Profile
Search
Register
Log in
"What Does the White Rapper Owe #BlackLivesMatter?"
View previous topic | View next topic >

Post new topic Reply to topic
Strange Famous Forum > The General Forum

Author Message
SFR announcement



Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 980
"What Does the White Rapper Owe #BlackLivesMatter?"  Reply with quote  

Below is an op-ed that B. Dolan wrote for Pitchfork. If you follow us on social media, you may have noticed a lot of ruffled feathers as a result of this article. Might as well see where the forum folks rest on this issue:

http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/869-op-ed-what-does-the-white-rapper-owe-blacklivesmatter/

In 1991, Vanilla Ice appeared on the "Arsenio Hall Show" for a now infamous interview. From the moment his guestís emerald green jumpsuit touched the couch, Arsenioís demeanor was pointed, aggressive, and stern. Hall went at the white rap phenomenon like a shark smelling blood, grilling him about his past, his dancing, his relationships with other rappers, and more. Six minutes into the interview, Arsenio went for the jugular:
"I know a lot of black rappers are probably angry because some of the white people screaming didnít buy rap until you did itÖ until they saw a vanilla face on the albumÖ"

Surprisingly, Vanilla Iceís response seemed to win the studio audience over that night, even causing them to heckle the showís host. "Itís not my fault," he said. "Did I have anything to do with that? NoÖ Whether I like it or not, itís bringing rap music up. Rap music is here to stay."
It was an oversimplification of a complex issue, but it was also a hard argument to counter at the time. Rob Van Winkle, having just released the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard charts, wasnít a marketing or record label executive; he was just a guy that made rap songs and danced in shiny suits. Hell, he was a Public Enemy fan himself! In 1991, new artists didnít have much control over how they were being presented or packaged, and the public didnít necessarily expect them to be vocal about socio-economic issues.

More than two decades later, questions of what to do with white privilege in rap music, and what responsibility the white rapper has to the cultural roots of their art form, remain in heated contention. Race in America is still at the forefront of our minds and headlines, and artists are now responsible for providing daily content via social media to the Internet. As a result, the argument started by Arsenio Hall and Vanilla Ice is still raging, and one needs look no further than Azealia Banksí Hot 97 interview from December of last year, or controversies over Iggy Azalea and Macklemore, to see that the tone has only intensified.

Also, recent viral successes like Watsky ("Pale Kid Raps Fast") and Mac Lethal ("White Kid Raps Fast!") can no longer hide behind Vanilla Iceís 1991 defense. They themselves purposefully titled their videos, to exploit the novelty of their whiteness, and cashed in enormously by doing so. Viral fame and acknowledgement from mainstream pop culture quickly followed, while equally talented black artists have remained unrecognized by those outlets. No word on whether Ellen DeGeneres has ever heard of Tech N9ne, but suffice it to say he has not yet been a guest on her show. Rappers are now packaging themselves more directly, and as such can be expected to answer more directly for the racial bias they exploit.
As a white rapper myself, Iíve been navigating these waters for years. When I began performing in New York in 1999, I immediately encountered Def Jam executives who were eagerly looking for "the next Eminem." I quickly realized this was an open door I could try and walk through, as excited A&Rs made clear at the private industry party I was invited to perform at after only a few public performances at the Nuyorican Cafe.

Years later, Iíve found myself frustrated and compelled to confront my white rap peers as recently as last Mayís Soundset festival in Minneapolis. On my way between stages, I passed by Yelawolfís (white) DJ in the VIP artistís area, and was amazed to see him wearing a hat with the confederate flag on it. The idea that he would perform wearing it, as a white artist at a hip-hop festival, disgusted me. I later learned that Yelawolf has had his own past controversies involving his endorsement of that flag.

But are these artists doing anything wrong? Am I expecting too much, or being "oversensitive" in regard to issues like these? Maybe Iím clinging to an old ethic in rap music that doesnít exist anymore. Itís been a long time since Chuck Dís famous statement that hip-hop was "CNN for black people." And anyway, what do I expect a white rapper to do/say in regard to racial politics in America?

