“Who Can Get Busy”: XXL’s Feature On the Growing Trend of White Rappers [April 2011 Magazine Exerpt]

When the Lower Manhattan–based White trio the Beastie Boys released their debut album, Licensed to Ill, in 1986, it became the first rap album to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. It was a watershed moment for hip-hop and an early indicator of the impact that White America’s acceptance of a rap act—White, Black or otherwise—could have on that performer’s success. This was again evident with Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby,” in 1990, which soared to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 but created a backlash in its perceived disrespect of the culture. 3rd Bass, a trio with two White MCs (MC Serch and Pete Nice), took shots at Ice on their 1991 single “Pop Goes the Weasel.” The video was even harsher. In it, 3rd Bass beat up an Ice look-alike, who was played by punk-rock icon Henry Rollins. The group soon disbanded, but 1992 was the third straight year that a White rap artist or group made noise on the Billboard Hot 100, as House of Pain’s party anthem “Jump Around” peaked at No. 3. There was then a lull for White MCs, however, until 1999, when Eminem arrived.

To say Em was different from the White wordsmiths who preceded him is an understatement. Lyrically maniacal and unhinged, street validated by Detroit’s famed freestyle community, and with his own crew, D12, and eventually rap legend Dr. Dre in his corner, Em sent every A&R and record executive scrambling to find the next great White hope. “When they see something, they try to mimic it,” says Kawan “KP” Prather, senior VP of A&R at Def Jam and president of Gheto-O-Vision Entertainment, which signed Yelawolf in 2007. “That’s kind of what our industry has been based on.”
The search has been on for the last decade-plus for The Next One. But hip-hop might not have been open to that new pale-faced rap star until now. Yes, there has been a handful of White MCs who have bubbled on the underground—from Slug, to Apathy, to Ill Bill, to Esoteric and more—but rarely has there been a chance to crown the next mainstream superstar. It wasn’t Bubba Sparxxx, the LaGrange, Georgia, native who signed to Timbaland’s Interscope Records–distributed Beat Club and scored a hit single, “Ugly,” and a gold album, Dark Days, Bright Nights, in 2001. It wasn’t Paul Wall, a grill-wearing MC from Houston’s Swishahouse camp who was key in H-Town’s 2004 burgeoning rap scene. Though his 2005 Asylum/Atlantic Records debut, The People’s Champ, hit No. 1 on Billboard 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop charts, his circumstances were unique. “Being that I was part of a movement, [the Eminem comparisons] kind of passed over me,” says Wall.

Asher’s hype has been the closest. Because of his voice, cadence and delivery, Roth drew countless comparisons to Slim Shady, but for Asher, the expectations didn’t live up to the hype. “It’s not fair to Asher [or] Em,” says SRC Records president Steve Rifkind, who signed Roth to SRC in December 2007. “Asher grew up listening to Em.” Indeed, the correlation between Em’s success and the recent explosion of White lyricists is palpable. A generation of fans grew up with a White MC as arguably the most popular rapper, and along the way, more became participants in the culture. It’s a reflection of rap’s changing landscape: Hip-hop was created in the South Bronx, but it’s global now. “Hip-hop [has] gotten more multicultural as it’s grown,” says Rap Coalition founder Wendy Day. “And I think that there are more White fans who say, ‘Wow, I want to be part of that.’ Or, ‘Oh, I could do that.’”

**TO READ THE REST OF “WHO CAN GET BUSY,” XXL‘S FEATURE ARTICLE ON WHITE RAPPERS COP THE APRIL 2011 ISSUE OF XXL. ON SALE NOW**

  • Money Mitch

    This shit is really retarded!! There’s been dope white rappers in the game since day one!! Hip hop was created for all races!

    now what you hear is not a test–i’m rappin to the beat
    and me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet
    see i am wonder mike and i like to say hello
    to the black, to the white, the red, and the brown, the purple and yellow SO GET IT RIGHT DUMMIES!!!

