Yo yo yo what’s the haps cool cats? Y’all ready for the 411? Cuz dawg do I got a dope joint for you!
Okay, I’m just going to stop there now because I don’t want to get fired.
Anyway, I’m not sure if you heard of a particularly famous Oscar-winning actor who goes by the name of Daniel Day-Lewis. If not, let me refresh your memory. He recently won the Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in… well… Lincoln. Also, he likes to drink your milkshake:
So first things first: I’m not much of a hip-hop connoisseur, but I like to believe that I know my way around the block. I really like the underground scene, and not in that hipster way. I love artists that vary from Binary Star to Nujabes, because their music is all about the music itself, and not the formulaic money-making singles. So I have to hand it to Gabe Day because on a technical level, it’s pretty decent. His sense of flow and tone of voice is indeed head nod-worthy. The problem here, at least the problem that I see others having with this ordeal, is how he comes from an extremely privileged position and status. There’s this notion that rap comes from a background of suffering, and which for the most part, is true. Most MCs (at least the good ones) usually rap about how hard their lives were. In an existence rife poverty, crime, and the ugliness of human nature, the only thing they have to claim is their words and wit.
So here comes Gabe Day, dipping his toes in to the ocean of beats and rhymes. He’s a rich kid that goes to a rich school because his dad is rich and famous, so what does he have to rap about? Well for one, he loves his pot. This is nothing new, for people like Wiz Khalifa has made a career out of it. Not exactly ground-breaking, but hey, it’s not out of place.
One verse that sticks out is when he said this:
Call me Gabe Day, and Not Gabe Day-Lewis, because if you try to call me out I will Gabe Day-Lose it. Bitch, I know what my name is, and shit I know what fame is, Judging someone for their dad, is just as bad, as being racist…
Well, I can see why people would rage at this quote, but let’s examine the situation. It is fair to say he’s being a bit hyperbolic here, because while growing up in the shadow of your father is a depressing scenario, it is NOT comparable to suffering through repeated instances of injustice and abuse fueled by racism. Making that kind of comparison is insulting to some degree.
Having said that, there are still some legitimate tribulations faced by children of celebrities. I can only imagine what it would be like for people to have a certain fantastic expectation of you, even though those expectations don’t match who you really are. Feelings of pressure and loneliness are universally relatable, regardless of economic status. People have always imposed an identity on him through the shadow of his father. Living in this shadow has turned him pale, and now he wants to let everyone he’s not a ghost.
He also talks about his struggle with him being bipolar and how it drove him towards a dark path of drugs. However, it seems like he has some kind of pride in his disorder. This is evident when he said:
I find out that I’m bipolar now I wear it like a badge, even when I’m sad, it’s the most personifying trait that I could have.
This is an interesting verse, because it almost serves as a compelling struggle that he has to endure. The problem he has in dealing with his emotions is a legitimate conflict. However, claiming this disorder as a positive personal trait is only something a person in his situation would say. The truth is, many people who are in a less privileged position and have this disorder don’t see it as a badge. Many people without his means view their bipolar disorder an emotionally-demanding cross to bear. In fact, many people with bipolar disorder don’t see it as something to flaunt, but something they strive to overcome. I could only imagine would difficult it is to live with such a disorder without the resources to receive the best treatment. I understand the degree of poetry he is trying to achieve, but claiming a kind of pride in a problem that many people with this diagnosis would rather not have creates a huge distance between Day and his audience. Talking about the struggle with his emotions has the potential to be extremely compelling material, but perhaps mixing this in with his unique existential crisis wasn’t a great move. I believe his heart was in the right place, though the message seems a bit confused.
All this being said, hating on someone because he wants to genuinely express himself is unfair. Even though he comes from a very privileged position, and has that kind of distance between him and the rest of the common folk, an existential crisis is something that is universal across all social and economic statuses. People seem to forget that rap actually stands for Rhythm and Poetry, and poetry is something that everyone has the right to write.
So fellow OOUies, what your thoughts? Whatever they are, comment below and let One of Us know!