It was six years ago, in this very paper, that a young, righteous rapper by the name of Nuwine was preaching the importance of hip-hop that wasn't flashy, shallow or gratuitous.
"I see that the young people of this generation need more than a song about shaking your butts," he said way back in 1999. "And the young people of this generation are looking for the role models And the only thing they're getting from role models is stacking your paper and shaking your butts."
So, imagine Wack's surprise when a few weeks ago BET UnCut was playing on the tube and Nuwine was in a video uttering these lyrics: "You know what we want to see / Hit the dance floor, shake your boo-ty / Wiggle wit it / Stop, make it drop, drop / Wiggle wit it / Hit the floor, make it pop, pop."
My, my. How the mighty have fallen!
Oh, yes, kiddies, it looks like the once-inspirational local MC is still inspiring and evangelizing his listeners -- albeit this time around, to shake that ass like a carton of orange juice. The video for the song, "Shake Yo Sally," has Nuwine and Memphis rhymer Pen immersing themselves in standard Dirty South chic, complete with candy-painted rides, homies flashing ice, fat wads of cash, snarling pit bulls and, of course, the sistas shaking those assets. Wack will say this: Unlike many videos on the notoriously low-rent, late-night video show, this one looks like it had a respectable budget. (It was co-directed by Dr. Teeth, who has done clips for the Cash Money and Swishahouse crews.)
So how does Nuwine explain this sudden shift in musical subject matter? When he got a divorce from his wife in 1999, he says, the religious community turned its back on him. So he reciprocated by turning his back on it.
"Big-name preachers started speaking real negatively about me," he recalls. "I just needed to get out of that arena. Because I made a mistake, they turned their back on me coldly."
Nuwine, who says he's 27 (which is odd, because he said he was 27 six years ago), swears that he never was a gospel rapper, even though a lot of what he did back then categorized him as one. (He was nominated for a Dove Award, for Pete's sake!)
"When I was doing inspirational-type music, I was paying the bills," he says. "When I first started out, churches and youth groups and different faith-based groups started booking me." Although Nuwine (or Wine-O, as people on the street know him) admits he was doing clean, godly hip-hop, he was only doing it to provide food for his brood.
"People didn't realize that I made music for money, period. I was blessed with a gift, and I used that gift to provide for the family." But he also insists he's still down with God, just not with all the folks who allegedly speak on His or Her behalf. "If anybody asked me if I believed in God or Jesus, I would say yes," he says. "I still believe in them with all my heart."
Now he's using his gift to spit "purely commercial" music, complete with dirty words, which will be found on his upcoming album, Hate Me. (Wack guesses he would say that today he's backsliding for his family.) He will be releasing it one of these days on his own label, Wine-O Music, since the deal he had with Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Records a few years ago didn't pan out.
"That was a business situation," Nuwine says. "He lost a lot of money. I lost a lot of money in the process. He had a lot of shady people working for him." Meanwhile, Paul Wall, Slim Thug, Lil Jon, Bubba Sparxxx and Anthony Hamilton all have signed on for guest spots on Hate Me, which Nuwine promises will make Usher's Confessions look like after-church gossip.
"My album expresses the truth that has never been expressed," he says. "The stuff I'll be exposing -- jaws will drop."
Any chance we'll get the inside skinny he says he has on various preachers and organizations around the city? Yes, he says. For a price. "If I knew you could give me the cover, I could give you all the dirt," he says. (When Wack interviewed him, Slim Thug was on this paper's cover.) "Meanwhile, I'ma wait until that day comes." -- Craig D. Lindsey
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
All hail Lester Bangs! Bow down to the chosen critical few who light our way through the caverns of music. For there is an upstart we have let slide for far too long, but whom we will indulge no longer. The Source, here is your critical fatwa!
Source, you have been called the Bible of hip-hop. Well, while there was plenty of sex and violence in the Bible, your recent antics would put even Sodom and Gomorrah to shame. Did we fatwa you when your founder Benzino was dropping shitty records? We did not, and forever will our cheeks burn with shame. Did we condemn you for writing dubiously fawning profiles of undeserving artists? Nay, for in today's rock journalism, that hardly sets you apart. When the sexual harassment lawsuits began -- documents claiming you tormented every woman who stepped through your door -- did we not give you one more chance?
Now we have learned what happens when we are lenient, for two of your employees, Alvin Childs and Leroy Peeples, have been charged with attempted murder for a late-night gunfight at a club near the Source office! Police reports say the argument started over the music selections of the club. We can see that, but gunplay is a little extreme.
We blame ourselves, Source. Perhaps if we had punished you with the appropriate fatwa when Benzino was making an ass of himself, this never would have happened. But now it is too late. Fatwa! May your lives become as boring as your magazine!