I first heard the term “African Booty Scratcher” in 2nd grade. I was sitting in the auditorium at P.S. 181, and a classmate employed the term to mock another kid in a hushed whisper before the day’s address began. The kid actually turned out to be Haitian, but specifics like that didn’t matter at the time: there was a collective “other” for us to rally against (darker than the rest of us, with a foreign tongue and kinda bummy clothes), and the cartoonish imagery of a proper-noun title characterized by the perpetual scratching of booty proved more than enough to send us rolling in fits of laughter. This kind of exchange was common amongst black school children in the early ’90s, immortalized in an early scene from Boyz in the Hood, where a young Tre Styles informs his classmate, Everybody’s from Africa. Everybody. All y’all. Everybody, and dude lets the slur fly in retaliation, after clarifying: I ain’t from Africa. I’m from Crenshaw Mafia.
Where you’re “from” has always held disproportionate weight amongst the African diaspora, especially considering very few of us can point to our true origins on a map. This tension is Well$ primary obsession throughout MTSYD: The Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher. The Congolese-American rapper was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, and split his attention between the French rap that naturally found his ears and the American artists he heard at his cousin’s crib. The album finds the 19-year-old straddling the line between trunk-rattling southern bounce and the witty 16s of any Freshman spitter–see the “Bandz A Make Her Dance” flip on “Major Paine,” voicing the complaints of deadbeat dads and the daughters they produce, or the spastic flows of the G.O.O.D-ish “Django.” But album’s core sentiment lands dead-center on “Gaston Two09nin”, via a Tupac soundbite: I feel cheated, because instead of me fulfilling my prophesy I have to start one. Instead of me carrying on the empire I have to build one. And that’s a hell of a job for any youngster. A tall task indeed, but Well$ is off to a good start. Stream below, and download here.
Stream: Well$, MTSYD: Revenge of the African Booty Scratcher