I think most people who are into hip-hop are aware that there have been very few prominent white MCs, but how often do people stop to wonder why, exactly, haven’t there been more?
Racist bastard that I am, I always assumed that it was because rappin’ is fuckin’ hard, and there just aren’t very many white people who can do it very well, which is, coincidentally, also my theory on why there haven’t been very many prominent female rappers.
But then I think we know I’ve got my share of issues. After all, it can be difficult to convince women to have sex with you when you’ve got more than one chin. (Thank God for prostitution!)
Tom Breihan may not have such issues, but he does happen to be one of the more prominent white fans of hip-hop, which is an issue in itself. Or is it? In fact, Breihan suggests, in his review of Jason Tanz’ new Other People’s Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America, the main reason there aren’t more prominent white rappers is because race these days is such a non-issue.
You see, it used to be the case that white people were naturally drawn to black music, becuase it’s more dangerous and sexy than most white music, but they preferred if it was performed by some sort of white intermediary figure. Hence Elvis Presley and the white man stealing rock and roll right out from under the black man.
But now we’re to the point where white people don’t have such hang ups. They’re still drawn to black music, but no for any sexual reasons; it’s just that black music is naturally better. As such, it follows that they’re no longer interested in having black music dumbed down for them by some Elvis figure.
Which sounds like a decent enough theory. Progress, even. You guys know I’m into progress except when it comes to my own waist line, in which case there may not be any progress between now and my impending death from a heart attack at the ripe old age of 39.
But I’m not sure how much I’m buying this into theory. I’m not saying there hasn’t been any progress on the race front since the 1960s, but there may have been a lot less than some of us would like to think. On the one hand, it’s true that black music is more accepted in the mainstream today than it was then, but I’m not sure to what extent white people’s relationship with black music has changed since then.
Do white people who listen to black music not it enjoy because, at least on some level, they’re drawn to some sort of perceived otherness in it, the same way that a lot of white bitches, on the low, like to have sex with black men (just not me)? If not, how do you explain this current rash of blackface hipster parties on college campuses and this general fascination with LCD rap, as if that’s the only thing the black community has to offer.
Speaking of white rappers, Jamie Radford did an interview with Jus Rhyme from ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show (who also happens to be interviewed in this book). It gets into some issues having to do with white people’s relationship with hip-hop.
- Interview: Jus Rhyme of the White Rapper Show [jamieradford.com]