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Archive for the ‘white rapper show’ Category

Something About Kreayshawn.


Kreayshawn, V-Nasty, and company are mostly supported by people who, unlike Willy Staley here, aren’t willing to roll around in the mud with White Girl Mob’s inextricable racial and cultural problems. And that’s because rap’s completely mainstream and even Internet scenes break through to a significant audience, and so, white rap fans who’d rather not wrestle with outsider status get something out of all this authenticity stuff being ripped apart for good.

Context’s being ignored and context always matters. That means Kreayshawn goes from mildly entertaining and interesting when she’s this weirdo on the Internet chopping-and-screwing Spice Girls songs and releasing goofy rap, to problematic when she’s being pimped as Ke$ha with street cred by a record label. As it should be. The same way that say, a white girl like V-Nasty can maybe say “nigga” in front of the people she hangs out with, but wouldn’t and shouldn’t be able to when that girl is put into a larger spotlight. Even World Star Hip-Hop. Her context changes. The–in her eyes at least–innocuous use of “nigga” carries more weight now.

This is the gangsta rap debate of the early 90s, the Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson argument of the mid-90s, and the crack rap conundrum of the mid-2000s all over again: What do we do with arguably loathsome popular music? There is one huge difference though. There’s no end to Kreayshawn and her White Girl Mob’s means. There’s no reason, other than turning it into profit, for a large chunk of society to accept or like, even have to deal with this stuff. And if it’s worthy because it’s you know fun, well it’s fun at the expensive of other people.

Notice how even your average street rapper provides some context for their persona (see: hip-hop trope, “I’m from a place where…”). It seems as though the same’s not demanded of artists outside of rap’s expected racial and cultural circles. The best “outsider” (mind the quotes) rappers of course, do this well because they want to, not because it was demanded of them. Das Racist strike a balance between pondering racial concerns and just saying “fuck it,” and rapping. Yelawolf’s genius is that he’s from a place with some level of “street cred,” but he doesn’t use that as an excuse, and instead he investigates his milieu in a sensitive, serious, fun way. Hell, I think even Uffie made it abundantly clear of her privilege and commented upon it.

What’s happening is this kind of nutty inside-out approach to authenticity, wherein, White Girl Mob because they’re from Oakland, are assumed to be hood and therefore, more worthy of saying “nigga” than white girls from let’s just say, Beverly Hills. As a construct, that doesn’t work because we accept that all black people can say “nigga” without informing you of where they’re from beforehand. To repeat something I said about witch-house group Salem (who practice their own kind of lower middle class black appropriation): It’s never been about authenticity.

V-Nasty is only slightly more problematic than say, Tyler, the Creator because well, he’s just another fairly well-off kid (he grew up in “black Beverly Hills”) manipulating lunkheaded racial assumptions and subtly invoking authenticity to say some really loathsome things. The worst aspect of Tyler is his referencing of “white America” which, in the rhetorical sense that he intends, would most certainly include Tyler himself, a skateboarding, child of a single mother, who grew up in a pretty nice area and had friends whose parents let them record in the backyard, who was attending community college and had the luxury to drop out and fart around at grandma’s without finding a job or anything.

The use and abuse of privilege is the actual problem here. And that is also why for me, the most loathsome rap lyric of last year was Drake, a black, Jewish child star from Toronto telling listeners, “niggas with no money act like money isn’t everything.” Just because gauging authenticity is always a dicey proposition, that doesn’t justify Kreayshawn’s hipster opportunism, V-Nasty’s “nigga” raps, or really, anybody doing and saying whatever they hell they want.

Written by Brandon

June 11th, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Posted in white rapper show

Spin: “Behind the Two Faces of the White Rapper.”

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New column is up, slightly delayed by SXSW. It’s on white rappers, a favorite, dicey topic of mine. I tell you why Yelawolf and Rittz are great and why Mac Miller looks like Agent Cody Banks. Also: Wrestling with “Frat-Rap.”

In the video for his song “Donald Trump,” Mac Miller, a scruffy 19-year-old white kid from Pittsburgh who looks more like Agent Cody Banks than hip-hop’s next big thing, bounces up and down, spitting well-worn boasts about bitches, partying, and his future success. Yet, people are actually listening to this guy. “Donald Trump” has more than one million views on YouTube. Miller’s on the cover of this month’s XXL as one of hip-hop’s promising “freshman.”

Gadsden, Alabama’s Yelawolf, a 31-year-old skate-punk, redneck rapper with a nimble flow and talent for novelistic detail, is part of this year’s “freshman” group, as well. Yelawolf was also on last month’s cover of XXL, along with hard-head, traditionalist supergroup Slaughterhouse, and Eminem (both Yela and Slaughterhouse are recent signees to Shady Records). White rappers, though still an anomaly, are not quite the joke they once were. Thanks to rap’s full-fledged entrance into the pop landscape, the white rapper and listener don’t necessarily look to hip-hop to dramatize their fantasies about black culture or tell them what’s cool to impersonate; rather, many white rappers and white rap fans genuinely relate to the music. The era of the suburban gangster is over.

