The Worst Record


I was almost tempted just to post the picture. Ghetto. How could I say it better than this. But the journalist in me feels  the need to report the whole story…. This picture was included in a press release (guinnessrecordliljon.pdf) announcing that Lil’ Jon has set a Guiness World Record for the “Biggest Bling”. Ghetto. I’m serious. My press credentials (why this release came by my desk) could not make this insanity up. It seems the monstrosity around Lil’ Jon’s neck, pulling him and all of us down, has set a record for the world’s “largest diamond pendent”. Ghetto.

“Guinness World Records is pleased to recognize Lil Jon as a new member of our recordbreaking family,” said Alistair Richards, Guinness World Records Managing Director. “We congratulate him on his remarkable achievement in setting the record for the Largest Pendant.”

Valued at $500,000 the pendant weighs in at 5.11 pounds standing 7.5 inches tall, 6 inches wide with a total of 73 carats of diamonds set in 18-karat yellow and white gold uncreatively crafted by jeweler Jason of Beverly Hills.

“I spent a load of money on that chain. I had no idea I would break a record and be recognized for it,” said Lil’ Jon. “It’s an honor to be included on that list. Let’s just see how many rappers try to outdo my pendant and break my record.”

Ghetto! Did you hear me? Ghetto!

Welcome to GhettoNation. You are looking at it. This is an illustration of a mindset that embraces the worst. I wonder if the self proclaimed King of Crunk’s parents – an engineer and a member of the Army reserves – had bling breaking in their dreams for their Lil’ Jon. I am crossing my fingers in hopes that they didn’t.

As a Black woman I am simply ashamed. There is no other word to describe the pain in my heart. Now we are breaking records for how low we are willing to sink. Debasing ourselves for trophies and gladly smiling in our shackles. Like sassing out your mama, this — this pride in our ignorance, this spending a house mortgage on chains, this ghetto mindset — is behavior that is simply not acceptable!

According to the press release Lil Jon’s new single is “Act a Fool”. I haven’t heard the track yet but I have seen it. And now you have too.

It is time that we open our eyes, raise our expectations, and start to make it all go away.



Filed under musings, rant, society, that's so ghetto

21 responses to “The Worst Record

  1. I have to agree, Lil’ Jon’s antics are preeetty ghetto but I have to wonder how your ideal black man looks like. Reading your book I get a sense of ‘tsking-tsking’ all things ghetto and I understand the need to dispell all errors to be left with only what’s right (Socratic?), but I have to wonder what type of things Lil’ Jon needs to do that’s not over the top (or sorta ridiculous) to maintain his image.

    Lets say he does good things with his money, donating thousands to charity for example, yes, he would get press but it would counter this ghetto image he has created for himself – an image he needs to keep. He doesn’t want to look NOT ghetto. The fact is, because so many people have this ghetto mentality is why he is known at all.

    I suppose in this case, he wouldn’t heed to the recommendations in your book. Economically, it’s just not something viable to him, to NOT be ghetto. But say, maybe a few years ago, before gheeettooooo was mainstream but was at its budding and you DO notice that a growing number of people find it fascinating, then how do you NOT be over-the-top ghetto if you see that there’s a possibility to become famous, the type of fame that Lil’ Jon has garnered. The (perceived) incentives are too great and the (perceived) COST of not being ghetto are too high.

  2. Thaya Patton

    I think this conversation illustrates our profound forgetfulness about our own childhoods. In response to the two boys on the train… What little boy of former generations never played cops and robbers? I remember “smoking” candy cigarettes as a child. Kids today are put under the microscope so much more than they ever were in the past. Every generation tends to think things were better when they were children, but perhaps they were just different.

  3. edney dumaurier

    I will read the book (honest); so, forgive me if I take a stance that seems unfair to its intent. Nevertheless, I would like to give a first impression after hearing the Brian Lehrer segment.

    It hurt to hear us laughing at so-called “ghetto” people.

    The jocular tone seems to undermine any real discourse on “ghetto.”

    But, before going there, we should be clear that, apart from popular use as an adjective, “ghetto” is still a real and powerful noun – a place that many people in the ghetto do not enjoy. I live in bed-stuy. Yes, it is gentrifying. It is also a real ghetto – in the academic sense, i.e. an area that is, by design, underserved and popularly defined by the people who do the worst of deeds among the majority who want and do better.

