I go with the cultural explanation opposed to the racist one. Generally speaking whites can relate to the Beasties while blacks can't. Therefore the Beasties are unloading all these records on the majority of America. Ask most of the same white kids to listen to some Rakim and they can't relate to it. Their is no question which of the two are more important to hip hop. Where things could go downhill for the perception of hip hop is in the media. The the media is a white cultural force. It's writen mostly from a white perspective for a white audience. The minorities in this field have to reinvent their writing style or persona to be accepted by the mainstream- which is whiteness defined. So don't be suprised when Eminem comes out and he just blows up because the majority of this country has more in common with him than they do with Rass Kass. Then the black folks who couldn't relate to Em' in the first place are gonna dis him and his fans citing a racist society and media. Eminem will then loose his props and become the next House of Pain. However it's not nessecarily a racist media or society. It's just that the whole thing is rigged for them because they got and always had the numbers and the chips. Therefore they can dictate how everyone sees hip hop.
Personaly I like Eminem. Perhaps it's the regional argument ( I'm in MI) . he has alot of Michigan refrences like "taking pop bottels back to the party store" I've been doing that since I was a kid. Or the " tired of not working at GM" line. It seems everyone over looks "if I had" which is deeper than his usual material.
What's up man! This is Mark Dago from the NUMBS Massive... On the subject of white emcee's here's my opinion. I think Eminem is one of the best EMCEES I've heard in a while... Period! Regardless of race. I do believe you are a product of your environment and so... If you were brought up around negativity and bad vibes, it'll show thru in your music.
As you know, When we came thru to your SHOW (the July 4th weekend) being the token "White Group" ( I don't know why this is when... 3 of the 4 group members are Samoan, Spanish and Italian) The point is, I know before we touched the mic... People in the studio were a bit nervous.. I mean after all, we are from UTAH too. But, when all was said and done "These White Kids WRECKED It". If you got skills... You got Skills! It doesn't matter where your from... Doesn't matter if your short.. UGLY.. FAT... etc... I do think HIP HOP MUSIC is regional as far as Slang, Politics and Day to day life. But, If your true to yourself and represent the MUSIC from your heart... Then ,in the essence, Your a "Real" emcee! Just a few thoughts on the matter...
Peace... Mark Dago
PS... Eminem is from Detroit! (same place as the FUCKED UP! Insane Clown Posse!... Did you see that Infomercial about them on MTV? SHIT!
I loved your article regarding whites in hip hop, be they fans or artists. In my opinion, I personally thinkt hat whites who are trying to be down with hip hop are mad corny!! As a black female, I get so sick and tired of white boys trying to be like my Nubian Kings, and white girls trying to emulate the nature of a sista just to get into a brother's drawers. Them getting into hip hop is, as usual, taking whatever we (black folk) do and making it into a trend. For centuries since our ancestors were brought here, whites have tried to imitate us in every way, shape, form, or fashion and I'm tired of it. Screw this so called multiculturalism bull----, because Black folks need to get ourselves together and unify. Then, again, most of us are stuck in that slave mentality whereas we always feel the need to included white folk.
I'm sorry, but these so called white hip hop fans get no love from me!!
I read your comments, and it's something that's been on my mind lately, as well. I'm personally sick of all the double standards myself. First off, I do not hate white rappers, and I do not feel that they are unqualified to be hip-hop artists. I happen to like the stuff from Beastie Boys, House of Pain, and 3rd Bass. Yet America, being what it is, jumps on a bandwagon and seemingly throws it in our face. Rap in general has been under attack from 'all' sides; the most lingering element includes hostile white rock & roll fans.
Back in the '70's disco era, you had all sorts of mostly white folks trashing the art form, despite the eventual appropriating of it by acts like Rod Stewart, the Bee Gees, etc. Maybe 12 years ago, you had white metal fans and artists (Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Ratt) railing against rap artists, and then when Run-DMC came out with "Walk This Way", the press seemed to not simply look at it as the group being creative unto themselves, but "elevating" their standards by working with the then-languishing Aerosmith (and look at THEM now).
