FEATURE: White Noise


Since emerging from the streets of the South Bronx in the early 1970s, hip-hop has been an important voice for urban youth. Existing under a kind of for-us, by-us mentality, the genre has been dominated mostly by Black and Latino artists. Throughout the years, though, there’s been a peppering (actually, more like a salting) of Caucasian rappers that managed to earn a ghetto pass. One of the earliest went to singer Debbie Harry, who spit a few memorable bars on new-wave band Blondie’s 1981 crossover hit “Rapture” (“Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly/DJ’s spinnin’, I said, ‘My, My’/Flash is fast, Flash is cool/Francois c’est pas, Flash non due”).

The late 1980s would introduce rap fans to pioneering White rap acts like the Beastie Boys and 3rd Bass. While they raised the acceptance bar for melanin-deprived MCs, hip-hop remained a predominantly Black genre. In fact, the 1990 debut of industry by-product Vanilla Ice threatened to close the door on the idea of a White rapper forever. Despite having one of the best-selling rap singles in history, “Ice Ice Baby,” Vanilla’s fabricated image, which included baggy pants, a gelled blond flattop and hyperactive dance moves, was seen as a mockery of the culture by rap purists.

It looked like there’d never be another non-Black mainstream artist in hip-hop again, but then came a White boy with a ridiculous flow from Detroit named Marshall “Eminem” Mathers. Backed by Dr. Dre, Em went on to sell over 31 million records domestically and single-handedly changed the perception of the Caucasian MC. Amassing a musical résumé that includes Shady Records, his Shade 45 XM radio channel, his Shady Ltd. clothing line, nine Grammys and an actual Oscar, Eminem stands as one of hip-hop’s true megastars, regardless of race.

While the election of Barack Obama as America’s first Black president has made race a bit of a moot point, is hip-hop ready to rate rappers on skill more than their skin color? With the impending return of Eminem, following a five-year hiatus, XXL picked the brains of 17 hip-hop artists that just happen to be White to speak about their plight as snowflake MCs and how Eminem’s success has affected their own careers.
—COMPILED BY MATT BARONE, CARL CHERY, JACK ERWIN, ROB MARKMAN, ANSLEM SAMUEL

BUBBA SPARXXX
A lot of White folks represented in hip-hop—the Beastie Boys, House of Pain, 3rd Bass—but, for some reason, when Vanilla Ice happened, everybody forgot about all that, until Eminem. He broke down so many barriers, not just in terms of being a White rapper, but for hip-hop period… I knew that the way for a White rapper to come back after Vanilla Ice and have success was to embrace the fact he was what or whoever he was and not to run from it. That was the premise of everything I was trying to do. When I came out, I was from the South, and that’s what I was representing, and that’s what my music reflected.

ALCHEMIST
I was rapping before Em and had a deal in ’93, before I started making beats. When Em blew, I looked at it as some inspirational shit, because of his acceptance. Coming from Beverly Hills, I always wanted that. He got the respect of so many people in the music industry, including artists, and that’s what I admired the most. How he was able to establish that credibility, not for being a street guy, but for his music and getting respect from everybody and not being judged.

ESOTERIC
With White rappers, the fan needs to know your background, to make sure you’re hardcore, and with other ethnicities, the fan tends to assume the MC is hardcore. I started in the late ’80s, and then it was a nightmare. Never mind rocking stages—as a fan, you were getting harassed and ice-grilled. It wasn’t until the late ’90s that casual fans tolerated and accepted White MCs. Eminem had positive and negative impacts. In a positive sense, the casual fan has to know at this point that there are talented people of all races that rhyme, and in a negative sense, he’s inspired kids who never grew up with hip-hop to start making horrible music and [think] they can battle anybody because of 8 Mile.

ILL BILL
There aren’t many White MCs in the game, and I think a lot of them wanna be the coolest White boy in the room, but I never involved myself in that. I always been about the music… I was writing rhymes since, like, Run-DMC, before there had been a White rapper on wax, so I was perceived as an alien… It was definitely a big deal to see this White kid from Detroit come out under Dr. Dre’s wing that sold a lot of records and was dope. Vanilla Ice sold a lot of records, but he was wack. If you wanna look at it in that respect, I think Eminem righted that wrong.

HAYSTAK
What Eminem does with words set a bar for lyricism. That’s undeniable. The multiple rhyming schemes, the rhyming eight times in a four-bar measurement, and the way that he does it very innovatively, that set a bar… Every label was trying to snap a rapper up, thinking, Oh, just ’cause he White he’s gonna sell a million copies, but that wasn’t the case. As oddball, goofy, juvenile and ignorant as the shit Eminem was saying was, it was entertaining and was worded well. I don’t have no respect for him as a man, but as a wordsmith, he’s a genius.

