I thought of my distaste for thug lovin' when I saw the video for 50 Cent's "21 Questions," and witnessed the beautiful Meagan Goode (of Eve's Bayou and Biker Boyz fame) play the role of the "ride or die chick" and all I could do is shake my head. Playing the "ride or die chick" in a biker movie is a far cry from playing one the way thug lovers play it. But since so many women claim they want "bad boys" and some of y'all actually enjoyed hearing ole crazy Bobby Brown singin' how we missed his "lovin', huggin' and thug lovin'", I decided that I had no choice but to give my own answers to "21 Questions", since 50 Cent seems so sincere in asking them.
21 Answers to Thug Lovin': A Conversation with 50 Cent
By Goddess Oya (June 3rd, 2003)
When I first heard 50 Cent's "21 Questions," I heard some sweetness and kept trying to remind myself to get the lyrics cause I ain't have the album. I heard, repeatedly, how 50 Cent had been shot nine times and wondered how many times these cats had listened to the nursery rhymes that told them they had nine lives. More importantly, I immediately assumed it was over drugs or over some gangbanging mess, which is usually over drugs. That was confirmed when I read an interview where 50 said he used to be a drug dealer. Okay, so that's just a long line of peeps who sold drugs before they became rap stars (Jay Z, Biggie, Juvenile and Snoop immediately come to mind), called rapping their "new hustle" and then went on to keep committing acts of "mentacide" against our community, while White suburban kids suck it up as an exotic fantasy that they like rockin' in their cars as they skirt across pristine campuses. Okay, maybe a few of them sell some acid to their friends but, let's get real, you know the deal.
Ja Rule and Ashanti have been holdin' it down recently as the promoters of "thug lovin'" but I still haven't forgotten Nas' atrocious contribution in the name of "Oochie Wally." I hope "God's Son" knows that the same kids that listen to "I Know I Can" also heard that last song. You're confusin' the kids, son. These latest rappers of thug lovin' must really believe that theirs is on the same level of Mary J. Blige and Method Man's "All I Need" but I'm here to tell you that it ain't. This thug lovin' is usually tremendously one-sided with women proclaiming how they are going to be "ride or die chicks" for their man, trust, love and die for them while the men talk about how they'll treat them right and, at least, make sure they feel like they are number one, especially since there are other women on the side that they take care of as well (see "Excuse Me Miss: Why Jay Z And Beyonce Broke Up---Or Should). Thug lovin' means still getting called a bitch or a hoe, maybe getting slapped around a bit and definitely having rough sex but the rewards are going to concerts, hanging out in VIP sections at clubs (maybe), having glasses of alcohol and, of course, getting your hair, 'nails and feet did'---maybe at his expense. More than likely, you won't be getting a house or any substantial wardrobe, land or a vehicle because that's way too much investment for the Thug. Remember, the thug won't be living long so you have to live it up while you can.
I thought of my distaste for thug lovin' when I saw the video for 50 Cent's "21 Questions," and witnessed the beautiful Meagan Goode (of Eve's Bayou and Biker Boyz fame) play the role of the "ride or die chick" and all I could do is shake my head. Playing the "ride or die chick" in a biker movie is a far cry from playing one the way thug lovers play it. But since so many women claim they want "bad boys" and some of y'all actually enjoyed hearing ole crazy Bobby Brown singin' how we missed his "lovin', huggin' and thug lovin'", I decided that I had no choice but to give my own answers to "21 Questions", since 50 Cent seems so sincere in asking them. And, now that I saw the video, I'm gonna have to use that context since that's what he gave me to work with.
To recap, the video begins with the cops gathered outside of 50 and Meagan's house (probably 50's), with lights glaring up in their windows, flashing sirens swirling a code red across their building and somebody with a megaphone undoubtedly yelling up directions. They know that in the next few minutes, somebody will be bursting through the door, so they both jump up, grab armfuls of money and try to shove it down a small hiding place underneath a wooden panel in the floor. We see the cops bust in the door with their doorbuster that has "knock knock" written on it and then the screen freezes. 50 Cent has a look on his face while looking at his girl and he begins to ask her "21 Questions" because he's wondering about her commitment. The next thing you know, we see him in a possible (and highly likely) scenario of getting arrested, going to prison, her visiting him in prison and then him reminiscing about them being cuddled up back at home. So, that's where the questions and the answers begin.
[50 Cent] New York City! You are now rapping...with 50 Cent. You gotta love it...
I just wanna chill and **** a lot
Catch suns in my 7-45 You drive me crazy shorty I
[Goddess Oya] You drive me crazy, too boo . . .
[50 Cent] Need to see you and feel you next to me
[Goddess Oya] I feel the same way baby...
