America is broken. That became fully self-evident this week. There are now two separate countries, happening at the same time, in the exact same place. The tension cannot hold much longer. Along those fault lines, on Wednesday, Trump-led protesters stormed the Capitol and broke into the halls of power in a bid to disrupt the Constitutional process of electing a new president.
Ever since, talking head after talking head has bleated on cable news about how it could have come to this and that this most certainly isn’t who we are. (They’re wrong.) But if you want to fully grasp what’s happening in America right now — and how to fix it — listen to Biggie Small’s “Ten Crack Commandments.” Because America has broken all 10.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…
It’s the ten crack commandments, what?
I’ve been in this game for years, it made me an animal
It’s rules to this shit, I wrote me a manual
A step-by-step booklet for you to get
Your game on track, not your wig pushed back…
Commandment #1: Never let no one know how much dough you hold.
This is Biggie’s “rule nombre uno.” We can ignore his bad Spanish and instead dive into the truth of his rule. How does it apply to America in 2021?
It’s just like Biggie spit:
The cheddar breed jealousy ‘specially
If that man fucked up, get yo’ ass stuck up
America’s massive economic inequality has pushed the country to the brink of collapse. Both sides see it. That’s how Bernie and Trump were both able to build huge, vocal followings. And it’s like Biggie explains, the jungle logic of capitalism makes predators of some citizens and prey of others. America must address the distribution of its cheddar. We got way too many men fucked up, and you know what that gets.
Commandment #2: Never let ‘em know your next move.
In the Tao te Ching, Lao Tzu cautioned, “Those who say, don’t know, and those who know, don’t say.” The ancient Chinese scholar could’ve been quoting from the gospel of Biggie Smalls:
Number 2, never let ‘em know your next move
Don’t you know bad boys move in silence and violence?
Take it from your highness
I done squeezed mad clips at these cats for their bricks and chips
America likes to act like somehow talk matters. As if whatever politicians say will somehow magically become true. They want to talk about how America used to be and could be again — when they need to build it. Talk is cheap, you have to do the work. You need to “squeeze mad clips.”
Commandment #3: Never trust nobody.
If there’s one thing QAnon has taught America, it’s this: You never know what’s in the hearts and minds of your neighbors. Millions of Americans have handed their sanity over to an online hoax. Like me, you may have laughed at first — until, that is, your uncle or your mama started quoting Q on Facebook.
But it’s just like Biggie rhymed, anyone can surprise you. Even your moms:
Your moms’ll set that ass up, properly gassed up
Hoodied and masked up, shit, for that fast buck
She be laying in the bushes to light that ass up
Don’t take anything for granted. America could’ve seen this maelstrom of madness coming, if we’d stayed as skeptical as Biggie.
Commandment #4: Never get high on your own supply.
More than all the others, this rule is the one that’s so often broken. What exactly is America’s supply?
It’s that idea we sell to the rest of the world: American exceptionalism.
We’ve long exported the notion that America is somehow special and better, and so are its people. America is a vibrant country. But not because we’re inherently special. It’s due to our diversity, and how immigration continually renews our culture. It’s also due to our investments in the American people. California once offered free college education. Before that, the GI Bill built more wealth in America than all the tax cuts combined. What we called exceptionalism was the result. But that shit doesn’t just magically happen. Biggie knew that. If you believe your own hype, you end up crazed like those on the pipe.
Commandment #5: Never sell no crack where you rest at.
If you thought crack cocaine could hollow out a community and devastate a generation of people, just look at what you can do when you have drug reps and an ad budget. That’s how you get an opioid epidemic. The Sackler family who own Purdue Pharma are just crack dealers who incorporated.
Commandment #6: That goddamn credit? Dead it.
Big Poppa warned us about the dangers of extending credit to an addict:
You think a crackhead paying you back, shit forget it!
Our crackheads are the Wall Street bros and their banker buddies who beg us for that next hit. When America extended them credit in 2008 for being Too Big to Fail, after they tanked the global economy, do you think we got any of that credit back?
Shit, forget it.
Commandment #7: Keep your family and business completely separated.
It may seem like a good idea to bring your fam with you for a big come-up. But we all just saw what happens when a family business wraps its hands around the halls of power.
Commandment #8: Never keep no weight on you!
As soon as you become a crack dealer, you decide to put yourself at risk. Which means any smart dealer pays gunmen to protect him or her from threat. But the better advice is even simpler:
Never keep no weight on you!
Them cats that squeeze your guns can hold jums too
In other words, reduce your risk to zero.
For America, the risk to the nation is when we hold the weight for another country. Like when Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia knew he could count on America to cover for him even after he ordered the killing of a journalist. America got busted holding that weight.
Commandment #9: If you ain’t gettin’ bagged, stay the fuck from police.
This rule is as golden as it comes. There’s no reason to ever be thick as thieves with the police. That’s as true for hustlers as it is for nations. The police showed us all during the pandemic and George Floyd protests that they’re in it for Blue first, not you.
Commandment #10: Consignment strictly for live men, not for freshmen.
With his final commandment, Biggie returned to the importance of being smart about money and credit and the trick of knowing who to trust. The American people ought to commit these bars to memory:
If you ain’t got the clientele, say “hell no!”
‘Cause they gon’ want they money rain sleet hail snow
Consignment is when you take someone else’s product and promise to turn it into a profit, and then give them back their money. Yet when the American people hit a pandemic, they said “Where’s my money at?,” only for Mitch McConnell to say, “About that…”
The country never should’ve trusted Mitch on consignment — he couldn’t handle all that weight. And so, it’s time for the American people to pull back from giving out so much product on consignment. Better make sure those senators got the clientele, otherwise say, “Hell no!”
If only the country could follow this and Biggie’s nine other crack commandments. Everything might turn out to be just fine after all.