Lil Wayne’s ‘Nightline’ Interview Let You Down, But How Much of That Is His Fault?


Lil Wayne | shot by Thaddaeus McAdams/FilmMagic with added editing by HTS


After Lil Wayne’s super controversial interview with Nightline on Wednesday came out, I was asked by Billboard if I had an opinion on Weezy vs Black Lives Matter and him essentially refusing to have an opinion or have a positive contribution to the issues of African Americans. I did.

Lil Wayne’s ‘Nightline’ Fail Shows Why Asking Celebrities For More Than What They Sell Leads To Disappointment

The article I wrote for them, in a way, is the younger brother of this piece I penned here on HTS about Michael Jordan speaking out against senseless police killings and donating a load of cash to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund months ago.

It’s Great That Michael Jordan Spoke Up, But He Did Not Owe You That

In short, there’s a great deal of expectation placed on celebrities to be more than who they are. To be a movie star and a social activist. Or a rapper and political hero. And though it’s fair to hope one might use their popularity to fight for a good outside of their own, it’s that faith and desire in celebs that leads to huge disappointment. Such is the case for Lil Wayne, who clearly wants no parts of being a “fucking politician,” as he said before ejecting himself from that Nightline interview.

For context, it’s best you watch both the Nightline interview and well as his sit-down with FS1’s sports show Undisputed. After you read my Billboard piece, I’d really be interested in your feedback. It’s clearly a touchy subject, but the kind that makes for great conversation if you’re up for it.


Solange and the Sounds of Blackness


A Seat at the Table album cover | shot by Carlota Guerrero c/o Columbia Records


Master P’s commentary is spread throughout Solange’s A Seat at the Table album. “If you don’t understand us and understand what we’ve been through,” the entrepreneur and No Limit general proclaims at the set’s halfway mark, “then you probably wouldn’t understand what this moment is about.”

Table is Solange’s moment to happily be exclusionary, because being Black is a hard, particularly lonely experience and that’s what Table is about. As is said verbatim on its “F.U.B.U.,” “this shit is for us” and that goes for our struggles and the set’s 51 minutes. It’s basically the album’s mission statement.

On “Don’t Touch My Hair,” what some might see as a triviality becomes a loaded issue. “Don’t touch my hair/ When it’s the feelings I wear,” she both orders and explains. “Don’t touch my soul/ When it’s the rhythm I know/ Don’t touch my crown/ They say the vision I’ve found.”

Solange’s voice is lithe and nimble, but her lyrics speak loudly to familiar troubles. On “Cranes in the Sky,” she sings of trying to drink, sex and spend away the ongoing pain she’s experiencing as a Black woman. “I ran my credit card bill up/ Thought a new dress would make it better,” she explains. “I tried to work it away/ But that just made me even sadder.”

A Seat at the Table feels like Solange is huddling a bunch of like-minded, like-skinned individuals and talking to us (Hi, reader. I’m Black) specifically.  On “F.U.B.U.” she hopes her teen son will play the song loud enough to make his walls rattle because it encourages Black pride and his kind is growing up in a world where Trayvon Martin-like tragedies eerily happen too often.

Alton Sterling and The Talk

What I like so much about Table is that it’s quiet and elegant, like Mom or your homegirl is talking to you with love and care. It’s not aggressive. There’s no stirring, crowd-rowdying “Fight the Power”-esque anthem. Just conversations that galvanize a hurt and wronged “Us.”

I’ve seen some criticize Table for its lack of originality. Solange isn’t talking about anything that hasn’t been said ad nauseam. And that’s true to a point. She ain’t the first sister to talk about her hair before. Nor is she the first Black person to talk about the anxiety of driving with brown skin.


But each artist’s perspective is unique. I appreciate Solange’s tender, mellow soul. Shout out to Raphael Saadiq for putting his foot in a chunk of the groovy productions. Table is the answer to “Why am I angry?” and “What am I sick and tired of?” We’ve spent a lot of time reacting with screams and tears. Now it’s time to sit and talk this out.

There’s a fearlessness and a commendable level of vulnerability that comes with the ability to say, “I’m scared, just like you. It’s okay. We’ll get through it to together.” as Solange expresses through 21 tracks. Like church and a hearty Sunday dinner, Table’s comforting.

It’s no wonder that Kendrick Lamar loves Solange’s latest so much that he shared it with his Twitter followers. In 2015 his To Pimp a Butterfly spoke to the same despair Table does. Kind of like TPAB’s most popular cut, listening to Table makes me feel like “we gon’ be alright.”

It’s Great That Michael Jordan Spoke Up, But He Did Not Owe You That


Celebrities don’t owe you anything past whatever made them famous. This weekend, when I go see the new Jason Bourne at the movies, lead actor Matt Damon will owe me a great performance. When I see the Saint Pablo tour this fall, Kanye West will owe me a dynamic concert. I invest time and money in you, you owe me a good job. That’s how it works.

That said, let’s talk about Michael Jordan, who recently released an impassioned statement about the rampant shootings of African Americans by police officers and the social unrest that comes with it.

