Vanessa Carlton’s hit single “A Thousand Miles” is one of those rare songs that can get folks singing seemingly regardless of age or race. However, after a group of young rappers decided to sample the Grammy-nominated track for a violently charged song titled “Who I Smoke,” it left many of Carlton’s fans wondering whether everyone should be allowed to enjoy the record.
In late March, rappers Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa, Youngeen Ace, and FastMoney Goon collaborated for the single that has since gone viral, garnering 22,437,380 views on YouTube since its posting on March 28. However, not everyone was open to the idea of a piano-drive pop tune used as the backdrop for lyrics such as “Ayy, when I see you, I’m a push your sh-t back, boy. Choppa get to spittin’ through your set, we don’t fight, boy” or “12 paramedics couldn’t save your f-ckin’ life, boy. Rod K dead and he never comin’ back, boy.”
After the song received harsh criticism for its violent undertone, Carlton quickly came to the defense of the young artists. She revealed that not only did she approve of the music, but she also attached an article titled “Share Cropping Blackness: White Supremacy and the Hyper-Consumption of Black Popular Culture.”
In a post on Twitter, the singer-songwriter wrote before the link to the aforementioned article, “To the white folks that have expressed anger/shock over my approval of A Thousand Miles’ usage in the Spinabenz, Whoppa Wit Da Choppa, Yungeen Ace, & FastMoney Goon song Who I Smoke, I invite you to ask yourself why you feel this way & then read this.”
In a follow-up post, she continued, “Popular songs accompanied by white violence or tales of white violence aren’t questioned. It’s considered visceral or cinematic. Here we have Stuck in the Middle of you playing while a guy gets his ear cut off. Reservoir Dogs.” The 40-year-old later corrected herself after mistaking the title: “Stuck in the Middle with You” by Stealer’s Wheel.
Many fans continued to push back, stating that her example was fictional. Meanwhile, the young men in the song were glorifying violence, mocking the dead, and reportedly speaking on real-life crimes — though that has yet to be proven. Others pointed out that Carlton once blasted Chris Brown after he posted the same track on his Instagram page back in 2018. The incident occurred on International Women’s Day. At the time, Carlton took to her social media, stating, “Today Chris Brown posted my video. I am now being repeatedly tagged to his account.” She added, “Being that today is International Women’s Day I feel compelled to draw a line. I support survivors not perpetrators of domestic violence. I do not want to be associated with an artist that has assaulted women on a day like today.”
Still Carlton’s cosign of “Who I Smoke” garnered support from others for sticking up for the young, including one Twitter user who wrote, “Shit like this you gotta respect. Made a hit, cleared the hit to give another person a chance to for success & a different life & STOOD UP FOR THE CULTURE. I salute you @VanessaCarlton all the way from The Bronx.”
Link to original Atlanta Black Star