By wrestling with these issues in my own career, interacting with my own fan base, and examining the question from a number of perspectives, I think I know: I expect a white rapper to be accountable for their whiteness and privilege, and to have an ongoing conversation about it with their white fans.

I expect this because, at least a couple times a year, I meet a fan who tells me my music is "more intelligent" than "most of what you hear." Or who rattles off a list of their favorite rappers that is noticeably devoid of black people. I know Iím not alone in this experience, and I believe that to not contradict or contend with the existence of those attitudes among my fans, while cashing in on their support, seems to me to be a form of perpetuating white supremacy.

If my rap is intelligent, itís because I listened to black artists like KRS-One and Chuck D. If itís poetic, itís because I was influenced by De La Soul and Scarface. I learned the mechanics of rap by memorizing Biggie and Nas lyrics. Nearly everything that my white fans now celebrate about my craft and skill, I adapted and learned from black artists early on. Because Iím white, white fans are more likely to identify with me and my music. The result? White rappers are more likely to find themselves in rooms full of white fans, who have come to listen to rap music with varied understandings of its black origins. Those white fans are also likely to represent and experience the entire spectrum of white privilege, white frailty, and white supremacist ideas.

In the end, whether they acknowledge it or ignore it, only a fool would try to deny it: White rappers are bound to have some racist white fans. The question white rappers ultimately need to answer is then: "Am I comfortable performing for people with racist beliefs, helping solidify their racist ideas via my art, and benefiting from their support?"

When I began posting about the #BlackLivesMatter movement on my Facebook page, I began an ongoing dialogue with my fans that has caused me to argue with a great deal of them, and by some accounts "lose" a number of them. Iím well aware that the ideal way to grow a fan base is to give them as little actual information about me as possible, One Direction being the ideal model for success. Tell them your favorite color, but not where you stand on LGBTQ rights. Make them think they "know" you, but give them as little divisive information as possible. "When you talk politics, you lose half your audience," goes the usual advice. Iíve often been tempted to respond: "Yeah but, itís the shitty half."
Fair warning: you will be trolled for doing this. Your statuses will be shared by hundreds of fans, whose uncles and aunts will then see them and jump into the topic with all manner of foul comments and racist GIFs. You will have to explain things multiple times, and you will be told that your opinions have "lost you" fans of your art.

If you stick with it though, something miraculous can start to happen. Someone will mention how "#AllLivesMatter" in your comment section, and you will watch a legion of your fans have a constructive dialogue and successfully rebut the commenter, before you even have time to. You will have empowered those who are actively resisting white supremacy, and those who are attempting to educate each other about privilege. Your fan community can be a place where white people talk to each other about race in a constructive manner, arguably the most important action that can take place in the struggle against systemic and individual racism.
In this way, white rappers can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Given the fact that we earn our living from a black artform we have so recently adapted, I tend to think being part of the solution (and taking off our goddamn confederate flag gear) is the least we can do.
Post Fri Aug 21, 2015 3:59 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7949
 Reply with quote  

i listen to a wide variety of hip hop and i play it for other people all the time, and most have never heard of the different styles beyond the radio or understand the creativity that goes into hip hop, i get judged and my music i play gets judged often with a sort of racsim by all , many like it, many dont understand, and many throw it into their own categories that are totally wrong and misinterpreted, i do my best to explain, and i play even more for them to learn, with all that said there are many who absolutely love it and want to know more, hear more

Variety of hip hop Needs to be in Mainstream , plain and simple, the history of hip hop needs to be respected and played more often in Mainstream, HIP HOP is so much bigger and is so much more and all people need to know that, its a very tired subject but this is how its going to be judged by public until we finally break the system
Post Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:27 am
 View user's profile Send private message
Limbs



Joined: 04 Feb 2011
Posts: 1107
 Reply with quote  

We could have such better discussions on this board than on twitter and facebook. Some of B's backlash from this and the other op-ed he wrote on white supremacy could have gone somewhere interesting here.