    The argument, as given with a laugh on the show, seems to be more of a detached race-tinged rant than a concerned approach – starting with the use of the prime word, ghetto, as an adjective.

    Let’s not confuse its linguistic evolution with a real condition. Of course, ghetto is now a term whites and blacks use freely to define any uncouth action or various actions of low morality. But race can’t be taken out of the meaning by any person willing to be intellectually honest.

    The political right has yet a new license, this use of ghetto validating a willfully ignorant understanding of all things Black as any use by a black person sanctions their use of the term in a much more insidious tone.

    The left also has license, though theirs is also nown as patronage and welcomes scenarios where “ghetto” takes place along side “ebonics” as a legitimate academic topic.

    To the self-described “ghetto”, this both of these validations are the highest compliment. Damnation is encouragment. A child in the middle of all of this, however, can’t be helped by the laughter or the rants.

    Ghetto can’t be defined by mixing clearly negative behaviors with amoral cultural behaviors as “sitting on a stoop.”

    Stereotyping is an economy of thought, of reasoning – but an unfortunate economy.

    If a black writer approaches this term, I would that it be under the rule that it would not be raised so high as to obscure any stated aim to defeat what we all recognize as the lowest of low standards.

    The laughter in the interview seems to reveal the opportunity that we may all profit from “ghetto.”

    Ghetto is killing our kids. (I am a black man) It was once something to get away from. Now it is a low that kids aspire to – a stark change from the lyrics of even the original gangsta rappers, who speak to aspirations of leaving those long, depressing hallways of the projects and the random violence of “neighbors.”

    So, I agree with the premise, but perhaps not with the presentation and evidence. Sensationalizing the term taints the message.

    It should be difficult to raise up “ghetto” as a such a catholic force while allowing Cosmo or Jackass to be simple, guilty pleasures of other crowds.

    Ghetto IS an ill, but only one essential part of a crazy common denominator of low morality.

    I fear that the race-charged sentiment that the word carries might well turn us away from the big picture of general decline attributed to “ghetto.”

    For example, I’m quite sure that many will have no problem decrying “ghetto!” when looking at the easy targets… and then sit back in the self-righteous view of being “simply entertained” by The Real Orange County Housewives.

    I’m not sure we’re prepared to see “ghetto” as the global ill posited here. The proof is the everyday racism that remains an organizing principle of this society.

    I believe it will be seen as yet another infliction at the hands of “the negro” when, in fact, this moral decline has been long in the making … and not driven by black people in the weight apportioned by “ghetto.” There are culturally accepted ways of dragging down the country that are, thus, times more insidious.

    In short, it seems a sleight of hand to say “this is not just a black thing” when we know the weight of the word and the power of innuendo.

  4. Greg

    I thnik you are doing a wonderful job in pointing out some negative effects of hiphop. I live in Germany and here you have the same effect. A lot of young people only what to have ” bling” and knowledge is something thast not cool.

  5. I’m a 30 something Black woman, and I didn’t know what “Lil Jon” looked like until I read the article about his new BIG Pendant breaking a
    “world record.” I’m not mad at him — I just wish
    that he purchased the jewelry from a Black reputatable jeweler just to keep the money in the Black community in a positive way. I’m focus on uniting Black people; not being so judgemental. I would rather see “Lil Jon’s jewelry” than a bunch
    of “romp shaking” on TV. Ghetto offends me when
    I see Koreans capitalizing on commercial hair/weave, front teeth grills, razoring brows at the
    cash register and piercing our infants’ ears at the cash register. When we risk the health of our bodies and our hair (I’m a hair stylist)– that’s ghetto and ignorant. That’s where I have a problem with “ghetto.” I have a problem with the vulgar language (example: Chris Rock in his recent movie “I think I love my wife). I try to numb myself to it, and but I don’t want to condone this
    language. I read Ghettonation. It’s a start to waking us up, but a reality check is needed on being a little too judgemental. Artistry is good. Survival is important. Legally obtaining wealth from the population prone to the impulse buy . . . is smart! Blacks just need to focus on ultimately spreading the opportunities to become wealthy legally. Black people are smart. Our ancestors slaved hard, and it forced them to invent ways and equipment to make their job easier even if they didn’t get their recognition. Blacks involved in the distribution of drugs learn “business;” they just need to find a legal commodity to sell. As for my background– I grew up in a lower-middle class family. I haven’t seen “ArmStrong Pen” (a ref. from Cora’s book) but I’ve seen images in movies. It’s a cruel world out there. No matter how high or how low one goes . . . one has to watch their back and keep spiritual grounded. (ex. faith in God) Let’s celebrate the artistry in ghetto and share wisdom and love to those who don’t see past today. Sincerely, “Silk” (North Carolina hair stylist)

