The thing that everyone’s talking about this week — but very few outlets, oddly enough, seem to be writing about — is the fracas that the rednecks caused at the Blind Tiger this weekend.
On Sunday, Greensboro’s oldest continually-running live music club (if you don’t count those weeks in 2010 between the move from Walker Avenue to Spring Garden Street) played host to the Crazy White Boy tour, featuring “hick-hop” artist Adam Calhoun, along with an act called Demun Jones.
In question are the lyrics to one of Calhoun’s pieces, “Racism,” which relies on… unflattering stereotypes of African Americans, including use of the N-word, albeit of the -a variety and not the more formal -er.
He’s got other stupid songs, but this was the one quoted by angry Greensboro music fans on an extensive Facebook thread that sprouted in the early days of this week — a wild narrative that might best be described as the opposite of public relations.
I gave Calhoun’s stuff a listen, and I’ll say that “Racism” is probably the worst offender of the few I explored. Where Calhoun’s music really sucks is in the way it relies entirely on whiteness as its sole theme, whether it be the ham-fisted parallel he draws between white and black practitioners of the game in “Racism,” the toxic braggadocio of “Huck Fosier” or the faux Christianity of “Crossroads.”
In this way it is not so different from the white-nationalist and alt-right movements his music thinly espouses.
There’s a lot to unpack here: the responsibility of a local music club to represent the community that supports it, the irony of using hip-hop to assail African-American culture, the way my hackles raise when I hear banjo with a drum machine.
Late on Tuesday, Don “Doc” Beck, part of the Tiger’s ownership team issued a video apology — which can be viewed below — pledging to do a better job screening their acts. But it’s a little late for damage control.
It’s already cost the Tiger. The Band Moves canceled a show at the Tiger earlier this month with an announcement on social media: “We’ve decided to withdraw from our show tomorrow night at the Blind Tiger as it has come to our attention they will be hosting a musical act later in June whose lyrics are bigoted and hateful towards various races and the LGBTQ+ community. We’re sorry for any inconvenience, but at the end of the day, we believe in investing our art in venues that serve as allies for equality.”
Sure, Calhoun has a right to his art, and the Tiger has the right to make a buck off it. But the First Amendment does not protect against the consequences of free speech, and hate is rarely good for business.