Where I am from and live this is a real thing. White kids who think Eminem started rap and taking it very personal when someone shows he didn't.

In fact, at the sage show in columbus, I chatted with a guy who just got into Sage and hiphop. He mentioned how Mac Lethal's videos led him to sage. That was his second hiphop show. His first was mac lethal. Where he told me mac bought the crowd a round of drinks...

He never said anything fucked up but we've all had these conversations and they often come with red flags. How do I as a fellow white fan handle that conversation without being a dick but also show how you don't need white people doing hiphop to be into it?
Post Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:13 am
 View user's profile Send private message
Limbs



Joined: 04 Feb 2011
Posts: 1107
 Reply with quote  

The War At Home: A Year in White Violence and Panic Since the Death of Mike Brown

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/b-dolan/the-war-at-home-a-year-in_b_7929982.html



Breaking news: B Dolan is a good writer.
Post Sat Aug 22, 2015 8:31 am
 View user's profile Send private message
DeadAwake



Joined: 17 Feb 2007
Posts: 601
Location: Aus.
 Reply with quote  

I do think you expect too much, not that you expect much, its just that you can't really expect. I do commend for trying to take a small step in the right direction.

I would say recognition and respect. Recognition of the African American people and how hip hop came about as a means of survival, or rather a means of making their existence more tolerable. Through acknowledging that i think a respect can grow.

To really honour the #BlackLivesMatter movement, i think its necessary to observe onself and ones attitudes in relation to African-Americans and in a sense i think it applies to all "non-white" people. You hit on a very pertinent point, that racism/white supremacy operate on a subconscious level to some degree. When you mentioned that people are more likely to identify with people of their own race, that is a cognitive bias we are predisposed to, whether we are generally not aware of it operating or perhaps dont like to admit to it. Stereo-types as well been ingrained in us and perpetuate the association with different races of unflattering images, whether it be thugs in this case or terrorism associated with Middle Eastern people. Yet it seems as if people discard or overlook positive traits, for instance, African American people have a far more developed sense of community, brotherhood and solidarity than European folk.

Another facet you touched upon is the intertwining of racism with patriotism. Aint a doubt in my mind about the crossing over of those two. The Yelawolf case sounds like a comparitvely innocent, though i dont know his intentions and views, of racial inconsiderateness. There was a Reclaim Australia Rally a few months back which they advertised as "protest sharia law, the burka, FGM, polygamy, halal etc. Support free speech and love of your country" which sounds to me like a kicking out of all Islamic culture. On the flip side, under protest rules it says "No racism or hatred" which seems hypocritical. Is it that this protest, fueled by a misguided patriotism, was really oblivious to its racist undercurrents? So much for that multi-cultural diversity us Australians are so proud of.

But to the point, a way of disintegrating the interal barries we have erected is by exposing oneself to cultures of other races, spending time with people of other races, educating oneself about their culture and resisting preconceived notions passed through the pool of information that paint a "definitive" picture of a race or culture. Hip hop is one part of the African-American culture and so provides white rappers with an connection to them, and so maybe a duty to at least attack fallacies when brought up in group settings. For instance, one can reference Tupacs "Keep ya head up" when misogyny is connected with Hip Hop.

Ill stop there cause i feel im not properly contributing to the aim of this thread, going off on tangents and being a bit too general in my response. Speaking of, is the main point you are trying to address that it is easier, in a sense, for white rappers to gain recognition and make a living off a black artform than its progenitors?
Post Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:25 am
 View user's profile Send private message
General_Lee



Joined: 12 Jan 2005
Posts: 438
Location: Slocan, BC
 Reply with quote  

"He never said anything fucked up but we've all had these conversations and they often come with red flags. How do I as a fellow white fan handle that conversation without being a dick but also show how you don't need white people doing hiphop to be into it?"

Every fan of an artform has to start somewhere. You encounter that first artist who you can easily relate to, who then expands your tastes and appreciation of the art form, and theh you get into more of the genre. It's okay for that guy to relate to Mac and Sage, and then get drawn in to the music of black artists through them.

