Negropedia Brown: The Case of the Undead Auto-Tune

Mr. and Mrs. Brown had one child. They called him TAN, but everyone else called him Negropedia. One day he opened a Blog Detective Agency to solve Media-Mysteries resulting from Ethnocultural-dissonance. Let's follow along, kids!

Mr. Brown was the chief media mind on matters of race and culture. The CEO or Chief Ethnocultural Officer. Whenever a TV station or radio show or magazine needed counsel on issue relating to race/culture, they'd ask Mr. Brown. And Mr. Brown always had a good answer for them. His track record in the realm of race was without blemish since 2005.

But Mr. Brown had a secret weapon. And that was his son, TAN. No one would believe it, but it was really Negropedia that provided Mr. Brown all his insightful fodder! The streak since 2005 was no coincidence; it was also when young TAN started his blog.

Now TAN would typically help his father solve cases for free. But after a while he realized he enjoyed ethnocultural matters so much he should open up a detective agency to help others bridge culture gaps and generally get along. So he stole some money out of his father's wallet, rented out a bodega, and set up shop. He hung up a sign to advertise himself:

Negropedia Brown: The Case of the Undead Auto-Tune



One Saturday afternoon while Negropedia was sipping on some lemonade, Jay-Z came into the office. "Allow me to reintroduce myself..." he proclaimed over a thundering backbeat. Of course Negropedia was very familiar with the superstar rapper Hov, and needed no introduction.

Mr. Carter scanned the cozy confines and then a couple assistants followed him in and dumped buckets of money on TAN's desk, "I want to hire you. I got 99 problems, but maybe you can help solve this one."

Negropedia looked at Jay and said, "thanks, but like the sign says, I only need a quarter. And considering who you are, I would be honored to help you. What appears to be the problem? Is it something with Beyonce?"

"Nah, she's off showing off her booty and overachieving somewhere. This has nothing to do with her" Jay responded.

"OK" said Negropedia. "Well, what problem could the Black Warren Buffett possibly have?"

"Well I released my new single, Death of Auto-Tune. Did you peep it?"

"Oh yeah, in fact I was reading the rhymes earlier this week."

Jay nodded in approval, "Well, here's the problem: I want to be great. But in order to make history I have to get these older white people down with the program."

TAN looked at his diploma hanging on the wall, "I know what you mean, Jay."

"So I don't know, I mean if the young grasshoppers start chirping, I'm not worried about that. I understand where they're coming from. But this guy Jody Rosen, this blog he wrote about DOA — which B told me was featured on Slate's front page and all this — I don't know, it's just rubbing me the wrong way."

Negropedia mulled, "Hmm, well Jody's a great writer. And he's got to cover a lot of different music for Slate. What did he say?"

Hov started pacing, "well first he's like the beat is a "snooze". And honestly, diss my lyrics and flow all you want. But the drums by NO I.D. on that track are incredible. Even Jody himself called them "walloping". How can you be walloping and noodling and still be snoozing?"

"Valid point, I guess" Negropedia offered. He hoped that wasn't all.

"Then this guy is trying to call me a "curmudgeonly hip hop purist". And y'know, maybe I'm getting sensitive as I approach the big 4-0 (and I'm not talking about the club) but just seems like some toss-off shit to say..."

Negropedia rubbed the melanin on his skin. He always did that when deep in thought.

"It is a little odd that he would call you out for that, Jody wrote a book about the song "A White Christmas" and what could be more curmudgeonly purist than that?"

Jay raised his eyebrows, "That's what I'm saying, Negropedia. That's why I need you to investigate!"

"He also wrote this piece hating on Akon a couple years ago, so you'd think he might agree with the spirit of your song. Unless ..."

Negropedia continued to rub his melanin. Slate was one of the bigger media bullies on the block, no one wanted to pick a beef with them unless they had their facts straight. Finally he sprang to life, "Alright, let's go talk to Slate and Jody and get to the bottom of this."

Jay said, "Word, let's take the baby blue Maybach."

TAN mumbled, "ok."

After driving around the neighborhood they saw Jody sitting outside a coffee shop, he was listening to Jewish minstrelsy songs on an old transistor radio.

Negropedia went up to Jody and asked him about the review.

"What can I say, that's what I think." Jody responded calmly. "Artists and critics disagree all the time. It's the nature of the business. Sorry."

"Yes, but you're a music purist who hates autotune. Shouldn't you love this song? There seems to be a disconnect. Even one of the Slate commenters wondered if something was amiss."

"Yeah, well, obviously I'm not trying to be racist. Look at all the black music I've written about in my archives. Shoot, I might know hip hop better than you, Negropedia."

Negropedia pulled out his iphone and started surfing hither and thither. Jay walked around composing new songs in his head.

As Negropedia surfed he thought it was a sticky case. He wanted to help one of his rap heroes, but he didn't want his blog detective agency to be thought of as Race-Police. Hov was getting old. And Jody did have a track record with hip hop music.

All of a sudden Negropedia stopped dead in his tracks. He looked up confidently and asked, "You wrote this piece on 50 Cent?"

"Yessir", Jody responded.

"And this one on Eminem for The Nation?"

"Yeah, that's me. You're really going back now aren't you." Jody was starting to fidget a little.

Negropedia continued, "And you wrote this Slate review of Jay's Kingdom Come, right"?

"Yes, yes, yes. Annnnd?"

"And, well, I think Jigga-man has a point here. You may have been better off sitting this one out, Jody"

Jody was dismissive, "No way, I'm the editor."

Yeah, but looking at all of these it's clear your grip on hip hop is not as firm as you would like to think. Maybe you should have let one of the young grasshoppers handle this one.

WHAT DID NEGROPEDIA SEE IN THE ARTICLES?

(click/turn to page 91 for the answer to The Case of the Undead Autotune!)

Illustrations by Brandon