If you’ve been on social media lately, then you’re probably aware of the backlash rappers Meek Mill and DaBaby have faced in regards to their tasteless lyrics towards the late basketball champion, Kobe Bryant and young media personality, JoJo Siwa.
While most of Bryant and Siwa’s fans called out the two rappers for their insensitive lyrics, there were a select few people that believed the backlash was unwarranted. They defended Meek Mill and Dababy for having the right to artistic expression. Some suggested that it was nothing more than lyrics and not meant to be offensive, but some people like myself think that there are lines that should not be crossed.
For the DaBaby situation in particular, I do not think he had ill intent. I just think his lyrics were inappropriate and ostentation. In his Beatbox Freestyle he rapped:
Turn me up, n-ggas gon’ see why
N-gga, you a b-tch, JoJo Siwa (B-tch)
The problem here is that JoJo Siwa is only 17 years old. Although she is almost 18, she is still considered a minor and her audience are mostly children. It might have been a double entendre, but I think he should have steered clear of speaking on a minor—especially when she was being associated with degrading labels.
As for Meek, I think his circumstances were much worse because his lyrics were triggering. In a leaked song with Lil Baby titled Don’t Worry, Meek rapped:
“If I ever lack, I’m goin’ out with my chopper, it be another Kobe.”
Bryant’s wife, Vanessa Bryant, actually responded to the lyrics saying, “I find this line to be extremely insensitive and disrespectful. Period. I am not familiar with any of your music, but I believe you can do better than this. If you are a fan, fine, there’s a better way to show your admiration for my husband. This lacks respect and tact.” Meek then caught more backlash for what he tweeted immediately after Vanessa Bryant’s response to the song which he says was not targeted towards her.
Meek eventually publicly stated that he apologized to Vanessa Bryant in private but of course, there were people that defended Meek saying that he was bullied into apologizing. Meek responded on Twitter with a post that said:
I’m going back savage in this shit … f#%k ya feelings!
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill)
Personally, I feel like deep down even if Meek was not trying to be offensive, he still knew he was wrong because he wouldn’t have apologized. Bryant still has a wife and three children that are living and grieving and those lyrics were very insensitive. If Vanessa Bryant said that she didn’t appreciate it, then no one else has the right to say that they weren’t. They are not the ones that have to deal with losing their husband or a father.
There’s no way DaBaby and Meek Mill couldn’t have thought their lyrics were appropriate. They might have told themselves, “It’s just a double entendre” or “I know I’m not intentionally being disrespectful,” but at what cost? Now a 17-year-old girl has to live with people associating here with those lyrics. A mother and her three daughters that are still grieving the loss of their husband and father have to hear music that constantly reminds them of him in a negative light. Both rappers were not thinking about the consequences of their words, and now people are being affected by them.
My issue with the artistic expression debate is that there should always come a certain point where you draw the line. You have to think about every last person that could be offended by your art. If you don’t then you don’t have the right to complain about the backlash you receive. When it comes to children, death, and other sensitive topics, as an artist, you should evaluate your art before you put it out to the world. Ask yourself: In what ways will people interpret this? Is there a specific group of people that will be offended by this? What consequences will others have to live with because of this?
Once you have come to some realistic conclusion as to what the answer to these questions could be, maybe then you’ll make the right decision about what you decide to put out in the world.
By Kayla Crittle, University of Kentucky Alumni
Instagram / Twitter: kaylamarieily