Fry bread sucks.
I mean no offense. No disrespect to a staple of the American Indian diet. But it sort of tastes like an elephant ear after a carnie has licked off all the good stuff.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no real heritage of my own to speak of. I come from a long line of preachers, farmers and prostitutes, not necessarily in that order. I’m English, German, French, Scottish and Danish on my father’s side alone. I’m told that my mom’s kin come from Arkansas.
All of this makes me just about the whitest mofo in the United Saltines of America. I can’t dance. I can’t jump. And my one-bedroom, one-bath sits on stolen land. But I have no problem with people who don’t like fish and chips, sauerkraut, baguettes, haggis, butterhorns or grits. Most of that stuff sucks, too.
But that’s not all. I also think pow wows are dull.
I mean no offense. No disrespect to a solemn Native American tradition that extends for centuries before the Dinsdales landed in the New World bearing gifts of cholera, hepatitis and dead sexiness. Don’t get me wrong. I have been privileged to be a guest at pow wows from Oregon to Kansas. To witness the tradition and beauty and grace. The elaborate costumes. The intricate dances. The soaring cries of the singers and the thudding heartbeat of the drum circles.
But lord help me, anything gets dull after three freaking hours. Even swimming in a vat of spinach dip. Even bumping uglies with Ashley Judd. Even continuously whacking Dick Cheney in the groin with a 9-iron. Even pow wows.
But what about Litefoot?
Well, come to think of it, Litefoot isn’t half bad.
Maybe you remember the American Indian musician and actor from such films as Indian in the Cupboard, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Kull the Conqueror and Adaptation.
Then again, maybe not.
But perhaps you have seen him on television shows like CSI: Miami, Any Day Now and Family Law.
Or perhaps you haven’t.
If nothing else, you must have heard him rap on the seminal hip-hop albums Good Day To Die, The Life & Times, Rez Affiliated and The Messenger. Or at least you know that he has performed with the likes of Busta Rhymes, Nas, Ludacris and Lil’ Kim.
No? Well, crapola.
That’s OK. Litefoot is loathed just as much as he is loved, even among American Indians. Which, of course, is hint number one that there is a success story behind door number three. And whatever critical volleys might be lobbed Litefoot’s way, there is little disputing his success.
The Cherokee Nation member and Oklahoma native has an extensive career rap sheet: ten albums, eight movies, four Native American Music Awards (one for Best Male Artist and three for Best Rap/Hip-Hop), his own record label (Red Vinyl), his own clothing line.
And one hell of a grudge.
Maybe you remember the incident. Or maybe you missed it because you were still scouring the Internet for glimpses of Janet Jackson‘s errant funbag. It was, after all, only a week after her Super Bowl strip show that Outkast‘s André 3000 strutted onstage at the Grammys to perform “Hey Ya” on CBS. André, the University of Southern California marching band and a harem of scantily clad ladies provided the oh-no-they-didn’t moment of the night when they shook it like a Polaroid picture around a tepee while dressed head-to-toe in fringed lime-green costumes with feathers and war paint.
It was incredibly offensive — nobody should ever wear that much lime-green on national television, not even André 3000. Of course, it also showed a staggering lack of cultural sensitivity. People called for boycotts of CBS, Outkast and the Grammys.
CBS offered a curt apology, but Litefoot made Outkast’s lingering silence something of a personal crusade. He responded to the performance in song (“What’s It Gonna Take,” from the upcoming Redvolution) and joined Jesse Jackson in protest. He also tendered an invitation for André’s apology at the Gathering of Nations in New Mexico, which will be held later this month.
But the chances that Outkast will show up at the largest American Indian event of the year are about the same as the chances that Outkast will appear at Litefoot’s show at Abe & Jake’s Landing this Saturday. Still, the fact Litefoot could issue such a public ultimatum and be heard testifies to his maturation from bling posturing to social consciousness and to the influence of hip-hop on American Indian culture.
Even if fry bread sucks.