‘State of the Culture’ is the show you turn on to hear unfiltered, unapologetic, gritty opinions in regards to topics within hip hop culture — whether you agree with what’s being said or not. Joe Budden, Remy Ma, Jinx, and Eboni K. Williams aren’t here to hold your hand in their debates and sugarcoat their words. They’re here to say what everyone else is afraid of saying, and do so with no hesitation. From talking about music, politics, sports and everything in between; the hosts are always with the shits. Welcome to ‘State of the Culture.’
This week, the SOTC panel gets deep, as the cast discusses topics about the changing state of R&B, Deontay Wilder’s devastating loss in the ring, and Jim Jones’ polarizing comparison of rappers and war veterans, and much more. We also reflect on the tear-jerking memorial for Kobe and Gianna Bryant at the Staples Center, which once again highlighted Vanessa Bryant’s quiet strength. The episode also called into question the involvement of Kobe’s parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, whom Kobe was known to have a strained relationship with. We dissect just how complicated this, and grieving celebrity death in general, can be. Plus, find out why Eboni is taking “Red Table Talk” to task.
Read the seven best gems from the latest “State Of The Culture” episode below!
1. Deontay Wilder is wildin’
Heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder isn’t taking his recent loss against Tyson Fury humbly. Instead of accepting defeat, he blames the ornate 40-pound costume that he wore into the ring for his inability to take home the win. For Joe, and many of us, that excuse just doesn’t cut it. “It’s not that he got beat up,” says Joe. “It’s the way that he got beat up that has us judging him differently. From round two on, he didn’t look like himself.” The panel also mentions that after the fight, past interview clips surfaced in which Wilder claims he always trains wearing 40-pound weights. One thing the entire panel agrees on is that the upcoming third fight between Wilder and Fury would do more harm than good. “I think it was rash and I think it was part of him being upset that he lost,” says Remy. “He knows we’re watching, and that builds up ego. It’s dangerous,” adds Jinx. “It fuels you to do things you shouldn’t do. [If he dies] imagine what that would do to his family, his legacy and the sport.”
2. Young MA makes the case for bringing real R&B back
The Brooklyn rapper ruffled feathers when she tweeted, “Music doesn’t feel the same because we barely have R&B.” Remy agrees that the format of R&B has completely changed. “I can say some of the lines are blurred because some of the artists are being considered trap soul,” she says. “It’s very hard to find somebody that can blow.” Jinx believes that R&B still has a presence. “It’s just changed like every other genre,” he notes. At Joe’s request for a more black and white answer, Eboni chimes in saying, “Young M.A.’s take is lazy. I don’t think it’s fair to say R&B is not on the landscape. Does it sound the same as the golden era of R&B? No.” Jinx continues that artists like Tory Lanez and Summer Walker have a habit of sampling classic R&B songs as a “cheat code” for instant hits, but thinks fans should appreciate their original songs just the same. Joe disagrees with Young M.A.’s take, saying some of the legacy R&B artists she’s missing never stopped making music. “I just bought a [new] Joe and Jagged Edge album. We allowed her to say some shit about a genre that she clearly hasn’t researched,” he says.
3. Royce Da 5’9’s new album has something for everybody
SOTC is excited about Royce Da 5’9 and his brand new album, The Allegory, which was chock full of content and impressive bars. “It didn’t feel like he was beating us over the head with conscious rap,” Jinx says of the album’s brilliance. “Royce gives you medicine that tastes like candy.” Eboni appreciated Royce’s message of breaking generational curses and creating wealth within the black community. Joe enjoys “seeing Royce settle into this grandfather position of GOAT emcee, but mentor, but oh shit we have a bigger fight ahead of us.” Royce’s evolution as a rapper further elevates him as an OG versus and old head. “When you shift to OG, you don’t just live in the rights of being a veteran. You take on the responsibility of being a veteran. Royce has done that,” says Jinx.
4. Vanessa Bryant’s strength is unforgettable
The world weeped as we saw the Staples Center filled to the brim in honor of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The late NBA legend and his child were remembered by past teammates, friends, colleagues, and most importantly Vanessa Bryant. The strength that it took to do that wasn’t lost on our panelists. “We do this thing where we just center on the man,” says Jinx. “We realized, she doesn’t just have his back. This is a strong woman. To be able to get up and do what she did in that setting is insane.” Remy Ma enjoyed learning more about Kobe from the anecdotes told by his friends, including his reputation for being “annoying” in his quest to be a perfectionist. “It made sense as to why he was so great,” she said. Jinx shares a personal memory of interviewing Kobe at ComplexCon. He remembers the legend being genuinely curious about creating content, and winning an Oscar the very next year.
5. The visibility of Kobe’s parents at his memorial raised eyebrows
Eboni mentions that there was some chatter on social media about Kobe’s parents, whom he’d had a notoriously contentious relationship with, not having a presence at the memorial. Jinx and Joe feel it’s not the public’s place to speculate why, and acknowledge that the death of a child is something no parent wants to live through. Remy assumes the private funeral is where the parents and sisters spoke. In addition to that, she says, “TV is still a business. They’re not looking to put the cameras on the celebrities. This is what the media does.” Eboni ultimately feels the expectation of wanting to see Kobe’s parents speaks to society’s need to check their entitlement. “Everything is not our business,” she says.
6. Emcees vs. War Vets: Who’s more at risk?
Jim Jones had the internet divided when he made claims that rappers are more at risk of losing their lives to gun violence than soldiers fighting in the Iraq war. Remy, having shelled out stacks of cash for security, tends to agree with Jim. “It’s crazy what happens in war, but it’s even crazier when you’re a kid and realize as an adult you’ve been at war your whole life.” Jinx says there’s no way to compare the two. “I don’t want to say celebrity life is the same as going over to another country where there’s landmines and children that will snipe you out,” he says. “But, I can co-sign the part about growing up black. You lose people your age and watch the increase of it. The PTSD of being black is extremely real… they’re both extremely fucked up and a product of the country we’re living in.” Eboni says the comparison by Jim Jones is “unproductive as fuck” and that “what they share is joint trauma.”
7. Snoop Dogg’s “Red Table Talk” falls short for some
Eboni wasn’t impressed with Snoop Dogg’s attempts to make amends for cursing out Gayle King on “Red Table Talk,” and she makes a compelling point. “As a non-celebrity, it felt like I was watching two celebrities that have a pre-existing relationship with each other just chit chatting.” Furthermore, she felt the conversation was lacking in accountability, which is what she tuned in to see. Eboni added, “It was too much of a love fest.”
Also, while Joe and Remy feel Snoop Dogg’s outburst was simply passion gone too far, Eboni feels the skepticism about Gayle and Oprah’s allegiance to black men and their legacy was missing a discussion piece. “Black women have to trust each other and be aligned,” she says. “That was an opportunity that was missed [on ‘Red Table Talk’] because we didn’t go there.”