My pants are saggin',
but I don't care.
- "Colors" by Ice-T
When I was growing from a young boy to a young man in St. Louis, the State instituted a ban and fine regarding loud music emanating from one’s car audio system. This was around the time when low-riders and the “boom-boom” culture were beginning to take root with regards to America’s youth and young adult population. I remember this one time (at band camp), my friends and I were gathered on the White Castle’s parking lot at Natural Bridge and Kingshighway (remember, like Crenshaw on Sundays. See, Boyz-n-the-Hood; Nelly, "Natural Bridge and Kingshighway"). A very nice car drove onto the lot playing the latest hip-hop hit song. I believe it was “My Mind's Playin’ Tricks on Me” by the Houston based group The Geto Boys. At any rate, a young lady was like: “Girl…he got them boom-booms!” I digress. My friends and I also worked, off and on, at Tocco’s Professional Car Audio, located in the municipality of Dellwood in north St. Louis county. Tocco’s was an industry leader in St. Louis with regards to selling and installing car audio. Leonard “Lenny” Tocco is a white, Italian-American business owner. I mention this because, young black youth and young adult males in St. Louis did not import their audio gear from overseas and were not the only ones participating in car audio culture, yet they were routinely the ones profiled and fined (and sometimes jailed) as a result of the ordinances and regulations passed by municipalities like Dellwood, Moline Acres, Florissant, St. Louis City, Ladue, Olivette and so on and so forth, with regards to the playing of loud music. St. Louis companies made millions from selling the car audio and the State made millions by criminalizing those who purchased the car audio. I fear the same will result from the sagging pants ban.
And, I want to make this argument regarding sagging pants. Taking into consideration the knowledge we have regarding what engendered the culture of sagging pants, I would like to posit the following: I was watching the VH-1 Behind the Music special on music artist and writer Nasir “Nas” Jones. In response to Nas being too old to wear his pants sagging, Nas replied, “I know…but every now and then, when I am in a room full of white, male executives…I gotta let ‘em know.” What Nas was getting at was the idea that at heart, hip-hop music originated as revolutionary music (socially, politically, spiritually) and every now and then he, Nasir Jones, has to remind the men who control the economic strings of America and are endeared to him because he can make them money that, at heart he, Nasir Jones, disagrees with, and desires to revolutionize, how Americans view and treat African American males. For Nas, sagging pants represent a certain political position. A position which suggests that he will not willingly assimilate to the desires and dictates of his political and social overlords. He understands that his sagging pants make some people uncomfortable: that is why he chooses to strategically wear his pants sagging at times. If you do not understand the sentiments of a person like Nas, perhaps you should initiate a dialogue with the next person you see with sagging pants, instead of running to your local officials to curtail the freedom of expression of people with whom you disagree. Peace and blessings.