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History repeats itself

Does it strike anyone else as odd that rap albums these days are selling as if they have AIDS on them, while pop albums that sound more or less like rap music are selling as if they came with free weed?

Probably the best-selling rap album recently has been OutKast’s Idlewild, and even it got beat like a broken dishwasher by Diddy’s pre-fab girl group Danity Kane. To this day, I’m not even sure what it is that Danity Kane sings, and it’s not like I’m completely disconnected from pop culture. I’m sure that’s still a good two years out.

Meanwhile, albums by the likes of Beyonce and Justin Timberlake aren’t doing especially worse than their discs from ’02-’03, despite the fact that Music Piracy Is Killing the Record Industry. If anything, you’d have to view their sales figures as a veritable coup for the music biz.

I can’t help but wonder: What if this isn’t some temporary trend? What if cracka-ass crackas have actually managed to steal hip-hop right out from under black people without anyone even noticing?

Of course cracka-ass cracka appropriation of black forms of music has been an issue going all the way back to the days of Pat Boone and Elvis Presley, and probably a while before that as well, but I think most people assumed those days were long gone with the advent of hip-hop.

Who gives a fuck about rock and roll anymore anyway?

Indeed, cracka-ass crackas have mostly failed to take over rap music in the twenty or thirty years now that it’s been a going concern. (Except, of course, for the fact that they run it and contol the bulk of the wealth that it’s generated, but that’s neither here nor there.)

There’ve been quite a few white MCs, many of whom I’ve enjoyed more so than most black rappers (no Cam’ron’s weird gay friend), but I think it’s pretty much taken for granted that there could never be a white Biggie Smalls. (There hasn’t even been another black Biggie Smalls, but again I digress.)

That said, I wonder how important the actual vocal art of rappin’ is to rap music as a whole, the fact that it’s called that notwithstanding. As I mentioned in my post the other day about the winners and losers of hip-hop circa 2006, actual rappers have arguably never meant less to rap music.

And when you think about it, did the fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney couldn’t sing as well as the Isley Brothers stop them from recording the definitive version of “Twist and Shout?” 40 years after the fact, Paul McCartney is rock’s first billionaire, while Ron Isley can’t even afford to pay his taxes. Coincidence?

If history teaches us anything, it’s that we never learn much from history. If cracka-ass crackas already stole rock and roll out from under black people, what’s there to suggest that they couldn’t do the same with hip-hop? Maybe they already have.

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