F2K10 is a countdown of the 20 worst songs of 2010. Track our progress here.
Take a minute and let the words Jackyl and “Just Like A Negro” sink in. It’s OK, we’ll wait. These are truly magical times, huh? Breathe deeply and be proud, America. We can finally get to have an honest, articulate discourse about race in America with the band that wrote “She Loves My Cock.”
“Just Like A Negro” was originally performed by Mother’s Finest, the long-standing all-black rock band behind the notorious 1976 Zep-funk jam “Niggizz Can’t Sang Rock & Roll.” After leaning into the headbanging grooves of contemporary funk-metal, Mother’s Finest used “Like A Negro” to kick off their 1992 album, Black Radio Won’t Play This Record. There are many, many reasons why the Mother’s Finest version isn’t cringeworthy and Jackyl’s is a ball of wincetastic awfulness–none of which I have time to go into here.
Instead, we’ll let frontman Jesse James Dupree defend himself, via this pleasant interview he did recently, from which the below are selected quotes:
“‘Just Like A Negro’ is only controversial because I’ve got a southern accent…”
This is like the Dukes Of Hazzard saying “The General Lee is only controversial because it’s orange.” No, Jesse, the problem is that the word “negro” kind of has about 600 years of complex history behind that probably can’t be smoothed out by reuniting two artists that appeared on the Beavis And Butt-Head Experience. I’m pretty sure if an urbane, East Coast liberal like Sufjan Stevens was crooning it, it probably might inspire a Stereogum post or two. But yeah, being the man who coined the term “Redneck punk” probably isn’t doing you any favors.
“It’s a tribute song where music makes all colors run together and it gets people’s attention.”
If only scientists could invent some way to promote racial unity besides a hiring a dude who sounds like Rosco P. Coltrane to belch out archaic, antebellum racial slurs!
“If Patti Smith would have done this song, she would be getting another induction into the Hall of Fame.”
Yeah, dude, why aren’t things like seventies when you could say anything and get away with it?! I don’t know why rock critics don’t see the similarities between National Book Award winner Patti Smith and the guy who wrote the song about how his weiner is a chainsaw.
“DMC calls and says ‘I want be a part of it’… Not one single sorry, son of a bitch went back and rebutted what they said or apologized or taken any other position.”
“Look, I have black friends! See?”
All kidding aside, I’m 100% sure Dupree is coming from a good place with this. He’s absolutely right to say that anyone calling the song “racist” or “bigoted” or “negative” probably isn’t listening to the lyrics–which ultimately are trying to say, “uh, hey, give props to the African-American dudes who invented rock ‘n’ roll.” But, yeah, we will go ahead and call this version ham-handed, awkward, shortsighted and completely ignorant of the band’s own white privilege. It’s essentially the musical version of a Carlos Mencia routine: trying to create unity by awkwardly–and “artistically”–throwing around the very words that have made unity quite difficult. Also, the slap bass sounds terrible.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 8, 2010