Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Asher Roth and Why Rappers Need "Nappy Headed Ho's"

TwitThis


Beyond Beats and Rhymes, by Bryon Hurt

28:20 sec Women respond to being called Bitch's on the street at BET's Spring Bling
29:43 sec "If George Bush called you a Nigga you would think he was talking about you."
43:00 sec "You can't go to a label with self destruction, you will self destruct."
46:10 sec Jadakiss, "after seven hundred thousand records its all white people buying the records."


First off, let me start off by saying that I love hip hop. Love it.
Every since I was 8 years old and my brother gave me my first dub of
LL Cool J's "Radio." Then, when I was 11, I stole his Too Short "Freaky Tales"
tape
and listened to it in my room with the volume low and the door
closed because I didn't
want my momma to hear me play it.

That being said for the last few days I have been thinking about
Hip Hop, Black women and "Nappy Headed Ho's."

Five days ago Asher Roth
Tweeted, while on Rutgers campus, that
he was hanging out with the some "Nappy Headed Ho's".
He
subsequently deleted all the tweets and apologized
for making the comments.


Some of the user's comments that followed stated that
"he was just
playing", other people said that they were
going to unfollow him on
twitter.

I then thought, if Asher Roth's Black fans stopped following him,
it would be irrelevant, because corporate rap doesn't need
Black listeners anymore, in the same way the the United
States no longer
needs Detroit.

Hip hop's unspoken truth is that white teens play a large
role in deciding which music will be signed, promoted
and distributed
by record companies and played on the radio.

In the book Hip Hop Wars, Tricia Rose lays out the
theoretical framework for analyzing the current state
of corporate rap music. She writes,

The trinity of of commercial hip hop a whole: The trinity
of commercial hip hop- the black gangsta, pimp, and ho-has been
promoted and accepted to the point where it now dominates
the genre's storytelling view.
She goes on to to say that "what gets presented creates audience
desire as much as it reflects it."

In many ways her book has given me a theoretical framework
to analyze Asher Roth, why rappers need ho's, and the White
desire for Black death and I will refer to it throughout this essay.

Asher Roth has what may be called the luxury of being a white
rapper. As a white rapper
he isn't forced to confront the choice of having
to take on the the myth of the "Black Thug, Gangsta and The Pimp
"
in order to sell records.

Perhaps, it isn't a luxury, perhaps he is being treated like a
human
being and the other rappers being treated like or at
least portrayed
as subhuman. Yesterday, I was on Passion
of the Weiss
reading Jonathan Bradley's analysis of Roth's
album and he basically concludes that the album fails because Roth
isn't being true to himself.
Bradley writes,
Roth’s debut isn’t a hip-hop chronicle of the life
and times of a middle class suburban kid. It isn’t
like I was expecting an
Illmatic for the commuter
towns (though wouldn’t such a thing be incredible?)
but given Roth’s insistence that he hasn’t been
feeling a quarter century’s worth of hip-hop made
by black folks from the inner city, I hoped he could
offer a more compelling vision of his lifestyle than
1) Smoking weed; 2) Hitting on girls; and 3) Playing
video games. Because I’ve never noticed hip-hop
lacking for songs about smoking weed and hitting
on girls....
Roth's, timing, alliteration and flow is different from most cats.
His flow is nice and he is a decent emcee. Would I play it on
a regular basis, no?
I like my story telling a bit
more dense. However, what is relevant is that being White gives
him the option of being
able to rap about girls, weed and college, to
forgo being a
thug, and perhaps most importantly,
to not
be relegated to Hip Hop's margins because of it.

Talking about the white consumption of Black Death is
downer of sorts but so is 800,000 African Americans in
prison.
When a Black male artist decides not to represent the
Gangsta/Thug/Pimp trinity, he risks
committing career
suicide, at the worse, or being severely marginalized at the least.

The Roots, Nas, Common, Kweli, Dead Pres, De La Soul, Doom,
Lupe Fiasco, Wale, Mos Def and Little Brother are relegated to
greater or lesser
extent, to hip hops margins largely because,
by and large, of
White teen male desire for Black death.

Common, The Roots, Dead Prez, Little Brother, and Talib Kweli do
not have platinum albums.

Tribe (Beats Rhymes and Life, Low End Theory and Midnight
Marauders) and De La Soul (Three Feet High and Rising), do.

Nas has five platinum albums (Nastradamus, Illmatic,
Stillmatic, God Son, Streets Disciple) one multiplatinum
album, (It Was Written).


In Byron Hurt's film, Beyond Beats and Rhymes, Jadakiss
states very plainly (46:10 sec) that after selling 700,000
records "you are only selling records to white kids... the
white kids love the murder."

Last year, I wrote about my love of Mobb Deep and my
final conclusion was that Mobb Deep fed something
dysfunctional inside of me.
Listening to Mobb Deep
reminded me of where I came from, it reminded me that I
survived,
that I went to school and escaped
the trenches of the crack epidemic
that had deep East Oakland
on lock.
It is also a reminder of the fact that so many of the people
that I came up with are either dead or in jail.

What exactly is 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, feeding inside
of white
suburban teens? A fear of Black men? A hatred
of Black people? Or is it just entertainment?


Free Speech
Yes, I understand that rappers do tell stories that would
normally be ignored.
However, the Pimp, Gangsta, Ho trinity
has come to be synonymous
with corporate rap and it needs
to be addressed head on. Professor
Rose articulates this
point when she writes,
"Understanding and explaining are
not the same as justifying
and celebrating, and this is a crucial
distinction we must make if we stand
a fighting chance in
this perpetual storm.
She goes on to explain,
"Thug life is a product and given our history of racial
stereotypes young black men are the ideal sales force
for it.
So if we are going to talk about investment and
opportunity
we have to admit that there is a large
market for these images and attitudes,
a market far
bigger than black people can be held responsible for."


"Multimillion dollar corporations with near total control
over the
airwaves and playlists which never release
objective and complete
information about callers or
song requests, refuse to openly discuss
how they
determine their playlists or explain the cozy and illegal

relationship between many record companies and radio
stations
uncovered by various investigations over the
years. They want us
to believe that we the listeners
determine what gets played....In
the Early 1990's
prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996
programmers played popular songs an average
of 40 times
per week, By the end of the decade
that number had jumped to 140
plays per week.
Yes, we live in a country that protects free speech
but, with freedom comes responsibility.

