*** (of four)
Does anyone remember? Was it Fear of a Black Hat
or "In Living Color" or "Saturday Night Live" that had a parody rap act performing a song whose repeated hook and entire lyrical focus was, "I'm black y'all, black y'all / Blickity-blickity-black y'all"?
It was overstated humor of the absurd, and like a decade and a half later, here's Saul Williams with damn near the same hook, except more prolonged and pronounced. And meant to be taken seriously.
The Williams style is half-spoken word, half-jazz, half-hip-hop, half-reggae and half-industrial. That's four halves, and as Saul constantly reminds you, each half is non-Caucasian: "They say you're too black / Man I think I'm too black / Do you think I'm too black? / I think I'm too black / I think I'm too black / I think I'm too blacka-blacka-blacka-black."*
Yeah, the lyrics here are all about confessional time, and Saul pulls it off. This street poet who has played Lollapalooza is still insecure about being chided in school for the color of his skin. Apparently, someone kidded around and called him "Chuck D" in sixth grade, and he hasn't forgotten it. (Though, when you think about it, wouldn't calling someone "Flavor Flav" be the bigger insult?)
And, as the song title reveals, he apparently was called "Black Stacey" by his adolescent peers. Which to me sounds like a name the Mattel corporation would give to one of Barbie's friends. Kind of a C-minus on the junior high insult scale but, I suppose, something you wouldn't forget when, say, you were trying to write your breakthrough single
But I'm here to talk about the video, right? Ostensibly. Well, Black Stacey is indeed black - about four Hershey bars out of five on the complexion scale. In case you forgot that, he paints tribesman dots all over his face and refuses to wear any clothing over his beltline.
"Black Stacey" is low-medium budget but looks fucking rich and classy, lighting and color-wise. Half the time, Williams is seen in a three-quarters shot, medium close-up, with half of his face plunged into, er, darkness. Saul also stands outdoors in an old-school red leather jacket, holding a vintage boombox while performing in front of a dingy blue-steel-ribbed warehouse.
If this doesn't grab you at all the first time - if you're thinking, whiny fucker, too repetitious, get over it, kind of laughable at heart,
watch it again. If you still think that, watch it a third time. Then get high, get drunk and sentimental, get in confessional mode. Watch it four times with a good buzz on, and you'll feel what this guy's saying. Hypothetically, of course.
* = Saul, you should be glad political correctness hasn't completely taken over - imagine the syllable crunch as a lyricist if you were forced to call yourself African American: "They say you're too African American / Man I think I'm too African American / Do you think I'm too African American? / I think I'm too African American / I think I'm too African American / I think I'm too Afri-Afri-Afri-African American."