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Why Big Sean's Song "MILF" Isn't Funny

Pictured: Big Sean and a Mom he'd like to have intercourse with.
Pictured: Big Sean and a Mom he'd like to have intercourse with.

Big Sean casually throws a skit in the middle of his sophomore album, Hall of Fame. It's called "Freaky" and borrows a portion of "The Sensuous Black Woman Meets the Sensuous Black Man"--an 18 minute audio Kama Sutra of sorts. Following the skit, Big Sean gives us a track called "MILF." We all know what the acronym stands for. And intuition can at least paint a silhouette of a sexy independent woman.

However, according to "MILF," Big Sean's not really into that. His preference leans towards toothless crackhead mothers on welfare. But that's cool. Because the song's just a joke, right? Yes. It is. That's what makes it all the more troubling.

See also: Live: Big Sean Cuts Through The Clutter At The Best Buy Theater

Sometimes it's best to take lyrics with a grain of salt, and especially when analyzing hip-hop. It's easy to overlook the fact that rappers are writers themselves because the genre is built on a foundation of authenticity. But rappers have poetic license to say whatever they feel is necessary in order to create a character that gets their intent across, just as authors and screenwriters do.

Sean's verses are comical riffs on sexual relations with a mother. In the song he seems to play a version of himself, as Nicki Minaj--who portrays the titular mom--refers to him by name. Then the problem begins: Nicki Minaj's verse takes the wheel and she does a fine job of portraying a woman who can easily be in the running for worst mother of the year.

She opens her verse with:

I got my welfare check, smokin' on that crack, hell yeah I'm unemployed, baby daddy down my back.

Later, Minaj takes out her teeth and goes down on Sean. Toothless crackhead on welfare. That's the joke, and it really isn't too funny. This mother's poverty and despair are the joke's punchline. Ironic, when you consider that Minaj raised herself up from poverty to get to where she is, currently holding down the number eight spot on the Forbes "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list with an income of $15.5 million.

Big Sean went from ashy to classy and is now in the G.O.O.D. company of Kanye West.

Also guesting on the song is Juicy J, who once lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Memphis with six people. He can now afford to send young women to college provided they're agile enough. Shout out to upward mobility.

The people that are being mocked in this song--the lazy, irresponsible, drug addicted, oversexed black welfare recipient--are the type frequently used as scapegoats for conservative pundits and fear mongering anchors at places like Fox News. The song's timing couldn't be worse, as it comes in the wake of a presidential hopeful maybe (probably) saying that he doesn't want to make "black people's lives better" by giving them welfare, his way of serving up red meat to his constituents in hopes of gaining a few more. Bill O'Reilly has taken snippets of rap lyrics to piggyback his views in the past. He's had the highest rated cable news program for going on 12 years, a fact he frequently boasts about night in and night out. Worst case scenario here is O'Reilly gets wind of the song and uses the fiction in it as fact to solidify or mold the perspective of his viewer base.

There's levels to this shit, of course, and absent in most debates about welfare are the nuanced circumstances of what causes people to fall in the safety net in the first place and then keeps them trapped there. Problem is, just as the O'Reillys of the world often eschew complexity for blanket simplicity, so too does "MILF." Having pulled themselves up from the poverty they openly mock in the song, all three involved should know better. See also: Dissecting the Politically Charged Subtext of Nicki Minaj's "High School" Video

 

They don't, though, and that's a shame. More so when you consider that it's not hard to believe the song will get national attention, and probably soon. When Big Sean enlists the likes of Juicy J and Nicki Minaj he likely does so because he has the song mind for a single. It no doubt will find rotation in that home of hedonism, the nightclub, especially given the names attached have made a comfy living making music for those that would likely find themselves in da club.

As a genre, hip-hop frequently finds itself upholding the good ole wholesome values of hedonism. "MILF" takes it to another level, as the mother in question responds to cries of her children's hunger with, "shut your mouth you little bastards go on." If this song does find its way to the nightclubs and/or frat houses of the country (again, likely) it can easily become a party anthem. Scores of young people will twerk to (or be twerked on) as the song plays in the background. Twerking in and of itself is just a harmless sexualized dance move. In the party setting, mixed with alcohol and dim lighting, it's the Homo-Sapien mating call. The level of dramatic irony at work if this song does become a club hit--youths dancing provocatively to "MILF"--is almost too ridiculous to fathom.

In an interview with MTV, Big Sean says his mother's dating when he was a child and his own trysts with single mothers roughly a decade later inspired the song. He wanted to "capture a moment of society."

"That's something that really goes on, and that's what the song is about," Big Sean says, mostly referring to the aspect of single mothers dating, presumably. "It's just about a crazy-ass mom, going wild and I do think it's funny, but I think it's real as hell too."

It is real as hell. Funny? No. It's a sad thing that there are mothers out there who struggle to hold it together for their children. Hip-hop is already full of misogyny and minstrel shows. The open satirization of a black crackhead mother who would rather have sex than feed her kids, though, that's just a little too far.

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