It gets very tiring to talk about the myriad ways in which white people blatantly appropriate Black culture. It's too much to talk about and there's not enough annoyance in the world to take offense to it all. But, sometimes, the idiocy reaches peak disrespect and a white child covers Fetty Wap's "Trap Queen" in a paean to the gods of whitewashing and, well, fuck that. Something has to be said.
Granted, Fetty Wap has transcended his initial audience and is now a burgeoning pop star, but that doesn't make his song about cooking cocaine with his girlfriend fair game. The power of the song is in already its juxtapositions—it's a love song steeped in culling a hard option from dire circumstances; it’s a manifestation of street level feminism replete with his and her Lamborghinis and coed trips to the strip club. Subjecting it to full-press hipster racism doesn't make any new observations. In fact, it takes away from them. When young George Dalton sings about making pies with his baby, he's talking about actual pies, not cooking crack, which is a huge poetic step backward. (Thankfully, he's not buying his boo an actual lamb.)
The most disastrous aspect of this whole affair is that it supports a far right anti-hip-hop argument that says that rap music is some sort of Trojan Horse for bringing down American Values™, as opposed to the implications of the original song, which serve as an indictment and fulfillment of the American Dream. Where Fetty takes what's available to him to pull himself up by his bootstraps, Dalton is simply introducing kids to desperate capitalism and escapist self-medication without any of the aspirational despair and melodic danger that makes "Trap Queen" resonate. One has to ask: Where are the parents here? But that's how white supremacy functions: If this were a Black child, it would ring as an indictment on the decaying structure of the Black family. But, because Dalton is white, it's "cute".
It seems that everyone involved in this travesty knows what the song is about and just doesn't care. This is disconcerting because that would mean that the orchestrators of this song and video are parroting Black culture without even taking the time to listen to the subtext, or even caring about what is being said. #BlackWordsMatter and ignoring them suggests that the Black dysfunction born of systemic racism is a source of entertainment, not a case for concern.
It's doubly troubling because—like the worst forms of cultural appropriation—it says that white America sees and hears Black people, but it doesn't see or hear Black people. The kinds of people who make and enjoy these videos tend to cherrypick the most hurtful and ratchet parts of the Black experience to champion and mimic, but discard the ingenuity while turning a blind eye to the conditions which make selling drugs, twerking, and rapping a more viable route to economic empowerment than entering the generally-approved job market. It takes race-fueled social inequity and tries to make it cute. And there's nothing cute about that.