MC SERCH
I think what Em really did for the music was he gave it an emotional credence that no one else had given it before. He really dug deep into his relationship with his family and his upbringing, and not just trying to convey a fly rhyme. This kid went to places emotionally that a lot of artists prior to him wouldn’t dare to touch. He took a chunk out of his soul and put it on record… There was never anybody who could associate with trailer-park life until Eminem. He gave kids in the suburbs that were really having a hard time fitting in a voice to vent their frustration and their angst.

VANILLA ICE
When I started high school, we used to have rap battles at keg parties. When I got a little older, I started going to City Lights, an all-Black club. I loved it. It was the only place I could go to hear hip-hop. I was a regular there and the only White boy, but I knew everyone. Later, I was on the Stop the Violence Tour, with Ice-T, Stetsasonic, EPMD, Sir Mix-A-Lot. And later I opened for Public Enemy, Too $hort and N.W.A. I had a blast and was cool with everyone. There was no hate going on. Chuck D is a friend, and I hung out with Ice-T backstage. I had no racial issues going on with my peers. If a song is dope, then it’s a dope song, no matter what color the artist.

  • Pierzy

    Serch is a pioneer and Bubba Sparxxx’s 2nd album “Deliverance” is very underrated!

    • MC

      Definately agree, Deliverance was timeless especially with the country Timbo Beats.

      • DIRTEE CURT

        I FELL YOU BUBBA IS SO UNDERRATED?

  • BlanQ

    Lol @ Vanilla Ice bragging about himself rather then talking about Eminem..

  • John

    Lol @ Vanilla Ice bragging about himself rather then talking about Eminem..

  • PARIS PERSHUN

    WHITE POWER!!!!! HELL YEAH I’M BLACK….. BUT……. WHITE POWER!!!!

    (LEANS BACK AND TURNS “FIGHT THE POWER” WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY THE FUCK UP))

  • Nick Fury

    he allowed for a white emcee to be considered lyrical and to be be considered finacial viable. SS LP and MM LP are both certified classic records the only white emcee to possess one let alone two in my opinion.

  • PARIS PERSHUN

    ANYBODY REMEMBER THAT BUBBA SPARXXX AND JADAKISS SONG…. THAT HOE WAS NICE…..

  • Jamal7Mile

    I’ve been seeing Em rap in Detroit since ’94. The fact that he was white didn’t throw me that much. Shoot, was a 3rd Bass/Beastie Boys fan waaay before I knew who Em was. It was the way he rapped that grabbed my attention, his ability to freestyle and embarass people. It was nuts! Back then, I looked at Em as one of “Proof’s homies” and Proof had a LOT of them who could rap (Obie Trice comes to mind).

    White or Black, if you could spit then I was a fan… especially if you were from Michigan (a little hometown bias, yeah yeah).

  • JCITYHUSTLA617

    LOL @ HAYSTACK GIVING EM PROPS BUT STILL MANAGING 2 TAKE SHOTS “I DONT RESPECT HIM AS A MAN” LOL DAMN……..WELCOME TO BUCKTOWN IN STORES NOW

  • 92FS

    R.A. The Rugged Man is one of the illest!

    • The Last Hope

      Yeah his verse on Jedi Mind Tricks’ Uncommon Valor was so sick

      I find it funny that vanilla ice didnt say shit about anything. the question was about eminem and influence and vanilla ice just talked about himself

      • general slay a ho

        uncommon valor is a nasty songggg

  • DMV Dave

    You know what’s funny, as wack as “Ice, Ice, Baby” was when it came out, as a song it’s not nearly as wack as “Stanky Leg”, “Lookin’ Boy”, “Laffy Taffy” or any Soulja Boy shit. The fact that it was a hit and made a fake-ass white boy famous was what really pissed us real fans off.
    Today we’re not nearly as vexed as we should be for the wackness that comes through the radio; maybe cause we feel at least the black people making it are doing something positive with thier lives. But for the sake of the artform we love we need to re-establish what good music is before another Vanilla is manufactured to “elvis” hip-hop for real!!

  • MeNaCe

    Co-muthafuckin’-sign wit Haystak!!!I said that shit years ago that eminem talks about some bullshit but he SOUNDS clever as hell wit tha delivery. THAT’S his niche. But shit, big Haystak need a lane 2 cause he bout as good as this other shit that make me change the damn station on tha radio. B’lee dat.

  • Superstar Extraordinaire

    Fuck haystack…..i had to look yo ass up which means u aint shit (probably except vanilla ice)….all the other crackers, i knew

    Funny how all were shit talkin on ice and ice on here…..they probaly interviewed all of them separately

    • Jamal7Mile

      They had to have been separate interviews. It took 5 XXL staffers to compile this post.

      Vanilla Ice didn’t mention Em’s name because he hates his guts! Those two went at it on wax a few times.