Written by Brandon

March 21st, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Village Voice, Sound of the City: "In Defense of Nathan Williams"

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“So, you’re Nathan Williams of Wavves. You just played a pretty disastrous show that Pitchfork, in full TMZ mode, called “a meltdown”. What do you do? Well, you cancel your next bunch of shows, and then the next day, post an apology on your personal blog…before deleting it a few hours later. Very 2009, and more like a quasi-controversy fit for Kanye’s blog than for a bratty, no-fi musician who makes sad sack surf music aimed at a tiny percentage of the population, but here we are–at least Williams’ mea culpa isn’t all caps.

Really though, Williams’ apology is a surprisingly humble, no-bullshit explanation and it was, presumably, only the too-sincere laundry list of exactly what drugs he took (“ecstasy valium and xanax”) and Williams’ acknowledgment of a drinking problem that got his Fat Possum wranglers or even just good friends to tell him to take the thing off Blogger. Let’s hope the note, despite its deletion, lives on in people’s Google Readers and now, on a bunch of blogs (and at the top of this post) and reduces the schadenfreude coursing through comments sections and the Twitterverse and lets in some sympathy.”

Written by Brandon

June 1st, 2009 at 3:49 pm

White Privilege, Warped Nostalgia: Asher Roth & Wavves

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Asher Roth meet Nathan Williams. He’s way more “hip-hop” than you and he even doesn’t rap–he barely even sings (more like apathetically shouts). Williams’ music as WAVVES (he’s got a alternate persona like a rapper) is aggressively lo-fi, uglified variations on surf guitar lines, Phil Spector drums, and Beach Boys harmonies (in short, he samples music of the past), that break-down the life of relative comfort and apathy that Roth not only takes for granted but raps about pridefully and at times, oddly assertively (the “Motherland” stuff, his whole schtick that he buys rap CDs so they should “relate” to him, etc).

Just as Roth’s taken the signs and signifiers of college life (beer pong, Thirsty Thursday, Freshmen jokes) and translated them into short-hand for environment, in something of an attempt to parallel “candy paint” or “wood grain” or whatever rap signifiers ground the music in reality and also move it into mythology, WAVVES has his own series of short-hand environment/milieu idealized-reality images: Goths, weed, the beach, sun, summer.

The difference is, Roth’s exist to bring up that marketable pang of nostalgia if you’re out of college and the weird only-in-2009 self-reflective sense of commemorating the immediate present (constant Facebook photo albums, pointless Twitter updates) if you’re still in college, while Wavves is sort of wrestling with his images, using them in part because they’re funny and part because they define his formative years for better and worse and he feels somewhat fucked-up about it all.

I think it’s what Daniel Krow meant when he referred to WAVVES’ coating of fuzz and buzz atop music that invokes happy-sad-hippy-dippy surf and beach music as “warped nostalgia”. Roth too, works up a kind of “warped nostalgia” but it’s warped towards coming-off better and less emotional and the result’s not the tangle of “wow, the past was so much fun and freeing compared to my sad in-my-twenties present” and “wow the past was more fucked-up than I realized” of WAVVES (or many a successful rapper’s drug-deal reminisce) but, as Ian Cohen of Pitchfork put it, a “laughably out-of-touch account of campus culture”.

WAVVES’ best songs are this odd mix of satire and sadness (“Gun in the Sun”, “So Bored”) but when he’s not doing that, he’s pushing out an assembly of vague but loaded images and phrases (“got no car, got no money” from “No Hope Kids”, something about a “head full of….blow” from “Surf Goths”) that work up to the mythos of the dark (but not “dark”, mind you) image of suburbia and the “punk rock” ethos that build-up in response to it all.

Musically too, it’s an assembly of not quite there but powerful quotes from genres and alternative movements of the past. The fucked-up sixties pop thing’s obvious or talked-about enough (put The Microphones Glow Pt. 2, Fennesz’s Endless Summer and Wavvves and you’ve got a sound that captures sixties pop sideways way better than The Shins–are those guys still cool?–or even Animal Collective really) and WAVVES is as much a 90s indie/alt throwback, not-quite throwback and interpreter of Brian Wilson and friends.

Wavvves feels like 90s indie when the sound wasn’t quite so cute and soft and because shit like 120 Minutes or even Beavis & Butthead existed, one didn’t have to clean-up the sound to get the touches of popularity that car commercials and Urban Outfitters compilations now bring about. You’d get some late-night MTV shine and people still bought CDs and “hipsters” cared about mail order and junk. Now, not so much, and it’s why WAVVES’ merging of throwbacks is so fascinating and out-of-step and super-popular.