All you do as a fellow fan is show them good black artists you think they'll like.
Post Thu Sep 03, 2015 9:03 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Limbs



Joined: 04 Feb 2011
Posts: 1107
 Reply with quote  

I did fail to mention he was 25 or older. You don't live that long without being exposed to great black art. He shouldn't need me telling him about Tribe called quest. I mean, who considers themselves a music fan and doesn't have a real appreciation for wutang? These aren't deep cuts.

My real question should have been how should white people deal with racists? The encounter I had really was pleasant enough. Mostly because I ended it in due time. Don't give white people a chance to really express themselves or you'll hear some real fucked up shit.
Post Fri Sep 04, 2015 7:24 am
 View user's profile Send private message
Mr Jenkins



Joined: 13 Dec 2007
Posts: 626
Location: Aotearoa
 Reply with quote  

Macklemores Downtown (lifted from 'the message') includes Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz... as well as bringing them on stage at VMAs. This seems to go some way toward the kaupapa of the OP. Would you consider this as a step in the right direction?
Post Mon Sep 07, 2015 3:22 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
tommi teardrop



Joined: 12 Apr 2007
Posts: 2223
Location: Las Vegas
 Reply with quote  

There seemed to be a connotation behind the "used to like anticon, now you jock dipset" description of rap fans tastes shifting from conscious/indieground in the early 2000s to mainstream/trill rap music as the decade moved on.

I felt like a lot of people dismissed the rise of Wayne and artists like him as a cultural safari by pitchfork hipsters who throw gangsta parties and wear blackface. I'm sure there was some of that going on, but for myself and the people whose tastes I respect in rap music, it was very much a conscious reaction against what Dolan said:

"I expect this because, at least a couple times a year, I meet a fan who tells me my music is "more intelligent" than "most of what you hear." Or who rattles off a list of their favorite rappers that is noticeably devoid of black people. I know Iím not alone in this experience, and I believe that to not contradict or contend with the existence of those attitudes among my fans, while cashing in on their support, seems to me to be a form of perpetuating white supremacy."

I personally knew so many people who only liked rap music when it was Eminem, Ali, Slug, Sole, Sage or Cage giving them a version of rap that they could digest and identify with. And they did not hesitate to tell you how mindless and ignorant rappers like Wayne, Rick Ross and Jeezy were. There was no motivation to search out the artists that influenced the white rappers they identified with. And it felt like many rappers from that era did all they could to disassociate themselves from the type of rap music that was coming up specifically in poor black communities. Advancing hip hop and what not.

I felt a bit of that here when NWA was dismissed by some as evil nursery rhymes. Or when Jesse would cream his panties over Buck65 and nerd rap while calling Scarface mediocre.

I still get it when people just assume I am listening to Future, Waka, Keef or Young Thug because it is ironically funny or something. Rap music is a black art. It is important to try to understand why certain artists are popular in black communities. These are the communites that have bred the musical influences for some of the most important musicians for decades upon decades now.

It annoys the shit out of me and I think the best solution is for white rappers/fans to let their fans/friends know about the black rappers they love like Dolan did in his AMA. Put them on songs. Guest on their albums. Talk about why you love the new Waka record.

I usually just say, "you like rap music but you don't like any current black rappers?" Seems like it at least gets people thinking.
Post Tue Sep 08, 2015 3:27 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Mark in Minnesota



Joined: 02 Jan 2004
Posts: 2100
Location: Saint Louis Park, MN
 Reply with quote  

Before I went to sleep last night, I produced a little over 1500 words for a reply in this thread. I'm not sure I want to post any of it.

The main gist was this: I see arguments like the ones in this thread asking white rap fans to connect intellectually with black music; that is, music to which the original black audiences were able to connect emotionally. The arguments ask something similar of white rappers about the music they make.