      • bull

        Lyrically, perhaps Em has an edge on Vanilla Ice but nobody could deny that Vanilla would whoop his ass. (Along w/ Benzino, Ja-Rule, and his ex-wife Kim). He is a talented coward.

        • tru predator

          get the fuck outta here with that bullshit.the dudes you named are the cowards and fakes.if you recall a couple years back eminem was the one who caught two separate cases in one year for pistol whippin two dudes.yeah but hes fake huh?lol

        • tru predator

          get the fuck outta here.the cowards are the dudes you mentioned.i guess you forgot that eminem had two separate gun cases in one year for pistol whippin two dudes.but he’s a talented coward lol.thats funny shit

        • southcakc23

          wait, so because you have gun charges for pistol whipping someone, that makes you a man? When a bitch needs a weapon to do what his fists should be able to accomplish all on their own, that bitch is a coward.

          When any real rapper with any lyrical credibility (besides canibus) comes at eminem, he doesn’t do shit. He just focuses on people he thinks he can beat and people that have no connection to hip hop whatsoever.

    • tru predator

      what you need to look up is haystaks cd collection.from start to finish,portrait of a white boy,crakavelli.all great cds.he’s a pretty big underground artist.bun-b and scarface tried to sign him to def jam south.but he turned them down because he is makin more money underground than on a major.haystak is cold as hell,he was found by eightball and mjg in ’97,has had some great songs with eightball and bun-b on his cds.the only problem is,stak is tryin to ruin his own career by goin at eminem.he has made sevral diss tracks about him lately,after years of giving him respect and props in some songs.all for recognition so he can be heard by more people in my opinion.though stak says its because em doesnt rep for white people who are tryin to make it like stak does.i always thought stak was raw and his songs spoke out,but after all these years of thinkin he is one of the best and finding out his motives for this attack at eminem i lost alot of respect for him.now all i care about haystak is his music that was before this attack campaign.

    • tru predator

      what you need to look up is haystaks cd collection.from start to finish,portrait of a white boy,crakavelli.all great cds.he’s a pretty big underground artist.bun-b and scarface tried to sign him to def jam south.but he turned them down because he is makin more money underground than on a major.haystak is cold as hell,he was found by eightball and mjg in ‘97,has had some great songs with eightball and bun-b on his cds.the only problem is,stak is tryin to ruin his own career by goin at eminem.he has made sevral diss tracks about him lately,after years of giving him respect and props in some songs.all for recognition so he can be heard by more people in my opinion.though stak says its because em doesnt rep for white people who are tryin to make it like stak does.i always thought stak was raw and his songs spoke out,but after all these years of thinkin he is one of the best and finding out his motives for this attack at eminem i lost alot of respect for him.now all i care about haystak is his music that was before this attack campaign.

      • southcakc23

        Scarface and Bun B didn’t TRY to sign him to Def Jam; they did get him signed to Def Jam South. Stak saw what def jam was trying to do and got out of his contract because they were trying to keep all of his masters and he walked away with over $400k on top of keeping all of his masters and the rights to his name.

        I see you are a fan of his music, but to think Stak is ruining his career by going at Eminem is delusional to say the least. His aggression towards Eminem only fuels his fan base to ensure that they buy every album he puts out and to go to every show they can.

        Eminem wants no part of Haystak and needs to stay in his celebrity dissing lane and leave the grown man shit to the grown men.

  • http://seattleraps.net Afterburner

    I don’t know why people condemn vanilla ice & mc hammer, people(+ me) love positve rap & costumes, thats “Entertainment”. ice broke sales records & hammer was megarich for a REASON. Come Download my Debut Rap @ seattleraps.net (unsampled All original)

  • http://www.xxlmag.com Benicio Del Thoro

    I’m from South Lansing, MI and we’re very proud of Em, Proof, Bugz, Dilla, Elzhi. Hexmurda, T3, Phat Kat and anyonr from waterworld who has thew balls to say what they wanna say on the mic! big up

  • Dub Sac

    I like the point Esoteric makes about Em opening up hip-hop to a whole group of people that don’t actually know shit about it. When I went to parties, I had to listen to a bunch of drunk kids try to freestyle.

    I heard from a lot of people that they didn’t realize that rapping took talent until they saw 8 Mile. So fucking sad.

  • A

    The only white rapper that I can relate too right now is Joe Scudda, Termanology and Jake the snake from MA! The rest of the white rappers are all comic/commercial rappers. Yes they can rap but it’s just not real.

  • corlione39

    WHY HAYSTACC DONT RESPECT EM AZ A MAN??? WUT HAPPEND??? N ICE MARCC AZZ ALL ON TV SAYN HE REEL N SHIT IF HE REEL SAY HOW U FEEL BOOT EM N WUT HAPPEN 2 DAT DIZZ SONG U DID ON DAT REELITY SHO??? BITCH!!!