The best proof of this is the fact that a stack of Wavvves LPs sat at the Durham, North Carolina Urban Outfitters when I was there last week and it seemed jarring because there’s no way they’re sticking the album in their CD shuffle for fear that “Rainbow Everywhere” or “Killer Punx, Scary Demons” might pop-up between MGMT or that N.A.S.A album but they’re selling it anyways. In a sense, WAVVES is radically individual music because it really refuses to occupy any of the relatively marketable genres of indie or alternative music. Not really “noise pop” and certainly not indie pop and not avant-garde noisey enough to satisfy the No Fun Fest crowd…it’s popular music entirely built on its own terms.

And a big part of Williams’ terms involve satire. That’s really the best way to look at the WAVVES project, as satire, just not the knowing, smug Daily Show satire that’s praised on your favorite lifestyle blog, but like, the laughing to keep from crying, implicative kind. “Gun in the Sun”, between grinding guitar and in-the-red backing vocals, shouts “I’m just a guy with nothing to do/I’m just a guy with something to say” basically mocking Roth’s belief that his Peace Studies 101-isms possess actual profundity and taking shots at Williams himself and a whole group of fuck-around because they can kids with guitar and a head full of “you can do anything”s from their Moms.

Then, “Gun in the Sun” floats away and coming in really, a second or two too soon is “So Bored” which is full of pathos and mocks pathos at the same time. Upon hearing “So Bored” initially, the song sounded great but empty in a Roth-like self-justifying way, but that’s not true at all. It’s convenient to only hear that “I’m so bored” exclamation and ignore the next line, a half-suicidal “Life’s a chore”. Imagine the mockery/investigation of white privilege and “alt” lifestyle of Vampire Weekend but enjoyable and invigorating.

“Bored” is the other voice of suburban Mom, not telling you your special since Kindergarten, but stepping-in at the worst moment to ask what you’re gonna do with your life, bitching about how much your liberal arts college tuition is (but scoffing at state colleges), or expressing angered concern at your lack of up-and-go. Pitchfork was wise to connect Wavvves to the tradition of Blues but that’s a little too sincere for what Williams is doing, and given the joy he exhibits meeting Bun B here or the fact that his Ghost Ramp blog is basically a casual hip-hop blog, he’s doing something closer to rap’s mix of heart-on-the-sleeve despair and Pimp C-esque guffaws at the retardation of self and those around him. WAVVES is out on Fat Possum but would Rap-A-Lot give him a call?

Written by Brandon

May 6th, 2009 at 10:50 pm

Cracker (Swagger) Jacks: Eminem’s Return, Asher Roth’s Ascent.

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That Eminem’s “We Made You” drops as Asher Roth’s “I Love College” hovers, ready to take over, is something of a perfect storm of rap frivolity far uglier than ad-libs, auto-tune, or rhyming the same word with the same word.

Two rappers, one who once mined the problems of the working-class in a manner however cloying, still greatly affecting, and one who at least feigned interest in “poor people” on his corrective mixtape raps just a few months ago, escape into the world of OK! Magazine and the greens and quads of college, respectively.

The problem here isn’t derision, because everyone that matters thinks these songs are awful, but that “We Made You” and “I Love College” are dismissed because they appear “not serious” when they should start-up the same kind of “once a year we’ll all get political” meme that say, crack rap or “hipsters” inspire.

Look at it this way. “I Love College” gets the “it’s fun” free pass—and tons of press—while the also Weezer-sampling “Grind Baby” from the Paper Route Recordz crew just sort of wanders around kinda unnoticed. This isn’t just an issue of taste or exposure, it’s a moral one.

“Grind” grabs the melancholy of Weezer in a typically constructive hip-hop sense of sampling–say Nice & Smooth turning “Fast Car” into “Sometimes I Rhyme Slow”; “College” goes for it Girl-Talk style. “Grind” is a, we’ll-get-through-it anthem for the clock-punchers, “College” is a celebration of wasting either parents’ or the state’s money in a place of higher education most of the country can’t even begin to afford. Remember, the biggest rapper in the world right now based his debut album around the in-the-gut frustration of going to college and being thoroughly disgusted by the reality its overrun by assholes like Roth.

For Asher Roth to be the same dude who made his internet hype rapping over others rappers’ beats about how “sick kids need” money “more then [he needs] a necklace”, now praising another kind of indulgence, is a good example of the weird classism—and white privilege—that often goes unchecked in the media, but shouldn’t slip by rap fans. Sure, pizza and beer are a cheaper than rims and chains, but Roth’s awful misreading of how and why people conspicuously consume seems grotesque when he’s farting-out a song just as ugly and self-justifying as all the rap he claims doesn’t speak to him. While Roth may not “look” or “sound” like most rappers, he’s selling the exact same line of bullshit.

Goofy college kids once saw themselves in the nerd-outs of Tribe and Pharcyde or even the willful self-destruction of Mobb Deep or DMX. For awhile they could misread crack raps and sloppily apply it to their Circuit City commissions or day-trading jobs. Asher Roth’s rendered even that rudimentary leap of empathy obsolete.