Nowadays, you don't have quite as much of the "Hair Metal" crowd anymore, but a lot of younger white folks are still quite vocal about their disdain of rap. What bugs me out is, some of these folks claim "rap sucks", "it's all negative", etc., but at the same time they are infatuated by several rock bands that clearly have a hip-hop influence, like Sublime, 311, Korn, Limp Bizkit, White Zombie, Portishead, and Rage Against the Machine. A fellow like Beck tends to get more kudos from a Rolling Stone or Spin than somebody like Prince Paul or DJ Premier.
It's bizarre how certain white rap acts have been "adopted" by white fans; look at the Beastie Boys and House of Pain: When these guys came out with their 1992 albums, they indirectly rode the cultural wave of the post-Nirvana "Alternative" music 'movement', which included the funk & rap-influenced Red Hot Chili Peppers. All of a sudden, even though both the Beasties and H.O.P.'s Everlast had previously released hip-hop product, NOW these guys were labeled as "alternative rap/rock" acts, and in the eyes of many a casual white fan and/or critic, folks like the Beasties, House of Pain, weren't considered as being "just rappers" (read: negro-imitators), and hence, tended to receive an elevated status among that crossover public. As a result, "regular rappers" (read: Negroes and Latinos) aren't taken as artistically seriously by a lot of these people.
Another example- Look at the Insane Clown Posse, a white group out of (according to them) a fairly integrated Detroit neighborhood. To listen to their lyrical style, it's obviously gangsta influenced (in certain interviews they have admitted that they used to pretend to be 'bangers in high school but got beat up); and their music tends to be a combination of punk-metal and Ice Cube circa '92. As for their image, they're kind of like the Geto Boys meets pro-wrestling (wearing clown makeup, one of their stage routines involves dousing the crowd with Faygo brand soda pop).
Essentially, the group tends to appeal more to the dwellers of trailer parks and suburban townhouses, than the inner-city folk that they partially swipe their image from. The 'dedicated' among their fans address often address each other as "ninja" (A blatantly corny code word for nigga). When their major-label debut was pulled by Disney/Hollywood records this year, it got them all types of free publicity, and they became the hip-hop "free-speech rebels" of the moment. And yet, I wonder, how many rap albums by people of color, both before and after "Cop Killer", have faced the same situation, only it didn't make People, Entertainment Weekly, and MTV?
When I listen to an "alternative" station, I don't hear ANY rap besides the Beastie Boys, and I've been told that Everlast has a solo single that's getting some airplay. But you would never hear KRS-One, Public Enemy, Poor Righteous Teachers, LL, Snoop, or whoever else. Supposedly, we're not supposed to think that it's just because they're white; but I wonder?
On one hand, looking at the conglomerates that dominate the record biz (Sony, BMG, EMI, Polygram, UNI/Seagram), I'm surprised that there are not more white rap acts out there. But somehow, it seems that when such acts debut, the mainstream press tends to fawn over them as some kind of genius racial mediators (House of Pain's "Irish blue-collar roots" were always stuffed into any article/interview about them, while it seemed journalists were taking vague swipes at Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Chuck D when their moderately-middle-class family backgrounds were mentioned).
And so, if Eminem is dope (and Dre' should be a good judge), then more power to him, and welcome to the hip-hop scene. But if homeboy gets a Calvin Klein underwear endorsement out of the box (listening, Mark Wahlberg?) then you know something's up with the way that white rappers get treated by the 'outside' world.
In response to your7-29 article on white rapper's I have the following response:
I agree that outsiders (record company executives) to the true Hip Hop culture give preferential treatment to & actively seek Caucasian rapiers for their labels. They mistakenly believe that white skin equals record sales. Unfortunately we live in a society based on racism & white supremacy. This is only an extenuation of the mind set of the powers that be. In reality, very few white artists have achieved noteworthy record sales and/ or street credibility. You sighted The Beastie Boys, Third Bass & House of Pain as examples in your article of whites possibly benefiting from their skin color. I believe that these crews only succeeded because they had/ have real skills.
