The chain: Barack Obama to Chris Rock to Ice Cube

The first time I ever saw Chris Rock live, a year ago when he dropped by Stand Up NY to workshop new material, he mentioned onstage that after he got done performing he was going to meet up with Barack Obama. He was pretty nonchalant about it (this was before Obama-mania had set in) and said he had no idea why Obama wanted to meet. But he seemed intrigued by the idea. That was it, then he moved on.

Fast forward a year and you've got Rock stumping for Obama and Obama even citing Rock in a speech: He credited Rock during his Father's Day speech speech about the black community and said, “Don’t get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation. You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”

Obama mentioned he was riffing off of Rock's classic bit on how "niggas always want credit for some shit they supposed to do." (Of course, Obama didn't use the word "nigga.") The Rock bit:

You know the worst thing about niggas? Niggas always want some credit for some shit they supposed to do. For some shit they just supposed to do: A nigga will brag about some shit a normal man just does. A nigga will say some shit like, "I take care of my kids."

You're supposed to, you dumb mothafucka. What are you talkin' about? What are you braggin' about? What kind of ignorant shit is that?

"I ain't never been to jail." What do you want, a cookie? You're not supposed to go to jail you low expectation having mothafucka.


Yeah, you've seen it before...but it's still a great bit (starts 2:10 in here):



[Warning: Wikipedia inspired rabbit hole ahead.] Actually, Rock backed off the bit a while ago saying he doesn't like the way actual racists embraced it. (Of course, he's not gonna stick with the same joke for a decade anyway.)

The controversy caused by Rock's constant use of the word nigga led him to remove the piece from his act. In a 60 Minutes interview, Rock said, "By the way, I've never done that joke again, ever, and I probably never will. 'Cause some people that were racist thought they had license to say nigger. So, I'm done with that routine."


Also interesting: In "Smart Mouth," Rock says the inspiration for the bit was the song "Us" by Ice Cube.

I stole more from Ice Cube than from any artist..."Niggas vs. Black People" is "Us" from Ice Cube's Death Certificate: "We will always sing the blues/Because all we talk about is hairstyles and tennis shoes." I took his song and made a joke out of it. My biggest joke is an Ice Cube album track.


Here's a sample of the lyrics to "Us":

You know us po niggas: nappy hair and big lips?
Four or five babies on your crotch
And you expect Uncle Sam to help us out?
We ain't nothin' but porchmonkeys
To the average bigot, redneck honky
You say comin' up is a must
But before we can come up, take a look at US


And one more cool bit from that article: Rock keeps an iPod that's all comedy and speeches.

I got a music iPod and a comedy iPod. One is all comedy and spoken word, every speech, Kennedy, Martin Luther King, whatever.

Q: When are you in the mood to listen to Winston Churchill?

When I'm on tour, when I'm getting ready. There's a lot of preachers in there, a lot of gospel stuff, a lot of stand-up. What I do, what a preacher does, what the president's doing, it's all the same -- you're picking your topic, and you're arguing your point. The president's trying to get an applause break; I'm trying to get a laugh. The preacher's trying to get an amen.


Definitely fits in with the way I saw Rock flesh out his bits. Read about that here:
How Chris Rock works out new material in a small club (3/27/07)
Chris Rock and I "share" a bill again (4/10/07)

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