I’m not particularly turned on by that phrase because it implies something rather dire about the speaker: he’s a “beggar” … usually not a healthy concession, by my lights.
Of course, if conditions of one’s life are actually “beggarly”? In that case, there’s another saying about wearing “the shoe” if it “fits”. Sometimes you gotta acknowledge uncomfortable, even wretched, realities.
I’m reminded of the “beggars/choosers” aphorism when I read about Flavor Flave’s performing the “National Anthem” at an October 29 Milwaukee Bucks/Atlanta Hawks basketball game. As these matters so often do, the video has gone viral and ignited quite a bit of response.
No denying, the entertainer’s rendering of the American standard was … ahem … vocally lacking. A rousing singing voice the six-time Grammy-nominated “rapper and hype man” certainly does not have. On a purely aesthetic level, it was, speaking tactfully, a somewhat puzzling option for opening a professional sporting event presumably seen by millions.
Viewed from an altogether different perspective, however? Flave’s performance was positively delightful. It was unabashed. Energetic. Someone used the term “heartfelt”. Yep, that’ll work.
In case you haven’t noticed, among the celebrity/pro-athlete set, Francis Scott Key’s masterpiece ain’t exactly in good odor these days. Standing while it is being presented? Controversial. Hand over the heart as its patriotic sentiments are intoned? Yikes! That’ll reliably raise hackles in many a “woke” quarter — never mind volunteering to impassionedly sing it before multitudes.
And yet … here’s this 64-year-old former criminal/addict and founder of hip-hop group Public Enemy crooning the red-white-and-blue instigator of all this hub-bub. Crooning it boldly, enthusiastically, expressively.
Reportedly, Flave “caught some flack online for his vocal stylings.” Thankfully, he didn’t apologize, grovel or offer hankie-twisting weasel-excuses for his choice. Instead, he “responded in defense” — if not defensively — “via social media”:
“It may seem odd for Flavor Flav, a member of Public Enemy to do the National Anthem”, he tweeted,
But I had family that served in the United States military and I wanted to honor them, … I had family that fought in World War 2. My dad was in the army. … They fought for the land that we live on, and some of them didnt make it back…. So when I was singing it, I was thinking about them and the advancements we have made in our community that I can perform the anthem.”
To certain segments of the American-hating public, them’s fightin’ words! And from a TV personality who once made his musical bones on the back of a number called “Fight the Power“! That bellicose 1990 anthem declared, among things:
Elvis was a hero to most/But he never meant s- to me you see/Straight up racist that sucker was/Simple and plain/Mother f- him and John Wayne/’Cause I’m Black and I’m proud … Fight the power/We’ve got to fight the powers that be.
Hardly the kind of material you’d expect from someone who, in autumn 2023, would solo: “O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave/O’er the land of the free/And the home of the brave?” Yet, the latter is precisely what Flavor Flave belted out with unvarnished abandon on that Sunday night prime time.
Imagine that! A guy sporting white sunglasses, a hoodie, and oversized snapback cap, a green Milwaukee Bucks Jersey and stylized, giant, red timepiece draped from his neck engaging exuberantly in an act of overt patriotism.
It’s beyond refreshing watching a public persona plainly acknowledging history’s clock didn’t start ticking with his arrival on the planet; that the society that has enabled him to succeed in his craft and enjoy fame and affluence in the process didn’t spring fully formed, randomly, out of nowhere. Men and women who preceded him sacrificed their time, comforts, dreams — perhaps even their very lives — so that America could be that “free” and “brave” nation he so unexpectedly honored. Flave openly avowed these forebears deserve an old-fashioned, traditional
Peeking back once more over thirty years at the tune which helped put Flavor Flave on the rap music map, consider the line which shouts: “It’s a start, a work of art/To revolutionize, make a change, nothin’s strange”. But what if Flavor Flave turns out to be part of a “revolution” few anticipated? A percolating trend that is making it okay for the “rich and famous” to not sneer at America? To affirmatively appreciate, in fact, the blessings still supplied by this flawed but vital Republic? Wouldn’t it be nice if the “change” they chanted about ends up being an expanding movement which “fights the power” of the pathetic, repulsive, American-loathing Leftism presently dominating Mainstream Media, Hollywood, and the music industry?
Flavor Flave’s off-key presentation of “The Star Spangled Banner” may not have been unsurpassed musically. But it veritably throbbed with what is becoming a rarity: high-profile love of the United States.
Nowadays? We truly are “beggared” for this type of stuff – so, I’ll take it! And dare to hope it broadens into something unexceptional once again.