Updated: Sep 21, 2022
The first song I ever heard by Maxo Kream was “Grannies.” His circular breathing technique, storytelling ability, Texas upbringing, and groovy background were of interest to me, as we share some things in common.
His 2015 album Maxo 187 features a song entitled “KKK,” or Ku Klux Klan, which likely won’t be appreciated by many people reading this entry. This is understandable and I invite you to forego the current post if challenging racial matters isn’t of interest to you.
What I like about this song is that Maxo doesn’t conform to a sociopolitical narrative that infantilizes black people, maintains a victimhood narrative, or drones on about “white privilege and superiority.”
Whether using the poor analogy of a social pendulum swinging, the drowning of so-called “wokeism” by a predicted red wave in November 2022, or the rhyming—rather than repeating—of history to a point whereby the popular “white shaming” or “white guilt” of today is popular, I suspect change is forthcoming.
There is a prevailing lie regarding black-on-black crime existing as nothing more than a “myth.” To suggest otherwise may result in raiding, doxing, canceling, mobbing, or some other form of group bullying supposedly aimed at “speaking truth to power,” promoting “social justice,” or being on the “right side of history.”
I take part in none of that.
Rather, I appreciate how Maxo Kream’s song comports with “Hume’s Law”—a philosophy arising when a person makes claims about what ought to be, based solely on notions about what is. In my opinion, there is a significant number of people within United States (U.S.) society who violate this is-ought proposition.
In “KKK,” Maxo doesn’t whine about how supposedly oppressed he is, exaggerate the significance of his inner-city upbringing, claim that white people are the cause of all his woes, or rap about how he has no agency for his behavior.
Maxo raps about killing black people rather than donning “magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent”—the clothing of metaphorically fart-sniffing “social change agents” who presumably deny reality in favor of a reimagining utopic diversity, inclusivity, equity, and accessibility actions.
Maxo doesn’t declare how things ought to be. He raps about what is.
At this point in the blog post, reasonable questions arise. Allow me to answer these perceived queries.
1) Am I advocating violence? No.
2) Am I glorifying black-on-black violence? No.
3) Am I suggesting it is better to tell the truth about killing than to shift blame about violence to white people as a whole? I value the truth, not partisan narratives.
4) What is the point of this entry? Read further, if you’ll allow for an open mind.
Though I’m not fond of doing so, I’ll play the multiracial card when it benefits me—and my hand contains a spade. As such, I do believe my people have agency, I denounce the soft bigotry of low expectations, and I reject the perception of black supremacy—in part, the idea of my people being blameless from crimes, sin, or other criticism.
Recently, vice president of the U.S., Kamala Harris, stated, “We are a nation in mourning as a result of gun violence. Black people are 13% of America’s population, and I think it’s 62% of homicide victims to gun violence.”
Who might be responsible for so many deaths of black lives—the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Patriot Front, Three Percenters, KKK, or other alleged “extremist groups,” as listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center? Not according to statistics.
Per the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2020, black people comprised 12.4% of the population, though Harris may have been mistaking the 2010 data, which claimed 13.4%. Nonetheless, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has noted that in fairly recent history blacks represented 54.2% of murder offenders.
The Anti-Defamation League considers 13/52 to be a “numeric hate symbol,” because a number of people on the Internet use it to highlight how black people are overrepresented in homicide statistics. Why might this be?
Harris’ 62% statistic stems from a 2020 assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in which it was claimed, “Longstanding systemic inequities and structural racism have resulted in limited economic, housing, and educational opportunities associated with inequities in risk for violence and other health conditions among various racial and ethnic groups.”
Continuing the racial signaling, a separate source declared, “By raw numbers, there were 19,350 gun homicides in 2020, with African Americans accounting for 62% of the total and white people 21%.”
It’s almost as though some people are upset that white people don’t die by homicide at as high a rate as black people. Black people are overrepresented as offenders and victims of violent crime—perhaps for a reason other than race-grifting tropes.
I’m left unsurprised by this factual evidence. After all, it was Harris who in 2019 reported, “Too many unarmed [b]lack men have been shot and killed by law enforcement. As president, I’ll enact: A national standard of using deadly force only as a last resort[.] Independent investigations of police shootings[.] De-escalation training[.]”
