EntertainmentKeeping It 140 w/Kyra

Skirting the Issue: Lord Jamar v. Marlon Wayans

Marlon Wayans in "Scary Movie" scene.

So this happened.

Lord Jamar, a self-appointed referee for what makes or breaks hip-hop culture, got into it with comic Marlon Wayans over the topic of Black men rocking skirts.

This after Omar Epps, eternal Juice heartthrob, appeared on television wearing an…ahem…offending garment.  Get the full details here at HIP HOP DX, but here is a sample of his ponderings.




Wayans apparently took offense at that offense and unleashed a volley of insults, including that Jamar was trapped in a time warp, still rocking the oversized, baggy gear of his ’90s heyday with Brand Nubian.



In short, ish went absolutely left.  Fast.

As a longtime hip-hop head and fan of Black men, I have to ask why this is a big debate.  I realize that Jamar has a specific issue with what he considers the feminization of the Black man in pop culture, but he would do better to refocus his efforts on more serious topics than whether Kanye West or A$AP Rocky are donning kilts, skorts or skirts.

How about the ridiculous amount of materialism running through the most popular music of the genre?  How about the continued glorification of violence that has supposed art imitating life?  What about the absolute venom aimed at women?

Don’t we have more important things to to worry about than whether fashion is changing to the point where we’ve gone from baggy to skinny jeans  to skirts?  I definitely understand that certain looks aren’t for everyone, but entertainers clearly have a little more latitude.  (Lady Gaga, anyone?

And if the artists opt to take on fashion taboos, how does that really hurt you as a person?

Do not tell me I don’t understand rap and the culture surrounding it.  I’ve loved rhythmic American poetry for decades and even taught about it at Northwestern University.

For me, it is entertainment, but I also realize it has very real effects on those who consume it, whether it’s inciting ill-advised imitation or painting caricatures that negatively impact how Black men and women are perceived.

I’d warrant you that lobbing n-bombs, reducing women to nothing more than sexual conquests, and glorifying the “Scarface” credo have done far more damage than Lil Wayne’s jeggings or Kanye’s kilt.

Please don’t allow some invisible beer commercial-endorsed “man card” to throw us off our focus.  It’s a piece of cloth, after all.

If we want to get angry and fight back against rap trends, I’d suggest we choose more appropriate targets.  Hell, to paraphrase 2Pac and the Outlawz, I’d even volunteer to bomb first.