I've gotten some value out of doing the intellectual exercise, but it's mostly the same sort of value that I've gotten out of films like Style Wars, Scratch, The Freshest Kids, Freestyle and This is the Life. Educational value, giving me a wider vocabulary to think and talk about an art form in which I'm interested. But I'm not interested in the art form so that I can talk about it for its own sake. I'm interested in it for the same main reason anyone is interested in some form of music: because engaging with it emotionally improves my life.

My ability to connect with music depends on my emotional context. I was exactly the kind of person who needed to hear Soul Position's Fuckajob. I was far less the kind of person who needed to hear Boogie Down Productions' Outta Here. I don't see this as a deficiency in either song--but only one of them gave me important emotional tools to manage my relationship with my profession and my colleagues. (I could make similar comparisons about Rhymesayers songs that helped me put my shaky love life into proper perspective.) Most days, I'm going to seek that out that emotional growth to the exclusion of the history lesson.

Speaking personally: I feel like one of the most valuable things for me in terms of connecting to Black Lives Matter was this video--not because it's some kind of authoritative breakdown of the topic, but because seeing Killer Mike talk in such a raw way--and then, with El-P, lead into such a defiant opening song--in that setting on that day shook something loose in me, and that shaken feeling gave me something emotional to recall every time a similar event shows up in the news.

I guess I think this is what white rappers can best do for #BlackLivesMatter: make and perform art which might give audience members the broader emotional context they need to engage meaningfully with issues like these.

But I also don't think of this as a debt owed. Music can rise to the level of art that inspires, but sometimes music only aspires to entertain, and that's okay too. Like the man said about fart jokes: "It's not art, stupid. It's a bar trick."


Last edited by Mark in Minnesota on Sun Sep 13, 2015 8:49 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Wed Sep 09, 2015 2:58 pm
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
mortalthoughts
LAME KID


Joined: 12 Dec 2002
Posts: 11630
Location: MI
 Reply with quote  

Limbs wrote:

My real question should have been how should white people deal with racists? The encounter I had really was pleasant enough. Mostly because I ended it in due time. Don't give white people a chance to really express themselves or you'll hear some real fucked up shit.

I have a hard time with this. I'm no where near as an eloquent speaker as Bernard is.

(I'm white too) how do you get someone to at the very least acknowledge institutionalized racism? I feel like a lot of times other white people don't even realize there being racist in the slightest and its pretty scary.
edit: It's frustrating and I have a super hard time having a productive conversation about it.
Post Thu Sep 10, 2015 11:56 am
 View user's profile Send private message AIM Address
SFR announcement



Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 980
 Reply with quote  

Mr Jenkins wrote:
Macklemores Downtown (lifted from 'the message') includes Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee and Grandmaster Caz... as well as bringing them on stage at VMAs. This seems to go some way toward the kaupapa of the OP. Would you consider this as a step in the right direction?


Rather than a step in the right direction, I would say it's a super steroid version of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbdJtrx6TlM
Post Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:26 am
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Neuro
A champion of Kurtis SP


Joined: 19 Jul 2002
Posts: 7949
 Reply with quote  

edit:

thats depressing as fuck
Post Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:45 am
 View user's profile Send private message
SFR announcement



Joined: 26 Jul 2004
Posts: 980
 Reply with quote  

It's pretty fucking sad. All of this is sad. Everything.
Post Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:54 am
 View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Limbs



Joined: 04 Feb 2011
Posts: 1107
 Reply with quote  

Study on whites denying their privilege.

http://m.mic.com/articles/122149/new-study-explains-the-denial-of-white-privilege

It's really goddamn frustrating. Just babies man.


Last edited by Limbs on Fri Sep 11, 2015 2:09 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Fri Sep 11, 2015 1:34 pm
 View user's profile Send private message

Post new topic Reply to topic
Jump to:  
Goto page 1, 2  Next
All times are GMT - 6 Hours.
The time now is Fri Apr 29, 2016 7:30 pm
  Display posts from previous:      


Powered by phpBB: © 2001 phpBB Group
Template created by The Fathom
Based on template of Nick Mahon