ob’nox’ious (adj.) In your face, thought-provoking expression that is undeniable; a person, object, or topic so objectionably hot that it must be called out or examined through popular eyes; a captivating description that always verifies the true essence of style, class, and intelligence.
‘Obnoxious’ Columnist Speaks Out
With the dog days of summer having long bid Hotlanta “adieu” (although weather would pretend otherwise), Atlantans have traded in their Capri pants and Caipirinhas for Tuxedo whites and Merlot. Concerts, benefits, fund-raisers, and “birthday” parties abound, as the social season has commenced. To some, the celebrity-soaked, guard-around-every-corner, lines-out-the-door events, with the strong tinge of exclusiveness for good measure, can appear to most as a bit overwhelming, abhorrent, or basically just, obnoxious. To others, this milieu is fodder for establishing and articulating agendas, for promoting rising influential stars, and rallying support around note-worthy and critical causes by creating a “buzz.” This, too, can be obnoxious, the William McCray way that is.
Open the pages of recent issues of The Sentinel or Club AUC, cruise www.blackvibes.com, and Obnoxious, the column created by the Morehouse alumnus and publicity wunderkind, William McCray, III, will decidedly prove a misnomer. “I started using [obnoxious] as a trendy word; some friends and I decided to try something new, like how our parents used ‘bad,’ and how everybody uses ‘hot’ now [to describe what’s ‘in’],” explains McCray. And Obnoxious has all but lived up to its denotation. Its redefinition applied through a social lens, a la McCray, as “in your face,” “thought-provoking,” and “objectionably hot,” has established the column as a mainstay in most African-American living rooms across Atlanta and the greater metropolitan area.
But the column’s scope far surpasses the confines of areas codified by 404, 678, and 770. McCray tackles national and world issues with the same ferocity that he applies on a local level. Leveraging his political science background, and working experience with three mayors, McCray wanted to platform Obnoxious, thematically, around “informing others about what is going on in the world that is important.” His pursuits to such have been inexorable; Obnoxious’s extensive presidential 2004 election coverage garnered strong responses to the column expressing appreciation, from college students to the elderly. “I knew they liked what I said,” beamed McCray.
Yet, the antithesis to “obnoxious” would be for McCray to broach his subjects as if “walking on egg shells.” McCray has wit and opinion in spades, and acknowledges the inspiration as coming from 3 sources: the African-American middle to upper-middle class community, his experience as an educator, and his family. So, for instance, the column’s jeremiad surrounding Jermaine Dupri’s methods of testing songs in stripclubs was invariably a reflection of the aforementioned. “I think that I know that community well, and I know what is on their minds, and what is important to them… I have [also] been an educator, a teacher standing in front of a classroom of high-school seniors that were seriously living the influence, living up to the images that they see glorified in music and hip-hop,” explains Mr. McCray. Having grown up in what McCray describes as a “COGIC (Church of God in Christ), very pious, in-church-all-day family,” the indelible mark of the parents he “adores” also plays a strong part in the obnoxious delivery; it actually crystallizes in the piece in the form of axioms mouthed by McCray’s father. (FYI: McCray does not dislike hip-hop, but wants to ensure there is a clear distinction between fact and fiction. Additionally, as it pertains to Mr. Dupri, Will finds that a stronger PR strategy would have helped him avoid a near social suicide.)
This young ingénue, this black Dominick Dunne with subjectivity, sites Mayor Willie Brown, entertainer/philanthropist Oprah Winfrey, and his grandmother as inspirations for their opinionated and stylish demeanor, “altruistic thirst for serving humanity,” and strong entrepreneurial spirit, respectively. It is in this genre that McCray wishes to create paradigms deluged in truth. Irrefutably, William McCray has lit a fire under the community through his column, pushing them to the boiling point of ‘obnoxiousness