Using the availability heuristic—thinking events occur at a higher rate than they actually do, because selective information is displayed to people—consider the following. It is often stated that police shoot unarmed black men at a higher rate than whites, as Harris suggested.
Some even claim that black people are “literally hunted everyday.” This sounds like a fear-inducing narrative if ever I’ve heard one. However, 2021 data suggest that between 13 and 27 unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019, and that “very liberal” survey participants estimated the number to be 1,000 or more.
What may explain this disparity? Roland Freyer, PhD (a black man) conducted a study regarding racial disparity in U.S. policing. He found that “on the most extreme use of force – officer-involved shootings – we are unable to detect any racial differences in either the raw data or when accounting for controls.”
Is it perhaps because so many social, corporate, political, and academic entities use narrative alarmism that it would appear to the uniformed that there is a “crisis” of black people being “slaughtered” by law enforcement officers (LEOs)? Who does this narrative help?
In theatrical magic, misdirection occurs when audience attention is drawn to one thing while another thing is deceptively missed, in some instances referred to as a Kansas City Shuffle. Similar self-deception occurs when one values feels over reals—foregoing consideration of reality for emotively-driven narratives.
I recall having a conversation with my late stepmother (a black woman) about LEO-involved shooting of black people in the U.S. She outright refused to believe any statistical data I offered, because it didn’t comport with what she claimed to “feel” was true.
Contrary to popular opinion, I see no evidence for such a thing as feeling truth or a personal truth, nor is so-called “lived experience”(or “standpoint epistemology,” in the literature) relevant when discussing observed data outside of one’s own body. You’re welcome to disagree.
Suppose people heard that the U.S. Department of Justice found in a longitudinal study—regarding examination of homicide trends from 1980-2008—that, “In 2008, the offending rate for blacks (24.7 offenders per 100,000) was 7 times higher than the rate for whites (3.4 offenders per 100,000).”
Imagine instead of focusing on the relatively low number of incidents involving police shooting of unarmed black people the public knew that in a longitudinal study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, assessing crime statistics from 1976-2005, it was concluded that black people killed other blacks 94% of the time.
Enter: Maxo Kream.
In “KKK,” Maxo states the following:
“If it’s beef, then we gonna’ get you murdered. (Kill a nigga.) If it’s beef, then we lookin’ for ya’ mother. (Where she at?) 3 K’s in the back, with bullets in ‘em. (Uh-huh.) 3 K’s, ‘cause I don’t like niggas. (No I don’t.) Got my finger on the AK trigger. (Pow pow.) 3 K’s, ‘cause I don’t like niggas.”
How is 13/52 considered hateful with lyrics such as these? Are systemic inequities, structural racism, or limited economic, housing, and educational opportunities to blame for someone outright declaring he hates other black people?
Surely, someone will say, “Deric, it’s obvious that Maxo is expressing internalized racism.” There appears to be an excuse for almost every critical assessment of the precious victimhood narrative that generates billions of dollars towards racial grifting campaigns.
For those unfamiliar with Maxo’s reference in the verse, the 3 K’s he refers to are Kalashnikov rifles, also known as AK-47s. In person, I’ve witnessed rounds from these firearms penetrate standard sandbags; whereas the much maligned AR-15 .223 and .556 rounds don’t have the penetrating power.
Imagine what the AK’s 7.62 round can do to a soft target, such as the human bodies to which Maxo refers. Can one honestly blame housing inequality on a person’s decision to mow down another human being with a choppa?
Here’s another excerpt from the song:
“Catch a nigga with a Smith & Wesson, shoot him while he least expect it. No eye-witness, no confession, no police, and no detectives. Nigga gotta’ choppa’, hit ‘em. Grim reaper, then the reverend. Momma crying, momma miss him. Young Max god, I don’t forgive him. Nigga wanna’ plex, like hold up. Bullet hit his head, then he fold up. I don’t kid around, I’m a grown up. Shoot a nigga down, then I po’ up.”
While not all 62% of black homicides can be attributed to other black people, can we agree that some—or perhaps even many—of these murders are from people who maintain similar views as Maxo Kream’s character when rapping?
