Spoken word artist Too Black has a lot to say about being Black in America. But the story of how he first started as a poet might have as much to do with pizza delivery as with race.
Too Black didn’t get a lot of tips when delivering pizzas on the Ball State University campus in Muncie. (He graduated in 2012.) So he wrote about it in a piece called “Fuckstrated” that relates to the stinginess of many of his customers but also to a certain Chris Rock routine.
“The [routine] is about old Black men who grew up with really hard racism not as hidden as it is today,” says Too Black.
Chris Rock talks in his stand-up routine about the service positions previous generations of Black men had, as janitors and butlers, and how they were forced to act a certain way if they wanted to make a living.
“We call it cooning,” says Too Black. “You say, ‘Yeah… how are you doing boss?’ But as soon as the boss walked away you cussed him out and hated him but you didn’t tell anyone because you wanted to make your money. I brought that to delivering pizzas. I’m like, ‘Thank you,’ and as soon as they close the door I’m like, ‘Fuck you.’” I hope you choke on your food. Because they didn’t tip me, right? I pulled from that legacy to write about this frustrated worker who’s also trying to better himself.”
Too Black was able to articulate the feeling of fuckstration, as it were, in spoken word in a way that was poetic and funny.
(Too Black’s stage name has something to do with both a quotation from a Malcolm X speech and conversations in the media during Obama’s presidential run about whether he was too Black, or not Black enough.)