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Michael Jordan’s image in “The Last Dance,” 50 Cent getting trolled for a change, and a possible DMX Verzuz

Social distancing won’t stop our SOTC hosts from giving us episode after episode of straight heat.

50 Cent Image via Getty/Angela Weiss/AFP

“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 never hold back. Welcome to “State of the Culture.”

Social distancing won’t stop our SOTC hosts from giving us episode after episode of straight heat. This week, the panel reflects on Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance” documentary, what’s to come as all 50 states slowly (and prematurely) reopen, and the dangerous messages we’re hearing about COVID-19. Toward the end of the episode, the discussion shifts gears to the recent Verzuz battles and why 50 Cent might be a worthy opponent for DMX. Speaking of Fif, we also dive into an incident involving a graffiti artist who’s been giving the rapper a taste of his own trolling medicine. Joe and Eboni also go head-to-head about the consequences of trolling and whether or not trolls should be prepared to be confronted.

Check out our recap of the latest episode below!

1. Michael Jordan’s “The Last Dance” wasn’t exactly revelatory to Joe or Eboni

SOTC reflects on the final episode of “The Last Dance” docu-series, and Joe doesn’t feel his opinion on Jordan has changed in the slightest. Joe is firm in his opinion that while the NBA legend is the greatest basketball player ever, he feels that 23 was “a piece of s**t” as a person. Eboni felt that while the series was “thoroughly entertaining,” it was nothing more than a veiled MJ commercial. Jinx observes that for decades, Jordan has managed to become one of the most profitable brands in the world, yet we don’t know much about the man behind the symbol. “We don’t know a lot about Mike,” Jinx says. “People had the belief that [the documentary] would color in a lot of the open spaces that we don’t know about Mike. It just traced over what we already knew.” Remy doesn’t find it surprising that the documentary sheds a favorable light over the basketball legend. “What people like Joe need to understand is the glory of having a documentary while you’re still alive is because you get to have say so,” she says. “You expect me to slander myself?”

2. What is left of Michael Jordan when you take basketball out of the equation?

Eboni feels that outside of the game of basketball, there’s not much to be said of the legacy of Michael Jordan. One of Joe’s critiques about MJ has to do with his character and the way the legend treated his teammates. One such example was a season in which Pippen was earning a reported $2.8 million compared to Jordan’s $33 million. Joe says this is a vastly different scenario compared to players like LeBron, who helped get his teammates J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson paid. Remy feels that if Jordan became a star in this era, where “everything is so public,” his actions might have been different. “Everything is so easily accessible,” she explains. “Back then, you could hide a little bit more.”

3. A new normal is coming after all 50 states reopen

Slowly but surely, states are opening back up under the pressure of getting the economy up and running again. Joe actually missed the traffic and subsequent road rage that comes with driving in the Tri-state area. Eboni notes that “people can’t mistake the gentle reopening of the economy with it being safe.” Thankfully, there’s more testing available, but she says the safety measures still need to be taken because “health-wise, we’re in no better position than we were two months ago.” Jinx thinks its a shame that the economists and not scientists are making the decisions about when/how we reopen. “Its like a math equation,” he explains. “If you don’t do the s**t in the parenthesis first, you’re not going to get the right outcome at the end. We’re doing things out of order.” Remy understands people needing to get back to work and make money, but says the reality is that “none of that matters when you’re dead or really sick.” This, she says, is why it’s up to everyone individually to be smart.

4. The changing messages around COVID-19

Remy believes that like many illnesses that emerged over the last century like HIV and AIDS, COVID-19 may be one in which we may not find a cure, but simply a way to live with it. Jinx piggybacks on that point, noting that when HIV came about in the ‘80s and ‘90s, it was initially thought to be a disease that only affects gay men. “Once they found out it also hurt the people they loved, their celebs and people outside the gay community, they thought, ‘Oh s**t, we’ve got to fix it.’” He sees similarities with news reports saying African-American and elderly communities are most vulnerable to Coronavirus, and taking it less seriously as a result. “When you do that messaging, the caution changes,” he notes.

5. Remy questions the urgency to open the economy when folks are struggling to survive

Remy Ma makes a valid point that once businesses finally do open, there still may be a struggle to make money since millions of Americans are out of work and struggling. “Where are people getting the money to spend it at these places? No one has a job, money and businesses are suffering. It’s not adding up to me.” Jinx says that while she’s right to think about the welfare of people, “The people pulling the levers, the thing that’s most precedent is the economy.” Eboni notes that Trump’s refusal to close the economy down should a second wave hit is solely in the interest of his own political reputation. Jinx equates our society to a casino in that the government doesn’t care how you walk out of the place...they just want you to spend the money.

6. Jinx explains how Coronavirus has exposed America’s flawed system

Jinx makes a passionate argument for why the urgency Americans feel to get back to work is rooted in our philosophy that money reigns supreme. “We’re so conditioned to keep life as it is,” he explains. “The life we have as Americans is highly poisonous and not conducive to living long. [Someone can say] fire is raining down outside and people would still be like, ‘Maybe I can run to the bar real quick.’ We’re that addicted to a lifestyle that’s killing us, and the people running this country aren’t ignorant to that.” He cites a widely circulated statistic that revealed 40% of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency expense, and connects that to why people are so eager to go back outside.

7. Jinx makes the black excellence roll call

Jinx is part of our black excellence lineup this week after winning a Webby award for Best Music Podcast for “Mogul.” He humbly accepted the applause from his co-hosts while thanking “black people everywhere.”

8. DMX wants next in the Verzuz battles, but SOTC struggles to think of a fitting opponent

This week, it was announced that DMX threw his hat in the ring for a Verzuz battle. Eminem, Busta Rhymes, and JAY-Z were rumored contenders; but neither Jinx nor Remy believes either one of them is a fit. “I’d be happy if he just sat there and played his stuff,” says Remy. This one even stumped Joe, but says Eminem might be an interesting choice. “The more I thought [DMX vs. Eminem] it didn’t sound so bad,” he says. “I can’t think of a proper matchup for either one of those gentlemen. Maybe it makes sense that they just go at it together. But, not if Em plays all that extra white s**t.” Joe later changes his mind and puts DMX against 50 Cent. Jinx is especially excited to hear DMX in a battle just to get the untold stories of how some of his favorite songs came to be.

9. 50 Cent gets trolled, but gets even

Australian street artist Lushsux has been making a name for himself by painting unflattering murals of 50 Cent (dressed as Tekashi 6ix9ine and Taylor Swift, for instance) on the sides of buildings. Lushsux’s incessant trolling of 50 Cent led to him receiving a severe beatdown that some folks think was commissioned by the rapper himself. Joe has little sympathy for the artist, asking, “What did he think was going to happen?...50 Cent has been responding this way for 20 years now.” Eboni disagrees, saying the rapper shouldn’t be so sensitive to being trolled since he “talks more s**t than anybody.” Remy Ma doesn’t think 50 called for the artist to get a beatdown, and commented that he “needed his ass whooped” in jest. “Somebody thought they would get cool points for it,” she thinks. On the flip side, Remy says there’s a bigger trend with people thinking there’s no consequences for trolling famous people. “A lot of people run their mouth and expect nothing to ever happen to them.” Joe agrees, saying you should be cautious of what you say if you can’t fight.

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