Talib Kweli talks race and Hip Hop, says White artists have been in Hip Hop "since the beginning."
Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli recently gave credit to fellow artist Macklemore due to the way in which the Seattle emcee responded to remarks Lord Jamar made last year. During an interview with Vlad TV in September of last year, Jamar referred to white artists as “guests in the house of Hip Hop” and criticized Macklemore for pushing an agenda in Hip Hop.
While speaking on Macklemore’s response to Lord Jamar, Talib also mentioned Alabama rapper Yelawolf. Unlike Macklemore, Yelawolf demanded that the Brand Nubian emcee “shut the fuck up” following remarks he made about White rappers and gay rights.
“I talked to Macklemore as well while all that was going on,” Talib said during an interview with Vlad TV. “And Macklemore said the same exact thing to me that you said. I think the problem with some of the—Lord Jamar had an issue with I think Yelawolf or somebody like that. I think Macklemore’s response was correct in terms of, you know, when you are taking criticism from an OG like Lord Jamar or someone who has come before and has put it down in the game, there’s a certain amount of respect that you have to go into the conversation with. And I think some of these younger White artists got in they feelings about what Lord Jamar said and didn’t give him his proper respect as an OG. Just 'cause you don’t agree with what the OG says doesn’t mean disrespect ‘em. And I like the fact that Macklemore was able to take that criticism and state his opinion, but not state it in a way that’s disrespectful to Jamar.”
Talib then referred to music as an art that is colorblind, but did state that you do have to respect the origins of a particular genre of music if you want to participate in it.
“White rappers, White graffiti artists, White deejays, White b-boys have been involved in Hip Hop since the beginning,” he said. “Music is colorblind. Music doesn’t have a color. But the only way that you can truly appreciate a book is to know the history of its author. Even though you don’t have to be a specific race to participate in music or to enjoy it. If you don’t respect the origins then you being disrespectful of it.”
Later in the interview, Talib circled back to Lord Jamar and his various comments regarding Hip Hop. He revealed that when Jamar does take part in interviews with Vlad TV, he uses street terminology, which makes it easier for others to pick apart his arguments.
“Lord Jamar is speaking in street terminology,” the Brooklyn rapper said. “He’s speaking to the block. When Lord Jamar goes on Vlad TV I feel like he’s looking at it like, ‘I’m speaking to the hoods across America.’ So, he’s speaking in a language, with a manner that is not academic. And so, I think it becomes easy to pick apart his argument when it’s not done from an academic sense. And I think Macklemore’s answer was more academic. There is an issue with the interpolation of Hip Hop. There is an issue with White-washing of Hip Hop or White privilege in Hip Hop…The White emcees that I’m a fan of, from Eminem to Macklemore to El-P, they recognize they privilege. And they deal with it.”
In the time since Lord Jamar’s September interview with Vlad TV and his critique of white rappers, he’s gone on to criticize a number of other artists. Most recently, Jamar shared his thoughts on pop star Justin Bieber, as he commented on the crooner “leeching off black music.”
“He [Justin Bieber] got a bunch of fuckin yes-men and people who’s trying to leech off of shit,” Jamar said during an interview with Vlad TV published earlier this month. “But then that in turn is like karma because he’s a leech. He’s leeching off black music. Like a lot of other White artists are doing. But listen to his whole sound. Listen to who he’s trying to appeal to and influence. He got that White fan base, but he’s making essentially black music.”