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.


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

  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.

  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.

    1. Anonymous11:20 PM

      Meanwhile, white America elected Donald Trump, so your argument then completely falls flat on its face. He’s arguably the biggest blowhard in modern history and white folks voted for him in DROVES. Where was that so-called “dislike” of people speaking highly of themselves in the voting booth?? Besides, the author isn’t saying that not liking rap makes you racist. It’s that adamantly and blindly HATING rap and responding in turn in such a knee-jerk fashion is often (but not always) indicative of internalized and subconscious racist beliefs. It is a correlation, but one does not necessarily cause nor infer the other. Most importantly, racism doesn’t always need to be black and/or white (no pun intended) for it to be present and insidious. Life is utterly “grey”, and too many people have this problematic “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to racism like it either is or it isn’t and that’s it. I personally can’t STAND country music, but I don’t HATE it and I understand that there are people who DO like it and that’s fine. I can also be honest and say that part of my dislike comes from my perception that certain people whom I detest (i.e. willfully ignorant hicks/hillbillies, racists and bigots) also possibly listen to and revere that music. I still don’t hate it though and also would never say that country “isn’t real music”. It irks me like hell when people have the nerve to say that rap/hip-hop isn’t “real music”. Like who in tf are you to even say that? Who are you to completely invalidate the creative and musical expression of someone else? If Trout Mask Replica can be called music (and even a MASTERPIECE), then so can rap PERIOD. Does the saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” simply get thrown out the window when it comes to rap music? To me, there is a certain vile arrogance and presumption of one’s place or supremacy in the world to even think to dismiss an entire genre of music along with all the people who enjoy and appreciate it. So to say white people don’t like people who speak highly of themselves, yet they THEMSELVES think highly enough of themselves to write off and HATE all rap music while simultaneously being ignorant to it altogether says something. Like the author said, “hate” is a very strong word with a very precise meaning. If you hate rap along side Hitler and Nazis, then what exactly are you saying about rap? One must then also ask themselves “why” and get to the very heart of the truth in that answer. It’s ironic how nowadays people barely familiar with a genre of music have the strongest opinions of precisely that which they know hardly anything of. That then begs of a necessary catharsis. You hate something to which you are barely even familiar with. Is that racist? Perhaps not in each and every instance, but the potential for it’s presence still remains. Just because it isn’t always plain and obvious doesn’t prove it’s complete non-existence. You yourself also allude that race might be part of the answer, and then ironically use Eminem (who is white) as an example of “good rap” vs. bad. Eminem himself has said plenty of times that if he were black he wouldn’t be as popular or as successful as he has been. Investigate those who would call Eminem legitimate rap, but would deny all others. Lastly, you speak of a totally INCORRECT misperception of what you perceive ALL rap is versus the complexity, reality and actuality of what it is. I can go to the grocery store and pick up cheap and tawdry wine in many separate instances. Each of those instances I have a terrible experience drinking it and proclaim I hate wine. Does that mean ALL wine is worthy of my ire and disgust or that I have properly developed an insightful and expert opinion on wine? Nope.

    2. Don't forget that a huge percentage of white and black men voted for Trump just because they could not handle the fact that the right choice (voting for Hillary Clinton) would have meant having a woman in charge. The fact is that there are a lot of misogynists and that has more to do with Trump being elected. There is also a lot of misogyny in rap as well and a lot of black men and women hate rap for that reason.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  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?

    1. Amen to that. I don't like most rap for the same reason I don't like most of Bob Dylan's stuff. Too many words, not enough MUSIC. I rarelypay attention to the lyrics unless the music grabs me. Rap does not. It's not about race. It's about MUSIC.

  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.

  6. Anonymous1:40 AM


  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!

  8. Anonymous9:07 AM

    Voted most ridiculous article ever.

  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.

    1. Anonymous3:37 AM

      My thoughts exactly. I don't like rap, whether its sung by whites, blacks, or other. I've heard clean Christian rap, from whites or blacks, and I still don't like it. Even with Christian words, to me it still sounds like anger and yelling, etc. I love jazz music, especially smooth jazz. I also love the music of Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, The Spinners, Anita Baker, Walter Beasley, and many others. I don't see how I am racist when I like other types of music that blacks have sung/performed. I also know a lot of whites and black that don't like country. I don't believe that makes the whites racist against themselves, and I don't believe it makes blacks racist against whites if they don't like country. People like what they like and dislike what they dislike. Sometimes it seems to me like people are looking for racism where it doesn't necessarily exist.

  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. :)

  11. Anonymous1:36 PM

    Wait. Just a sec. So...i'm racist 'cause I think rap music takes almost no skill to make and is really just someone talking? I simply don't like rap 'cause it's an insult to music. So tell me. Is that because i'm racist? That seems like a pretty moronic way to put it. I do understand that some people may dislike rap for that reason, but not everyone. Or very many people, I hope.