[50 Cent] I provide everything you need and I
[Goddess Oya] Well, I do work, sweetie . . . I contribute something, don’t I? Because I love you and want us to have a future.
[50 Cent] Like your smile I don't wanna see you cry
[Goddess Oya] Me neither. Thanks, honey.
[50 Cent] Got some questions that I got to ask and I Hope you can come up with the answers babe
[Goddess Oya] I think I can do that for you, twinkle toes.
[Nate Dogg] Girl...It's easy to love me now
Nate Dogg! Whatcu doin' here?!! I ain't know you was comin' over, y'all so crazy...
[50 Cent] Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me?
[Goddess Oya] You talkin' bout my baby, 50, right?
[50 Cent] Girl...It's easy to love me now. Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me? Girl...
[Goddess Oya] Nate, we cool and all but I'm wit' 50, so, ummm . . .
What's that, baby? He was just singing for you like those brothers who write love poems for other brothers in prison to send to their girls? Oh, okay, okay, cool. My bad. Yeah, 50, you know I'll be there for you! I done told you. We cool like that, we down like that!
[50 Cent] If I fell off tomorrow would you still love me?
[Goddess Oya] Of course I would love you. But you know, there's all kinds of love. You got a backup plan? I don't really care about TRL, babe.
[50 Cent] If I didn't smell so good would you still hug me?
[Goddess Oya] Umm, nah, boo. I would tell you to get in the shower and then we could hug as long as you want. Unless it was like an emergency or sumthin'.
[50 Cent] If I got locked up and sentenced to a quarter century, Could I count on you to be there to support me mentally?
[Goddess Oya] Umm, okay, wait. Hold up. A quarter century. That's 25 years, right? Damn, 50, I'm only 22. You want me to be there for you until I'm 47 years old? I don't know about alla that. I mean, if you wanted to be pen pals or sumthin', that's cool but I got dreams and goals, babe. If I wait for you, I can't have no kids, no family, plus you want want to keep callin' my house collect. Naw, boo.
[50 Cent] If I went back to a hoopty from a Benz, would you poof and disappear like some of my friends?
[Goddess Oya] Probably not but we would have to go to a financial counselor cause you can't keep messin' up our resources like that. I mean, a Benz is one thing but what about our home? You tryin' to have the neighbors laughin' at us or sumthin'? Besides, they wasn't your friends. I told you that earlier when they was callin' me a bitch just cause you wanted to hang out with me more than them. I guess they never heard New Edition's "Cool It Now."
[50 Cent] If I was hit and I was hurt would you be by my side?
[Goddess Oya] Yeah, I would. I ain't shallow, boo. Will you still be able to get it up?
[50 Cent] If it was time to put in work would you be down to ride?
[Goddess Oya] Whatchu mean, exactly? I already work a 9 to 5, whatchu want?
[50 Cent] I'd get out and peel a nigga cap and chill and drive
I'm asking questions to find out how you feel inside
[Goddess Oya] Oh my God! You want me to be an accomplice to murder? Murder most foul?! I'on't know about all that. Did he do something to our family or something? I mean, if we had kids I would bust a cap in somebody's ass for hurtin' them or sumthin' but whatchu mean, babe?!
[50 Cent] If I ain't rap 'cause I flipped burgers at Burger King would you be ashamed to tell your friends you feelin' me?
[Goddess Oya] Not if we was still 15 years old but ain't you like 28?
[50 Cent] In bed if I used to my tongue, would you like that?
[Goddess Oya] Of course! Like ya girl, Lil' Kim said, "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a oooh, oooooohhh?"
[50 Cent] If I wrote you a love letter would you write back?
[Goddess Oya] Yep. "Dear 50 Cent, what's your real name? I'm just askin' cause yellin' out "oh fifty!" in bed ain't that romantic."
[50 Cent] Now we can have a lil' drink? You know, a nightcap
[Goddess Oya] Yeah but I don't like Alize or Cristal. Ummm . . . Pass me that mango ginger teabag, please. Want some?
[50 Cent] And we could go do what you like, I know you like that
[Goddess Oya] Hell yeah, baby! Damn! Your tattoo is big as hell, boo! Mmmm, I love the muscles in your back . . . <<sigh>>
[Nate Dogg] Girl...It's easy to love me now Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me? Girl...It's easy to love me now (Woo!) Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me? Girl...
[Goddess Oya] Nate, I done told you . . . oh, I mean, yeah, 50, I would be there for you, babe . . .
[50 Cent] Now would you leave me if your father found out I was thuggin'?
