West magazine, just in time for the Martin Luther King holiday, offers a cover with a photo of rapper/actor/author Common, proclaiming Why This Man Is Hip. Inside, the the hapless Elizabeth Khuri asks him some high-school paper questions: “Have your ever made a fashion faux pas? What do you look for when you’re shopping for clothes?”
No reader is going to learn why this man is hip from this stuff. And then Khuri tries to get relevant, asking about his new film, Smokin’ Aces:
The movie is rather violent. Would you let your 9-year-old daughter see it?
No. It’s rated R. Maybe she will eventually see it, but now she’s too young. I really love the film, but I don’t think it’s a children’s story
What’s he supposed to say? What did she think he’d say? Was this just thrown in there so we can marvel that a black rapper protects his young daughter? (See–he’s not a thug….) After all, the lede was
Common doesn’t fit the hip-hop stereotype.
Never underestimate the cluelessness of West editors.
And then there’s a piece on Dr. Grillz. The writer, Qevin Oji, calls up the dentist, Jay Oh, and thinks he might be Ethiopian, but turns out to be Korean. Oh. Oh, 0h! Supposedly, these bejeweled mouthpieces are authentically part of African-American culture:
gold-capped teeth hearken back to our Southern relatives, to the days when folks couldn’t afford to seek professional aid for cavities
Right–because gold caps cost pennies. The history of grillz is pretty much open for debate; the thought that greedy jewelers might be have found yet another way to part newly-rich rappers from their royalty checks isn’t explored. We’re amazed West didn’t include a photo-shopped essay on how civil rights leaders would have looked, if only they’d gotten grillz. Oji himself is a really interesting guy–FBLA would rather have read about him than dental jewelery.