    Nice work getting a discussion going though!

    1. Agreed. Most of the new mumble rap in particular is what I can't stand. (Most of it is being made by whites and Hispanics now and it is just terrible. For example Lil Pump or 6ixNine are fruity looking 15 year old white boys with rainbow fake dread extensions and ugly fruity tattoos all over their faces. They wear tight rocker pants, hipster choker chains and Marilyn Manson t-shirts. They have someone producing all their beats and repeat the same talentless mumble phrases about how they are better than you, got more money and lean than you and annoying shit like that. New rappers are autistic drug addicts with no talent who think rapping about Xans and Lean while rhyming the same words (oooh and ehh) with each other. I have been a rap and hip hop fan since 1978 (I am 44) and feel like this new mumble/you tube bullshit represents the music I have loved, DJ'ed, Produced my whole life.

  12. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Can't stand poetry. 4/4 is boring. Not a racist.

  13. There's lots of good poetry, but it isn't written to be chanted in monotone about bustin' the walls and 'ho's.

  14. of all the white people i've encountered who boast about themselves. welcome to corporate america people. there is so much rap out there, some of it is so different than the other. how was that point so missed? also, if i love mowtown and jazz, etc... seems we also missed the young urban male scary thing... there were so many things to think about in this arcticle, i thought. so many points seem forgotten, in a way

  15. of course, i should also acknowledge, i can also be scared of white frat boys out of control.

  16. Anonymous2:10 PM

    what a load of crap hating rap music does not make you a raciest. I hate country music but defiantly have nothing against white people.

  17. Anonymous9:07 AM

    I dont listen to any music. Ever.

  18. Anonymous5:59 PM

    I hate rap, I am not racist, as my HUSBAND is BLACK and my children are mixed, so you are an idiot for making such a statement. Do you love heavy metal? If not does that make YOU racist towards whites????

  19. Anonymous11:02 PM

    I agree with the musicians, being a guitar player myself, I don't like most rap for the lack of instruments. Also the content, of violence, and ego. I have heard some very stupid lyrics in rap as well. And the one liner chorus like DONT TELL EM. over and over and over and over and over............ I have heard rap songs though where there is a full band involved and the rapper actually had some clever lyrics and I thought it actually sounded pretty good. I think if all the rappers also played instruments and wrote the music and had something to talk about besides money, cars, clothes, bitches, and ho's. We wouldn't be having this conversation because everyone would respect them on the merit of their hard work and talent . It would definitely move from hating rap to tolerating it, maybe even enjoying it.

  20. Anonymous10:24 AM

    This isn't entirely true and use my own experience to explain. I'm a middle-aged white male who grew up in urban schools that were greater then 50% black in the seventies. When the Sugarhill Gang released Rapper's Delight, I loved it. I also loved Rapture by Blondie and Grandmaster Flash. I even liked The Fat Boys. For lack of a better word, rap was a style to me and not a genre of music.

    Run-D.M.C. was okay, but consisted largely of giving old songs and rhythms a new beat, which I didn't find very creative. Will Smith was fun, but nothing ground breaking, and I started seeing "rap music" as drab. When gangster rap and Tupac appeared, I was out of touch with it, and even though I had friends who tried to help me get in touch, I just never found it anything but offensive.

    While I know there has been some good rap music since, the genre just got old long ago to me. I love old Motown and still enjoy some R&B's today, but I find rap boring. To be fair, I think all music has gotten worse since the seventies, because it stopped being about the music, and all about "style" and "culture", which is really just code for visual experience. I haven't liked much of anything since the nineties and pretty much don't think music is about the music anymore.

    Btw, I can tolerate some country, but I'm not a fan of country or metal, either. SKA is okay, but the ironic thing is that it reminds me of early rap. I like just about everything pre-80's and really nothing nowadays, whether it's rap, "rock", country, electronica or whatever. Oh, and I'm certainly not racist for disliking rap. I even voted for Obama both times and I'd do it again. However, if rap is "black culture" today, then I'm not a fan of black culture, but I guess I hate "white culture" too, since I don't care much for country music, either.

