Are certain types of hip-hop too smart for poor black people? This seemed like a reasonable enough argument to me when Phonte, the best rapper in Little Brother put it forth the other day.
There was a great article in the Village Voice some time last year about how black hip-hop groups with political content like the Coup and the Perceptionists couldn’t get black people to show up to their concerts. The Roots are notorious for being enjoyed mostly by white people.
I guess the crux of the argument is whether black people aren’t showing up to these shows because the music sucks or because their too dim to understand the content of the the music. I like all of the aforementioned groups, but none of them are so great that you couldn’t justifiably not like them.
XXL’s own Noz, who opened up a jar of ether and spread some on Phonte, put forth Kanye West and OutKast as examples of smart hip-hop groups who would’ve been able to play Fayetteville’s Summer Jam. But I’m not sure if I buy that argument, since I don’t find Kanye West particularly intelligent and OutKast is no longer worth a shit.
Little Brother may not be a particularly great or original group, but I’d still put them as being better than almost anyone on the lineup at Fayetteville’s Summer Jam, which would also give the lie to the theory that the crowd wasn’t feeling Little Brother because they just weren’t good enough.
Three 6 Mafia made arguably the best rap song that came out last year, but I don’t know that there’s anything else in their catalog approaching that level. Some of the rest of the groups they had playing there were pretty shitty even by southern hip-hop standards. (Sorry, I had to go there).
You could argue that acts like Yung Joc, who’s got the most popular rap song out right now, and Dem Franchize Boyz are playing a style of hip-hop that’s just much more popular right now. But popular doesn’t necessarily constitute better. I think we can at least agree that Little Brother is as good, if not better than either of those groups.
So if these other groups and Little Brother are comparable in quality, but the crowd responds much better to the other groups because they’re currently being favored by the Tall Israeli-run media, I think you’d have to conclude that the audience is just dumb, which is the conclusion Phonte arrived at before he started furiously backpedaling.