    • fasdf

      I love this , i lov e // my b oyfriend, he is a nice guy !. i met him via

      ~~ H ot’ Bla c k’ w h it e. C” 0- M~~
      The most successful interra cial da t ing c lub. If you are still waiting for your sweet “milk” or “chocolate”, don’t hesitate to check it !! Don’t let your babies wait too long for you !!

  • dsanty

    those bars were retarded, get out of here, white rappers are just starting to get big, starting with asher.

    • jr

      haha your retarded or maybe you just dont know hip hop but white rappers have been around for a while Slug from Atmosphere, Brother Ali these are the white rappers that opened the doors

      • Jungle Survivor

        Do your homework kid! Those fuck-asses didn’t open any doors for white dudes in the game. Ever heard of Paul C McKasty or MC Serch. Paul C influenced guys like Large Pro. MC Serch used to run with T La Rock! He’s a dude that put Nas on before he had a deal. Get it straight man.

    • Jon Dog

      Did you just call “Rappers Delight” retarded? Dumb shit. Starting with Asher??? How the fuck old are you punk?

    • http://hiphop4breakfast.tumblr.com kdetrick253

      Im a little late on commenting to this but you are fucking retarded. Asher didn’t start shit. Asher has had one hit. Maybe Asher is the first white rapper you have heard because your 13 you fucking dumbass. Eminem isn’t even the first (or best) white rapper and he would kill Asher. On another note… this article is wack. Rap has no color. Is it just me or is this just straight racist. Who gives a fuck what color a rapper is. Either he is good or bad. Did you miss the Anti-Segregation laws you fucking retard. I swear, Ignorance will be the end of this world. People piss me off.

  • anon1

    Thats kurtis blow dumbass do your research ^

    • brothasdonttypeNIGGER

      u look dumb cause that aint kurtis blow thats wonder mike from da sugarhill gang an dsanty dont kno shit cuz da beastie boys an 3rd bass an everlast & vanilla ice wuz big an around way b4 asher roth

  • Tyrannical T

    I’m thinking white rappers are getting smart and figured out that they have to spit real and innovative material to be recognized. It’s a tough road, but its being paved by these guys.

    To be totally honest, I think hip-hop right now is the best its been since Biggie and Pac died. Late 90s and 00s had so many lame biters.

    Hip-Hop is back. Black, White, Whatever. It’s time for Renaissance.

  • dsanty24

    thank you, i agree. you even mentioning everlast or vanilla ice, is fucking retarded hahahahahah. hip hop? are you fucking 50 years old you dumbass?

  • http://charlesmensa.blogspot.com Charles Mensa

    LOL at the fact someone said it started with Asher..lol…Anyways, WHITE rappers have been around just as long as any other rappers. I hate how we STILL have to separate rappers by colour. Honestly, its the music that matters, and if its dope…then leave it as is. We don’t need to find another Eminem, let these new cats come thru. And also, these cats are doin this in 2011, they LEARNED from Eminem and others before him. As well as other great lyricists of our time. I wish mags would stop playin the White card with rappers. If theyre dope, then let it be! The music is universal. And by the way, its Mac Lethal.

  • NAPTOWNNUISANCE

    Like others have said, if its dope its dope who cares about the color. There have been whit mcs doing great music for years. It is nothing new, just nothin as ground breaking or attention grabbing as eminem, but all the same its not new. Just new to rap fans who dont care to check for the music, or shun it because the artist is white which is a damn shame. People need to quit bein bias.

    Oh and sorry, but no rap these days is no where near as good as it was back when pac and big was alive, the majority of it is not considered classic material we will be bumpin years down the road. Its very disposable at this point, with very few artists makin great material which is a damn shame.