Or, is one simply unprepared to acknowledge reality while opting for the racial grift that keeps on grifting by declaring the “pernicious, pervasive” boogeyman of white racism as being responsible for these deaths?
I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), with which I assist clients by disputing irrational beliefs that impact emotions, affect the body, and drive behavior. While I won’t delve into the nuances of my practice within the current entry, I invite you to read the following blog post entries that better explain the disputation process I’m about to demonstrate:
Anecdotally, both in a personal and professional capacity, I’ve experienced a significant number of people who express being offended on behalf of someone else. I’ve had people lecture me about how Black Lives Matter Most (or something like that), “educate” me about black victimization, and demand that I adopt outrage concerning the current thing involving my people.
Mostly, these should, must, and ought prescriptions for life stem from non-black people. Can you imagine me—a masculine male, or adult human male classified as a man—lecturing a woman about how a woman should be?
For the following disputation example, I will use the fictitious name Karen Redoogod.
Karen is precisely the sort of person who during the so-called “summer of love” 2020—when a purported “$1 billion to $2 billion” in property damage resulted and “roughly a dozen, or as many as 19” people, to include black lives, were killed during “fiery but mostly peaceful” protests—engaged others in discussions about their “white privilege,” recommended heavily divisive and overtly prejudiced writings, and patronizingly coddled black people.
Suppose I saw Karen as a client and she continually disturbed herself into a frenzy of hypervigilance, panic, and rage. Despite what some may think, asserting, “Karens cannot be reasoned with,” use of disputation may benefit Karen Redoogod.
While disputing beliefs occupies more time in sessions than any other element of my REBT practice, I won’t go too far into detail about the finer points of disputation herein. Still, it may be useful to highlight some disputes I’d use with Karen.
For your convenience, I will italicize Karen’s demandingness statements. Let us begin—
Karen: That poor Maxo Kream, he’s been damaged by “white-dominant culture.” People shouldn’t hold him accountable for his actions. White people ought to be more understanding. We, as a society, must “do better!”
Me: It sounds as though you’re passionate about this topic, Karen. I’m wondering how it is I may help you, because I don’t have society in front of me, and you and I can’t change the world in this session.
Karen: That’s just it; we need to “change the world!” We have to be “good allies” to the marginalized, underrepresented, disadvantaged, disenfranchised, and oppressedblack, indigenous, and people of color [BIPOC]!
Me: Earlier, you mentioned how upset you’ve been when thinking about how others must not criticize Maxo Kream, because you’ve gone back and forth with people in a YouTube comment section. This relates to the idea of how people should not hold BIPOC accountable for actions today, largely tied to what you termed a “legacy of white supremacy,” “systems of oppression,” and “intrinsic racism” in the U.S.
If I heard you correctly, you said you’ve had disrupted sleep, racing thoughts, panic attacks, tightness in your chest, irritability with others, inability to enjoy a number of activities, and you’ve gotten into a couple physical altercations in public, as well as online arguments. Did I hear all that right?
Karen: Yes! Yes! You get it.
Me: As I’ve mentioned, you and I can’t change society in this session. What we can do is address what you’ve told yourself about how others behave, which in turn affects the consequences of these beliefs. Would you be open to working on yourself?
Karen: I mean, yeah. I’d like to change the world, but I can start with myself.
Karen: Well, he’s a black man in the U.S. What more needs to be said? I mean, Maxo is impacted by historic and systemic racism.
Me: Let us set aside the fact that Emekwanem Ogugua Biosah Jr.’s dad emigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria, though his mom is said to have been born in the U.S. Are you saying that slavery, Jim Crow, racism, and other factors better account for Maxo’s behavior than his own choices do?
Karen: It’s not like those things don’t affect his decisions. How couldn’t they?
Me: Do you think Maxo has agency—that he is personally responsible and accountable for his actions?
Karen: It depends. I think the system he’s exposed to forces him to do things others may not approve of. So, I think it’s wonderful that he’s found a way to be a successful black man in a horrifically racist country. But, it’s not like others wouldn’t have it another way if they could. So I can’t rule out the impact of a system beset against him.