“I can no longer stay silent,” he says before expressing disappointment about our nation’s inability to “find solutions that ensure people of color receive fair and equal treatment AND that police officers – who put their lives on the line every day to protect us all – are respected and supported.” He put a load of money behind his words and writes that he’s split $2 million and donated it to the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s newly established Institute for Community-Police Relations and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

That “silent” part is arguably (and unfortunately) the most noteworthy of the statement, because, to many, Jordan has skipped several chances to talk about social issues during his more than 30 years in the limelight as a star athlete. Unlike other Black sports icons like Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Jordan was quiet.

He’s infamous for allegedly responding, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” when asked to support North Carolina democrat Harvey Gantt for a seat on the Senate in the early ‘90s (his reps have denied this vehemently), thus beginning the storyline of a businessman so shrewd that he’d ignore issues bigger than basketball for the sake Air Jordan sales.

I get it: That’s a bad look. While Jordan paired with Gatorade and campaigned for us to be “Like Mike,” others bristled at the thought and wished he’d be like Ali.

Yes, it’d be nice if he was. However, the discussion ends there. It would have been nice and impactful. But Michael Jordan did not owe anyone that. There are arguments, sure, to be made about whether his moral compass should have guided Michael—a man that was easily one of the top five most famous people on Earth during his heyday—to use his platform to make the lives of people less fortunate (his people) better. Like Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” True.

But understanding that being Spiderman means that you’ll likely get your ass kicked on a nightly basis, would you fault Peter Parker if he just said, “Fuck this shit” and quit the hero game? It’s both silly and easy to be an armchair general and say what you’d do if given the same opportunities as Michael Jordan or any marquee figure. Would you have had the balls to raise the Black Power fist at the podium like Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico? Would you have refused to enlist in the army like Muhammad Ali did for the Vietnam War and lose years from your career to serve time in jail? Would you risk movie roles or mega advertising dollars to stand up with the #BlackLivesMatter movement? Maybe? Definitely? Hopefully. But I wouldn’t fault someone who answered “No.” That takes a unique type of courage. Even current NBA star Carmelo Anthony said “it’s about time” Michael spoke out.


Also, it’s terrible to diminish the philanthropic efforts of a man of means, because it doesn’t benefit the specific issue or cause you want them to support. What’s wrong with Jordan donating millions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, like he has? What about him being the majority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats and the organization always having a Black president under his watch (currently Fred Whitfield)? And his Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament has raised millions for several charities. What about that? Still, social media timelines and sports pundits alike became cynics when Jordan broke his “silence.” Some said he’s too late. Others clowned and wondered if it was more of a business move than a show of humanity.

I’ll admit that I laughed at that one. But my point remains: Michael Jordan doesn’t owe us shit. He’s not a member of a government office or some pseudo freedom fighter. Those people are out there. Count on them in these moments of brutal racial injustice.


When Michael Jordan was a player and we watched in hopes of being awed, he owed you savage dunks and artful fade-away jumpers. Lock-down defense. If your pockets are deep enough, he still owes you sneakers that are so gorgeous and heralded that they make you feel you’re as fly as His Airness himself was then.

Alton Sterling & The Talk

But to be an outspoken leader and political advocate for African Americans whose impact was as great as it was when he hooped on the court? No. He didn’t. Never did. He still doesn’t. So instead of criticizing him for responsibilities he never accepted, let’s just appreciate that he’s here now. He did something extra good.

Alton Sterling and The Talk

Do white fathers or elders have “The Talk” with their younger ones? Not The Birds & The Bees.  The talk about how to handle yourself in a world designed to oppress you. The “You have to be twice as good as them and triply as humble” talk. The tutorial on how to act when you’re around them in close quarter situations. “The police might not always be on your side” talk.

Nah, right?

What’s it like to be a Black teen and grow up in a world where footage of real black men being wrongly shot and killed by policemen is sandwiched between sneaker release tweets and NBA highlights your Instagram timeline? I’ll have to ask my brother soon. He’s in high school now, months away from turning 16. Does he see how the police and justice system treats and conditions us?

I feel bad saying this, but nowadays I have an unfortunate thought when a Trayvon or Eric or Sandra or an Alton happens:

What did the victim do wrong? Not what did the criminal policeman do! The victim should have known better than to trifle with a white cop. Did they talk back? Did they resist? Didn’t they know the game’s rigged? Once they’ve got you in their sight, in their clutches, on their minds even, it’s time to get “Yes, Sir”-“No, Sir” respectful. Hands up, knees down subdued. You might make it out alive. Maybe. Did they know? I assume No.

That’s terrible.

When the odds aren’t in your favor, the goals shift. Instead of winning (being in a world where cops see more Wrong and Right than Black and White), you pray that you’ll simply survive (live through the grim reality that officers might kill you, so be subservient and hollow yourself of pride). It’s a shame.

I want to say something resolute. Something defiant. Uplifting. I’ll always be a proud Black man. I’d never trade places with another. But it’s not a fun day to be one of us.