Uncomfortable truths about Eminem amplified by “We Made You”:

- Eminem’s flow and persona’s simply a dumber, less nerdy version of the self-deprecating raps of mindful non-thugs like The Pharcyde. Down to the nasally, high-pitch flow, Em’s entire schtick–or at least the schtick that’s kinda entertaining–can be traced back to “Runnin”, a song he stuck in 8 Mile don’t forget.

-Dr. Dre’s production for him has nothing to do with hip-hop, more Ray Stevens with an MPC. And for those who dismiss the track and pray for that “raw shit” from Eminem, dude’s own productions are diet, caffeine-free RZA. Grammy-winning “Lose Yourself” is essentially “Liquid Swords” with a mall-rock chug replacing Willie Mitchell grit.

-The video for his first hit featured a Lewinsky joke and the song itself mentioned the Spice Girls and Pamela Anderson.

-His flow, which he’s always gotten credit for even in the dumbest songs, is the kind of flow that beats you over the head with every cadence and enjambment and shift of meter and at this point, rap’s evolved and devolved so much that when a fan defends a rapper with “He can flow”, it’s the equivalent of someone telling you that their boring-ass friend’s “a nice guy”. Technical skill’s always been Eminem’s defense and rockist bait while he’s sold hip-hop down the river.

-His “raw shit” is just as manipulative and flat-out retarded as “We Made You”, and that those pieces of “reality” that he could touch-on (“Stan” or “Kim” being obvious examples) diluted Dre, Cube, and the rest’s equally retarded but more entertaining and relevant reduction of poverty, dysfunction, and suffering.

“We Made You” is less a case of an artist not delivering than a bunch of rap fans not copping to how wack dude’s always been. Still, there’s something especially calculated,–like being a guy who raps about college and having your album come-out on 4/20 level of calculated—about Eminem’s latest.

Intentional or not, the song’s like a big Slim Shady “fuck you”, less to the world at-large or his critics, but at the Web 2.0 nerds. Jokes that are either out-dated or covered ten-fold by gossip blogs, are still new-ish or funny to the people that barely know of Twitter and don’t have a wireless network. Em’s feeding them supermarket gossip rag (versus gossip blog) trash and working a kind of synergy that has nothing to do with Nahright or “Perez” and has everything to do with say, Inside Edition and MTV (both did stories on Eminem’s “controversial” new video).

In a sense, “We Made You” acknowledges a fanbase that’s been forgotten about in the music business’s ill-concieved flight to the blogosphere, but it’s a fan-base he could’ve touched upon all the same with equally retarded but at least emotionally-resonant, real-world raps that everyone not named Pruane2Forever prefers.

But none of this is a surprise, anymore than someone finally and fully running with the “rap doesn’t speak to white kids that buy it” hustle is a surprise. What is a surprise–well, this isn’t a surprise either, but it’s distressing–is how this kind of manipulation is either justified or laughed-off as insignificant, while entire essays and debates drum-up about Young Jeezy’s “responsibility” to his neighborhood or art-form.

Asher Roth’s touching on some kind of zeitgeist or just “doing him”, but Lil Wayne or or even someone as downright loveable (and at times, batshit brilliant) as Gucci Mane are “killing” rap…and Paper Route Recordz hardly matter.

Deborah Norton will scrutinize the “controversial” and “hilarious” references to Paris and “KK” in “We Made You”, but would never take the time to highlight say, the affecting Patriotism in the climax of Kanye’s just-as-zany video for “Champion” or even acknowledge the existence of Rihanna/Chris Brown response record like Ghostface’s “Message from Ghostface”.

This is in part, white privilege aligning with some mad-calculated synergy, but it goes beyond that. Those artists and especially rappers (white or black), that really do complicate or at least worm around issues of wealth and privilege–even if it’s “all I could show em’ was pictures of my cribs”, if Eminem’s retardo raps receive praise, give Kanye a pass for trying–and end-up implicative, receive a healthy dose of derision, while those that simply fall-back on privilege as natural order get a free pass.

Written by Brandon

April 12th, 2009 at 7:59 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 08.

I feel…deflated. I don’t know if it’s because the show is over or because John Brown didn’t win. I know I was pro-$hamrock and I didn’t even really write about John Brown last week, but I’ve been slowly leaning in Mr. Hallelujah Holla Back’s direction. The problem with $hamrock is he never really delivers. He can rap but whenever he’s in the booth or in front of a crowd he dances around and rap-sings and it’s just embarrassing. His humble attitude is certainly appealing in contrast to Persia, Sullee, or Jus Rhyme but he’s gotten way too many breaks because Serch seems to love him. I was also surprised because as far as I could tell, John Brown’s 16 bars were a lot better and although his song didn’t really make any sense, it was more than just a ‘They Don’t Know’ rip-off. And was $hamrock doing the Yung Joc motorcycle dance during his performance?