Me: If I’m hearing you correctly—and please tell me if I’m way off here—are you saying that if Maxo succeeds it’s because of his own behavior, though if he fails it’s because of the system?
Karen: Now that you put it that way, I can see what you’re implying.
Me: To me, it sounds like a doting parent who selectively chooses to praise a child as all good while ignoring the humanity of the individual, ignoring that a person—even a child—is capable of making errors, behaving poorly, and failing in a major way. Do you see how this infantilization of black people could be perceived by some as degrading or unhelpful?
Karen: My heart’s in a good place. I’m just so tired of racial hatred that I look forward to “the end of whiteness.”
Me: Goodness! Did you stretch before making that leap? One moment, you’re claiming that people shouldn’t hold Maxo accountable for his actions, speaking about how white people ought to be more understanding, and claiming that society must do better. Now, you’re outright calling for the eradication of your own race? How’d we get here?
Karen: I don’t know. It’s all just so…awful. I just want to be a good ally and for everyone to live in peace.
Me: Can you tell me more about what being a good ally means to you?
Karen: Sure. There are all these rules of how I’m supposed to be. I can’t speak to BIPOC about certain matters, though I should uplift their voices—giving them a platform—with non-BIPOC people. I must also educate white people about the struggle of non-white people. I ought to do more, so that’s why I got into it with people in the YouTube comment section, because I’m being a good ally.
Me: It sounds as though there’s a paradox occurring. I have some background with activism, so let’s see if I understand the matter. Let me know if I get any of this wrong. As a good ally, you are supposed to remain silent when BIPOC speak. Likewise, silence is akin to violence. You’re required to speak your lived experience, yet speaking in this manner to BIPOC is perceived as an assertion of dominance—maintaining power and privilege over a marginalized group of people, thus making you an oppressor.
If you say it’s been prescribed to you by BIPOC that you may only use your voice to non-BIPOC people, it occurs to me that this rigid prescription constitutes the very traits you see yourself fighting against—power and privilege. And if so, it seems that BIPOC is simultaneously disadvantaged while maintaining the advantage of demanding that you should live your life in a prescribed way. Karen, how do you reconcile these seemingly obvious contradictions?
Karen: That’s just it, I can’t reconcile it. I just want to be a good person.
Me: Do you believe you’re a good person, Karen?
Karen: I don’t know that I get to say whether I am or not. Isn’t that for others to say?
Me: I’m uncertain of that. It seems to me that if you outsource your personal worth to the demands of others, you may not measure up as much as you’d like. What do you think?
Karen: I suppose so. Let me ask you a question. Do you think people like Maxo Kream are responsible for their actions, given the state of our nation and its history towards black people?
Me: I have more questions than answers regarding most things. As I’m familiar with Maxo’s music, I wonder if you’d be interested in exploring the answer to your question by playing a game of phrase association. I’ll quote a Maxo verse and you tell me whether or not you think he maintains ownership for the message he puts into the world. Maybe you’ll excuse everything Maxo says and simply blame white people for everything. Who knows? Would you be open to seeing what comes up?
Karen: Let’s do it!
Me: Great. Since we’re both adults and can handle gamer words, I’ll be using Maxo’s sentiment rather than censoring myself.
In his song “Murder,” Maxo raps, “Posted by the park, smoking dope, set chilling when some niggas pulled up and start set tripping. One of the homies took aim and let the burner flame. By that night, cuz had a new nickname, we left the scene, went home, and my clothes changed. We all had the same story, on the same page. If the cops come, my nigga, I don’t know a name. But if the opps come, my pistol it will do the same.”
In this song, would you blame marginalization for Maxo’s behavior?
Karen: No, not really. I mean, there may be contributing factors such as socioeconomic status that contributes to his actions. But, generally speaking, we’re talking about murdering other people here.
Me: Ok. In his song “Murda Blocc,” Maxo states, “I’m on murda blocc, with the Forum Park gorillas. We got your homies shot, and you still ain’t try to kill us. Overheard the opps, say they Kream Clique killa. What they talkin’ ‘bout? They ain’t kill no Kream Clique nigga. Tote banana clips, catch a monkey slippin’, then we kill him. We lurkin’ on his block while he lurkin’ on my Twitter. Draco baby choppa, pull up to his casa, we can’t find him. Tryna hide, no problem, we gon’ pop his mama and his papa.”
