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The White Rapper Show: Embrace and Exploitation

It's 2014, the number one consumer of rap music is white teenagers. Of course there's going to be white rappers. But we can't group all white rappers together. Sure, there's good white rappers and there's bad white rappers. But that's not the only way we should sort white rappers. There's two paths a white rapper can take. They can either embrace or exploit black culture. It's really simple.

Black people created a lot of genres of music. If you'd like list you can click here. But this is about rap music. Rap music or Hip Hop is a special case. The word struggle is thrown around a lot, but Hip Hop was truly born from the struggle. No matter how simple the early lyrics were they all touched on the same things, dreams of wealth and the struggle that we faced as black people. As time went on hip hop demonstrated the struggle of different people. Gangster rap popularized by the west coast in the late 80s and early 90s by groups like N.W.A. and Bone Thugs N' Harmony wasn't about going out and shooting people. it was about being born into that lifestyle with no choice. Conscious rap popularized by artist like Common and Nas wasn't about trying to be the smartest. It was about trying to build bridges as black people instead of burning them down. No matter the sub-genre of hip hop, it all encompasses some form of struggle, from Childish Gambino's loneliness and alienation to Jay Zs need to create a legacy and use his wealth to support his family and friends, it's all a struggle black people face.

There's nothing wrong with white people wanting to rap at all. The problem is that not all white rappers are willing to understand or even recognize the struggle that black people face. I'm not saying white rappers need to each drop a 40 minute apology for slavery. I'm just saying, some white rappers have to recognize that their skin is the reason they have the success that they do. You can be a great white rapper but the fact that you're a white rapper will also be a great help. Recognizing it is the first step. That should be the obvious step. Then there's two ways you can go. You can take a path and embrace black culture. You can give back or you can speak out. There's also the exploit path. You can create a persona that embodies countless black stereotypes or flat out pokes fun at black people. That's where the distinction should be made.

Let's start by talking about rappers who embrace black culture. Recently Azealia Banks decided to call out Action Bronson and all other white rappers for stealing black culture. I commend Azalea Banks. Her heart is always in the right place, but she doesn't do her research. Action Bronson isn't a rapper who has decided to exploit black culture. Action Bronoson is a father of two mixed kids he drives to school proudly. A man who recognizes the struggles that we as black people go through. A man who has spoken out about both the protests in Ferguson and the death of Eric Garner. But he's not the only white rapper who has embraced black culture.

When asked about forming a duo with El-P Killer Mike once stated "I'm black, he's white, but he understands what I have to go through as a black man and because of that, we'll always be friends." Time and time again El-P has stood next to Killer Mike as he spoke about issues facing the black community. But, it's not just standing by, he speaks out when he sees the injustices. When he speaks it isn't the mocking Bill O'Reilly tone with words like "pull up your pants." It's "I see your problem, let me help," and that will always be appreciated.

Eminem is a white rapper who is fully aware of his white privilege. There's no doubt that he had to struggle with his upbringing, his drug addiction and relationships. But he still recognizes that being white helps. He's stated this countless times with lyrics like "Let's do the math: if I was black, I woulda sold half." and "I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley To do black music so selfishly And used it to get myself wealthy." But despite what he says, Eminem isn't so selfish. He consistently donates to charities such as Wolverine Human Services, that helps impoverished children in the Detroit area. But it's not just the money. In the same area as Action Bronson and El-P he speaks. While it not be in profound statements it will come in songs like White America where he mentions "Hip Hop was never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston," or Sing for The Moment when he mentions how white parents are disturbed when their children look up to black people, no matter if it's an athlete or rapper. But there are still those that exploit.

Macklemore recently made headlines for marching with protestors in Seattle. Headlines that didn't mention Jay Z providing food, shirts and other supplies to protestors in Brooklyn. Headlines that didn't mention Eric Garner's daughter and Nas leading a march through the streets of queens. Headlines that didn't mention Common leading a protest with Mike Brown's parents in Chicago. But Macklemore was the one who made national headlines. Don't get me wrong, it's great Macklemore helped. But this is only after he was called out by Mos Def, Q-Tip, Lord Jamar and others for exploiting the culture. Macklemore didn't feel the need to protest, he was simply tired of being lectured. He was guilt tripped into helping. But, he helped. On the tree of exploitation Macklemore is the low hanging fruit that's easily reached.