  6. Lee Regan Skidmore

    I am a 35 year old white woman, who lives in “the ghetto.” I consider myself to be passionate regarding the topic of “the ghetto.” THIS IS ALL INCREDIBLY FASCINATING TO ME: The sociological aspect…Our moral fabric and it’s obvious disintigration…it is a RESPONSE to something of epidemic proportion; and I’m afraid, …it is not an issue of how low we are willing to sink, The issue at hand seems: We have already sunk, sister. But in my opinion, we need to look at the entire picture. It is merely a response to something much bigger… It is an issue i feel so closely related to that i am willing to dedicate my life, or part of it, to this issue of possible moral abandon. It seems to me urgent. I am certain you can agree. Fascinating too, is your perspective, considering you are black. All of it is fascinating to me. I have not read your book, I just discovered its publication today. But I will walk down to the library, later, here in my ghetto, to see if it is in yet-

  7. Hi Mrs. Daniels, I listened to your NPR Talk of the Nation interview and it was great! Anyone reading this blog should google “NPR Cora Daniels” to 1) attach a voice to the book and 2) to listen to this funny email, from a listener, that the interviewer reads about ‘paying 7 dollars to bling up my nails, hell yeah’

  8. Welcome to blogging!:) My blog partner introduced us to your book yesterday and it sounds great. She’s going to do a review when she’s done reading it.

  9. BlackProgressiveLiberal

    Its about time I find other black people who are equally as embarassed as I am for the public antics of people like Lil John. Its almost like a minstrel show and these guys don’t even know that. Yeah sure you fire up your fan base, but at the end of the day you’ve created sterotypical actions that will be followed by your fans and in turn be a staple of the uneducated, non-productive, broken dream, dead end black youth.

  10. I completely agree with this piece. Everyday there is something is something to shake our heads about whether it’s a booty shaking video or my neighbors. The worse part is that from the looks of the media, music and movies, ghetto is a good thing. It’s cool to be ignorant and shameless. I knew the world was coming to an end when this girl I know told everyone at work, “You guys are stupid! Don’t you know the more kids you have, the more money you get during tax time! That’s why I’m on my 6th child.” (shaking my head)

  11. Greetings,

    I am new here and I heard about you and your book today. I’m about to come down to your event in Atlanta, so I was doing a little research on you beforehand. Please visit my blog and let me know if you would like to be linked there, which I will gladly do.

    I’ve knew Jon when he had none of that bling so I know he is ghetto with or without it. I can be ghetto myself at times. Quick question for you, in private in case I don’t say anything tonight, Is Guinness Ghetto for recognizing Lil Jon?

  12. I’m comfused, why did you find that photo… ghetto??? CRUNK is a form of dance, and Lil Jon is not the first rap artist to wear huge jewlery and take ugly pictures (isn’t he merely representing Hip Hop style). You said you never heard his music, but yet you titled the photo “Worse Record”. Crabs in a bucket!

  13. primaldata

    Interesting opinion. Now what did that prove. I mean you did what he wanted you talked about his chain, funny thing about “ghetto” it’s worse for the mind then it is the body.

    He bought a chain not to set the world record but to buy a chain to floss, guiness contacted him. And before you “minstrel” Lil jon as I recall minstrel shows made fun of black folks, hmm didn’t read the book but what did you just do in this peice. Mirrors help when you wanna type out a thought.

    Everybody shows off, don’t care what walk off life you in, I mean what is bling material goods. How many H3’s are there out there, how many diamond rings, how many 300’s. Fine LJ was your target cute now take you blinders off and look at the big picture. He made his cash and bought what he wanted, I’m sure his parents wanted his child to be the best person he could be.