No, rappers do not raise the children, the parents
raise the children, however it is disingenuous for rappers to
claim that they are not role models. They have the cache,
buying power, influence, because they have created a
persona that young people want to look up to. If young people
did not look up to them, they wouldn't imitated them, buy their
mix tapes, buy the products that they recommend.

Its ironic. Young people have tens of millions of dollars of
advertisement thrown at them, then they are told, "Well
don't try and be like us, we aren't role models."

The marketing industry is a trillion dollar industry because
marketing works.

Thinking about the ways in which rappers influence
young Black people doesn't let parents off the hook. Professor Rose
articulates both the responsibilities of the parents and artist when
she writes,
Parents alone couldn't possibly be responsible for all
the social influences and pressures that communities
must weather. Yes, parents must do their best, and they
surely bear primary responsibility for raising
their children. But to assume they have total
responsibility- to deny the impact of larger social forces
that profoundly limit some parents ability, including what
highly marketed celebrities say and do in our celebrity
driven culture- is to deny the powerful communal
responsibility we all have for one another.
Some may argue that to tell rappers to change
their rhymes constitutes censorship, but rappers
are already censored.

When Mos Def said on, The Rape Over, "Tall Israeli's is running this rap
shit " the song was removed from the second pressing of the
album. Mos Def rapped,

All white men is runnin this rap shit
Corporate force's runnin this rap shit
The tall Israeli is runnin this rap shit

We poke out the asses for a chance to cash in

Cocaine, is runnin this rap shit
'Dro, 'yac and E-pills is runnin this rap shit
Rose also quotes Lisa Fager Bedaiko from Industry Ears
on the ways in which rappers have been censored. She writes
Freedom of speech has been spun by industry
conglomerates to mean the b-word, the n-word,
ho while censoring and eliminating hip hop music
discusses Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq War, Jena 6,
the dangers of gun violence and drugs, and songs
that contain "George Bush" and "Free Mumia." In
2005, MTV and Radio Stations around the country self
regulated themselves to remove the words "white man
"from "All Fall Down." The lyric demonstrated the far
reach of capitalism by exclaiming: /Drug dealers buy
, crackheads buy crack/ And a white man get
paid off all of that/. When asked why they decided to
dub "white man" from the lyric the response from MTV
"we didn't want to offend anyone."
I also remember listening to a Kanye's "Gold Digger, and noticing
that it was censored, at the end of the verse. On Gold Digger, Kanye raps,

He got that ambition baby look in his eyes
This week he moppin floorz next week it's the fries
So, stick by his side
I know his dude's ballin but yea thats nice
And they gone keep callin and tryin
But you stay right girl
But when you get on he leave yo a** for a white girl
Rap doesn't need to be censored. It already has been.

How Hip Hop Affects How Black/All Men Treat Black Women

I was walking on 125 and Lexington Sunday, the first 90 degree
day of the year. I came out
of the train station, I remarked to myself,
out loud, that it was really hot. A Spanish man who was posted up,
on the train entrance banister looking down on me
remarked,
"Yeah mommy, its hot, how you doing?"
I said nothing. He then
said. You can't speak? He became aggravated.
I said nothing.
You smell like fish.
I said nothing. You too good? You smell
like fish.
Louder as I walked away. It was 1:33pm.

I then took out my pad, and decided that I was going to
record
the time and place of all unwarranted harassing
comments for the next
few blocks.

Next, I had gotten to 125th and 5th. A young Black man,
about 18, was walking behind
me mumbling, "I want to
put my dick in your butt."
I kid you not. Yes. He said,
"I want to put my dick in your butt."

Frankly, I thought he was singing a rap song, and kept
walking
to the corner.


He then said it a couple other times, a little louder. There
was
no one else around, so he was talking to me. It took
me two seconds to asses the risk, because you never
know if you will be assaulted when you question they
way someone treats you in public. I then turned and said,
"Why would you say
something like that?" His response?

"Because I like you." And he waived for me to come towards him, then
he paused
and kept walking away. It was then that I knew he was sick.
This happened at 1:44pm.

Many folks would like to believe that the music doesn't influence
the way Black men interact with us. Can we prove that? Do we
need to prove it in order to accept it as being true?
That being
said, if seeing can Black president can make someone want to be a
better
person, then doesn't it extend logically that listening to
Lil Wayne
would make someone want to thug harder?

Then there is the music and how we deny that rappers are talking to
us. Often times, Black women will try and say that the rapper is

not "talking to me" similar to the woman in Beyond Beats and
Rhymes [28:34 sec].
Professor Rose addresses why in rap
songs, the rappers are talking
to all Black women. She writes,
The line between women who "deserves" to be called
these names and those who do not does not exist.
Winding up one side or another of this imaginary
divide is at the discretion of the males and sometimes
the females around you; its not a choice you get to
make. Remember the "classy" women at BET's Spring
Bling whom J-hood confidently identified as "bitches"?

"This separation of black women into the good ones
(the ones we are not insulting) and the bad ones (the
ones we have the authority to label and insult) is a primary
means by which sexism and other forms of discrimination work.
(Remember "good blacks and bad blacks"? "Good
Immigrants and Bad Immigrants"? Model Minorities
and the problem ones. The idea is to establish negative
group terms for the dominated or discriminated group
an then find the good members, the ones who are
wind up serving as the exceptions. This proves the rule,
thus perpetuating the group discrimination for everyone."
Rose goes on to make the amazing assertion that rappers need
"ho's." This analysis blew my mind and was acutally the passage in
the book the confirmed that I needed to write this essay. She explains,
Rappers are not under assault by black women whose
behavior they do not like. The gangsta rapper image
needs "bitches and ho's," and so they continually
invent them. Women so labeled add lots of status and
value to gangsta and pimp images. If you can't have lots
of women servicing you, then how can you be a real
player, a real pimp? So the process of locating, labeling,
partying with, and then discarding Black women is part of
the performance that enhanced gangsta-and pimp
status and thus their income. If, as Jay-Z raps in "99 problems,"
"I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one," then why bother
telling us about her inability to give him problems- unless
controlling bitches is part of his power.... If there so good at
identifying women they insist should be called bitches and
hos then it shouldn't be too hard to stay away from them.
And if they are able and want to stay away from them, then
there is no reason to rap about them constantly.
Think about it this way. What would rap videos look like without
Black women? Then you see my point.