My anger is probably an early sign of withdrawal because I don’t know if I actually care who wins. What is so good about the show is how entertaining it is on multiple levels; there’s enough to think about that it barely matters who wins. So, I think I’m just shook because it won’t be on next week. This show is really good and made better because it was so willing to stick-it-out even if it occasionally led to a really wack ‘8 Mile’ trivia game or let Jus Rhyme slip through every crack. It doesn’t matter because if you’re watching the show the way most people I know are watching it, there’s twenty other ways besides competition that the show is stimulating your brain.

However, I have to point out that there was some really weird stuff going on in this episode. Who the hell was Blaise Delcacroix II? I assume at some point, all the white rappers had to list a friend or something and John Brown listed this guy instead of one of his rapper friends? Is John Brown gay? If he is, it makes him even more amazing. He seemed so embarrassed and for good reason, if I were less homophobic and had some gay friends, I definitely wouldn’t want to be shown on a rap show interacting with the dude. No matter how immature or high-school that is, as John Brown says, it’s not a good look. Was this some weird, sick joke on the part of the show? Did John Brown actually know this guy? I don’t understand and it makes me even more sympathetic to him but ultimately, John Brown screwed himself over.

Brown’s pseudo-‘Take No Prisoners’ attitude got him into the top two, it put off a lot of people, particularly Serch, who seemed to be singularly focused on supporting $hamrock once Persia was eliminated. John Brown was scheming too much. Where did his rap at the end come from? In every event and elimination, Brown affected this super-slow Jeezy-esque style that barely counted as rapping. Then, once it was clear he had a chance to win he comes in and does pretty amazing at the battle and tonight, his 16 bars were pretty sick. He can obviously rap; I had no idea. I understand his strategy and it will probably make him more popular than $hamrock, so I guess it worked but he could have had that and won the contest. I still don’t understand ‘Ghetto Revival’ but his King of the ‘Burbs schtick is pretty genius. It wasn’t that he could articulate it when confronted by Persia or Lord Jamar, it’s that he didn’t want to and good for him for refusing to. Some fat angry chick who thinks she’s hood and some aged racist would give him shit about it no matter how eloquently it was explained, so he doesn’t even waste his time.

Brown’s whole idea of him being a suburban rapper is post-Kanye. He doesn’t even feel the need to present his middle-class struggle the same way that “urban” rappers present their struggle, Brown isn’t embarrassed to just admit he was born with a lot of shit that most rappers and just people weren’t. His final song ‘Car Wars’ was some attempt to acknowledge his suburban upbringing without being stereotypically unaware of the world that has given him that upbringing. Yeah, the song is muddled and is some misreading of ‘Diamonds are Forever’ or something, but it took some thought. Maybe too much thought but that’s better than another song about haters. At the same time, I do see why $hamrock won. In the comments section of this post, ‘White Rapper Show’ producer Brent Rollins was kind enough to post. Among the many interesting things he said was a comparison of the show to ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’: “But ultimately, to fall back on the Willy Wonka metaphor: the Veruca Salts of the world don’t deserve to inherit the keys to the Chocolate Factory, no matter how much they love gobstoppers…Charlie does.” So yes, $hamrock is the Charlie of the show in the sense that he is incredibly humble and respectful and those values are generally in-reverse of most reality show, so it’s just one more way ego trip flips your expectations.

The show easily could have mocked all of the white rappers, especially the stereotypical “wigger” $hamrock, but instead it shows him to be a pretty stand-up guy. In my first entry on the show I spoke of the problematic aspects of the “wigger” and tried to drum up some sympathy for “wiggers” everywhere. I did it because I had the feeling the show would never go there but I was wrong. The show balanced a sense of making fun of these goofy white kids and really giving a shit about them. Every episode seems to have a few gems that totally complicate issues of race and authenticity. When the always good-natured Fat Joe shows up to give the rappers advice, he drops this piece of advice: “Let them know ‘Yeah, I’m white but I ain’t rich. I’m just as poor as you…” That’s the kind of thing that is as under-discussed on television as the problems for racial minorities. Why can’t the show just keep going? Make it ‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper House’. My editor Monique, suggested a spin-off of just John Brown and $hamrock living in the trailer. Do something! I don’t want to write weekly entries on ‘Dice Undisputed’ (Although, I’m definitely watching that shit)! A second season better happen or I don’t know what I’ll do…

My White Rapper Show Entries
-Episode 01.
-Episode 02.
-Episode 03.
-Episode 04.
-Episode 05.
-Episode 06.
-Episode 07.

and…The White Rappers in Wii Form.

Written by Brandon

February 27th, 2007 at 7:47 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 07.

I have my whole family watching this show. My parents who are in their 40s, my 15-year-old sister, and my twenty-something friends all gather in my parents’ living room each Monday at 10 pm. On weekends, my girlfriend who doesn’t have cable at school, comes here and we all watch it again. I’m probably becoming one of those annoying people who mentions their dead friend anytime they get the chance, but since my friends’ suicide two weeks ago, the only constant in any of my friends’ or family’s life is ‘The (White) Rapper Show’. I know, at least for that hour, I’ll be entertained and have something to pick apart and discuss besides why my best friend blew his head off.

