Rap succeeds best as a transgressive genre—hard men saying hard truths against the spirit of the age. Zuby’s new single Ok Dude hits the mark in just this way.
But first, the backstory: In February, Twitter suspended Zuby’s account (@ZubyMusic) after he replied “Ok dude” to a male transgender activist who identifies as a woman. The activist, whose name on Twitter is Pronoun Enforcer, remarked that he sleeps with more women than the British rapper. Zuby dismissed the comment by saying, “ok dude,” but Twitter froze his account for “violating rules against hateful conduct.”
For those unfamiliar with his story, Zuby was born in England, raised in Saudi Arabia, and educated at Oxford. He has self-released five hip hop albums and three EPs on his C.O.M Entertainment label. Outside of music, Zuby has made a name for himself as a prolific social media user, creating content about marketing, fitness, and cultural commentary.
After Twitter suspended his account, he capitalized on the marketing opportunity, immediately selling “Ok dude…” t-shirts. The rap single came two weeks ago, and parlays an innocent tweet into a solid musical performance.
The opening verse is tame, but entertaining. He recounts his biography, exaggerated for effect, and foreshadows the politically incorrect second verse. He is warned about becoming commercial and controversial:
“You’ve come a long way
Please don’t go commercial now
Careful with your words
Don’t be controversial now”
He doesn’t take the advice. The second verse rips into various social justice causes, beginning with drag queen story hour:
“They say ‘be open minded’ but they tell you how to live
That’s how you ended up with drag queens reading to your kids”
He follows that up by taking on socialism, statism, unfettered immigration, abortion, and transgenderism:
“I think socialism sucks and every government is shady
I’m not down with open borders, I’m not cool with killing babies
There aren’t infinite genders and man can’t be a lady
And you know that it’s the truth, so why you looking at me crazy?”
He mocks the outrage machine and cancel culture:
“I’m tired of your -isms, I’m bored of all your -phobias
I am not a bigot just cuz I don’t smoke what’s smoking ya
Shame and calling names the only thing you can invoke
But we can talk about the system if you really think you’re ‘woke’”
And he ends with race commentary:
“Sell them murder, sell them dope, all the things that keep em broke
But you’ll label me a sellout if I try to give them hope
I don’t care my vision bigger, raise your kids stop pulling triggers
You’re a smart black man, so why you call yourself a …?”
In this song, Zuby transgresses the Approved Narrative. He does not hold the Respected Opinions, and he will say these things out loud, into the microphone, with the cameras on. In 2020, that’s enough to make you a hero.
It is possible that Zuby is simply an astute marketer—he’s no less—rather than a principled dissenter. Perhaps he recognized the market share opportunity for a black rapper who is decidedly not woke. Maybe he noticed his follower count increase each time he said something positive about President Trump or pointed out the latest absurdity among the SJWs. I don’t think that is the case, but I don’t know. Nor do I care. Here are three reasons.
The Right Enemies
First, Zuby has the right enemies. The hook for Ok Dude includes the line: “And I got friends and enemies.” Truth-telling breeds enemies. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. When someone stands up to speak the plain truth liars will meet him with sneers and attacks. He will make enemies. But these enemies and liars are also enemies of God. They murder the image of God and call it healthcare (abortion). They surgically maim the image of God and call it civil rights (transgenderism). They steal, kill, and destroy and call it compassion (socialism). Zuby points out their lies and earns the right enemies.
Too many Christians think we should not have any enemies at all. Therefore, they say nothing that would get them one. But Jesus does not say we shouldn’t have enemies, he says we should love them. And one excellent way to love them is to not coddle their lies, but to tell them the truth.
The Right Fear
Second, Zuby has the right fear. To be clear, I have no idea if Zuby is a Christian or not. From casual observation he is not anti-Christian and, sometimes, seems to indicate belief. But I make no claims about his religious faith. But taking him at his word from this song, Zuby has his fears in order:
“A couple real celebrities but most of them are frauds
Tell you how I really feel because my only fear is God”
A man who fears God is free to speak the truth because he does not fear man. But one who fears man will never speak the truth, at least not any truths that might cost him. He will only speak those truths that will not be met with ridicule from those men he fears. For example, many conservative evangelical leaders are solid pro-life supporters. They will unapologetically oppose abortion, and good on them. But this is an approved position for a conservative evangelical to hold. The secular left disagrees, but there really is no cost to an evangelical for opposing abortion. It is expected and accepted. It is not, however, accepted to assign any agency and responsibility to the woman who procured an abortion. The Approved Narrative is that women are always and only victims, never perpetrators. Those who fear man refuse to acknowledge such. Christians must relearn the fear of God to the exclusion of the fear of man.
Simple True Things
Third, Zuby points out the obvious. He says simple true things that not too long ago would never have been controversial. Who would have thought the line “A man can’t be a lady” would be a serious truth claim in a rap song? In this way, Zuby functions as a Jordan-Peterson-of-hip-hop figure. Peterson told young men to make their beds, and they crowned him a savant. This is because the world is starved for fathers. There is a scarcity of men who will tell the truth, who will give straight advice, who will not live by lies. Zuby, at least in his latest release, is one of those men.
You can listen to Ok Dude here or watch the music video:
Rhett Burns (@rhett_burns) is an associate pastor and small business owner living in Greenville, SC with his wife and four kids.