At the end of the day, corporate rap music affects how Black men treat
us, and if it doesn't hurt,
it most certainly doesn't help.

They Just Some Nappy Headed Ho's
In March of 2007, I wrote a post titled, "My Duke/Imus Moment".
The post is about sitting
in an evidence class in law school
when my professor decided to use the Duke rape case as a
teachable moment on the inadmissibility of evidence in
rape cases. I wrote,

One of my colleagues says,
"Well can we offer into evidence the fact
that she dressed like a prostitute [I paraphrase
but this is the gist of his statement".
There were good hearted chuckles in the class as well as
several female class mates looking around. Like. What? Did
he just say that for real.

Personally. I felt my HEART raise up in my throat and I KNEW
that I had to say something.

I raised my hand. She didn't call on me and 30 seconds later
the moment passed. She asked, "Did I see a hand raised in
the back?" Did I wanna be the Black girl, talking about the
Black girl topic? NO. But, my hands were sweaty so I said,
"Yes" and proceed to talk. I stated,
"In response to my colleague David's
statement
[class laughter] regarding the
admissibility of the fact that the dancer
wore "prostitute like" clothing.
David's response. "Oh I was just kidding."
I didn't think to say it, but it was the Imus defense in class.
He said it. He meant it, he would have had some integrity and
stood by his statement.
I responded saying,
I know, however, some things need to
stated explicitly.
One has to be very careful when making a
statement regarding a womans clothing in
relationship to rape, because it can lead to
the very dangerous inference that how a
woman dresses invites her to be raped.
Imus tried to play it off and say, he was just kidding.
My classmate tried to play it off and say he was just kidding.
Asher Roth tried to play off saying on Twitter, saying that he didn't
mean to offend anyone when he said he was "hanging out
with some nappy headed ho's."

They are not kidding. They are serious as two strikes and
possessing five grams of crack.

Corporate rap sanctions the Bitch/Pimp/Ho' trinity.
The corporations hide behind the rappers, the rappers tell
the fans to "turn off the radio" and yesterday,
a young man on the street told me he wanted to stick
his "dick in my butt."

No rap music did not invent sexism and if rap music was
eliminated sexism would still exist. However we can no
longer hide behind the "just turn the radio off."

We are all connected whether we want to admit
it or not. I would imagine that the current state
of the global economy would be a reminder of this.

I close with these words from Tricia Rose,
The people most injured by the fraught, hostile and
destructive state of this conversation are those who most need
a healthy, honest, vibrant (not sterile and repressed)
cultural space: young, poor and working-class African American
Boys and girls, men and women,- the generation that comprises
the future of the black community. They have the biggest
stake in the conversation, and they get the shortest end of
the stick in it.
Thoughts?

You like how I snuck in the White consumption of
Black death?


Are Rappers addicted to "Ho's"?

I got 99 problems but a blog ain't one?

Bracing myself for the hate mail. Awesome!

*Correction: The post about Asher Roth, on the blog, Passion
of the Weiss, was written by Jonathan Bradley not Jeff Weiss.


32 comments:

Dart Adams said...

Damn M.dot! You just did it again. Essentially the capitalist system relies on the pimp/ho dynamic. Too damn bad that the business completely seeped into the music.

One

M.Dot. said...

HAHAHAHA. Well. Did you read it negro? That was waaaay too fast. LOLS. I thought about you and your Telecom Act post. Give me the link and I will link to you.

Jeremy R. Levine said...

Nice reference to the Hurt documentary - absolutely a tremendous film.

I like where your head is at with this, particularly how you weave in Rose's arguments. I saw her speak a few weeks ago, and am about halfway through the book. Needless to say, she's on point, and so are you with this.

I do think you are overstating the white consumption of black death a little. It's just a little simplistic reading of how white folks engage with hip-hop.

I've written a little bit on Roth myself: http://socialsciencelite.blogspot.com/2009/04/asher-roth-is-anti-white-guilt.html Luckily for us, I think his relevance is fleeting; the kid sold like 67,000 copies his first week out. I guess the "suburban" market isn't all that profitable.

M.Dot. said...

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for stopping by, sharing and for your kind words.

In which way do you think I am overstating the White consumption of Black death?
How can I overstate something that is a fact?

What would be a less simplistic reading of how white folks engage with hip hop?

Im thinking.... I could add that there are white fans of the underground artist, but WE know that. The issue is with who is buying the albums and watching the videos of artist that Clear channel has on rotation.

I read your piece. Interesting that Roth stated that "Em was almost a Black guy."
If Em is almost a black guy then the fact that I am "articulate" makes me almost white. Lols.

Who knew that Roth could be such an acid test for race, gender and class?

Voicedup said...

This kid can freestyle....

gordon gartrelle said...

This whole line of argument is so 1992 (just replace Com, Mos, Kweli, DP with Arrested Development and Latifah). It was wrong then, and it's even more wrong now, which I never thought possible.

For one, this whole distinction between "conscious" and "gangsta" is a false one that people who know rap only cling to for ideological reasons.

And there is one huge way in which you're overstating the "white consumption of black death" stuff:

The masses of white rap fans still look to black youth's notions of cool to decide what music is acceptable to listen to. That is true for all popular rap, but is especially so for "gangsta" shit.

It's easy to spin this is terms of white capitalist/racist exploitation, but black youth tastes drive "the consumption of black death."

Jeremy R. Levine said...

Gordon is partially right, but let me offer some (less condemnatory and inflammatory) thoughts of my own:

I think that the linear causality of white folks lust for black death being recognized by media execs and then pushing their black artists to conform so they sell records is, well, a little suspect. I think Jada's quote from the documentary (something about how white kids don't wanna hear about flowers or something) rings true, but only from his perspective within the structure of music production. Gordon's point that "The masses of white rap fans still look to black youth's notions of cool to decide what music is acceptable to listen to" echoes Bakari Kitwana's same point in "Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop." Honestly, I think he's right. Black people are often the litmus test for whats cool; so if every top rapper in the game stopped talking about bitches and guns, I don't think white kids would stop thinking their cool.

