I got the beat
Just a little
There is nothing worse than a white kid acting like he's hardcore. I get so sick and tired of white boys trying to be like Nubian Kings and white girls trying to emulate the nature of "a sista" just to get into a brother's drawers. For centuries, since the first African ancestors were brought here, whites have tried to imitate blacks in every way, shape, form, or fashion and I'm tired of it. They watch what black folks do and try and try again to make it into a trend. This isn't about racism. It is about image. "Hey Whites! Rap is not our music." Just kidding. If you're true to yourself and represent the MUSIC from your heart ... Then in essence, you're a real emcee.
The hip-hop culture is real and honest, and anyone is free to learn about it, spread it, and add to it, but if you suck, then it will drop you like poop out of a butt. And it doesn't take long to figure out who's real and who's fake. I would now like to take you on a short exploration of whites in rap:
One thing that all white rappers have in common is the one word that looms in front of them like a gigantic roadblock. And that is the dreaded N-word. After they get through that though, every white rapper is unique.
Robert Van Winkle: Better known as Vanilla Ice … What a joke. We all know that Vanilla Ice was a disgrace to all people, not just white people. His song "Ice Ice Baby" was one of the many that helped MTV make videos danceable, beat-heavy, light, fun, safe, and totally devoid of content and innovation. When lightweight rappers, especially whiter-than-white Vanilla Ice, started getting massive airplay and record sales, the rap community at large recognized the danger of inferior pop-rap acts outselling the quality rap acts. A turn to the mainstream would start a slide into the whitewashing of rap. It's happened before in popular music. In blues (Clapton), in soul (Michael Bolton), in jazz (Kenny G).
ICP: The Insane Clown Posse. Essentially, the group tends to appeal more to the dwellers of trailer parks and suburban townhouses than the inner-city folk that they partially swipe their image from. The `dedicated' among their fans often address each other as "ninja" (A blatantly corny code word for nigga).
House of Pain and the Beastie Boys: Now both of these groups were labeled as "alternative rap/rock" acts, and in the eyes of many casual white fans and critics, the Beasties and House of Pain weren't considered as being just "rappers" (read: Negro-imitators). Hence, they tended to receive an elevated status among that crossover public. As a result, "regular rappers" (read: Negroes and Latinos) weren't taken as artistically seriously by a lot of people. But let's face it, everyone can relate to "Jump Around." It's not like they were rapping about hockey.
Marky Mark and Eminem: Marky Mark got his start with his funky bunch, but moved on quickly to become a hip-hop god. Just kidding. He moved on and became Dirk Diggler.
Eminem is perhaps the only white rapper that's been getting any attention on the majors in the last four years and that seems rather odd given that: 1) White rappers are universal around the world. 2) Whites make up probably half to two-thirds of the hip-hop consumer market. And 3) they've been accepted in other traditionally black art forms, notably jazz (other than Kenny G).
So, if Eminem is dope (and Dr. Dre should be a good judge — check out "DRE 2001.") Then more power to him, and welcome to the hip-hop scene. But if a homeboy gets a Calvin Klein underwear endorsement, (Mark Wahlberg) then you know something's up with the way that white rappers get treated by the "outside" world.
There are other groups too. Beck definitely. His roots actually stem a little more into blues if you listen to his first album, "One Foot in the Grave." 3rd Bass got a little respect from the rap community as well. Some of the more successful crossover groups are Sublime, The Bare Naked Ladies, and Ani Difranco even though they are never considered rappers.
Of course, though, there are a number of white rappers that are horrible, like White Dog. Most of the guys like this are angry because they aren't black. Be on the lookout for white girl rappers coming up in the near future too.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, April 26, 2000