  21. Anonymous9:04 AM

    Actually, I've noticed white people who

  22. Anonymous9:32 AM

    Not liking rap makes one racist? Do you realize how damaging, ignorant, unfair and illogical that statement is? Excuse me, but I'm white and I used to love hip-hop when I was in middle school and high school. Not anymore. Now I love every kind of black music EXCEPT hip-hop and I'm tired of people talking like hip-hop is the only kind of black music out there. I'm tired of people making excuses for the sleaziness in hip-hop. For every R&B/rock/jazz/country/reggae/world/folk, etc. song with obscene and disrespectful lyrics it's just as easy to find ten that aren't. With rap music it's very hard to find. As for metal, I don’t like metal and only a minority of white people listen to and “act” metal (most white people get that metal is stupid) so that overused analogy just doesn’t hold water. What does it say about the state of hip-hop when Drake is considered hip-hop's nicest guy? This is a dude whose music is laced with vulgarities and leads a personal life about as wholesome as Tommy Lee’s. On the other hand, that’s celebrities in general.

    I've also noticed these days white people who like hip hop are more likely to be racist than those who don't because they absorb it like white audiences did at those old minstrel shows. They embrace negative images that most rap represents as "black culture" and take it face value and think they're actually being "open-minded" and “down”. Take Chunk’s comment, for instance. You’re taking a negative trait, arrogance, and equating it with blackness, thinking you’re complimenting black people but you’re what you’re really doing is giving white people credit that we don’t deserve while insulting black folks. This is a perfect example of paternalistic racism. Modesty isn’t just a “white” trait, it’s also embraced by many African and Asian cultures. Humility is a very important Christian (but not just Christian) virtue, and many rappers claim to be Christian don’t they? Maybe they should act like they believe in the God they claim to. And “don’t judge” isn’t an excuse to act like an unrepentant jerk.

  23. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Well not liking rap doesn't make you racist...I'm not racist because I pick and choose what kind of people I like.I like some black people and not others..just like I like some white people and not others...but I do like some of rap honestly but like five percent...pump up the jam and no limit are old school rap aren't they and I like trap beats like yellow claw turn up the Bass..well because I like to dance...but cant be racist if you mostly enjoy other genres of music within the African American community..

  24. Anonymous7:34 AM

    This quote fascinates me: "It's like, words have precise meanings--use the one that best describes what you're trying to convey."

    I'm dumbfounded that this sentence exists in an article that is instructing people to do the exact opposite. This entire article is telling people not to not say what they actually mean and instead to speak in code to get their point across.

    You're effectively saying this: If you don't like rap, don't actually SAY that you don't like it. Instead, find a different way to say it, and I'll know what you mean (code). Because if you actually DO say it, I'll misinterpret what you're saying as being code for something completely different.

    A misinterpretation, by the way, you ADMITTED may not even be accurate: "I'm not saying this is a conscious thought on the part of these people, or that it is even accurate"

    This is complete madness.

    If someone says they don't like rap, maybe that's exactly what they meant. Instead of twisting their words to mean something they didn't actually say, maybe you should just take what they said at face value. If you hear "I don't like rap" and immediately jump to the conclusion that this person is a racist because being racist is the only explanation for why someone might not like a specific genre of music --- MAYBE you're being a touch unreasonable.

  25. Anonymous11:22 AM

    I'm not racist. I think Vanilla Ice's rap is just a much crap as is any of the black rappers.

    And another thing. I like music. And some of my favorite music is by black artists. BB King, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, the O'Jay, the Stylistics, Tina Turner, The Isley Brothers. And the list goes ON and ON. THAT is MUSIC. RAP is CRAP.

    It's music for the mindless. It has nothing that appeals to me.

    I will admit, there are a couple rap songs that I can tolerate. Blondie "Rapture" (technically it is rap). Tone Loc "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina".... Let's see... NOPE.. That's about it.

  26. I hate Rap Music because it's not music. It's noise. To say I'm racist because I hate rap is moronic. Especially since, while I hate rap, I like a lot of rap artists.

    I like Ice-T, Ice Cube, Heavy D and Mark Wahlberg as people and especially as ACTORS. They appear in several of my favorite movies.

    Probably the only rapper who would fall under the "I hate that rapper and his music" would be Vanilla Ice. Can't stand that guy. Well.. ok.. I don't really care for MC Hammer either but mainly because he plagiarized my boy Rick James... NOT because he was black.

    And as far as black performers (music), aside from rap/hip hop, some of my favorite music is by black artists.

    Blues - BB King, Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Albert Ammons, Etta James... too many to name here...

    R&B/Funk - O'Jays, Temptations, Sylistics, Isley Brothers, Parliament, damn... this list is going to be way too long too...

    ROCK - Jimi Hendrix, Bod Diddley, Check Berry, Little Richard, Tracey Chapman, Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Tina Turner... OMG.. another list that's going to get too long...

    Jazz - Nukes Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie... Oh man.. this is ridiculous...

    Seems that I LOVE a LOT of black artists (even rappers when they're NOT rapping but doing other things)....

    The bottom line.. It's nothing to do with race. I JUST HATE RAP for what it is... and what it isn't. It IS CRAP and it ISN'T MUSIC.