The key is THEY ALL would need to stop. When the vast majority talk about being a massive drug-selling Bausse (when they are in reality, say, a former correcions officer), they most certainly are triggering long-standing stereotypes inherent in most people's minds about black folks. So yes, they are consuming black death, in a sense. But to leave it at that is simplistic because it implies that this is a fact of life, and an immovable one at that. This, I think, is inaccurate.

How can we explain Kanye's massive commercial success, or the explosion of hipster rap? I may be living in a sort of internet bubble and overstating the significance of hipster rap, but it seems like it's everywhere. Kanye's cool because he's NOT a gangsta. Because he likes fashion, and Paris, and cool architecture that he posts on his blog.

Black youth tastes are equally culpable, and I would argue equally SUSCEPTIBLE to racist exploitation. Sometimes they are just buying in to the stereotypes too! It's a pretty big problem that can't be laid on the shoulders of "white consumption of black death" alone.

But, in the end, this is just a minor discussion for an otherwise well-written and well-argued post.

Model Minority said...

@GG
That you think that the argument is 1992 is irrelevant. The argument, for that matter isn't 1992, but is 1996, given the fact that that is the year that the Telecommunications Act was passed.

I said nothing abut a gangsta rap/conscious dichotomy. Those are your words. I mentioned the Gangsta/Pimp/Ho Trinity, which is dominant narrative in corporate hip hop in 2009.

You make one lined comments, but you do not, and apparently, cannot refute my arguement on my terms.

What is, in fact, your argument, and what is it based on?


It's easy to spin this is terms of white capitalist/racist exploitation, but black youth tastes drive "the consumption of black death."
=========
Rap no longer needs black listeners in the same way that American Capitalism no longer needs Detroit.
-In 2006 whites made up 60.1% of consumers of rap, blacks made up 25%. Hip Hop Wars. pg.88 MediaMark, http://www.mediamark.com/)
-That Black youth consume Black death doesn't negate the weight of the white consumption of Black death. Many of black youth live day to day with the reality of dying black people death via prisons or caskets. Those 800 thousand Black people in jail have family members.
-Who could possibly resist Hip Hop marketing? Young people are impressionable, the marketing is persuasive, and they only way someone knows better is if they are taught better.


The masses of white rap fans still look to black youth's notions of cool to decide what music is acceptable to listen to. That is true for all popular rap, but is especially so for "gangsta" shit.
=======

Black kids "make it cool", White kids "make it profitable", and the rappers give out turkeys on Thanksgiving. Corporate shareholders are pleased.


Lastly.


If Corporate sponsored rap and the white consumption of Black death isn't what drives hip hop today, why wasn't the white consumption of Black death an issue prior to the Telecommunications Act when hip hop was local and independent? Black youth WERE CLEARLY the tastemakers then.

~M.

Dame is ILLAIM said...

Sees a well thought out article that he understands and respects, but disagrees with vehemently.

Witness’s two very good bloggers (G.G /M.Dot) pontentialy about to mentally spar.

Keeps Thoughts to himself.

Grabs some popcorn.

(Goes back to actually working at the j.o.b)

Model Minority said...

Hi Jeremy,

Thank you for sharing and for your comment.

Lets see here.Mmmmmmm.


Neither Gordon's point, nor Bakari's takes the power of corporations or corporate marketing into consideration.
Marketing isn't a trillion dollar industry because IT doesn't work.

THE POWER IN HIP HIP EQUATION
Corporations (Heaviest Weight)
White youth (High Weight)
Black youth(Lightest Weight)


How can we explain Kanye's massive commercial success, or the explosion of hipster rap?
=====
An exception to the rule, does not negate the rule, it merely means that there is an exception. It still stands that the dominant narrative in Rap music today is Gangsta/Pimp/Ho. Peep your local urban radio play list.

Black youth tastes are equally culpable, and I would argue equally SUSCEPTIBLE to racist exploitation. Sometimes they are just buying in to the stereotypes too! It's a pretty big problem that can't be laid on the shoulders of "white consumption of black death" alone.
=======
Yeah. Im going to have to go ahead and put it on the white consumption of Black death.

People by buy what makes them feel comfortable.

I buy yellow tulips, German beer, fancy dresses and pedicures, because they make me feel comfortable. I also listen to Doom and Mobb Deep and Tribe because they make me fee comfortable. How and Why does Lil Wayne/50/Jay make white teens feel comfortable?

Why do Lil Wayne's/50/Jay's Pimp/Ho/Gangsta themes make anybody feel good?

I can see the desire to remove white consumption of Black death from the equation. Its an uncomfortable thing to think about. Professor Rose addresses this when she says, "the public conversation about hip hop over the past ten years has generally avoided the issue of how the acceleration of white fan consumption dovetailed with the commercial rise of gangsta/pimp/go figures in the genre....Many critics need hip hop to be all black and only black in origin and end product so that full blame and be squarely placed on black people. Thinking about how white desires and projections onto black people...could generate a real examination of how racist ideas and histories influence our cultural landscape."

In some ways I don't think you all will believe the reality of the Black and White consumption of Black death until you hear it from the mouths of young people. But I see that as being my job and I relish the opportunity to do it.

And I close with a quote from Justin D. Ross's article, "Offended, The Rap is on Me."
Ross is a white man who ask's why do white people buy hip hop. He is mentioned in Rose's book as well.

"In the current debate over whether hip-hop.... I've heard quite a bit from black activists... But I haven't heard a peep from the white fans who essentially underwrite the industry by purchasing more than 70 percent of the rap music in this country, according to Mediamark Research Inc. I don't presume to tell any artist, studio executive or record label what to record or not record. But I will presume to ask young white customers: Why are we buying this stuff? "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/07/AR2007090702048.html

~M.

Jeremy R. Levine said...

I definitely think this is fodder for a deeper, prolonged discussion, but I do want to say a couple things:

In general, I think it's misleading to continuously chalk this to the big bad media giants and the thrones of racist white consumers. White kids love Hov for the same reason black kids, asian kids, and latinos do: He's one of the most prolific MCs of our generation. He makes me feel comfortable for the same reason he makes Latinos, Asians, or middle-class blacks feel comfortable.

