TONE POLICING IN THE ERA OF ACAB: J. COLE SPARKS DEBATE WITH "SNOW ON THA BLUFF
Editor’s Note: Hey, I’m Arielle, the editor! In interest of not distracting from Black Lives Matter and the real, systemic issues that Black people face daily, I wanted to drop some resources at the top of this post. To learn about systemic racism, click here. If you’re interested in donating money to organizations fighting racism, click here. Thanks! Enjoy Calvin’s post below.
Everybody plays the fool. There is quite literally no exception to the rule.
And when you’re a millionaire Grammy-winning artist, there’s likely no one left in your life with enough gumption to tell you when you’re making an ass of yourself.
J. Cole is a lot of things, but on "Snow on tha Bluff" he’s a hot mess in desperate need of someone, anyone, to save him from himself.
Celebrities, they’re just like us!
J. COLE - SNOW ON THA BLUFF
With his first offering of 2020, J Cole has adopted a number of bad looks, including but not limited to:
1. False Modesty
Niggas be thinkin' I'm deep, intelligent, fooled by my college degree/ My IQ is average, there's a young lady out there, she way smarter than me
Like a boss starting out with compliments before settling into a scathing reprimand, this is a misdirection under the guise of objectivity. In Cole’s case, it’s an attempt to appear humble. But as Sarah Silverman taught us in We Are Miracles,
“We think self-deprecation is modesty. It's not, it's self-obsession.”
Calling yourself dumb while trying to make a point is an interesting tactic. It’s a way of saying ‘my point is so obvious that even a doofus like me can see it plainly.’
This argument is a staple of those who don’t know what they’re talking about and don’t want to think further on the subject.
2. Ignoring His Own Advice
Now I ain't no dummy to think I'm above criticism/ So when I see something that's valid, I listen/
We live in the Golden Age of People Telling On Themselves. The most frequent way people do this is through the rhetorical device: ‘I’m not ______, BUT’
In a truly staggering lack of self-awareness J Cole says he’s not above criticism while dismissing criticism with the very next thing he says.
And what is it about this criticism he dislikes, is it the substance of it?
3. Tone Policing
it's something about the queen tone that's botherin' me
As any high school debate coach will tell you, tone policing is an ad hominem. It’s an anti-debate tactic of attacking the person rather than the content of their argument.
Telling another adult that you don’t like their tone is about as weak as an argument can get. It’s an attempt to shut down a conversation and position the party offended by the tone as the person who is truly aggrieved.
Or put another way, “inflated accusations of harm are used to avoid accountability.”
4. Punching Down
Aside from everything else, what is really happening here is one of the biggest artists in the world writing a battle rap about a (previously) obscure, underground niche artist.
‘Cause his feelings got hurt by something she tweeted.
As Cole states in the song, he sees this as a shot at him:
She mad at the celebrities, lowkey I be thinkin' she talkin' 'bout me
And his response is to write a song that more or less says “Don’t be rude to me. Instead, cuddle me as you would a child and teach me what you know. Remember, you can’t hold me accountable cause I’m actually an idiot.”
Along with being a shit argument, this belittles the substantial societal good Cole has actually done.
We all need people in our lives to help us when we can’t get out of our own way. Celebrities are no different.
Calvin Paradise is not any one thing. The half-hearted vagabond and forgetful luddite currently resides in Los Angeles and how he spends his time is none of your damned business.