This cartoon, originally aired on BET, has been getting a lot of attention lately. Apparently it’s controversial. Personally I think it is 1) funny, 2) true, 3) necessary. Caution: This video contains a lot of uses of the words “fuck” and “shit” in various conjugations. I don’t recommend watching this at work unless you have headphones or an office door.


(Broken video has been fixed)

The artist is Bomani Armah (he goes by the name D’Mite), and his website, www.notarapper.com, elaborates on the nature of his music. He describes himself as a “poet with a hip-hop style, not a rapper”. That is, poetry to a hip-hop beat, rather than the gangsta trash that masquerades as hip-hop these days. I agree with the sentiment. Rap and hip-hop can be good. It’s just that the material that gets mainstream play completely sucks and is written by people with no talent or creativity.

This particular cartoon is a satire of a Tennessee style of rap music called “crunk”, which Webster defines thusly:

crunk – ‘krəŋk Function: noun

1. a style of Southern rap music featuring repetitive chants and rapid dance rhythms

Here are the lyrics, for the benefit of people (mostly my parents) who are not going to be able to make head or tail of the video:

Read a book! Read a book! Read a motherfuckin’ book!
Read a book! Read a book! Read a motherfuckin’ book!
Read a book! Read a book! Read a motherfuckin’ book!
Read a book! Read a book! Read a motherfuckin’ book!

R-E-A-D A B-O-O-K!
R-E-A-D A B-O-O-K!
R-E-A-D A B-O-O-K!
R-E-A-D A B-O-O-K!

Not a sports page! Not a magazine! But a book, nigga! A fuckin’ book, nigga!
Not a sports page! Not a magazine! But a book, nigga! A fuckin’ book, nigga!
Not a sports page! Not a magazine! But a book, nigga! A fuckin’ book!

Raise yo kids! Raise yo kids! Raise yo Goddamn kids!
Raise yo kids! Raise yo kids! Raise yo Goddamn kids!
Raise yo kids! Raise yo kids! Raise yo Goddamn kids!
Raise yo kids! Raise yo kids! Raise yo Goddamn kids!

Your body needs water, so drink that shit!
Your body needs water, so drink that shit!
Your body needs water, so drink that shit!
Your body needs water, so drink that shit!

Buy some land! Buy some land! Fuck spinnin’ rims!
Buy some land! Buy some land! Fuck spinnin’ rims!
Buy some land! Buy some land! Fuck spinnin’ rims!
Buy some land! Buy some land! Fuck spinnin’ rims!

Brush yo teeth! Brush yo teeth! Brush yo Goddamn teeth!
Brush yo teeth! Brush yo teeth! Brush yo Goddamn teeth!
Brush yo teeth! Brush yo teeth! Brush yo Goddamn teeth!
Brush yo teeth! Brush yo teeth! Brush yo Goddamn teeth!

Wear deodorant, nigga!
Wear deodorant, nigga!
Wear deodorant, nigga!
Wear deodorant, nigga!

It’s called SpeedStick! It’s not expensive!
It’s called SpeedStick! It’s not expensive!
It’s called SpeedStick! It’s not expensive!
It’s called SpeedStick! It’s not expensive!

D’Mite’s song is interesting for several reasons, not the least of which is that the target is not the gangsta image, per se. Instead, he is offering general advice on how to live properly and live well. He doesn’t denounce the street slang, or the clothes, or the culture specifically. In fact, he embraces it in order to set some priorities.

I don’t normally think of inner city black youth as people who have bad personal hygiene habits or improperly invest their money. Mostly the stereotype is around drugs, gangs, violence, and poor family planning. The parenting issue is addressed in D’Mite’s song, but I didn’t expect real estate advice to also come with it.

Are deodorant and proper hydration endemic problems among inner city blacks? Does this song address some cultural habits that are not apparent to people who don’t live in those communities? I’m curious to hear any comments about this.

14 Responses to “Read A Book, Nigga”
  1. Christine says:

    As respectfully and as formally as I am capable, I will say that indeed the majority of at least African Americans in the “dirty south” need to listen and adhere to this song. My friend and I saw this video channel surfing the other night and we exploded with laughter because its so true. I love black people, but let’s not forget that steriotypes do exist for a reason; they are a correct generalization of habits and ideas reflected in a group of people. Honestly, most of the African American people I am around do not invest themselves wisely in education, hygiene, or proper parenting; I, however, know plenty of teenagers (regaurdless of race) that partake in a plethera of drugs.
    -Christine 17

  2. chris says:

    I think the water verse is about the enormous quantities of Coke and Pepsi that are consumed by youth. This isn’t a white/black thing at all, but a youth thing.

  3. Wykeve says:

    the “Drink water” schpeil stems from the fact that a large percentage of not only black people, but other races too, consume more unhealthy substances, especially alcohol, than water.

  4. Alison says:

    I think the parts about wearing deodorant and brushing teeth were intended to lighten the song up a bit, and take some weight off the fairly heavy underlying message. I’m black but not from the inner city; most of the blacks I know don’t have any hygiene problems.

  5. kelly says:

    Why do I get the impression that the previous posters and the original poster haven’t been out of their nice neighborhoods? I get the video, its funny sure, but its also a smart-arsed call to arms to respect one’s self and get your shiat together. People need a good smack to the forehead to start respecting themselves. That means seeking some knowledge, taking care of your family, and being responsible for yourself. I grew up in a black community being torn down by this irresponsible idea of what’s ok. I see this guy saying that, dayum, stop it, take a shower, and do something to improve ya’self. You live long enough in some impoverished and declining communities and you get the picture. Christine, I think you’re seeing just the people and not the problem.

  6. sigh... says:

    READ A BOOK NIGGA

    Learn how to spell and pronounce English words.

  7. Vesper says:

    I think this was probably the best thing to come from rap or hip hop poetry… or whatever it is. I was getting pretty tired of hearing about how drugs and being a true ‘gangsta’ are the things to do and this made me laugh and hope people took it to heart. I’ve heard people argue that its racist and such but I don’t believe it is, I think its just talking about the lifestyle of younger people today. Plus I know plenty of black, spanish, asian AND white people alike who need to read a god damn book!

  8. Musey says:

    The thing is, you could take the N word out and this song really applies to people of all races – and quite honestly, I know far too many wealthy Caucasians who don’t read enough. Clean this song up and you could just present it to any high schooler who thinks they know it all!

  9. $F.B.S$ says:

    The song was hard, funny, and they and it’s not grammar you don’t have to spell it right it’s a fucking rap song

  10. Sweets says:

    Efiin’ Genius!

  11. Andria Pawlowicz says:

    That’s just the way it is…

  12. Emergency RN says:

    I work in an inner-city ER in Atlanta. This song, especially the part about deodorant and brushing teeth, is dead on.

  13. hanh says:

    LOL. this song is good for the kids. i mean…letting fuck and nigga and shit slide for the messages to grab their attention. I say let it roll uncensored after 4pm on any media.

  14. Krazy Bitch says:

    I love the song im white but its funny to my friends when i sing along cause i say “NIGER” I know people think its racies But who cares! i HATE ASIANS, HISPANICS ,AND NIGERS! SO SUCK ON THAT YOU UGLY BLACK ASSES!

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