Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More clueless writing about hip-hop

Miami Herald and syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts wrote a column about Oprah Winfrey's supposed distate for hip-hop. Here's a sample:

The lords of hip-hop made their fortunes and their fame by flipping the middle-finger salute to middle-American alarm and apprehension over their music, its rawness, its explicitness, its violence and its effects. They were outsiders, loud and profanely proud in their rejection of white picket fence mores and norms.

Fine. They have every right.

But now they're singing the blues because the ultimate arbiter of white picket fence mores and norms wants nothing to do with them? Now they're seeking sympathy because they are denied a stamp of approval from Middle America's main gatekeeper?

Cry me a river.

I mean, what do they expect? You can't have it both ways. You cannot curse people and expect them to support you, cannot offend them then ask them to welcome you. I'm reminded of what mama always said about respect: you got to give some to get some.

Perhaps this is news to the hip-hop nation, populated as it is by people who routinely embrace values neutrality and moral relativism, who often duck responsibility for what they say and how they say it, who frequently refuse to recognize that words have meaning and consequence.


Some thoughts: (1)You know who else flipped "the middle-finger salute to middle-American alarm and apprehension"? Elvis Presley. And he did it about 40 years before Eminem did. The same could be said of most other great pop artists from the past 50 years. Upsetting the apple cart is the what rockers/rappers are supposed to do. The difference is that rockers have a museum honoring them for it. (2) Once more with feeling: RAP IS MAINSTREAM! Listen to top 40 radio. (3) Do I really need to list all the rappers that aren't gangstas? Do I really have to do that? Jee-zus! (4) In the case of a gangsta rapper like 50 Cent (who seems barely like a gangsta rapper, really, compared with NWA or Ice-T back in the day), do people really think he's a criminal? I mean, are middle-aged white boomers really that dumb? It's a role, people. Would Oprah refuse to have Al Pacino on her show because he played Scarface? Or Denzel Washington because he played a corrupt cop in (and won an Oscar for)"Training Day"?

There's a honest debate to be had about why white people love buying records made by black men pretending to be criminals. (See Spike Lee's "Bamboozled.") But this continued marginalization of rap by the media (the insistence that it's not mainstream) isn't just wrong, it's ridiculous.

15 Comments:

Anonymous gavin said...

Wow, whom do I dislike more... Oprah Winfrey or Leonard Pitts? They both have their heads way, way way up their asses.

Almost as much as Warren Jeffs (who for some reason cannot be found by the FBI even though they know where he lives).

3:10 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:16 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:17 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

It is not white people in general who are buying rap. It is young white teens and men 16-24 who like being identified with the image of the urban-ghetto-street-wise black gang member that these rap songs romanticize.

To say that Elvis exuded the same type of image is totally off base. Elvis was the man that Ed Sullivan, the untimate middle class entertainmnet procurer, lauded and praised as a "fine young man". It is is ridiculous to even put fifty cent and Elvis in the same category. There is no camparison.

Al Pacino can go out of character when he is finished shooting "Scarface". Can fifty cent?

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naive question: Are there a large pool of has-been hip hop acts that people still want to see and still tour? Is this another way that rock has become the new jazz?

6:02 PM  
Anonymous cheddar said...

Hip hop is young enough that its "has-beens" are all the founders of the genre: Slick Rick, Run DMC, etc.

So they're has-beens in the same way Little Richard or James Brown or Aerosmith is.

6:54 PM  
Anonymous gavin said...

I'd love to see the Sugarhill Gang, personally.

8:13 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:43 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:46 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

Has been hip hop stars? If I may be so bold as to suggest someone whose style closely forshadowed and was the roots for hip hop. That was the great Louie Armstrong. Hip hop is a kind of jazz with voice instead of insturments. But I am getting a little deep here and it is way past my bed time.

Now pardon me while I go take my nightly. All this jawin' has got me all bound up.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Olson said...

Isn't it important to remember that there are different genre within the realm of Hip-Hop? Just as rock has punk, metal, and everyone's favorite-adult contemporary, doesn't hip-hop divide into different categories?

Yes, some are more rebellious and caustic than others, but to stereotype entire form of music based on a limited number participants is obtuse at best.

Imagine if we took Johnny Rotten as the standard for rock, or that crazy Doherty dude that was dating Kate Moss. We'd have a rather skewed opinion of rock and even punk rock.

10:57 AM  
Anonymous all day said...

you know what i'd like to know? i'd like to know what all these posts that steve has deleted are.... i always wonder that when something is missing.

1:50 PM  
Blogger road apples said...

Very interesting Mr. Olson. Yes, I would agree that there are always the outlyers- those at the absolute extremes of the norm.

Also, one man's norm is another man's extreme, as Rhymin' Simon might suggest.

So we have come full circle my amigo. We have found common ground and life is good.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have Frank on the Victrola. :)

1:52 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I have no clue what they say. I didn't delete them. Read the posts. They say "comment removed by the author." That's pretty self-explanatory, doncha think?

I only delete stuff if there are a ton of F-bombs, if the message is spam and there is some gross libel in there.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous cheddar said...

Or if they say anything bad about Martin Scorsese.

5:36 PM  

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