Here’s Santogold the other day, in a story about how her music is listed in iTunes and other online retailers as rap or R&B, despite the fact that it isn’t.
It’s racist (laughs). It’s totally racist. Everyone is just so shocked that I don’t like R&B. Why does R&B keep coming into my interviews? It’s pissing me off. I didn’t grow up as a big fan of R&B and, like, what is the big shocker? It’s stupid. In the beginning I thought that was funny. I’m an ‘MC’, I’m a ‘soul singer’, I’m a ‘dance hybrid artist’. And some guy said I looked like Kelly Rowland!
Normally, I’d be tempted to agree with Santogold.
I encourage young artists, especially young black artists, to pursue whatever genre of music they want, and the idea that black artists whose music hardly contains any traces of rap or R&B are still classified as such, just because they’re black strikes me as some ol’ racist bullshit.
It reminds me of when the local rock station here in St. Louis used to play Eminem, obviously just because he’s white. I mean, at least the Beastie Boys, who they still crank to this day (meanwhile, when’s the last time you heard Eminem on the radio?), had some traces of actual rock in their shit.
Not that I could complain too much. If they did start playing black rappers, it’d probably be someone I didn’t want to hear anyway – with it being the radio and all.
That being said, I’ve got some issues with this broad Santogold, and I’m not sure if this issue is as cut and dry as racist cracka-ass crakcas at Apple calling her a rapper just because she’s black.
First of all, I reviewed her album for my own site, and I thought it was fucking awful. I realize that the quality of the music doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how it’s classified at retail, but I’m gonna go ahead and go there anyway, because I’m a hater like that.
But the reason I even bothered with it in the first place, as I mentioned in my review is because I read, in Noz’s blog here, that she was gonna be performing on this summer’s Rock the Bells tour. Which is… you know, a motherfucking rap tour. So I figured there was probably a certain hip-hop element to her shit?
(How in the fuck are you gonna be going out on a hip-hop tour, headlined by the likes of Tribe, and Nas, and Rakim, and have the sheer balls to complain that your shit is classified as hip-hop? Women, I swear.)
And there kinda is – or, at least more than she’s letting on in her diatribes about how her shit needs to be classified as pop music. Some of it sounds just like late ’90s era No Doubt, i.e. before Gwen Stefani started to blacken her sound up; but some of that shit sounds just like M.I.A., who I wouldn’t classify as a rapper per se, but a hipster rapper – which is actually what I referred to Santogold as, in my review, a while before this became an issue.
I’m not saying race didn’t play into her shit being classified as rap music. I’m just saying. If the god-awful Corinne Bailey Rae’s shit showed up in the rap section (Corinne Bailey Rae = Raekwon?), then we might have an issue. It wouldn’t be an issue important enough that anyone should actually give a shit, but it’d be an issue none the less.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there’s the issue of so many black kids these days getting into rock music primarily as a matter of fashion – which I find to be much more of an issue that the apartheid state of the music business. In fact, I’d be willing to let the old system of apartheid remain in place, if it’s gonna help rid the world of the N*E*R*Ds and the Santogolds and mofos walking around in tight-ass jeans and Hot Topic concert tees of bands they hadn’t even heard of two years ago.
Newsflash: If you’ve ever changed the way you dress based on a genre of music, you might be gay.
Granted I realize you can’t put this all on Santogold, or this particular issue, but it’s hard not to view this latest dust-up as part of the overall debate re: black folks in rock music in the past few years now, where you’ve had mofos acting as if they’re all oppressed, because they go to rock shows and there aren’t any other black people there (just like good rap shows!) or because other black people give them shit for dressing like a fruit.
Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to rock music and going to rock shows since back before it was all trendy, and I’ve never had an issue with any of this. I go wherever the fuck I want, regardless of if there’s gonna be any other black people there; and I dress like a grown-ass man. Because that’s what a grown-ass man does. Never mind what the haters think.
What do you haters think? Is Santogold’s obsession with genre classification a sign that she shouldn’t be taken seriously as an artist? Also, when she appears at Rock the Bells this summer, will the audience have the cojones to pick up big clumps of mud and throw it at her, like at Woodstock ’94, or are they just gonna stand there like a bunch of bitches. I’m not trying to incite a riot or anything. I’m just saying. Speak on it.
 One thing I do agree with Santogold on is that R&B is as teh ghey as eight guys blowing nine guys, with one dick left over to stick in someone’s ear.