Sure Macklemore has a song called White Privilege, but it's not what you think. It's a moment of white guilt. It's not even a good moment of white guilt that leads to something greater. It's "Wow, black people created hip hop, but white people come to the shows so I'm gonna get this money and I don't really care."  He acknowledges that hip hop was created by black people and follows it up with lyrics like "Now who's going to shows, the kids on the block starving or the white people with dough that can relate to my content?" At one point he says "White kids with do-rags trying to practice their accents from the suburbs to the upperclass, mastering a language but hip-hop is not just memorizing words it's rooted in authenticity, something you literally can't learn" It's like "These other white rappers are stealing the culture but not me." It's a joke really. He even says in the song that the song is how he pays dues. But at least he's not Lil Dicky.

Lil Dicky is a name that you may or may not heard of. He's rather popular with the fraternities and Reddit. If you run in those circles you've probably heard of him. Lil Dicky comes from an upper class Jewish home, he went to college and got a nice job. It's important I mention some of his privileges now. Then he put on an over-sized jersey and started making rap songs. These weren't comedy songs they were just songs he was serious about. He constantly acts as a black stereotype. But that's not even the worst part. Dicky has a blog filled with statements like "Unless you’re an extremely stupid person that began life as a poor, violent man, only to see your fortunes turn once you started rapping, you won’t be able to relate to 99 percent of today’s rap music."

You may have some doubts that Dicky is calling black people poor and violent. He could be talking about anyone. Until you watch his video White Dude. It's a song about enjoying his white privilege. If you stick around to the end he complains about not being able to use the word nigga. Now, if you looked at Dicky's wikipedia page it will mention he's a comedian. That is a new addition. Dicky decided he would add comedian when he started getting backlash for his lyrics. But Dicky, has never done a skit, stand up or anything remotely funny. Even with all of that, he's still not the worst.

Iggy Azalea however, is the worst. Have you ever noticed when Iggy raps she uses either a Brooklyn or Atlanta accent? But when she speaks it's obvious that she's from Australia. Changing her voice to sell records is one thing, but that's not the worst. Her entire persona is a copy of every stereotype that is placed on black women. Black women are stereotyped as having large behinds and being overly sexual. Iggy frequently raps about how sexual she is and her behind with lyrics like "your bitch chose me cause you walk out with, my ass thick and my drinks mixed, say I'm sick, I say no shit, better fo' drip, and that's a fo' sip." But that's not her biggest problem.

Let's be honest. Iggy is a racist. I know you're saying "But she dates Nick Young." So, she might see him as a trophy. Iggy is a modern day minstrel show. Instead of putting on black face and strapping a pillow to her butt she portrays stereotypes and gets butt injections. Then she sings a racist song. Instead of singing "Nigger Love A Watermelon Ha! Ha! Ha!" she raps "Tire marks, tire marks, finish line with the fire marks, when the relay starts I’m a runaway slave-master." She's literally rapping about being a slave master. That's not even the worst part. Iggy doesn't speak on black issues like others and I'm glad because it wouldn't be flattering at all. Before Iggy was signed to a major deal she took some time to go on a racist twitter rant.

But she forgot to delete those tweets before they got picked up earlier this year. I bet she hates screen shots. She didn't just take aim at black people but also Native Americans, Asians, gay people and plenty of others. Iggy is not a good person. She has no racial sensitivity whatsoever but she consistently portrays stereotypes. Iggy has managed to exploit hip hop more than any white rapper in the history of rap music and yes, that includes Vanilla Ice.

There's two kinds of white rappers. Those who embrace the culture, and those that exploit it. You don't have to donate money like Eminem. You don't have to have kids with a black woman like Action Bronson. But at least recognize the history of the music that you're making. Don't make fun of the people who created it then become a comedian when you're confronted. Especially don't be a racist who does a black face show like Iggy Azalea.

You can hear Darrell on the CP Time and Powerbomb Jutsu podcasts. He also plays classic arcade games on The Cabinet

Darrell S.

Hey, I write stuff, a lot of different stuff, that's all.

2 Comments

  1. Good post. HipHop needs more categories since its branched out so much, there definitely needs to be a pop rap section, but I could also argue against a pop rap section, but in order to preserve an separate the good from the bad in this fast pace world I thing more categories are necessary especially for awards or recognition, there is no way Nicki an Iggy should be winning awards over Jay Z an Kanye that is not what hiphop is about.

    Also I was about to say that the name of the writer should maybe be at the top of the article but after I got finished reading it felt fine at the end, but maybe have it at the top as well minus the stats like on the bottom.

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    1. I don't even pay attention to award shows. It's not so much about who had the best project, it's about who is the most popular to the voters. Usually that's really old white people on a committee who don't even enjoy the things they're voting on so they base it on sales

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