In the 20+ years that Hip Hop has been around, these are really the only whites you can single out because they are the only ones to shine (We all know that Vanilla Ice was a disgrace to all people). Racially, whites are responsible for more record sales than Blacks. That said, why have so few whites succeeded if record sales can possibly be traced to "cultural sameness" as your suggest. Why are twelve year old suburban white kids making millionaires of the Wu Tang Clan if your assertion is valid? Don't confuse the white controlled media with white Hip Hop consumers. They are not one in the same.
Specifically concerning Eminem, he is a very talented rapper. Period. His skills stand on their own. He doesn't need to fall back on his skin color. The buying public knows who's fake & who isn't. This accounts for the meteoric rise & fall of Vanilla Ice. Your question about the Beasties & the loyalty that many whites have to them is legitimate but only with the understanding that they started as a punk band and have many white fans who are not Hip Hop fans. Therefore they must be discounted in your question.
Just some background on myself to legitimize my response. I am a Caucasian EMCEE from Philly. I'm known as Funk Wizard Snow. I've been rapping since 1979. I produce "Lady B's Old School Party" on Philly 103.9 FM every Sunday from 6-10 PM. Additionally, I'm writing a book entitled "Philly Is Steppin' In: The History of Hip Hop in Philadelphia", I write a monthly column for Rockpile Magazine entitled "Hip Hop 101" and I am currently working with the World Council in NYC to incorporate the Philadelphia Chapter of The Universal Zulu Nation. I'd appreciate your adding our radio show to your listing. I enjoy your articles & respect your work.
Most of the props and attention Eminem has been getting is because his rhymes are graphic, if not straight up disgusting, scary and insane (literally). He's not getting props because he's white, he's getting props because he's willing to go to whatever extreme is takes to get your attention. Sure, he can flow a bit, he certainly has some rhyme skillz. But I know several if not plenty of white cats who could probably out-rhyme him when it came down to pure rhyme skillz. The guy's can flow, but it';s the evil images in his rhymes that seem to truly attract most of the fans that I've come across.
I think there is definately truth to the theory that the media pumps up white rap acts simply because their white. Nothing against the Beastie Boys but because they are releasing a new album, MTV did a biography on their musical careers from their first album which is going back approximately 10 years. I thought that was odd being that there are hip hop acts that have been in the game just as long whose albums have had more consistent sales or at the least have really changed hip hop or created a different genre in hip hop, (Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul) who are much more deserving of the media exposure. Can you tell I'm a Native Tounges head?
However I do believe the heavy set dude in 3rd bass had skills as well as the House of Pain crew. But I think alot less talent is needed if your white in hip hop. Hell, alot less talent is needed period these days no matter what type of music your making.
I really enjoy your column and hip hop.
I just wanted to comment on your editorial about white rapper's. I really enjoyed your article. I felt it was extremely insightful and well put. I feel that most of what you talked about doesn't apply to underground hip hop at least in my experience in LA. For example, I saw Freestyle Fellowship about 2 weeks ago and one of the opening acts was Black Forrest.
When Black Forrest came to the Stage they were joined by LMNO, for those of you that don't know LMNO is white. People didn't care that he was white they wanted to see his skills and he didn't disappoint anyone. I have also seen Eminem and he was really dope too. I just think that the Media wants to control something they don't understand. True hip hop heads love music for music no matter what or who is making it. From my experience more of these types of people are attracted to smaller more underground shows. Much Love and Respect,
Oh Davey or anyone else go peep "Detention", it's an independent movie out now and it's really tight, all kinds of dope elements. The shit is deep , it's made by a really dope young black director.
. I THINK IT REALLY HAS TO BE A CASE BY CASE BASIS. JUST LIKE IT IS ILLOGICAL TO SAY THAT ALL BLACK RAP ARTISTS ARE TRUE IS TO SAY THAT ALL WHITE ARTIST ARE UNTRUE. I DON'T THINK THAT IN THA CASE OF 3rd BASS, THERE WAS ANY QUESTION OF BEING TRUE AND EARNING THEIR WAY INTO HIP-HOP INSTEAD OF GETTING OVER JUST BECAUSE SERCH & PETE NICE WERE WHITE. IF ANYONE DID HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS, IT WAS PROBABLY UNDER A RACIST AGENDA.
