Letters To The Editor-July '98

White Rappers And Privilege

These letters are in response to an editorial about white rap artists and their role within hip hop..

I really think that these white rap artists are only getting such high record sales because of white consumers. Concerning the Beastie Boys, they never were accepted by any of the black hip-hop heads I know.

The point is, from all the people that I know, the Beastie boys are another wannabe, white group that have traded their skills at rock for hope of a wider audience (AKA Mo' Record Sales) They are not the innovators MTV says they are, because if you'll pardon me, F*CK Mtv because they have a mostly white, rock/alternative listening audience. We as Hip-Hoppers cannot let some white rock groupies define our culture, nor can we allow people like Puff Daddy to try to make it appeal to suburban, alternative whites that could water down hip-hop with their own music. Although I am white myself, generally speaking, I DONT feel white rappers.

I suppose if one ever came along that I really thought was good, I would listen to him, but there just aren't that many skilled, white rappers out there. ICP is, according to my girlfriend's little brother, a hyper ICP fan, not rap anyway, but rock. I saw part of one of there videos, and they where hanging out with all white people any way.

Chris Bergh

Dear Dave,

I know I'm responding awfully late but... I've read every response you posted and it seems like a lot of white kids are in my predicament. First, who the hell is this En... cat anyway? He should be giving you some cash for all the publicity. My biggest reason for writing is this continual mention of the Beastie Boys... They are not Hip Hop, they do rap though.

I'm a 25 year old white kid from the suburbs of Toronto, Canada. I've been listening to hip hop since they days when you could name every group that had a record deal and I've always detested the Beastie Boys. Here I was in '86 or '87, one of the only kids (black or white) in my school who liked hip hop. And all of a sudden it seemed like everybody was listening to this damn "rap" group I couldn't relate to THE BEASTIE BOYS. It was a bunch of noise (except Paul Revere)!

Those people are now 25 too and probably don't like hip hop or the Beastie Boys. They have picked up a knew group of younger "skater" kids who like hip hop and alternative and the Beasties fit perfectly in-between along with Sublime and some other shit! One writer did make a good comment about the fact that why have there only been 3 or 4 white hip hop artists versus the thousands of Blacks also noting that 3/4 of the consumers are whites. Well as a club DJ my success is based on skillz and my talent to "know what people would go for". I hate to say it but I'm guilty of dogging white rappers just as I'm sure most are.

When I picked up the House of Pain - Jump Around 12" I had know idea it was Everlast (a white guy). Me and by partner who happens to be black both thought the song was phat! We had never heard anything like it. When we found out it was Everlast (I didn't read the credits for a while) I figured he just wrote it or something. Later I ran into him at Fulton St. Mall - Brooklyn, NY (by coincidence). He let me know, that it was him raping. I couldn't believe it, the song WAS good. Let's face it everyone can relate to "Jump Around" Its not like he was rapping about hockey. Blacks and whites liked the song (out here at least). Next thing I knew commercial radio got hold of it and bang... it was a hit.

Gradually I saw the hip hop culture (myself included) abandon House of Pain. Cypress Hill soon fell too... It was the fact that all these non-hip hop kids were listening to it, not so much that they were white/Hispanic. The same reason so many cats are player hatin' Puffy and every other rap-super star dominatin' pop sales. But more than that... these "skater/hip hop" groups embrace the fact that they are big with white kids and allow themselves to be marketed that way. Like what Puffy's done with that Led Zeppelin song. He gotta watch it or he'll be next. You see as long as puffy comes back with some more Benjamins type shit he's cool. Wyclef is starting down that road now too... at first I thought his guitar playing was different... know its becoming too much.

