Nebeu Shimeles does not have an empire of emotion.
What’s your favorite Theophilus London verse? Haha, jk jk, nobody has an answer to that question because nobody is invested enough in that man’s art to isolate 16, 8, or even 4 bars that are worth repeating in a drunk text message conversation with the homies. While reading this, you’ve likely come to realize that you (along with a majority of the American public) don’t have the faintest notion of who Theophilus London is. Lucky for you, we’re here to unpack the enigma that is Theophilus London, and wrestle with the fact that his career as a musician has been allowed to persist.
Here are the important details: Theophilus London is a subpar rapper (at best), subpar singer (at best) and looks very cool while doing the aforementioned activities in a subpar fashion (that sums it up). If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering how anyone could make a living off of such meager talent/abilities, but the answer is simple: Theophilus London is #RAPGAMEMITTROMNEY. Arriving at this conclusion required sincere critical inquiry and a longitudinal ethnographic study, from which three primary results emerged:
1) Eternally “On the Cusp”
If you’re at all attuned to the rap blogosphere (and bless you if you don’t have a black hole in your heart that demands being filled with rapper news/gossip/banter/etc.), then you’re well aware of the fact that Theophilus London has been primed to blow up since at least 2008. Every one of his releases has been coupled with press framing him as an artist that’s “buzzing” or “on the rise” and each time the music has dropped, we were all reminded of why he hasn’t transitioned out of that phase. You don’t see Andrew Bynum still campaigning for Rookie of the Year, do you fam? Bars like this are indicative of why his artistic output has yet to capture the hearts and minds of the people:
This here is Givenchy, 900 dollar jeans, homie
All these girls be raunchy like let me see your peen, homie
Whatever you say, Theo.
Now, even those of us who pay only a modicum of attention to electoral politics, are very familiar with conservative America’s favorite poltergeist, Willard Mitt Romney (“white folks be pasty” jokes are my fav). How many times have we heard about this man being the “future of the Republican Party” and/or the Republican Party’s best shot at the presidency? Yet every time the country was presented with the specter of him assuming the highest office in the land, the American public uttered a collective, “or nah.” They even have a Netflix documentary about how he couldn’t make shit pop off- I mean, damn.
2) Coasting on the Success of Others
Mitt Romney’s story is the classic American Dream: wake up in a new Bugatti , go to school surrounded by people who also woke up in a new Bugatti, and go on to lead a life full of acquiring new Bugattis and fathering children who were conceived/birthed in, you guessed it, A NEW BUGATTI. All I’m saying is, dude was born into privilege and never looked back. Struggle, hardship and adversity don’t factor into Mitt’s narrative, unless those things are characterized by having to maintain a healthy supply of hair gel in the home at all times, which I can imagine is a trying endeavor for him. He’s been coasting on his family’s wealth and his dad’s political bonafides for his entire life, which got him damn close to the presidency. That is until everyone realized, wait, HOW HE GET SO DAMN CLOSE TO THE THRONE THO?
As for Theophilus London, I can’t speak to his upbringing, but his connections within the music industry are the only thing keeping his blog bubble floating. Whether it’s dropping his struggle bars on fire ass production featuring the likes of A$AP Rocky, or palling around with Solangé, one thing is for certain: Theophilus London is well aware of who to align himself with, having clearly graduated from the Jay-Z “your network is your networth” School of Business. The most mind boggling friendship he’s been able to cultivate is with the voice of our generation, Kanye West (and that characterization of Kanye is not a joke- we don’t play about things like that in the safe space I’ve created for Yeezus worship on my blog). While they have never officially dropped any music together (hmm, I wonder why), Theophilus London’s social media presence amounts to a constant reminder that he’s kicking it with Kanye at an exclusive event you or I will never be invited to as we’re not relevant enough, thus making him a human of higher value. I’m convinced the only reason Yeezus entertains his presence is that Theo procured some copy of a recording in which Kanye bags on post-Black Album Jay-Z raps.
Side Note: Recently Theophilus London had this fuck shit to say about Solangé during her much publicized feud with former collaborator Dev Hynes (who is also a GAWD, so I’m not gonna pick sides here). This is important to note, as the idea of Theophilus London decrying another artist as a “social climber” is tantamount to Jay-Z complaining about the number of Basquiat references in contemporary rap.
3) Completely Out of Touch
At this point we’re all well acquainted with the idea that Mitt Romney is disgustingly out of touch with the plight of working folks, and has no capacity for relating to humans on even the most superficial level. Whether its his infamous 47% comments or his childlike fascination with tree height, Mitt has demonstrated an uncanny ability to fully explicate the extent to which he is an emotionless fuckboy lacking anything resembling empathy. It stands to reason he’s this out of touch, considering the hermetically sealed tupperware container of privilege from which he emerged. He’s clearly the guy you want at your house party at 3am, as his attempts at initiating conversation would swiftly drive away even the most entrenched “I’m gonna stay too late at your function” types.
While we don’t have access to the same amount of information on Theophilus that we do Mitt, having regrettably attended two of his performances in the last six months, I can draw on personal experience. Back in August 2013, London had a performance in Prospect Park, minutes from where he grew up in Brooklyn. You would think this would be a homecoming of sorts, rife with the requisite pageantry and fanfare, but as it turns out his own borough ain’t even got his back. After churning through half a set of songs nobody was feeling, he paused the show to complain about the lack of lighting on the tapestry behind him, which he made sure to highlight he had shipped from Monaco specifically for that performance. He circled back to this fact multiple times (smh) and to make matters worse, it wasn’t even cool looking, but then again, maybe it was the lighting. The most telling portion of his set was that crowd engagement was at its highest when he played “You Make Me Wanna” by Usher. Let’s be clear, that song is a certified slap, but if the most enthusiasm exhibited by a crowd at your own show is based on a song that isn’t yours, IT’S A TERRIBLE LOOK FOR YOU FAM. Worst part of it all was that he kept plugging away for the entirety of his set as though people were actually hype. I guess you can admire the wherewithal on his part to keep trudging through the performance unfazed, but I got the sense he really thought he was killing his set. And now I’m making the executive decision to not tell you about the second performance, because you should have all the information you need from that rundown.
Where Do We Go From Here?
I’m sure Theophilus London is a nice enough dude on an interpersonal level. Actually, I’m not sure of that fact at all, but it stands to reason that the type of person who generates this level of outsized blog coverage relative to genuine talent/quality output, has to be excellent at kissing ass networking. Its time Theophilus London leveraged his skill set for a more appropriate role, a.k.a. an ambiguous job title at DONDA, the responsibilities for which would be wholly comprised of posing in pictures next to Kanye while wearing the flyest shit this Earth has to offer. Sounds like a good deal to me.