[Goddess Oya] No, I would probably sneak out the house like Tisha Campbell was doin' in "House Party" but my daddy ain't gon' let me just keep hangin' out with you if you ain't gon' do nuthin' besides sell drugs. And I ain't tryin' to get sent up for 25 years for you puttin' stuff in my purse, either, so you got a choice to make, babe. Thuggin' ain't the only way. Besides, the real thugs are in the White House. Whatchu gon' do about them?
[50 Cent] Do you believe me when I tell you, you the one I'm loving?
[Goddess Oya] I'm not sure… cause you was just sayin' the same thing to Missy Elliott and Lil' Kim but whatever. You say she's just a friend, you say she's just a friend…
[50 Cent] Are you mad 'cause I'm asking you 21 questions?
[Goddess Oya] No. Are you mad 'cause I'm giving you 21 answers?
[50 Cent] Are you my soulmate? 'Cause if so, girl you're a blessing
[Goddess Oya] Maybe. Thanks, babe.
[50 Cent] Do you trust me enough, to tell me your dreams?
[Goddess Oya] Yeah. I had a dream that you changed your lifestyle and stopped being a thug, like that's all life has to offer.
[50 Cent] I'm staring at ya' trying to figure how you got in them jeans
[Goddess Oya] One leg at a time, babe. But I know what you mean. Remember how Missy was like "see my hips and my ass, don'tcha?" I love that song!
[50 Cent] If I was down would you say things to make me smile?
[Goddess Oya] Yeah, but my name ain't Steve Harvey either.
[50 Cent] I treat you how you want to be treated just teach me how
[Goddess Oya] Damn, you don't know by now?
[50 Cent] If I was with some other chick and someone happened to see, and when you asked me about it I said it wasn't me. Would you believe me? Or up and leave me?
[Goddess Oya] I would know you watched Eddie Murphy's "Raw" one too many times or you was listenin' to Shaggy an'nem be like "it wasn't me." Either way, I would know you were lying and yeah, I'd be out, motherfucker.
[50 Cent] How deep is our bond if that's all it takes for you to be gone?
[Goddess Oya] As deep as it was for you to be with that other chick and then lie to my face about it when I asked.
[50 Cent] And always remember girl we make mistakes, to make it up I do whatever it takes
[Goddess Oya] Oh alright, well, when I finish cashing in my "get wild free" card, we can come back and settle our debts with each other and have that good make up sex. It's always the best, ain't it? But too much of that shit will have you all bent up.
[50 Cent] I love you like a fat kid love cake.
[Goddess Oya] Yum!
[50 Cent] You know my style I say anything to make you smile
[Goddess Oya] That line is funny as hell, boo. But that's just a lusty kind of obsession to satisfy for the moment. You got sumthin' deeper than that? Or is that why you was with that other chick to begin with?
[Nate Dogg] Girl...It's easy to love me now. Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me? Girl...It's easy to love me now Would you love me if I was down and out? Would you still have love for me? Girl...
[Goddess Oya] Yeah, yeah, yeah . . .
[50 Cent] Could you love me in a Bentley?
[Goddess Oya] Hell yeah, just as long as your peeps don't rob us cause you like to style and profile in the 'hood when you know good and well these people don't make even a quarter of how much a Bentley costs even if they worked everyday for a year. That's messed up, babe. Why you wanna rub it in their face?
[50 Cent] Could you love me on a bus?
[Goddess Oya] Of course. I loved you when we both ain't have nuthin'. Are you gon' get rich or die tryin' and then leave me for another woman or just give up and die, leaving me a widow with our kids or what?
[50 Cent] I'll ask 21 questions, and they all about us
[Goddess Oya] Well, who else would they be about?
[50 Cent] Could you love me in a Bentley?
[Goddess Oya] Are you gonna lose it like you did the Benz?
[50 Cent] Could you love me on a bus?
[Goddess Oya] Did you hear me the first time, sweetie?
[50 Cent] I'll ask 21 questions, and they all about us.
[Goddess Oya] Alright, alright. Well, you got your answers . . . now what?
Now, the reality is that throughout the video, Meagan Goode is just shakin’ her head, “yes” to every question showing her endless dedication to visiting her man in jail for the next twenty five years, being an accomplice in the murder of another brother or allowing herself to be cheated on so they could have make up sex and drive in a Bentley later on. So now that we got 21 questions and 21 answers, here are 21 thoughts I want you to ponder, especially if you celebrate this kind of “love.”
Thug Lovin’ is . . .