  • http://elevatedhiphop.com dust

    This article is ridiculous. It trades on a racially divided culture that simply doesn’t exist musically. White emcees have been around since the conception of hip hop and have contributed significantly to the artform. Peace to Mac Lethal, ELP, Ill Bill, Brother Ali, Buck 65, etc. etc. etc.

    elevatedhiphop.com

    • http://facebook.com/NicoleArebalo bow.to.the.queen

      Hahahahaa.. word. XXL and the rest of the world are the ones who are barely catching on to what I and others (who search out emcee’s with actual talent as a personal preference to who’s music we chose to support) have been listening to for years. I can’t stand eminem, what he came out with in the begining of his mainstream career.. -waaaack. That’s right about the time that I turned off the radio for good. There are so many other rappers who posses more talent its crazy em even has/had a career. Eminem is the Justin Beiber of mainstream rap, like the poster boy that Vanilla Ice was back in his day. Necro, Celph Titled, Vinnie Paz, Sadistik, Sage Francis, and my new personal favorite CUBBIEBEAR -word up to real talent.

      The reason I even found this article was because Mac Lethal had it linked to his facebook page, other than that I wouldn’t waste my time with XXL. XXL can thank Mac Lethal for getting 1 more person to read their crap but i’m done with it. Get better writers, do more research, start publishing relevant information, I don’t know… -just get with the program.

      • cheese puffs

        damn you are one stupid bitch

  • http://youtube.com/kidmus1c K.I.D.

    I am a white rapper..lemme know what you think…i just started recording but am getting good feedback thus far. Youtube.com/kidmus1c

  • Jon Dog

    Leave it to XXL to post an article like this. You fuckin’ ideots need to clean house and start fresh over there. Have you even looked at the shit you put on this site. You look real fuckin’ stupid. Like teenagers run the show. Ms. Satin is takin’ it to hell in a hand bag, Jersey Shore watchin BIATCH!!! Change the name to “Teen Rap” or some shit. GROW THE FUCK UP XXL! look at the pathetic people you have following you. Dissing The Sugar Hill Gang, and claiming Asher was the first great white hype. Damn.

    • Ki77aBee

      amen to that. ppl IGNIT these days fasho. asher…hahaha EYEDEA woulda put that boy out if he was still with us RIP EYEDEA. WUDDUP PARADIME.

  • No Name

    It really boils down to marketing, which Em had the privilege of having due to being backed by Dre. Not to say that he didn’t or doesn’t have skill that deserves such exposure and praise, but it is about who know in this industry and how they choose to manage you. ‘Cause there are a ton of white rappers with hella tight skills. They just either don’t care very much for mainstream spotlight or their big connects (i.e.; Big Boi & Timbaland with Bubba Sparxxx) fail to follow through.

  • TicNitty706

    White rappers have been here and ain’t going no where. Labels are just looking for the wrong type of white rapper. They need to be getting with:

    Slaine
    Vinnie Paz
    Bro Ali
    Grip Grand
    Ill Bill
    La Costra Nostra
    El-P
    Haystak
    Alex King
    Esoteric

    And some other true artist who will do more than just give you a sugar rush.

  • http://THEDAYLABORERS.COM INF

    ^^^^ “The reason I even found this article was because Mac Lethal had it linked to his facebook page, other than that I wouldn’t waste my time with XXL. XXL can thank Mac Lethal for getting 1 more person to read their crap but i’m done with it. Get better writers, do more research, start publishing relevant information, I don’t know… -just get with the program.”

    I HAVE TO FULLY AGREE XXL YOUR ARTICLE IS A SHIT SHOW.

    THEDAYLABORERS.COM

  • Ki77aBee

    WUDDUP PARADIME. WUDDUP SLUG. WUDDUP MGK! R,I,P, EYEDEA.

  • http://twitter.com/bfmv580 bfmv580

    Wax is an amazing rapper, and musician in general. Spose is good too.

  • KL@SSIK

    Wheres Jelly Roll at??

  • LeggoOfMyEggo

    Macklemore… that is all.

  • Gram

    Chris Webby said it best “They say im good but im no slim shady, well how come every black rapper aint compared to Jay-Z?” real talk and asher is str8 trash man MGK and Chris Webby the best white boys doin it right now apart from Em but aint nobody touching him. and yeah white rappers have been around since the early days of rap but if you check out any of the mixtape sites nowadays the white boys really are takin over. fuck it tho i like rap as long as they got some nice lyrics i dont care what color they are…

  • cc

    COPYWRITE is the best white rapper