Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How to stop being racist #20: Stop saying you hate rap music.





[if you are new and wondering what the other things are on this list, you can click here for most of the other ones.]

Remember in my last post when I asked you what were any signals to help identify underground racists? I forgot to tell you one I've already figured out...People who say, "I hate rap music."

Let me explain...

When I was in high school, it was really popular to say "I like all kinds of music except country and rap."

Looking back on it, I'm guessing this was just a way to say "I like pop music," becauseI don't think my fellow Eagles were really that into classical, folk, latin, etc. The music that was most popular at the time was alternative, but "popular alternative" is something of an oxymoron.

Someone who says "I hate all music except rap and country" is less likely to get the side eye from me, because we all know that while black people make rap, white people make country. So they probably just hate the different sounds associated with the different musics.

But when someone says,

"I hate rap...Just rap...Rap really annoys me for some reason I just haven't been able to put my finger on yet."

What I hear is:

I hate young, urban black males and all that they stand for. It is not acceptable for me to say I hate young
black urban males and all that they stand for, but is IS acceptable for me to say I hate rap, so...I hate rap.


I'm not saying this is a conscious thought on the part of these people, or that it is even accurate. It's just my perception. Also, I realize it is a bit unfair to associate things with peoples' unconscious minds, since that is not something that can be proven or disproven in a court of law or a labratory. But don't blame me, blame Freud. Personally, I think he's onto something. And if you're white getting mad, I think this rule applies to people of color too--just put internalized in front of the word racist.

My friend Polly once said that if you say you don't like a whole genre of music, it's because you think it all sounds the same. I think she's onto something, because I don't really like Ska music for that reason (though I do have a Mighty Mighty Bosstones cd.)

But I would never say I hate Ska music. Hate is such a strong word. I know there are people who go around talking about how they hate lots of different things (not just rap,) but I think that might be a habit that is worth breaking. If you hate Cheetos, how do you feel about Hitler? It's like, words have precise meanings--use the one that best describes what you're trying to convey.

I also recognize that while I probably will never be a big ska fan, that someone who is a big ska fan hears a lot of differences between the various bands, knows there are subgenres of ska, and could probably find me some ska songs besides The Bosstones that I would like.

The same is true for rap. Rap is such a varied genre with so many different artists--it just doesn't make sense to write off the entire thing because of the (most likely) extremely limited exposure you've had to it.

There is a great website called Rap Genius, where you can find basically any rap song, read the lyrics, and then read user-submitted interpretations of the lines--just like you would analyze poetry. I would encourage you to check that site out and see what you find.


If you don't like rap that degrades women, say that. If you don't like rap that glorifies consumerism, say that. Understand that people that make that kind of rap often say that they are just telling the world about their harsh reality. Examine that idea and formulate a response. Finally, be open to the possibility that there is a jam out there that you would love...if only you heard it. Then maybe you and I can be friends.

Comments? Feel free to leave me one.



10 comments:

  1. Your perception about rap haters seems entirely accurate. But no ska? Not even Toots and the Maytals or Desmond Dekker?

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  2. Anonymous6:29 AM

    I think I hate rap better translates to I have never listened to rap myself but I hate the stuff I hear in movies and news that is generally used to add a menacing tone to the scene/ segment.

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  3. Chunk Hatsumomo9:40 AM

    While a dislike of rap certainly could be a sign of racism, I dont think it necessarily is. I think this actually speaks to a cultural misunderstanding between black and white America. White Americans are offended when someone speaks highly of themselves, and that form of speak is pretty common in rap music. There is an unspoken (what else is new) rule among white people that one should speak in a humble way, regardless of one's accomplishments. Rap is not humble, and this offends many white people, independent of race. I think one of the mirad reasons Eminem was successful was because: 1) He was small, and white america's inherent heightism canceled out a lot of the offense. We will forgive a small man for speaking highly of himself, out of pity. This is not at all a justification, I am trying to tell it like it is. It is effed-up, but I think thats the case. 2) He actually did not speak highly of himself a lot of his songs. His songs were more about his general angst and difficulty with life, so a lot of white people could identify. 3) He was white. I put this third because I am trying to make the point that race is not the ONLY thing going on here. But yes, obviously a lot of white people were more comfortable listening to another white person. Vanilla Ice and Everlast, on the other hand, did speak highly of themselves and were ridiculed. They certainly did not experience the meteoric success of Eminem. Eminem was not the first white rapper, he was just the first to hit on the right combination of elements, which allowed him to bring rap music to the white masses. If it were just a racial issue, Vanilla Ice would have been as popular as Elvis, or Eminem.

    The reason I bring this up because there is a danger in alienating perfectly reasonable white people. If you tell a white person that their hatred of rap music makes them racist, there is a danger they will either disengage from the discourse, or decide that being racist is just fine with them. This hatred of boastful speak runs very deep, probably from our puritan roots.

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  4. Anonymous8:49 PM

    I have heard rap by people of all colors. I don't like much of it because it isn't musical. I also don't like poetry readings and might put them in the same category. Did I think about the skin color of the people I was listening to? I don't think so. I was listening to something I didn't like. Can it be that simple?

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  5. Anonymous8:48 PM

    As a musician, I don't think I'll ever find someone talking over a 2-second repeated computerized sample loop to meet my musical ideals. That's not racism, silly. There are black people who don't like rap music, so they're racist, too? I like black gospel, jazz, soul, Motown, R&B, and blues, Afro-pop, funk. Oh, I love the song, "White LInes," because it has an anti-drug theme, isn't full of curses, and has a kicking horn line and fun minimalist bass line.

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  6. Anonymous1:40 AM

    .
    http://www.facebook.com/allpeople.gifts/posts/300777016632181

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Generation-Mixed/message/4236

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TheLastDaysWakeupCall/conversations/topics/14

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TheLastDaysWakeupCall/conversations/messages/17

    https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TheLastDaysWakeupCall/conversations/messages/18

    https://www.youtube.com/user/apgifts/about
    .

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  7. Oh come on. Since when is appreciation of a particular genre of music a requirement if one is not to be a labeled a racist? I don't enjoy the experience of listening to rap music. So what; I'm a racist? What a ridiculous assertion!

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  8. Anonymous9:07 AM

    Voted most ridiculous article ever.

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  9. I love the music of Ella Fitzgerald, Coleman Hawkins, Lightnin' Hopkins, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, Count Bassie, Lena Horne, Billy Preston, Catherine Russell, Tracey Chapman, Ron Carter, all the Marsalis family and B.B. King.

    And that's the short list. It's obvious that the fact that I can't stand rap doesn't make me a racist.

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  10. Anonymous5:45 PM

    I haven't blogged in a very long time. Haven't even read blogs in a long time. I came here to see what you had to say about the Ferguson situation. I figured you'd have a lot of thought provoking things to say. :)

    ReplyDelete