Who knew how much relevance a mediocre freestyle could garner someone in 2016? Shia Labeouf knows; a whole bunch. His grand retour to the mainstream comes on the heels of Sway gassing his controversial (at best) bars on the Shade 45 program. Far from his Rap debut, Shia has made considerable noise in the past for the same aight bars treated more as novelty than anything playlist worthy. The noise surrounding his last offering, though, has Shia being treated as a rapper with substance, while, funny enough, targeting those he claims lack the chops.
For now, Shia basks in the glory of hip-hop purists everywhere, including Sway, who spend their days with twisted faces and tight jaws, stuck that way after snooting and snarling over what the Rap game has become. It’s a dream come true for an avid Golden Era disciple; to have those who share your thoughts second your static blurbs on a level high enough to prompt responses from the very people you attempt to admonish.
Today, Labeouf responded to Soulja Boy’s revocation of the actor’s Atlanta pass. It was yet another so-so moment expanded like hot molecules into a explosion. Labeouf likely grinned as if he’d snatched another “W” as the SoundCloud plays tallied and he trended across the net.
I imagine Shia, in this moment, as the uncool dude surrounded by a circle of Black high school athletes as they snap and tweet the guy who just learned how to Juju on the beat. He’s exhilarated at the chance for acceptance by the sauciest cohort on campus who’ve ignored him in large part before now.
Except now… he won’t stop doing the dance, which he never did that well, and he’s en route to wrenching out his exploitation to the point of distaste. Some, as you might infer, are already over it.
Unlike that exploited high school kid executing trendy moves, though, Shia falls on the wrong side of history, holding on to what is fading, trying to rally some friends in the process. Plus, what was done in locker room jest is being taken seriously by Shia, at least. This is arguably the worst part of this sprint; he’s not in on the joke.
Ironically, the most-ridiculed rapper of 2016 has dismissed the antics as a joke in itself, unworthy of a response. The year has truly thrown us every screwball. It continues with Labeouf’s attempt belittling of the next, indomitable wave of the culture.
For what it’s worth, we find Rap in a detente anyways. Ebro and Yachty, among the most aggressive in this war of new and old, are at least cordial now. Ebro has even stated his fondness for Rae Sremmurd among a Twitter stirrup between the two. Last month at Complexcon, a panel ended with Pete Rock showing a lot more understanding of Rap’s current state after an exchange with Vince Staples.
Right now, Shia’s place in representing the Hip-Hop’s Tea Party is at best superfluous, irritating at its worst.