Editorials

Why The Use Of Doe B’s Casket Photo Is Ultimately Not A Good Idea

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In the world of music and art, controversy and shock value is often necessary…not just for entertainment, but also to wake people up to hear or see an important message. This was apparently the intended effect when DJ Frank White (along with Karltin Bankz) decided to use what appeared to be Doe B’s actual casket photo for his forthcoming posthumous release, ‘No Life After Death’ (an obvious play on The Notorious B.I.G.’s classic sophomore release). It’s a striking (and polarising) cover for the rapper, who was tragically murdered back in 2013 (three men have since been indicted in connection to the shooting). Here’s the problem:

Above lies a Facebook message from Dariauna Lassic (Doe B’s baby mother), who isn’t just upset about the artwork — she’s also floored by Frank White’s response when she expressed her concern. Simply put, when Lassic tried to explain how the image could have an affect on her and Doe B’s children, White not only brushed it off (claiming that he could be doing other things and he’s trying to make money for her), he then proceeded to cut her off completely. Which is the point of this opinion: Frank White, it’s not the album artwork that’s tasteless, it’s your handling of the issue with the mother of Doe B’s children that’s absolutely reprehensible.

To use another situation: back in 2014, J. Cole created the powerful song “Be Free”, which initially used the unforgettable photo showing the slain Michael Brown in the street — a clear attempt to push a message against police brutality. But the family didn’t like it, and asked that the image be taken down…the wishes of those who are in mourning. Did J. Cole respond by saying “they don’t get want I’m trying to do here,” or “their son was murdered by police and they’re worrying about a photo”? No, his team changed the image to that of Brown’s mother, “out of respect for her wishes.”

Since the Doe B artwork controversy began, the cover had since been taken down — but not without resistance from the team that decided to use it in the first place. One commenter even pushed the comparison between Doe B’s artwork and B.I.G.’s for ‘Life After Death’…even though B.I.G. was still alive when that photo was taken.

They — Frank White, Grand Hustle, whomever is part of the marketing and promotions of the album — will probably do whatever the hell they want to maximize publicity and (subsequently) sales (UPDATE: White actually posted that the album was cancelled, before deleting the post). But by completely casting off the family’s feelings of seeing their former loved one’s dead body on display, that’s just wrong. Money or not.

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A small but committed group of writers, bloggers and videographers that (mostly) exist and function all over the D.C. Metro area.

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