White rapper, white singer, Bling Bling

I’m of really of several minds about Daniel D’Addarios commentary here:

Pop music’s race problem: How white artists profit from mocking hip-hop

From “Royals” to “Thrift Shop,” many of the year’s pop hits have been built on tone-deaf critiques of rap

I talked a little bit about how I wasn’t totally cool with Macklemore’s song Thrift Shop way back when it came out.  It’s a fun song, but I questioned the need to take a gratuitous swipe at basically every other rapper who isn’t a backpack wearing conscious rapper.

But that’s the thing- Macklemore and Lorde aren’t the only people who have ever mocked materialism in rap-

This song probably came out before Macklemore was born, and definitely before Lorde was.

TAKE THAT JORDACHE OFF!

(Jordache?  those were jeans, right?)

So yeah, it’s not a new or particularly clever line of a attack to be like- YOU BOUGHT EXPENSIVE STUFF, SUCKER!

Is there an element of racism by the singers here?  Like, oh look at the silly black people wasting their money like fools instead of putting it in a 401k!  I mean, maybe.  Who knows.  I kind of doubt it.

Will there be people who listen to these songs and go yeah, look at these dumb rappers!  They all be put in jail!

Yes, yes there will be.  Is it the artist’s fault if he or she tells a joke with no bad intentions but isn’t careful about how other people will take it?  Maybe.  Probably a little bit.

So I’m in agreement with Daniel that these aren’t exactly the most novel or interesting critiques and that there may be some racial element, though not necessarily an element directly attributable to the artists, who for all I know are fine people.

ON THE OTHER HAND

Hip-hop dominates our culture, just like rock and roll did before The Chronic was released.  Not everyone was happy with Rock and Roll’s dominant themes and people rebelled against them repeatedly.  The 70s was an ongoing battle between the real musicians and the cavemen who just wanted to be loud.  The eighties was heavy metal excess versus punk.  And before rap was big enough to ignore rock, it tried to take it on-

And again, it’s not like Macklemore was the first guy to make fun of the blingy dudes.

Let’s also be real- hip hop has some larger-than-life, some might say (not me… at least not to their faces) ridiculous characters.  Some of them revel in their image.  They can take it if Mackelemore or Lorde makes fun of them.

And hip-hop can take it if not everyone goes along with the idea that lots of money and cool stuff is the best thing in the world.  Do some people already not like rap because it’s mostly made by black people?  Yes.  Some people hated disco for the same reason.  Some people probably even hated rock and roll for that reason, but that’s ancient history.

Am I giving them a pass?  No, their lyrics are kind of lame and unoriginal.  But young people have to live with rap being king and not everyone is going to like everything rap has to say.  So for what it’s worth I please no one by giving them half of a pass.

Well that solved nothing.

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