AS FAR AS THA BEASTIE BOYS, IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT THEY ORIGINALLY BLEW UP IN 85-86-87 BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT ONLY ONE OF THE FIRST ALL WHITE CREWS WITH A RECORD, BUT ALSO BECAUSE A LOT OF HIP-HOP RECORDS AND ACTS WERE FLOWING OVER INTO THE MAINSTREAM AT THAT TIME. BUT IF U FOLLOW THEIR CAREER, IN 1989 WHEN THEY RELEASED "PAUL'S BOUTIQUE" NO COMMERCIAL HEADS WERE CHECKIN' FOR EM, AND IT WAS A VERY NEW SOUND, BUT STILL A VERY HIP-HOP SOUND INDEED.
I THINK WHY BLACK KIDS AREN'T CHECKIN' FOR THE NEW BEASTIE ALBUM "HELLO NASTY" IS BECAUSE ALL WE HEARD IN THA AIRWAVES LAST ALBUM WAS "SABOTAGE" - HARDLY HIP-HOP. THIS ALSO UNFORTUNATELY WAS THE ANTHEM FOR ALL THE WHITE KIDS WHO WANTED TO LIKE THA BEASTIE BOYS BUT DID NOT WANT TO EXPRESS ANY LOVE OR DEVOTION FOR HIP-HOP. THIS LED TO THA "HEY...THA BEASTIE BOYS ARE ALTERNATIVE!". DID THEY LISTEN TO "ROOT DOWN" OFF OF ILL COMMUNICATION? TALKIN' BOUT GRAF WRITERS SUCH AS "BRIM", OLD SCHOOL BATTLES BETWEEN KOOL MOE DEE & BUSY BEE...IT'S RIDICULOUS. ESPECIALLY AFTER THEIR NEW ALBUM, WHICH IS FILLED WITH REFERENCES TO BREAKING, MC BATTLES, DJ SKILLZ, GRAFITTI ARTISTS, OLD SCHOOL MOVIES LIKE WILD STYLE, OLD SCHOOL SONGS LIKE BODY ROCK BY THA T3...PLENTY OF UNDISPUTED HIP-HOP CONTENT.
OK, AS FAR AS THA REST OF YOUR QUESTIONING GOES, I THINK IT IS HARDER FOR "TRUE" WHITE HIP-HOP KIDS TO GET OVER BECAUSE THEY ARE JUDGED ON JUST THAT, THEIR TRUE-NESS TO REAL HIP-HOP CULTURE, AS OPPOSED TO SOME BLACK KIDS WHO CAN BE WOLVES IN SHEEP'S CLOTHING AND ARE LET IN BECAUSE "HEY, THEY'RE BLACK, SO THEY MUST BE TRUE". THIS MISTAKE IS ONLY REALIZED AFTER THEY LET THESE WOLVES IN, AND THEN MANY SHEEP GET BLANKED. AGAIN, I THINK IT ALL HAS TO BE A CASE BY CASE SITUATION. NOT ALL WHITE KIDS ARE FAKE, AND NOT ALL BLACK KIDS ARE TRUE. THIRD BASS SAID SOMETHIN' SIMILAR TO THIS..."WHITE BOYS IS THA SNAKES? THEY CAN BE BLACK TOO!" I'M OUT. KEEP UP ALL THA GOOD WORK ON THA NEWSLETTER!
"EAR 2 THA STREET"
89.9 FM KGRG
My response to this would be: where are the white rappers? With the sole exception of the Beastie Boys - who, in my opinion, are talented but have been a crossover hit since Day One - and thus, not in the same ring of competition with what we consider our typical hip hop group - and 3rd Bass, there haven't been any widely accepted white rappers.