1. Temporary and unrealistic – what kind of future does this provide?
2. Violent because thugs must show they will “ride” to their deaths
3. Sexist and Misogynistic – the disregard, devaluation and disrespect or hatred of women
4. Dysfunctional – you cannot build a wholesome, loving and mutually beneficial relationship for men or women celebrating it
5. Not Agape Love - Love that is spiritual, not sexual, in its nature.
6. Cute until you gotta call the police and get a restraining order on him.
7. Narcissistic - Excessive love or admiration of oneself; A psychological condition characterized by self-preoccupation, lack of empathy, and unconscious deficits in self-esteem.
8. Hedonistic - The doctrine holding that behavior is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
9. Incredibly selfish – thugs love the idea of themselves.
10. Stupid- thugs like these usually end up in jail or dead.
11. Something that’ll get you stabbed, shot or hurt in some other way.
12. Absent any vision for the future like a mortgage plan or retirement.
13. Conspicuous consumption – buying things to flaunt how wealthy you think you are to the public (like Bentley’s, ice, tennis shoes & jewels).
14. Absent any commitment to kids or family – thugs don’t really care.
15. Ahistorical – When our ancestors were forbidden from professing their love through marriage because they were slaves, they created their own traditions based on African ones and “jumped the broom” to celebrate their love no matter what “master” told them to do or not do.
16. Absent any commitment to uplifting community because that’s what “squares” do and why would anyone want to live in a world that isn’t dominated by thugs who sell drugs and pimp women?
17. Something that’s currently feeding the prison industrial complex and warehousing Black and Latino men and women at enormous rates, making the number of two million in prison the highest in the world.
18. Something that stupid women hold onto as a sign of “protection”.
19. Something that stupid men hold onto as a sign of “strength”.
20. One reason why Biggie and Tupac are dead.
21. FRONTIN’ – The reality is that no human being just wants sex, drugs or cash. And especially not us.
The truth of the matter is that we want to be loved. Even 50 Cent says “I want ‘em to love me like they loved ‘Pac’ ”. But we loved Pac because he was a conflicted soul that represented the war of Armageddon going on inside of our own minds. Sometimes he was for the Black freedom struggle ("Changes") and sometimes he was the antithesis of it ("America’s Most Wanted"). Sometimes he was for Black women ("Keep Ya Head Up") and the next thing you know, we were all groupie bitches that just wanted him for sex or money ("I Get Around"). But I know that Tupac wanted to be loved and he knows that somebody did love him ("Dear Mama").
What I hear so many of us saying is how much we wanted our mothers to have enough money to feed, clothe and house us. We wanted our fathers to be around or more involved in our lives. We wanted to get out of the projects. Or be able to get something fixed in our homes. We wanted White people to stop patronizing us and following us around in stores. We wanted to have healthy and wholesome lives. We all have hopes and dreams; but I don’t believe these same people who are promoting “thug lovin” live this reality. Ja-Rule, Bobby Brown, 50, Jay-Z, none of these cats really want that. Ja has a safe, stable home with his wife and children and he openly proclaims his love for his mother and their strong relationship. He would not dare call his mother a “bitch” or think it was okay for his mom to visit him in jail for 25 years just because he wanted to be a “thug.” Bobby Brown may be on drugs but he still says he loves Whitney from the bottom of his heart. And we know he was at least lovin’ five other women before her.
Jay Z may be a bit shallow and have a lot of issues but his latest album shows some of his growth and maturity. Maybe his relationship with Beyonce has changed him and he can now recognize women as human beings who have hopes, dreams, disappointments, and feelings too. In his “Excuse Me, Miss” video, he presents a loving family home---even if he does feel the need to show off his “bling, bling,”---he’s in a silk robe and they are chillin’ havin’ breakfast in the crib. He told yall you gotta get your "Scooby Doos" for that song and he ain’t tryin’ to play the thug while he has those shoes on. 50 Cent can’t lie and say he wasn’t thinking about his mother or a special woman in his life when he got shot nine times -maybe that’s why he wrote 21 questions [Notice he doesn’t mention any woman being there for him in the hospital after getting shot]. I guess that’s not thug enough to talk about the aftermath when you have tubes shoved down your throat and you are lying on a hospital bed in a cold sweat.
And even though women like Lil’ Kim, Trina, Foxy Brown, Eve & Alicia Keyes (even to the point of singing about “Gangsta Lovin”) say they like this stuff, I could run down the truth factor on them too. Ain’t none of these women tryin’ to wait on a brother for twenty five years of their young lives or to get beat on or cheated on for the rest of their lives, etc.
So, when it comes down to it, all of these cats promoting “Thug Lovin’” are just “Thug Lyin’” and if ya'll don’t mind, we would like for you to stop. Maybe it’s time for you to ask some new questions and provide some new answers that promote a vision for how we can live better lives.
Originally appeared in Playahata.