Is it your contention that Maxo had poor schooling, not enough government assistance, or less advantages than other people—whites, perhaps—and this led Maxo to refer to other black people as gorillas and monkeys, rapping about killing his enemies and their families?
Karen: Those things may contribute, but no. I wouldn’t say he has no personal responsibility. All of that sounds atrocious.
Me: Ok, one more, and I think this one may speak to the victimhood narrative in your responses to these verses.
In his song “Greener Knots,” Maxo claims, “Okay, I seen a lot. Came from the slums, had to get it out the mud. No love, to me, that means a lot. Glock for my guns, hear the cops, better run. Head to the sun, clouds, ‘cause I still dream a lot. Never had nothin’, tryna run the money up, leave it all for my son. Them greener knots. Don’t know about you but to me; that means a lot.”
We can agree that Maxo discusses being historically disadvantaged in his younger years. Additionally, he expresses wanting to provide a better life for his child in the future. Does any of this deprive Maxo of personal responsibility and accountability regarding how he behaves in the present—as depicted during the moment his songs are recorded and released?
Karen: No, not necessarily.
Me: When you say people shouldn’t hold Maxo accountable for his actions, after hearing only a small sample of his lyrics, what’s your outlook now?
Karen: It sounds like he may’ve had it rough. I’ll never know that lifestyle. Still, if he does want to provide a better future for himself and others, I’m not sure violence is the solution. Maybe some accountability is needed.
Me: Well put. You spoke about how white people ought to be more understanding, as I think you’ve clearly demonstrated this objective today. Rather than disturbing yourself, trying to change the world, or becoming outraged by sociopolitical matters, what would you say to practicing unconditional acceptance?
Karen: I think it would be great. You know, it’s exhausting trying to keep up with all the moral outrage.
Me: I imagine it would be taxing to frequently claim that people in society must do better. While I’m not a fan of crybullies, it sounds as though you’re reassessing your participation in activities promoted by people who say things like, “[N]ice white people who do nothing further to challenge racism are racist.”
Likewise, those who propose, “There is no such thing as a not-racist idea, only racist ideas and antiracist ideas,” are creating a binary you may not want to adopt. These people are shoulding all over you and the rest of the world. What a mess!
What negotiated homework do you think would best assist you with reinforcing what we’ve worked on today?
Karen: I think working on unconditional self-acceptance, other acceptance, and life acceptance—like we’ve discussed previously—are concepts I need to spend more time on. What I can do is spend less time going at people in social media comment sections and instead focus on improving myself. Besides, demanding that others “do better” seems a bit insincere, self-righteous, and performative when I’m not demonstrating the change I demand others to undergo.
Me: Well said, Karen. We fallible human beings are something else! As long as we’re above ground, we can continue pursuing purpose, seeking meaning, and enjoying Maxo Kream’s music, even if we’d not behave as the character in many of his songs does.
Dear reader, I’m well aware of the fact that not all people are as reasonable as Karen depicted above. Changing someone’s mind isn’t an easy task, which isn’t necessarily my aim when practicing REBT.
Rather, I seek to show clients how they may dispute irrational beliefs—those convictions that do not require evidence in order to exist, which lead to unhelpful or unhealthy consequences (i.e., panic, rage, going HAM on someone in the YouTube comment section, etc.).
This can prove especially difficult when emotively-driven social ideologies, political partisan views, and racial matters are concerned. Simply because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing or that it’s impossible to address.
I’m not seeking to change the world when working with clients. For all anyone knows, I may be a tyrant who seeks to backup sewers, reverse street signs, and steal everyone’s left shoe. One never knows.
Worse yet, I could be the authoritarian-minded individual who promotes raiding, doxing, canceling, mobbing, group bullying, “speaking truth to power,” promoting “social justice,” or claiming to be on the “right side of history.”
Can you imagine? Karen can. So, too, can those who fail to dispute their irrational beliefs when reading the current blog post. “I’m overwhelmed by the irony.”
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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