Here's What They Think About You
Just when you thought it was safe to not think about Kanye West or 50 Cent, John H. McWhorterwho penned an editorial titled "How Hip Hop Holds Back Blacks" arrives on the scene a day late and several dollars short with Hip Hop Graduates From Thuggery (which appears on the City Journal web page).
McWhorter lauds the success of Kanye's latest effort, Graduation, taking the sales victory over 50 Cent's latest opus, Curtis, as a sign that America is moving away from the ultra violent imagery that Hip Hop has become known for.
"Fans' embrace of West is an indication that hip-hop is growing upat least somewhat," he writes.
McWhorter also uses Curtis to take David Banner to task for comments about explicit rap lyrics being the inner city's cry for help to the rest of America.
"Curtis rather conclusively reveals the hollowness of such claims. If 50 Cent wants any help in response to the maiming and killing that so many of the tracks describethe first three raps are titled "My Gun Go Off," "Man Down," and "I'll Still Kill"he keeps it pretty quiet. Besides, legislators and social-service workers aren't usually able to provide much assistance for the scenarios 50 Cent describes, such as the tearing of flesh and the shattering of vertebrae."
On the other hand McWhortertypically an outspoken critic of Hip Hoppraises West for his word play and choice of samples for Graduation.
"He builds a rap on, of all things, 'Kid Charlemagne,' from one of Steely Dan's early albums. One doubts 50 Cent listens to much Steely Dan, while West, as always, samples from high and low. West also has more fun with words than 50 Cent does, if you can get used to rap's rather permissive notion of assonance: for example, he makes 'Appollonia,' 'on ya',' 'Isotoner,' and 'tol' ya'; rhyme. All of this is emblematic of the greater humanity of West's rap personahe's not afraid to smile about more than just being rich or smoking something. No guns, no vertebrae."
Talib Kweli, dead prez, and Common are also name checked by McWhorterwho discloses that he's a middle aged manand respect is given because these artists don't cater to the stereotype of what rap is "supposed" to be: drugs, guns and women.
At the end of the day, McWhorter ponders something that many of us here at DX have thought for quite some time: "it is unclear to me why anybody over 15 would listen to an album like Curtis, except to review it."
Well done Mr. McWhorter, some things are better late than never said at all.
Hip Hop Not Fit to Judge the Dog?
Duane "Dog" Chapman's racially charged rant has kept the fires burning on the discussion of all things N word related, but one columnist does not believe Hip Hop has a place at the table of this debate.
In a commentary by Gregory Kane appearing on Black America Web titled "The Only Surprise About Chapman's Rant Was Black Folks' Reaction to It," Kane invites the Hip Hop generation to have a seatin the corner.
Kane asserts that Hip Hop radio is the "last place that should be discussing Dog's comments."
He goes on to recount a story of his answer when asked about Dog's rant to a young student saying, "Those members of black America's generation Hip Hop who've been saying that the n-word is just a word, that it's harmless and that we make too much of it should excuse themselves from this conversation."
Citing Hip Hop's response to the Jena 6, Kane goes on the offensive again, pointing out the almost hypocritical nature of many within Hip Hop for giving black rappers a pass for pervasive use of the word, while jumping Dog for using it in a private conversation.
"Black America's generation Hip Hop responded quickly and effectively to the case of the Jena Six. Many of them seemed especially incensed that nooses --- a symbol of lynching --- were hung from a tree at Jena High School. Well now what in the world do they think white racists said to black folks when they put those nooses around their necks? 'We love ya, boo?' No, it was probably something more like, 'Die, nigger, die!' You can't defend the use of the n-word and then claim to get upset by a display of hung nooses."
Whether you agree or disagree, Kane gives us plenty of food for thought. Get a plate.