Clearly they exist - b/c on the underground tip, they're all over the place. But Eminem is perhaps the only white rapper that's been getting any attention on the majors in the last four years and that seems rather odd given: 1) white rappers are universal around the world, 2) whites make up probably half to 2/3rds of the hip hop consumer market and 3) they've been accepted in other traditionally black art forms, notably jazz.
I suspect, like the dearth of white soul singers (Average White Band not withstanding), the reason why white rappers are in short supply is that rap fans just don't think they're "legit." If we consider the image factory that is the hip hop industry, image IS everything (sorry to Sprite) and the reason, partially, why groups like Mobb Deep and other thug-life groups (west and east) sell is b/c they hawk their own brand of ghetto trife life fantasies that either speak to their local audience (in the PJs) or appeal to those who consider it an exotified experience (in the 'burbs). Either way, there's an image of a young black male, hustlin' to survive like Les McCann, that just doesn't work when you plug a white person in the mix.
That's not to say that whites aren't poor or struggling, but the archetype rappers is still a young black male and that's who's going to have the most legitimacy for the majority of the hip hop market.
Is Eminem getting more love b/c he's white? NO QUESTION. Kid's got decent writing skills but his rhyming skills need to get tweaked a bit. I know plenty of rappers who can pen a decent rhyme on paper, but their flow control and vocal impact are another story. However, it's not as if hip hop has a shameless history of supporting lesser whites (Vanilla Ice just doesn't work to me b/c he was created and marketed as a pop gimmick since the get go. No self-respecting head ever bought his sh*t). I mean - the fact that we can only talk about the Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass and House Of Pain, among hundreds of black artists, suggest that if a power imbalance exists - well, I'm not seeing it among the rappers.
It, of course, is endemic at the industry level, with few black record labels or such reaping the fiscal benefits (though I'm not sure if that's really levelling the playing field - but chalk that up to my Marxist tendencies).
In a city like Berkeley or San Francisco where you'll find a lot of white kids.. You'll find people checking for the Beastie Boys.. In a predominantly Black City like Oakland or Richmond, the Beastie Boys is definitely not happening compared to other rappers. Is it prejudice or just a thing of being able to relate?
[Davey D's remarks are in red ink]
The latter and it has to do with the Beastie's different approach musically. Besides, the Beasties, like many other hip hop groups, don't always appeal to the reality-rap-heavy audiences in Richmond or Oakland. It's not as if you can roll through West Oakland and hear the sounds of the Roots blasting either.
Just the other day MTV went on and on about how the Beastie Boys were responsible for innovating rap.
If you contextualize it, they're probably right. It wasn't with "Licensed to Ill" though, it started with "Paul's Boutique" and continued on "Check Your Head." Those were innovative, creative and underrated hip hop albums, largely hated on (perhaps deservedly so to a small extent) because of "Licensed to Ill" and its pre-packaged fabness.
Why play up the Beasties and downplay Run DMC
Based on who? MTV? F*ck them first of all, and second, consider that both Run DMC and the Beasties had watershed years in 1986. Run DMC may not have been quite as big (money-wise), but who are still considered the Kings of Rock? Run...D....M....C!
The other day I was choppin' it up with fellow writer Adissa who happens to be a big Beastie Boy fan and he remarked how it was cool for the Beasties back in the days to do msygonistic things
And they were criticized for it and still are. The one common thread I've read in reviews of "Hello Nasty" is that the group STILL gets raked over the coals for their bullsh*t misogyny on "Licensed to Ill". Of course, I wasn't reading the press as carefully 12 years ago so maybe Adissa has a point. I don't disagree that a double-standard exists though.
I recall how Run DMC back in the days were considered hardcore rappers who invited trouble while the Beasties were classified as fun loving, wild and zanny. Why was that?
Four words: Long Beach Convention Center. Run was the victim of ignorant violence and a distrusting press who was ready to leap on 'em in a second. However, had violence sparked out at a Beasties' concert (which it probably did, hell if I know for a fact though), you might have seen a similar backlash, especially against rap music in general.
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