While its true that the media takes over the fate of a group by exposing them to listeners that normally wouldn't hear their songs... They're must be some reason they pick certain groups. The group itself is ultimately responsible for their own fate. I honestly believe that if there was a white rap group like Mobb Deep out there (and there isn't) the media wouldn't touch them. No one would... there's nothing worse than a white kid acting like he's hardcore. On the other hand if Wyclef or Puffy got hold of a white cat that had a Canibus style he'd be world-famous overnight. But lets face it he don't exist. Why? Well, the majority of white kids in North America live in the suburbs, and lets face it out here no one can rap, and if you can who'll take you serious... I mean R&B that's a different case, but hip hop, come on. How many rap groups (with a major record deal) aren't from NY or CA... not a lot. And why is that? Well where are the head offices of the major record companies... NY or CA... so kids outside of these areas don't understand anything about "the industry". Do you think some kid from Minneapolis is going to know who to send his demo to in NY or who to talk to about getting sample clearance. More importantly what Studio Engineer is going to know how a hip hop song should be mixed. I'm sure everyone in Brooklyn knows someone who's signed to a major label. Its called networking and its damn hard to do from the outside.

I think the only reason that the media pushes wack ass white rappers more than good black artists is that they don't know hip hop. And they think white kids would like and relate to these groups more... but we don't. Sorry, I don't. Let's face it record companies push who they think will make them the most money.

P.S. What brought this up? Being that there are only 7 white groups I can think of... Third Bass, H.O.P, Cypress Hill, Young Black Teenagers, Vanilla Ice, Beastie Boys, Tarrie B.

Mike Gibson

I thought your views were right on point. But the other side is that they constantly have to prove themselves where other emcees aren't questioned. I have been listening to Company Flow for the past six months. I just recently found out that LP was white. I'm a white emcee myself and I did feel a sence of relief by learning this. I have often questioned myself as to why I liked certain white rappers. I had already decided that this was the doppest tape I've heard (since Organized Konfusion's debute of course!!) before I discovered there was a white emcee. Being white an advantage at getting noticed and getting a deal. But there are lots of other things that are advantages. To be truly excepted and endure, you only need one thing.....SKILLZ.

Marc T

I think NDN has a great point![NDN wrote a letter featured in a FNV Newsletter-he compared Eminen and Ras Kass] I'd also like to add the "economic" factor to his point. Since he mentions some artists I'm directly involved with (Eminem and Ras Kass), I'd like to break down the financial aspect of this industry. Afterall, it is a business--the music BUSINESS.

When Eminem was signed to Aftermath (through Interscope which is partially owned by Universal and therefore Seagrams--much richer a label than Priority, which is owned by EMI), his first major recording deal, his budget was immediately almost FIVE times the budget Ras Kass had to make his second album on Priority (a smaller label, but with Master P income which of course is around an 80-20 split, but 20% of what Master P brings in must put some cream in the coffers).

Because Ras' first commercial single features Dr Dre and Mack 10, 2 artists that the label feels they can utilize to take Ras to the next level, he finally got a video budget of over $200,000. Had he not incorporated Dre and Mack 10 into this song, I'm most certain his budget would have been around the $75,000 mark. Priority is quite excited because they feel that for the first time they have a record they can bring to radio with Ras Kass. Eminem and Ras are both dope, but Em has significantly more money alotted to him to make a banging record. Is it because he's white? Doubtful. It's because his label feels they can make the money back plus some.

Had Dre signed Ras would he have gotten under half a million dollars? We'll never know...but one thing is for certain: if a label spends $2 million to sell an artist's record, they are going to work much harder to make that loot back than if they only spend $500,000 (which is disposable income in this business). So does it come down to just skin color or do economics factor into the equation as well????

Wendy Day
Rap Coalition

Em ain't gettin' hype cuz he's white. when anyone hears or listens to em, they are like, damn this kids got skillz...and then they might say, believe it or not he's white too. his skillz are primary, his color is secondary.

there are many skilled white rappers in detroits underground. in fact, detroit may soon be the white rapper capital?

Support Hiphop and Local Hiphop artists.

Davey D,

I own Eminem's underground EP, Slim Shady, and I want you to know that I haven't heard anyone with skills like Eminem. Slim Shady is one of, if not the best album I have ever heard. If you want to hear some of his s**t, he has two freestyles on the Wake Up Show Freestyles CD, one on Cali Kings(right before "I'm #1") and there are a few places on the web you can hear some of the Slim Shady cuts. It has nothing to do with him being white, he is just crazy skilled.

Beez Nuts

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