On Tuesday, the Oxford Union, the famous debate society at Oxford University, invited A$AP Rocky to a talk on Constructing the Hip-Hop Artist.
In recent years, the Oxford Union has been attempting to rebuild its image after a racist scandal severely damaged its reputation.
The Union advertised a cocktail named the ‘Colonial Comeback’ across the university on pamphlets that depicted a pair of black hands in chains.
It was sold as part of a debate the Union was having over whether England should pay its former colonies reparations.
This was in 2015, and at the time Nikhil Venkatesh, a then-BME at the Student Union said of the scandal, according to the Guardian,
“Reducing centuries of violent oppression to a humorously named cocktail is simply unacceptable. We are still living with the damaging legacy of colonialism. Sadly Oxford, and especially the Oxford Union, remains dominated by privilege, which is why inconsiderate episodes such as this occur. Oxford students are becoming more aware of these issues, and we have in our student body a number of activists who are trying to effect change in our attitudes to race.”
This is the context in which the Oxford Student Union invited A$AP Rocky to talk about a variety of things, including his politics and gentrification.
When asked why he doesn’t get political in his music, A$AP said he talks about what’s real to him and he isn’t going to rap about politics to “stand out”,
“Not everybody should be like Kendrick or talk about political things just to stand out. Also, not everybody should be like A$AP Mob and talk about drugs and girls and clothes. We don’t all have to talk about the same topics.”
A$AP was also questioned on his opinions on Black Lives Matter, to which he gave a rather convoluted answer, calling police shootings “inevitable” and black-on-black crime as the “main topic”,
“Why are we exploiting the beef between the urban community and the police force when 60 people got shot on a Friday and Saturday [on July holiday weekend in 2014] in Chicago in black-on-black crime? So one cop shoots a black person… that kind of shit is inevitable. Not to glorify it, but that’s nothing new. Let’s talk about the black-on-black crime. If you’re not gonna talk about the main topic, then don’t talk about it all.”
It’s not great when you’re recycling Fox News talking points about black-on-black crime, but Rocky went on to deliver an impassioned freestyle about the damage of gentrification on his upbringing,
Rocky seems to have some complex opinions about the state of race in America, which will surely not sit well with members of the left and the BLM movement.
You can watch the whole talk below as Rocky talks about his debut album, trying to go mainstream, and the impact of the late great A$AP Yams on his life.