This show is just good. It has all of the seedy and exploitative aspects of reality television with some additional aspects that make it insightful and discussion-worthy. All of this is mixed together without being “have your cake and eat it too”, as in, it doesn’t suddenly redeem itself from reality television cynicism with a touching ending. The unsavory and the kinder moments are closely connected, often right after one another and sometimes at the same time. Jus Rhyme’s painfully sincere political statements make me roll over laughing but the dude never gives up or just doesn’t give a shit: How can that not move you on some level?

Last night’s episode was probably the best episode of the season, which is weird because there was literally no tension. Jus Rhyme was eliminated before the show began. I think Serch had a bit of a hand in getting Jus out of there because $hamrock’s performance was definitely the worst but it would be too outrageous if Jus Rhyme’s luck didn’t finally run out. Serch’s slight manipulation of the outcome actually helps because it connects the show to the more questionable aspects of reality television. Those connections to more conventional reality TV are as necessary to the show’s success as the elements that separate it from something like ‘Flavor of Love’. Even if $hamrock sucked in the battle, he is modest and fairly creative and better upholds the ideas of the show than Jus Rhyme. $hamrock has a pattern, beginning with his ‘White Guilt’ verse a few episodes ago, of being even-handed about issues of race. $hamrock is not apologetic about being white but is also mindful of his place as a white rapper. He is intelligently skeptical of certain racial “givens” without being rude. When Serch, who really becomes a mentor to the rappers in this episode, tells them they “can’t make fun of [black battlers'] blackness” $hamrock thinks of a few battle-lines that flip racial expectations. Serch’s reason for not making fun of their blackness is that the white rappers are “coming from outside of the culture” but when we see the crowd at Saint Andrews, it is at least 30% white and not only white, but many audience members are (gasp) hipsters! There’s a hilarious shot of some white chick that looks like she majored in French or Peace Studies or something, shaking her head in disapproval at Jus Rhyme. Ridiculous.

“Nobody is setting up a program in unemployed studies, homeless studies, or trailer-park studies, because the unemployed, the homeless, and residents of trailer parks are not ‘other’ in the relevant sense.”-Richard Rorty (80).

When the white rappers meet the locals at the trailer park, it’s incredibly entertaining but also a confrontation with the real that is never, ever, shown on television now that ‘COPS’ is no longer a phenomenon. The crazy lady in too-short shorts, the scary-as-hell-but-kinda-friendly black guy, the guy just walking around with a fishing net and a framed fishing magazine (is he on the cover?); this is not “ghetto fabulous” or Trace Adkins’ version of white trash. To temporarily idealize these people, they probably all get along in the trailer park much better than racially diverse people on most college campuses. Buff Black Man doesn’t perceive being called “Tupac” as racist and I’m sure everyone treats the crazy lady like she is crazy and none of it is that big of a deal. Yeah, these people probably beat their kids or do meth and the whites probably toss the word “nigger” around but there’s still a weird, complicated civility at work in a place like that trailer park. No doubt Crazy Lady knows who Tupac is because she has a “wigger” son.

On Friday, I was at this Salvation Army in Newark, DE and a woman very much like Crazy Lady stood in front of me in line. As the stuff she was buying was being rung up she had to run out to her car to get her wallet. She went outside to her car, came back in and somehow forgot why she went out there because she returned without her purse, then, she went back out, only to return to tell the cashier, who was an ornery 60ish gay black man with blonde hair, that she didn’t have her credit card and couldn’t pay. She pleads with the Old, Gay, Black cashier to hold her stuff but he angrily refuses and argues for a few moments before, yes, an undoubtedly mildly-retarded white worker with dreads (?!) finally agrees to hold the stuff for her. The real-life Crazy Lady thanks the dreadlocked tard and walks out, but not before she reaches over and picks up the record-box-set I was buying and told me: “That’s a real nice chessboard”. Oh yeah, and the whole time some kind of reggae mix CD is playing really loudly and I assume Gay Black Man made the CD because no company would sell such a confused compilation. The CD segued from Shaggy to Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Many Rivers to Cross’ to some non-‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ Baha Men track and back to Desmond Dekker. Try to explain that to somebody. That is what ‘The White Rapper Show’ explicitly presents with the trailer park sequence or moves towards when it puts weirdos like 100 Proof, G-Child, or any of the rappers on television and dares to show them humanely.

The final episode is next week. What will I do when it’s all over?

-Rorty, Richard. ‘Achieving Our Country’. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998.

Written by Brandon

February 21st, 2007 at 8:07 am

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The Cast of ‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’ in Wii Form

Bonus VH1 Reality Mii: Boston from ‘I Love New York’

Written by Brandon

February 20th, 2007 at 8:10 pm

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 06.