Lil Wayne makes me feel comfortable because he has mastered the poetic art of alliteration. C'mon - "Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex/'Cause you don't want that late text/That "I think I'm late," text". That's just artful. And I'm sorry - just as Jada says "there aren't enough black hip-hop consumers to explain a platinum artist," all 1,000,000 of Weezy's consumers aren't all white.

I think folks like (BET president) Stephen Hill and Russell Simmons have a vested interest in making us believe that it's a white consumption thing - it removes all agency from THEIR actions that lead to negative images of black people. Just as Rose calls bullshit on the claim "well, there ARE bitches and hoes," so too should we call bullshit on Stephen Hill. I think it's a major cop out in the Hurt film when Simmons says "I pick my battles." They are both extremely powerful and influential in setting trends in this genre. To imply that whites, when not offered "black death" to consume, will just up and leave and consume a new genre, is condescending towards white people, and damn near bordering on racism.

Do I take this personal because I am a white man that has listened to hip-hop all his life? Sure. But I also think that white consumption and the corporatization of hip-hop (which I DO think Kitwana adresses) is often misrepresented.

But, we should continue this over email or something because I don't want to take over your comments section!

Kez said...

Long time reader, first time poster!
You make a bunch of great points. I dissagree however with your comments about; roots, Talib, etc being on the "margins." Only if you define it by record sales.
Fact is most of the white dudes I know pride themselves on being up on "real" hip-hop (almost to a fault haha).
When I'm at a Pharaoh or Roots show, I never see the dudes from around my that ride blasting Wayne, Gucci Mane, etc.

"at my shows, all I see is coffee shop chics and white dudes..." - Common

-Kez

gordon gartrelle said...

I said nothing abut a gangsta rap/conscious dichotomy. Those are your words. I mentioned the Gangsta/Pimp/Ho Trinity, which is dominant narrative in corporate hip hop in 2009.Nice try. What exactly is then, then?:When a Black male artist decides not to represent the Gangsta/Thug/Pimp trinity, he risks committing career suicide, at the worse, or being severely marginalized at the least.
The Roots, Nas, Common, Kweli, Dead Pres, De La Soul, Doom, Lupe Fiasco, Wale, Mos Def and Little Brother are relegated to greater or lesser extent, to hip hops margins largely because, by and large, of White teen male desire for Black death.
What you’re doing is lumping artists into groups based on the amount of “black death” in their content. Whether you use the word “conscious” is irrelevant. So call them “artists who trade in black death” and “artists who don’t.” It really doesn’t matter.What is, in fact, your argument, and what is it based on?My argument is that the simplistic argument you offer here is inappropriately ideological, poorly supported, and just flat out wrong. My argument is not based on a rigid ideological construct; it is based on a knowledge of (the almost entirely terrible) black left academic discourse on rap, my many years as a progressive black student of politics, and my entire life experiences as a hip hop head who has thought extensively about rap, race, and corporate “control.”Rap no longer needs black listeners in the same way that American Capitalism no longer needs Detroit.This is not an argument; it’s a slogan.-In 2006 whites made up 60.1% of consumers of rap, blacks made up 25%. Hip Hop Wars. pg.88 MediaMark, http://www.mediamark.com/)First, these attempts to reflect hip hop consumption patterns are doomed because they fail to take into account the fluid lines between formal buying patterns and non-sanctioned (i.e. bootleg) consumption. Bootlegging, illegal downloading, burning, borrowing, etc. (all practices that are central to black hip hop consumption) does not show up in the formal numbers, but you better believe it makes a difference in which artists have buzz, get popular, and are ultimately marketed to the masses.

Second, as I said before, corporations need black listeners not only to buy albums, but to promote artists by determining what’s hot.
-That Black youth consume Black death doesn't negate the weight of the white consumption of Black death. Many of black youth live day to day with the reality of dying black people death via prisons or caskets. Those 800 thousand Black people in jail have family members.Is there supposed to be a point here?Neither Gordon's point, nor Bakari's takes the power of corporations or corporate marketing into consideration.Marketing isn't a trillion dollar industry because IT doesn't work…

-Who could possibly resist Hip Hop marketing? Young people are impressionable, the marketing is persuasive, and they only way someone knows better is if they are taught better.
Of course I take marketing into account. Corporate machines obviously define the range of artists who gain exposure in the mainstream pop cultural landscape. However, I think of human beings as moral and practical agents who are responsible for their own choices. I’m just weird like that, I guess.

This is my major problem with false consciousness claims—they’re paternalistic. Those who make such claims must posit children and adults as dupes in order to absolve them of personal responsibility.

[What kid] can resist hip hop marketing? The millions upon millions of kids who do not like or listen to hip hop. How about the average hip hop fan: hip hop history is littered with examples of commercial albums that were pushed by corporate machines and ultimately flopped because the consumers decided what was hot to them was not what corporations told them was hot.


If Corporate sponsored rap and the white consumption of Black death isn't what drives hip hop today, why wasn't the white consumption of Black death an issue prior to the Telecommunications Act when hip hop was local and independent? Black youth WERE CLEARLY the tastemakers then.

…That you think that the argument is 1992 is irrelevant. The argument, for that matter isn't 1992, but is 1996, given the fact that that is the year that the Telecommunications Act was passed.
Are you kidding me? The hip hop commercial industry has never truly been “local and independent.” Arguing that the Telecom Act killed hip hop’s commercial independence is just bad history. You’ve crafted a fictional nostalgic hip hop history driven by your misguided notions of cultural purity.

“The white consumption of black death” wasn’t an issue prior to 96? How old are you? Have you ever heard of the Reverend Calvin Butts? C Delores Tucker? These anti-rap activists were making these same arguments when I had a box fade. But don’t take my word for it. Google “controversial” + “NWA” + “suburbs” and see what comes up.

