comes into play (which is also quite philosophical).

Hip hop artists are by far some of the best examples of people who voice what they desire and what they want into existence. Case in point, most novice rappers do not have million dollar chains or the fastest cars on the road. Most of them are just hustling trying to get those things by whatever means possible. However, if you listen to the majority of their songs, they make you believe that they already have them. Truth is, neither you nor I would like to listen to an album whose subject matter is the ten year old car they’re driving, the one bedroom apartment they live in with a kitchen that is too small to cook anything in, how they are working a dead end job to pay the bills until they can get out and do what they want (the exception is Kanye’s Spaceship…I love that joint), or any multitude of subjects that reflect their real life situation instead of the one that they are perpetuating to the public. However, that does not stop them from speaking in the present tense on their albums, where they say they’ve got all the things that in truth are on still their wish lists of things to come when they finally blow (I’m sick o’yall niggas with ya now or later raps/Rap about it now, hope you get it later).

XXL had an article many years ago about how TI claimed he was the King of the South pretty much immediately coming on the national scene. However, he was not the King of the South. Fact is, until his national debut, I (a Southerner) had never heard of the dude. If you asked me to name 10 Southern rappers, he would not have even been mentioned. However, he proclaimed himself as such, and his words became his destiny (well, until now that is). He wanted to be the biggest rapper in the south, so he just said he was. Eventually, people believed him and it seemed that he actually did became what he claimed. This is the beautiful part of the quote above. Your words have the potential to become your destiny. So if you say what you want, you have the potential of eventually realizing the dreams.

But like everything in the world, there is a dark side waiting. Sometimes, the words that you say do not have anything to do with being great, loved, or rich. Sometimes the words are a bit darker, a bit more menacing, and unfortunately they too can become your destiny. There are two examples that stick out to me in this regard. One from damn near 15 years ago, and one from last week.

The first is of course, Tupac. Not many people who are casual observers or fans of the man realize the depth and irony of his story. Lucky for you though, I am not the casual observer. His story is multi-faceted with plenty of examples of how he spoke his destiny into existence. Take into account that his troubles with the authorities started after his rap career began, not before. The facts of that situation are fascinating (but too long to discuss here, maybe I’ll talk about this in another blog).

I think most notably Tupac’s words becoming real is his predictions of his demise. Through multiple songs and poems, Tupac talks about his death. For some people, those who didn’t want to believe he was actually dead, these words were used as evidence to him faking his own death because of how closely his words mirrored what actually occurred. He spoke of dying in quiet and not with screams around him although he frequently spoke of being shot. The truth ended up exactly this. He was shot, on my 16th birthday in fact, and died quietly in a hospital bed nearly a week later. Some people, myself included, have called him a prophet. In Greek, the word prophecy means “to speak forth” where the prophet is the person who actually “speaks forth”. Tupac spoke of his leaving this earth after a rain of bullets, and it was fulfilled. Here again, his words became his destiny.

The more recent example of this is Mr. Wyclef Jean, former member of the Fugees and current Haitian presidential candidate. What is interesting to me here, and something that I have not heard mentioned in the wake of his recent shooting, is his performance on The Chappell Show. On this show, Wyclef performed his song If I Were President which gives his account of what would happen should he be elected. While the title may give you the impression that the track will give us his personal plan for solving a country’s woes, in actuality, the song lists how he would be elected one day, assassinated the next, and buried shortly their after. He says that should he ever become the man in power, his power would last about a week. This concept of great men ascending to power only to have the power taken away by someone is not only the plot of fictions. It has been played out many times in the history of this world.

Wyclef spoke of what would happen should he become president. While he was simply on the campaign trail someone attempted to make this prophecy a reality. While it has been reported that Wyclef was not actually shot and the wounds that he sustained were not the result of a bullet but rather a cut sustained in the attack, I must point out here that whether or not the assassination attempt was successful, there was still an attempt on his life. The person wasn’t trying to scare Wyclef into cutting his hand, this person was trying to kill him. Wyclef predicted this would happen, and it did.

The point of this is the following, we think and put these thoughts out into the world now more than ever. Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter allow us to interact with a far greater audience. Be careful what you say and think, because what if you were given everything you ever said. While some of us would have money, cars and hoes, we might also have those millions of haters and problems we claim to already have.

Put that in your trunk and thump it,

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