The Hollow Times

Mainstream Miscellany: Rae Sremmurd “Black Beatles”

By Regina Carlisle

So, my Head Editor suggested that I actually discuss art and culture more relevant to today’s mainstream youth. Her disembodied voice said it would make the paper more relevant. We could even spread our influence to the next county.

black-beatlesI asked her what she considered relevant to today’s youth culture and after a prolonged humming session, she said, “Why not music?”

So why not music?

I purchased a pair of headphones from a peddling skeleton on Grimm Road and set down to work finding out what the kids were listening to. After a few google searches, I came across the “Hot 100” list.  At the top of the charts was this little ditty known as “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd.

First, I would like to say that it’s a good thing that this is print medium because I would botch the name utterly. What would be the phonetic pronunciation of  “Sr” be anyway? Would it be like a “slur” or more like “senior?” In the video is had more of a “sch” sound which doesn’t make sense to me.

My immediate impression of the song:

I just stepped into a new wave party, didn’t I? There’s the telltale synth chord. Can I expect the Joy Division to make an appearance?

No, wait. I’m about to engage in a boss battle. I hold up my fist as I wait for the music to kick into high gear.

But as I continued to listen, I found myself listening to one of the bleakest rap songs about money and bitches.

I should perhaps clarify. It wasn’t bleak in the lyrical sense. The rappers seem really content with their lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want to be financially secure at a young age (“Young bull livin like an old geezer”) and using a dividend of those proceeds for charity (“There’s so much money on the floor we’re buying school clothes”).

But the music itself feels really heavy. There’s a serious downbeat that never lifts itself from its quagmire. I like it. It makes me think about the duality of expression and the grime beneath material things. Just the things I appreciate in any standard pop song and I’m glad that the rest of these United States shares my taste.

But there’s also the  title of the song: “Black Beatles.”  I’ve been told that it’s supposed to be an allusion to The Beatles which was one of the major rock bands in the last century. There’s several references to the band through name calling some of its members like “Rockin John Lennon glasses” and how the rapper “me and Paul McCartney are related.”  It also talks heavily about the glamor associated with fame and, more specifically, rock stardom.  To me, this song is more about Rae Sremmurd’s legion of fangirls. He talks about frat girls, rich hos, broke hos, strippers on poles and an interesting character with green hair that the singer describes as “a real weirdo.” I would actually like to be friends with the latter.

HU043827But it could be argued that even the reference to the rapper’s many fangirls is one to the Beatles. The fanaticism the Beatles brought from England to America is well documented. The disease was called “Beatlemania” and many of a young girl fell victim to it. My great aunt was among the afflicted and she has never quite recovered.

I do have one major qualm with the song. I’ve watched the video repeatedly and their brandishing guitars. And yet, there wasn’t even a strum of a guitar sound in the song. I don’t like being misdirected so.



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