The year is, in fact, relevant because the “white consumption of black death” nonsense has been the dominant black left academic take on hip hop since the early 90s, well before the Telecom Act. This is a prime example tunnel vision. You have it set in your mind that corporate control (and in particular, the Telecom Act) created this monster and you’re going to stick to this belief, despite the fact that it’s demonstrably false.
I can see the desire to remove white consumption of Black death from the equation. Its an uncomfortable thing to think about. Professor Rose addresses this when she says, "the public conversation about hip hop over the past ten years has generally avoided the issue of how the acceleration of white fan consumption dovetailed with the commercial rise of gangsta/pimp/go figures in the genre....Many critics need hip hop to be all black and only black in origin and end product so that full blame and be squarely placed on black people. Thinking about how white desires and projections onto black people...could generate a real examination of how racist ideas and histories influence our cultural landscape."This is just unacceptable. Serious critical thinkers do not frame substantive disagreement as intellectual incuriosity. What you’re essentially saying here is that those who take issue with your flimsy premise and evidence are really seeking to avoid dealing with tough questions of race. You’ve clearly never read our blog.


I will pull no punches in thrashing this lousy argument, and I admit that I am being extremely dismissive and disrespectful, but please understand that I do it not out of malice but out of concern. It hits close to home. As a black progressive college student and hip hop head, I made many of the same bad arguments that you do here. The weight of the contradictions and falsehoods got to be too much for me. I made a choice: I would no longer allow my ideological attachments to cloud my aesthetic judgment and my ability to think.

I admire your passion, but passion about hip hop and progressive ideological commitments do not have to come at the expense of critical thought.

georgiageorgia said...

While rappers do rap about "thug life" and undoubtedly influence how men treat the women
around them, in an article at On The Issues Magazine, "Intimate Lines: Teaching Daughters About Lollipop Politics," Margot Mifflin describes Lil Wayne's song "Lollipop" as being one of a kind because Wayne delights in giving a woman pleasure.

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2009spring/2009spring_Mifflin.php

Also, in regards to cat-calling on the street, Hollaback NYC has some tips:

http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/cafe2/article/37

Model Minority said...

Hi Jeremy,

This most certainly is a topic that deserves
a longer discussion. I am open and available.

In general, I think it's misleading to continuously chalk this to the big bad media giants and the thrones of racist white consumers.
=====
Why?

I think folks like (BET president) Stephen Hill and Russell Simmons have a vested interest in making us believe that it's a white consumption thing - it removes all agency from THEIR actions that lead to negative images of black people.
==========
I am not aware of Stephen and Russel EVER addressing the racial impact of any of their work. They are either silent or say "Artist are telling real stories that are ignored by the media." However you are right in that the conclusion is the same, no agency on their end.

Lil Wayne makes me feel comfortable because he has mastered the poetic art of alliteration. C'mon - "Safe sex is great sex, better wear a latex/'Cause you don't want that late text/That "I think I'm late," text". That's just artful.
=====
This issue isn't with YOU enjoying it.
It is about the consumption of Black death, by Black and Non Black people for the purpose of corporate profit.

The issue is with 2009 rap music serving as a proxy for Black life for many non Black people.

Crack destroyed my family and my hood and my City, Oakland California. What is entertainment for many people reminds me of the destruction that occurred when Crack came.

When I listen to the Clipse, and Ghostface
or watch The Wire, that ain't just entertainment for me, that shit reminds me of
the destruction that happened in my life.

And I'm sorry - just as Jada says "there aren't enough black hip-hop consumers to explain a platinum artist," all 1,000,000 of Weezy's consumers aren't all white.
=====
I.have.never.said.that.hip.hops.consumers.were.
all.white.

I see that you have followed me on Twitter. Many of my readers on on there a well.
Welcome.

~M.

Model Minority said...

GG,

Anger is not an argument.

It is clear that you are angry.

While you have been derisive, dismissive,
smug and condescending, you have yet to tell
me what you arguement is, so I am lead to conclude that you don't have one.

I asked you what your arguement was,
and your response was,
"My argument is that the simplistic argument you offer here is inappropriately ideological, poorly supported, and just flat out wrong."

Telling me that I am wrong, does not constitute
an argument.

Anger is a secondary emotion.
Our anger is typically correlated to our fear.
The angrier we are, the more scared we tend to be. The question is, what are you scared of?

I work very hard to maintain a space
on this site that allows folks to feel safe
talking about things that are difficult,
race, gender, class, homophobia etc.

This doesn't mean that there is no room for dissent, and disagreement, as these two things are necessary for discourse and they make me a better writer.

However, your dismissiveness and anger is not constructive to maintaining the above in this space. Please refrain.

~M.

Model Minority said...

Hey Kez,

Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing.

I love when the lurkers leave comments. LOL's.

White dudes listen to both the mainstream and the underground cats. I agree with that.

Oh. Yes I am defining the distinction by record sales, hence why I posted who has and hasn't went platinum.

~m.

gordon gartrelle said...

I made my argument very plain; you even quoted it.


Telling me that I am wrong, does not constitute an argumentAny claim (including telling someone that their argument is wrong) can ground an argument as long as there is support for that claim.

What do you think you're doing when you refute the argument that gangsta rap has no ill effects on beliefs and behavior?


And, by the way, I'm not angry, just sick of smart rap fans and activists continuing to offer the same poor argument.
I work very hard to maintain a space
on this site that allows folks to feel safe
talking about things that are difficult,
race, gender, class, homophobia etc.


This doesn't mean that there is no room for dissent, and disagreement, as these two things are necessary for discourse and they make me a better writer.


However, your dismissiveness and anger is not constructive to maintaining the above in this space. Please refrain.
This is a fair point, actually. It was rude of me to come to your front yard and take a dump. And I was wrong to take such a dismissive tone with a young aspiring writer and critic. I should have been more sympathetic given my past.

I'd like to ask you this though: is your goal of making people (yourself included) feel safe here more important than finding something resembling "truth?"

Penni Brown said...

@Jeremy - You wrote - "White kids love Hov for the same reason black kids, asian kids, and latinos do: He's one of the most prolific MCs of our generation."

It is incorrect to assume that kids from different backgrounds are attracted to a particular artist for the same reason.

Model Minority said...

@GG,

My argument is that the combination of white consumption
of Black death, the corporatization of hip hop,
the consolidation of Urban radio, the Telecom Act and Rappers desire to get cake, has resulted in creating a destructive Gangsta/Pimp/Ho trinity as the dominant narrative in hip hop.

