Rapper J Cole has joined the conversation about racial inequality and ongoing protests sparked by violence against Black Americans after a fellow artist questioned why rappers weren’t weighing in on the timely issues.
Cole released the song ‘Snow on Tha Bluff’ on Tuesday night, following rapper Noname’s criticism on Twitter that “top selling rappers” have been silent about growing tensions.
“Poor black folks all over the country are putting their bodies on the line in protest for our collective safety and y’all favorite top selling rappers not even willing to put a tweet up,” Noname wrote in May in a tweet she has since deleted. She noted that those rappers’ “whole discographies be about black plight and they no where to be found.”
Taking its title from the 2012 film ‘Snow on Tha Bluff,’ Cole’s new song addresses his struggle with wanting to speak up while worrying that he’s not doing enough. It also spends a fair amount of time pushing back on Noname’s public plea for rappers to voice their opinions.
“My IQ is average / There’s a young lady out there she way smarter than me,” he begins the song without ever naming Noname directly. “She mad at celebrities / Low key I be thinking she talking ‘bout me.”
“Now I ain’t no dummy to think I’m above criticism / So when I see something that’s valid, I listen,” he raps, before nothing that “something about the queen tone that’s bothering me.”
“Instead of conveying you holier / Come help us get up to speed,” he adds.
In the final words of the rap, before the song fades out with singing, Cole wonders if he is effectively using his platform: “Why I feel faker than ‘Snow on Tha Bluff’? / Well, maybe cuz deep down I know I ain’t doing enough.”
Cole took to Twitter Wednesday morning to defend his latest work.
“I stand behind every word of the song that dropped last night. Right or wrong I can’t say, but I can say it was honest,” he wrote.
“Some assume to know who the song is about. That’s fine with me, it’s not my job to tell anybody what to think or feel about the work,” he added, but then encouraged fans to follow Noname on Twitter.
“I love and honor her as a leader in these times. She has done and is doing the reading and the listening and the learning on the path that she truly believes is the correct one for our people,” he wrote in another tweet. “Meanwhile a [rapper] like me just be rapping.”
Noname hasn’t responded publicly to the song, aside from a since-deleted tweet that referenced a particular lyric: “Queen tone!!!!!!”
When asked for his thoughts, Chance the Rapper noted the difference in how Cole and Noname have handled the situation.
“They both my peoples but only one of them put out a whole song talking about how the other needs to reconsider their tone and attitude in order to save the world,” Chance wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
“It’s not constructive and undermines all the work Noname has done. It’s not [Black women’s] job to spoon feed us. We grown.”