The question presented is how similar is Jay Z’s THE STORY OF O.J. to Tomás Dockner’s SOME OL’ DOLLS?
Straight out of Walter Lantz’s [“Most racist cartoon ever!”] Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat (1941), I was pulled down the rabbit hole of racist animation and watched “The Banned Eleven.” You can look it up on YouTube. We see various images of blacks as mammys, servants, crows, shucking and jiving, shuffling and dancing, and these are used in both videos. These cartoons were banned from mainstream television in 1968 and to use them now is to challenge the viewer. More than the use of the “N” word, these images provoke us to look and to listen.
Jay Z uses the “N” word throughout his song He reminds us that how blacks are regarded really hasn’t changed much at all since 1941. THE STORY OF O.J. takes a positive turn away from the celebration and display of wealth to a more responsible message of giving back to where you came from. Tomás Dockner uses the cartoon images and his words from a point of power, questioning us. He warns, “Back off mister, won’t you give me some space? Can’t you see I’m running in the human race.” SOME OL’ DOLLS is the more powerful piece as you can hear the edge in Donker’s voice and the frustration in his lyrics. “Trying to live in my skin. Screaming open up the door but they won’t let me in. So now I’ve got to pay attention. Did I mention my patience is wearing thin?” I could eat, sleep, and breath this groove all day.
So these videos are similar but different enough to be great each in their own way. But if I were to guess? I might think that someone saw SOME OL’ DOLLS, loved it, went on back to making music, not even realizing the influence it had over them.