You have only said that I was wrong,
you have not offered a counter argument accounting for the ascension of the Gangsta/Pimp/Ho trinity,
the greater consumption of white music,
and the Corporatization of Rap etc.

When you find a counter argument, I am open to
hearing it.


~m.

shelfrog said...

M.Dot, you issued what I consider a direct challenge "What would rap videos look like without Black women?" that I think everyone with access to video editing software ought to take up. Therefore, here's a blog where folks can answer that challenge Where the black women at? I plan to play myself as soon as I can.
Thanks for the inspiration!

chace said...

A few quick points:

A. Yes, there are various "machines" that at some level control and shape every aspect of popular culture. Do I believe that young black youth are taste-makers? Well yes, but what are they consistently choosing as their taste/ or rather what is hot? In my opinion it is the aforementioned gangsta/pimp/ho trinity.

B. Are we only speaking about people who are signed? How many "underground" rappers are there who dont fit into that framework.

C. White people are buying The Roots, Talib, Mos...etc They are the ones going to the concerts. So while a group of whites supports "black death" I would assert that there is another group who support different more meaningful genres of rap.

D. When whites consume hip-hop isn't it just escapism? Why not learn about this other world of pimps, ho's, and shoot outs; if you lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years, your parents drive an audi and teling you since birth your only job is to graduate from college?

E. Never cite a quote from J Hood because he is a liar! Tales from the hood was supposed to drop since the summer of "01"

F. Suburban life from what I have seen 3rd person looks like it is all about smoking weed, partying, and talking to girls, so to that extent how has Asher failed?

G. As someone who grew up in the "hood" I listen to the Clipse, Mobb Deep, and Biggie is my favorite rapper of all time. Because they are all ridiculously talented at what they do and what they choose to rap about. If Prodigy came out on some "intelligent" rap people would throw their t.v. at him crazy! That isn't who he is or what he tries to portay yet with all three of those artists there is a reason why, and all of these examples the emcees always express remorse and guilt. Which at some base level for those of us who have experienced hood living means something different than to the masses.

-Chace

Model Minority said...

@ Shelfrog.

I WOULD LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE to see that.

Lets get 10 videos and take the Black women out.

Shit. Lets do the same thing for the songs.

I am also thinking about framing the Gangsta/Thug/Ho trinity as a public health issue? Lightbulb, no?

Im inspired too:)

Model Minority said...

Hey Chace boo....

I had forgotten that I warned you about this piece. LOLS.



B. Are we only speaking about people who are signed? How many "underground" rappers are there who dont fit into that framework.
Talking about the Trinity only. (No matrix.)

C. White people are buying The Roots, Talib, Mos...etc They are the ones going to the concerts. So while a group of whites supports "black death" I would assert that there is another group who support different more meaningful genres of rap.
I care less about whether whites support underground, and more with the fact that corportization of hip has coincided with its MASS appeal, an explosion in white consumers the marginalization of Boom Bap cats.

D. When whites consume hip-hop isn't it just escapism? Why not learn about this other world of pimps, ho's, and shoot outs; if you lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years, your parents drive an audi and teling you since birth your only job is to graduate from college?
====
There escapism comes at a price. Reinforcement and of Black men as super guerrilla thugs that kill bitches, pimp hos and sell crack all day.

Black men were hung for white entertainment, historically. The current consumption of Black death is connected to this history of Black violence as white entertainment.


F. Suburban life from what I have seen 3rd person looks like it is all about smoking weed, partying, and talking to girls, so to that extent how has Asher failed?
=========
Read Jonathans piece. In some ways Jonathan feels that Asher just scratched the surface,
and arguably in some ways he has.

G. As someone who grew up in the "hood" I listen to the Clipse, Mobb Deep, and Biggie is my favorite rapper of all time. Because they are all ridiculously talented at what they do and what they choose to rap about. If Prodigy came out on some "intelligent" rap people would throw their t.v. at him crazy! That isn't who he is or what he tries to portay yet with all three of those artists there is a reason why, and all of these examples the emcees always express remorse and guilt. Which at some base level for those of us who have experienced hood living means something different than to the masses.
=====
Momma Im So Sorry is my ISH. Dude. Keys open doors too. True story, that albums corresponds to a dark period in my life, it is what it is.

Which at some base level for those of us who have experienced hood living means something different than to the masses.
===
Like what?

~m.

chace said...

Same format...I can't help myself:

D2. Those rappers who use the trinity framework made a conscientus(ignore spelling erros) decision to use that framework. Each rapper who uses that framework for their flows makes the same decision that the black actors who put on black face did. (FYI) Hanging is less a race based phenomena than one based on power. In this country it was used specifically for black males but outside of our borders anyone and any animal can get hung. I saw a picture of an elephant hung.

G2. It means that there is more to every neighborhood drug dealer than we thought.

It means that we intelligent people who grew up in dilapidated neighborhoods have the ability to stay connected to their neighborhood through certain music.

Maybe they are realllllly talented artists.

Maybe we admired that person and now that we have left that world but are still enamored by the idea of what that person means.

quick thoughts...I can't sleep at all

-Chace

Model Minority said...

Chace,

I just left you the following message on twitter:

Yo. I can hear the hope and LOVE of black people in your writing voice/comments. It is a pleasant surprise.

D2. Those rappers who use the trinity framework made a conscientus(ignore spelling erros) decision to use that framework. Each rapper who uses that framework for their flows makes the same decision that the black actors who put on black face did. (FYI) Hanging is less a race based phenomena than one based on power. In this country it was used specifically for black males but outside of our borders anyone and any animal can get hung. I saw a picture of an elephant hung.

========
Yo. Peep game. You just upped me to something.
Rape is about Power, Right?
Hanging is about Power, right?
The racist as decision to observe and perpetuate the Trinity Doctrine is about power.
OH snap. Thank you boo. You just elevated me:)
I had been talking w/ Jeremy Levin via email about the fact that I use the term the "white consumption of Black death" to connote the power of the young white consumer. But I never thought of related it to the power relationships around Rape and Lynching.

Chace, Fuck, we done messed around and named this shit The Trinity Doctrine. AWE.SEME!