  • Ian Tha []D[][]V[][]D

    Eminems tha man when he raps in a serious mode but i aint really feelin tha silly shit it used to be clever back in tha day but now its just aggravating

  • http://yahoo bobby deane

    Insane Clown Posse smashes on Eminem.. dude stole their style and took it mainstream. NO originality or relevance should be excepted.

  • http://www.warlab.com Habit

    The only issue that I have with this copy of XXL is that it spoke negative against Vanilla Ice.

    He was just doing the same thing a lot of rappers did at that time, from MC Hammer to Kid-N-Play, to Salt-N-Peppa, to MC Lyte, which does not make him a bad rap artist. But since he was white, he got dissed for not being hardcore. It seems like a person who is white has to be hardcore, although Asher Roth is not all that hardcore.

    I used to live in Southern California back when Vanilla Ice came out, and was in a rap group called the Dead Poets, and although we thought Vanilla Ice was somewhat cheesy, and more on the East Coast shit, if he were to give us a chance we would have done shit with him.

    Rap is rap, and like Tech9ne says, why the hate, there is enough for everyone in the game, and everyone can find fans.

  • cameron scher

    i love how vanilla ice doesnt talk about eminem. he jealous of him, wack pussy. dye your hair like eminem again. lol

  • cam scher

    yo

  • ease27

    u cant compare eminem 2 vanilla ice & 3rd bass…eminem is up there & should be considered as 1 of the greatest of all time. including him in the same sentence with vanilla ice & 3rd bass just cuz hes white is an insult 2 eminem…lets 4get race & color of skin…lyrically hes 1 of the greatest…slim shady is a true rap artist…vanilla ice & 3rd bass r not

  • tru predator

    if anyone wants to know why haystak is goin at eminem(publicity is what it boils down too in my opinion but)if you want haystaks reason go to his myspace page.watch the videos.he is goin at em pretty hard.im hopin eminem responds.haystak needs to be put in his place.though im a big fan of both,i lost alot of respect for stak because of what he is doin

  • tru predator

    without taking anything away from eminem.despite haystaks attacks at eminem for publicity lately.next to eminem as far as white rappers go.haystak is the best ive heard,other than eminem.the dude is a lyrical beast with great beats.listen to the cd from start to finish the cd is flawless,the two tracks with bun-b and eightball are nice too.

  • P

    Haystack…….words can’t even explain this hypocrite. First you idolize Em and now you tryna get some shine…..you dont respect him as a man? you dont even know him personally so thats definately an inbred statement….you and Nick Cannon on the types to try and make noise when your time came and went bow out gracefully faggot

    • tru predator

      same here.i dont respect haystak as an artist after showin me how fake he is.plus i know some cats who know him on a personal level.yes he is fake.but i give him props for his music.he is a great lyricist.

  • Pingback: FEATURE: White Noise

  • Mike

    maybe haystack should have explained WHY he doesn’t respect em as a man, that would offer more clarification

    bottom line em was overhyped by the media and mtv to do well….his skill matched with his skin color was destined for fame

  • meezy

    stak dont respect him cause em act like hes a cereal killer loony toon split personality… bull shit and hes not and then they relate all yall whiteboys that rap the same in comparison

  • southcakc23

    @ Tru Predator,

    How can you not respect Haystak as an artist and a man? Haystak is a great lyrcist, has always been real (never needing some alter ego), and when Scarface, Bun B, and 8ball and MJG cosign your ass, fuck what you got to say. “Fake” and “Haystak” can’t ever be seriously used in the same sentence to describe one another.

    Oh, and you think Haystak is attacking Eminem for publicity? He doesn’t need any publicity from Eminem. He’s just tired of Eminem’s bullshit lyrics. If you are a real man, then you can’t possibly respect eminem as a man; you can only respect his skill set as a rapper.

    @ P,

    Hypocrite? Idolized eminem? You gotta come better than that. Provide some proof of your accusations. You say Stak saying he doesn’t respect eminem as a man is an inbred statement yet he has more proof to back up his statement than you do when you call him a hyprocrite and say that he idolized Eminem. Stak has NEVER liked eminem and Relapse was the icing on the cake. No real white rapper would ever idolize eminem’s twisted minded ass. He’s a disgrace to real whiteboys world wide.

    Eminem is an industry gimmick that has ran his course. He needs to retire and spare the hip hop world his childish, emo suburban white kid attracting, shit-hop.

    • blah blah

      southcakc23 looks like someone wants to suck on haystacks dick wheres gaystacks proof then i aint seen anyproof just fart noises coming out his mouth stop being a gaystack lover and go get another hobby then backing up your boyfriend homo and im not even a eminem fanboy i just wanted to know why haystack went at eminem for and i aint found out nothing someones jealous thats all peace loserboi southcakc23