I really don’t know what to think of John Brown. I really love the guy but ultimately I’ve been duped. Most people have hated on him for being totally full of shit and I guess I’m finally ready to admit that he is. This video pretty much defines him as everything Persia and now, $hamrock say about him: He’s what is wrong with rap music, he’s a liar, he’s not that good of a rapper, etc. However, while being a complete liar, John Brown is also the most realistic cast member on the show.

I respect Brown’s ability to have no qualms with the business aspect of being a rapper because too many rappers or just artists in general, deny that very crucial money-making aspect. If you’re not in it for money, why aren’t you rapping in your basement? Brown’s whole “I’m not a rapper. I’m an entity” thing, as well his style in the aforementioned video, reminds me of Young Jeezy’s “I’m not a rapper” mantra. I’ve always defended Jeezy’s assertion because I saw it as Jeezy being brutally honest about the business aspect while also being kind of modest about his obvious artistic ambitions. I’ll admit the dude can’t really rap but he’s certainly artistic in his interest in making a cohesive album and consistent product. I’m very weary of romanticized notions of the artist. I don’t believe in someone unequivocally “expressing” themselves so it’s refreshing when someone refuses to be called an artist. In ‘Leather So Soft’ there’s that line where Lil Wayne says “Then I get in the booth and let my soul bleed”; exactly the kind of self-important “I’m expressing myself” bullshit I hate.

So, like Jeezy, even if he sets himself up as the ultimate hustler, John Brown has some real things to say; he seems like a pretty perceptive and concerned guy. He is clearly more self-aware than the rest of the rappers and is sympathetic enough to be embarrassed for his fellow cast members when they are being clowned or clown themselves. When Jus Rhyme invites Brown to go along to dine with N.O.R.E, he has that panicky look on his face and is sort of embarrassed that he’s been picked. It’s like middle school where you’re nice to some nerdy kid because everyone gives him too much shit and then he gives you an invitation to his birthday party or something and someone in the class sees it and you’re just like “I’m not friends with that guy, seriously, I’m not.” Even John Brown’s screw-ups seem contrived as some form of publicity or expression or both. When he says that stuff about Clear Channel it was his semi-subtle way of telling Miss Jones and her group of vultures to shut up. The Hot97 trip was a debacle and not because John Brown was a retard. Like every black morning radio host, Miss Jones loves easy targets. The white rappers’ sincerity for the most part, keeps them afloat because they (except for John Brown) know when to shut up or take it as a loss. Either way, it’s still sad to see people being so cruel and worse, to see anybody, not just our beloved white rappers, totally defer to somebody, anybody. It just gave me a really sick feeling.

The event made me think of this time I was driving and a car in front of me struck a deer. The deer flew up in the air and hit the ground. With all four legs broken, it tried to get up, and instead, it just did that Curly from the ‘Three Stooges’ floor spin on the asphalt. This was so upsetting because out of fear or some weird obligation I don’t think animals really grasp, the deer seemed aware that the cars were all stopped, waiting for him to waddle off into the woods. I just wanted to tell the deer to lie down or even get out of my car hold it down; all these cars could wait or something…The Miss Jones part of the episode gave me a similar gross feeling because we were witnessing a group of people completely powerless just like that deer, the white rappers were more concerned with what they should do than what they wanted to do. No matter how wack some of the rappers are, they don’t deserve Miss Jones’ bullshit and worse, when they sort of succeeded, as when $hamrock gave them a decent freestyle but slipped on the station number, she told him he “failed”. What the fuck was that? At least Lord Jamar or Just Blaze’s assholism was relatively brief.

Well, in the end, Persia goes. I was really hoping it was going to be Jus Rhyme because he’s plain awful and it was totally fair, not cruel, when Serch put it to him like this: “I think you’re very fortunate that you didn’t go into the ice chamber earlier because I don’t think you would have lasted the first ice-ice chamber elimination. That rhyme was horrible.” Had Persia made any attempt to sell her rhyme, even if she forgot it three times over, she’d probably still be on the show and it wouldn’t have been any kind of injustice to Jus Rhyme. Next week: Insane Clown Posse!

Written by Brandon

February 14th, 2007 at 9:52 am

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‘ego trip’s (White) Rapper Show’: Episode 05.

Within the first few minutes of this week’s episode, Sullee is already falling apart. You get a real sense of dread looming over his every action and it isn’t just some reality television foreshadowing through editing, he really is getting nervous. Sullee’s in a weird position of actually being talented but not as talented as he thinks, so it leads him in positions where he looks like a complete dumbass. Totally about to snap, he becomes convinced somehow, the honorable thing to do is punk-out under the guise of not wanting to “snitch”. Sullee really just freaked out and didn’t want to get booted or actually lose, so he turned it into some idiotic “I neva snitch” type thing. Serch’s departing lecture to Sullee was pretty much spot-on:

“Yo, you’re selling yourself out right now…and the worst part is Sullee, you’re thinking you’re doing it on a higher principle, you’re not. This is an exercise. You had cameras following you the whole time, we know everything you did. You’re caught-up in the hip-hop hype of what snitching is. Snitching is about illegal activity. Snitching is about seeing somebody do something they shouldn’t be doing and dropping dime on them. You’re not dropping dime on them. Kicking off the shoes, doing all of that, if you really want to quit bro, there’s the door. Be out.”