    He’s a producer, not a blinger bling is the jewelry not the person. So he shows off isn’t that what successful people do, don’t they show people how well they have done.

    This ain about defense the few lil jon songs I have listened to were owned by someone else. This is about truth, yes the ghetto calls it Bling but looking back at paintings, reading books, and watching movies both new and old seems to me large materialistic posessions have always been around.

  14. We need to get ourselves together as a people!

  15. can’t wait to cop the book. keep up the good work..

    i agree, Lil Jon is nuts. to believe someone married this fool.

    but remember many folks were dancing to “the window to the wall….”

  16. Wen

    How many blankets for homeless people could Lil Jon have bought with $500K? How many hungry families could he have fed? How many toys and books for deserving kids could he have bought. How many Africans were dismembered to make a 5lb diamond pendant?
    (I suppose Guiness doesn’t acknowledge stuff like that though…what a shame.)

    Unfortunately, today’s youth perceive celebrities as role models and want to emulate their material success as real success. I suppose rappin about 401K plans and Roth IRAs may not be as exciting as white tees, platinum grills, and chrome spinners, but they certainly carry more weight than 5.5lbs of diamonds in one’s golden years. Lil Jon’s 15 minutes are almost up, I just hope he’s talked to Chuck.

    It’s only a matter of time before you will need to update this bloge, I can see it now…”Blog Update: 50 Cent, Guiness’ New King of Bling!”

    (shaking my head silently in disbelief)

  17. Sableofnight

    Its comes down to money.. what you will and will not do for it…For some reason blacks feel the need to spend money on things we do not need and show them off. I for one do not understand the bling thing, its just a good way to get yourself rob if you ask me.

    Lil Jon I do not care for but as long as there are people black and white who will pay attention to him and others like him it will only get worst for those who have to watch it and better for those who make money off of it.

  18. That’s a great chain. Lil John seems pretty freaking cool to me.

    Disclosure: I’m a white guy born in 1975.

  19. Pingback: » Hiphop Artist Lil’ Jon breaks Guiness Book of Records for “Biggest Bling”

  20. LJ

    I grew up in the 1970’s and the behavior that I witness today has me saying the same thing over and over again and that is, “What is going on with our people!!!”
    When we look at what is considered “black culture” today I have to say that we have lost something as a people. This cannot be denied. I live in low-income housing and the kids here don’t want to go to school or go to college. The boys either want to be rappers or on a sports team and the girls ,well, I just got through listening to a group of 13-year-old girls exclaim at the top of their lungs that it was nobody’s business who was doing what to their vaginas. When I was growing up not even the lowest woman would engage in this type of behavior.
    Being ghetto has proven to cross all color and economic lines but it will always be synonymous with being black and poor. With this being said it always makes me laugh when I hear someone of another race use broken English and then exclaim that people tell them that they speak like they are black and then I have to ask them what speaking Black is or another scenario that never seems to stop is when I am in a nightclub and “Get Low” or some other song that degrades Black women comes on and everyone expects all the sistahs to get up and drop it to the floor. Although, anyone can be ghetto being tied to being ghetto will always effect black people the most because that is all we are seen as.
    Being ghetto has been turned into something that is fabulous and a normal way of life. The only thing that people focus on is the gold chains, cars and scantily clad women in rap videos. I witness what is like living in a ghetto on a everyday basis. I see the Black women who are breaking down under the pressure of being single mothers, overworked, underpaid and undervalued. I see the boys who have no role models to look up to but 50-cent, Lebron James, or the American Gangster Frank Lucas and the girls who are wearing pants so tight and skirts so short that they can hardly walk because that is what the girls in the videos are wearing. No, there isn’t anything fabulous about being ghetto.

  21. It is more like a ghetto world!
    America is a superpower and to be a superpower you must be a military, economic, political and ofcourse, socio-economic power. America is a socio-economic power. Many youth around the world believe that being ghetto is a cool thing. I mean it is cool in America, why shouldn’t it be cool in Africa?
    America is directly and indirectly exporting its ghettoness to the rest of the world in the form of music, movies etc…

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