G2. It means that there is more to every neighborhood drug dealer than we thought.
========
My favorite drug dealer is is dig dug, a reformed D boy, Mike Savage Listening,
father of five AND HUSBAND. He is my brother.
These cat usta kick me out my room in '89 to bag cracks. That being said, Yes, there IS more to drug dealers than we thought.

Shit, there is more to Black women than we thought.


It means that we intelligent people who grew up in dilapidated neighborhoods have the ability to stay connected to their neighborhood through certain music.
======
Imma go ahead and push back on this.
Read this piece I wrote about a year ago...
I think it was my first racialicious piece. You will see where and how I have grown & why
I think the fact that we survived and listen to the music to connect is indicative of a dysfunction w/in us.
http://www.racialicious.com/2008/05/08/hip-hop-patriarchy-my-struggle-with-mobb-deep/

Light,Joy & Justice,

~m.dot

chace said...

Late night thoughts again while on twitter:

D3. So at the end of the day it all boils down to power and how various classes within society exert power over other beings that exist. Hip-Hop artists are the tip of the iceberg. Whether it be hazing for frats apartheid in South Africa, or two young men arguing over which block they rep, it is all power. I wonder how large a view you are going to take on that one :)

G3. There is more to every person than what we thought...

G4. I'm going to push back a tad, I don't think that listening to Mobb deep taps into something dyfunctional within me. It does remind me of where I come from. It reminds me of of specific choices that I made that were positive and negative.

H. All in all I think we live in an incredibly violent, power based culture. When blacks have been subjected to certain systems of oppresssion and gentrification they are going to articulate their struggle in their own way. Corporations market it because the burbs buy it, and try to emulate it. If hiphop was my only way out...and I had one verse to spit to get signed, am I spitting Mos' verse from the rapeover. Q-Tip Industry rule 1080 or am I singing the catchiest hook possible about my power over women, and other men, and not corporate power over the artform that is the voice of my culture? which is actually controlling me? If you think about it conforming makes the most logical sense.

chace said...

G4...continued. Those choices made me the person who I am today for better or worse, but luckily I love myself so I definitely dont mind hearing about my prior youthful transgressions.

-Chace

M.Dot. said...

D3. So at the end of the day it all boils down to power and how various classes within society exert power over other beings that exist. Hip-Hop artists are the tip of the iceberg. Whether it be hazing for frats apartheid in South Africa, or two young men arguing over which block they rep, it is all power. I wonder how large a view you are going to take on that one :)

G3. There is more to every person than what we thought...

G4. I'm going to push back a tad, I don't think that listening to Mobb deep taps into something dyfunctional within me. It does remind me of where I come from. It reminds me of of specific choices that I made that were positive and negative.

If hiphop was my only way out...and I had one verse to spit to get signed, am I spitting Mos' verse from the rapeover. Q-Tip Industry rule 1080 or am I singing the catchiest hook possible about my power over women, and other men, and not corporate power over the artform that is the voice of my culture? which is actually controlling me? If you think about it conforming makes the most logical sense.
======
We are a community.
We are all connected.
It makes sense in the short term.
But in the long. Dude. Super Global Fail.
Its like that short money. I don't want
no short money. I want long money.
I don't want short money. I want serenity.

We have a Black President and more Black teens are killing each other than ever before.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28411203

This is why kicking the Trinity Doctrine instead of the rape over is fucked up. Yeah Born alone, die alone, I get it, BUT in between you are apart of a community ock.

I hear you re the $$. Its been times this year where my pockets were so flat that I was like damn, I could really, really, really start hustlin'. I mean really. So, I am not making moral judgment. Our choices are limited to our options. I get that. HOWEVER, I also know that we are apart of a community. Whether we acknowledge it or not.

Thats cool if you don' think that it taps into something dysfunctional within you. But Imma counter w/ Maenen's words:


Hip-Hop artists are the tip of the iceberg. Whether it be hazing for frats apartheid in South Africa, or two young men arguing over which block they rep, it is all power. I wonder how large a view you are going to take on that one :)
========
I take a pretty expansive view.
I am preparing to write a critique of Van Jones and his Green Justice movement. In doing my research for the piece I am learning that much of the language around Green future can be used to argue against the Trinity Doctrine on some mental health type ish.

No, I can deal with all of it, but I pray that I am a light for others coming along. I don't have to do all of it. I just have to do my part
and not give up, even tho most of the time, I really want to.

Don't you know how much richer I would be if I started a site and talked shit about
Black women all day. I would not be as broke as I am now :)

However, when my blog readers come to town, we hand out. Readers regularly write me to thank me for my posts. This is special. How many people, who are unpublished, have this kind of interaction with an audience, around a "niche" topic nonetheless.

I have been tutoring young people for the last two months and it has been interesting to see
how much teaching involves motivation, building their trust, AND teaching the material. It is exhaustive, rewarding and necessary. Just like this writing shit is.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Well the cesspool mentality was already here and just manifested itself in the music. Then some people who are fed a steady diet of mayhem, destruction, self hatred and objectification just carry on the cycle. White men are running these labels and they want to have the lowest common denominator "artists" because they're getting paid well to do so. They're not interested in uplifting music that elevates consciousness. And Black people are either too stupid or too callous to get it. Everybody else is stepping up to get paid (managers, lawyers, PR, etc) while we self-destruct AND THEY DON'T CARE. If Black people had more self-respect and knew who they were and weren't AND STOP SUPPORTING THE CESSPOOL then we wouldn't have this problem. What you describe on a weekly basis about these males do and say to you on the street is proof of the cesspool, but it has to be addressed - not ignored. It only escalates from thoughts to words to ACTIONS. That male that made a comment about wanting to stick himself in you will likely attempt to carry that out on some female IF he hasn't already done so.

MB said...

Thanks for this model minority! i def. have been trying to escape asher roth but he's everywhere. I really like what you and tricia say about "controlling" black women in these videos. Such an important point!

And thank you for sharing your experience with street harassment. I don't know that men ever really understand what that's like . . .

M.Dot. said...

MB,

Girl. Your t-shirt in your avi is crazy.
I want one:)

Thank you for stopping by.

Im bout to come join Quirky Black girls.

~m.dot

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