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Is Rap Black?

The Notorious B.I.G – Hypnotize 

Well it’s definitely not white… Right?

This goes well beyond what Marshall Mathers has accomplished. This isn’t about the fact that Asher Roth is a really laid-back guy. This is about the 16 year old kid from the suburbs who coops up in his bedroom playing Wutang Records until the wee hours of the morning. This is about the cheerleader who buys a ticket to the Lil’ Wayne concert every time he comes to her city. This is about a public art form. 

Art is subjective. Do you know what the word subjective means?

Subjective: existing in the mind; belonging to the thinking subject rather than to the object of thought.

If certain art forms belonged to one particular race, social class or demographic there would be no museums, radio stations, television channels, movie theatres etc. I am sick to death of people constantly saying “You know Chris, you should really take a look in the mirror, and notice your skin colour” every time I quote a rap song. Or “You really wish you were black don’t you” every time I wear a fitted baseball cap.

I am a white man, and I am proud to be that. I would never under any circumstances change my skin colour to appease others or myself. I continue to love the man I have become.

I am a product of Rap culture. I am a student of the music. I am an enthusiast of the language. It does not define me, but I am a part of it none-the-less. 

It all started when Jermaine Parsons let me listen to his Notorious B.I.G tape (Yes… tape. It was that far back.) in the schoolyard when I was 11 years old. The first song I ever heard was Hypnotize. I was instantly addicted. It was the only song I listened to for what seemed like a year. My parents didn’t understand or condone my newfound love. Neither did most of my rock-crazy white friends. I didn’t care. Biggie’s lyrics resonated through every ounce of my being. The bravado, the embellishment, the flagrance, the delivery. I idolized everything about the man. Little did I know, that this adolescent introduction would change my life forever.

These days I’m even more entranced by Rap culture than ever. It mediates my style of dress, my choice of women, my drive in business and my attitude with people. It’s easy to say that I’m trying to be something I’m not. That I’ll never be black, or I’m just making a fool of myself. I wholeheartedly disagree with all of the above.

Just because an entire race of people like something does not mean it is theirs. Rap is about expression. It’s about creativity, emotion and storytelling. These are things that all humans are capable of both enjoying and demonstrating. When I flip through my iPod I am simply selecting emotions. I’m shopping for feelings. Music is the soundtrack to my soul. I am enthralled by multiple genres, and I always will be. Rap happens to be a genre of music that speaks directly to me, in a number of ways. It’s powerful, strong, confident and honest. These are qualities about myself that I can relate to. Relation is not always literal or direct. Perhaps I know nothing about purchasing a $500,000 Rolls Royce Drop head, but I do know the feeling of treating myself to an expensive item that I have worked hard to get. Maybe I have never been in a gang, but I certainly feel the camaraderie that exists between a close group of men. 

A lot of the lyrics in Rap are not meant to be taken literally, but figuratively and metaphorically. This is why the media is constantly pointing fingers at Rap artists for foul (out-of-context) lyrics. When I listen to a Rick Ross record, I’m not listening because his life mirrors mine, but because his life intrigues me. There is no difference between enjoying a Rap song about killing and violence, than experiencing genuine entertainment from a movie like Scarface. It’s cathartic. Therapeutic. Foreign. 

We are all different. We all like different things. Enjoy your life and continue to be exactly who you want to be. 

Rap Fans: Bump your Nas, spin your Jay-Z, spit your Kanye West and quote your Notorious B.I.G. 

Fuck all you hoes, get a grip motherfucker” 


Comments

  • Anonymous

    I been listening to rap since before most people were born. My first TAPE was RUN DMC tougher than leather. My first RECORD was NWA Str8 Outta Compton. 1998 baby!

    I fucks with you on this topic my man. I used to have the same debate a decade ago myself when I actually used to care about what people thought of me lol!

    The truth of the matter is you are correct. But when you also hear that rap is black, THEY are also correct. There is no wrong, there is only grey matter. I have come to the understandinfg that as a white I’m “set trippin” when I listen to rap. I’m the “Away team”. As long as I don’t cross any imaginery lines, I’m cool. Why? Because it is a culture that was created by black people, for black people.

    As a white man I have my place in rap, as do all colours, but we need to also understand that the medium was INITIALLY created to voice social issues amongst a community most folks up here do not belong to, including some black people.

    That said, it has evolved into a money making juggernaut that sees no other colour than just GREEN.

    • Chris Elliott

      Love that last line. lol

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

      • Anonymous

        I had a type-o, it was 1988! Not 1998!

  • Anonymous

    I agree most with your 2 concluding paragraphs. The metaphors and symbolism in rap are one of the reasons I love it as much as I do. The racial debate will forever exist, however I am not concerned. As long as there is good product out there I will be listening to rap music.

    My first tape was YOUNG MC’s self-titled debut on cassette. My current desired CD has definitely got to be “Pilot Talk 2″ by Currensy… coming out next Tuesday. SLIIIIIIIME!!!

  • Jonathanleebrock

    Biggy Biggy Biggy can’t you see? Whoo, you evoked some emotion my man! That feeling of your first exposure to hip hop is quite reminiscent of 1995 when I was introduced to “til Shiloh” by Buju Banton. Well written.

  • akemi

    As a white girl who listens to Wu Tang and Big L every day of her life, all I gotta say about this article is REAL TALK. hahaha.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000583209773 Sabrina Camp

    love the painting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Nelson-Kuhn-Villeneuve/591755322 Richard Nelson Kuhn-Villeneuve

    It’s about time someone went there!!!! This is tight!

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