While Serch appears pretty eloquent there, there’s a strange part when he turns to talk to Jon Boy and the camera just holds on Jon Boy’s face as Serch rips him. It’s obviously dubbed-in later; Serch’s voice sounds totally different. Notice how much more eloquent and hardass he sounds here: “You know I can appreciate your defiance for what it is, but don’t get it twisted. You cannot get slick with me and flip the challenge. I’m not havin’ it.” I know it’s a reality television norm to edit and change, it’s not a big deal, but it struck me as a bit odd and unfair, particularly because Serch is being held-up as very real and very honest. Clearly, the speech he gives to Jon Boy was re-recorded or written afterwards and dubbed in. There’s also the sad fact that Sullee totally hustles Jon Boy into buying the whole “snitch” thing because it saves Sullee’s ass while it does nothing for Jon Boy but get him eliminated.

It’s interesting how the show finds a way to address every aspect or cliché of rap culture, including something like snitching, which you would think would be hard to fit into a good-natured reality show about rappers. Serch is totally correct when he calls the snitching “hype” but I almost wish that he or the show would have come out more forcefully against “Stop Snitching”. Perhaps they would lose their “cred” but it is worth coming out against, particularly when Baltimore police’s response to “Stop Snitching” is an idiotic campaign like “Keep Talking” which just brings more attention to “Stop Snitching” and encourages no actual opposition.

Yeah, if I commit a crime with some friends, I’d be a pretty big faggot if I told on them. However, there are some very valid arguments against “Stop Snitching” and the so-called “code” has been outrageously perverted and is one more way in which criminals and drug-dealers exploit their own communities in the same way that politicians and government types exploit the same communities. It also shows why the celebration and honor of drug dealers as somehow system fighters or anti-government rebels is absurd. Drug dealers and criminals are weak because once they do the crime, they won’t even stick it out and take the time. If poor old woman in the apartment next door reports loud noise and it leads to a drug bust, there’s a possibility she will have to fear for her life. Now, if I was involved in illegal activity like that, I’d probably live by the same code (it’s really an anti-code) but I wish these people and those that celebrate them would just let them be what they really are: scumbags. There’s nothing wrong with being a scumbag but don’t act as if you’re on some “by any means necessary” trip. The fact that “snitching” is now defined as speaking to the police in any form about any crime is truly unfortunate. The only people that benefit from an unsolved crime are criminals. Now, certainly, people in areas where crime is pervasive may not tell police for fear of their lives but that has always happened; distrust of the police is nothing new, but what is new is how the definition of snitching has stretched so far.

The form in which snitching enters the ‘(White) Rapper Show’ world is symptomatic of the way in which snitch-talk has pervaded areas that have nothing to do with street-level crime. My friend John, an accounting major, told me a story of a student from Senegal who often wore a Yankees hat and when the Professor spoke of insider trading or “whistle-blowing” this guy called it “snitching”. What? Now this guy from Senegal, probably the son of a diplomat, who has even less to do with “the streets” than I do, is calling someone who is ethically concerned about how a crooked business is run, a snitch?

Sullee took the easy way out by following self-made, personalized rules on “snitching”. The problem with everybody, with everything (I’m implicating myself here as well) is the way in which we live robotically, the way in which the “hippest” music listeners reads Pitchfork or ‘Wire’ magazine as a bible, the way the “hardest” so-called “thug” on the block frees himself of any ethical or moral quandary he might truly be in by falling back-on “stop snitching”. I think of that Nietzsche phrase, where he called all ways of comfortable living “wretched self-complacency”. That’s the problem with most “thugs” particularly the thug attitude Tupac made pervasive. It’s not even tough, it’s not even self-destructive, it’s safe, it’s lazy, it is wretchedly self-complacent.

Speaking of self-complacency…fuck happened to Jon-Boy? The guy’s head quadrupled in size since the previous episode. He begins rapping in front of the mall to disinterested black shoppers and even compares himself to Jesus! Did it all begin when some confused shopper asked for his autograph? Suddenly, Marc Ecko dresses him, he’s got some shades and a popped collar and he’s King Shit of Fuck Mountain. My favorite part, which really was like a scene from some movie about an asshole Hollywood big-shot is when Jon-Boy, when asked by the video director, as he puts his shades atop his head, goes: “Alright listen. What we do: We rap. What you do: You direct. Alright?”

I’ve been defending Jon Boy and Sullee because they could spit but it was fun to see them go down even if it leaves the show in a weird place. Persia and $hamrock can rap and I really like $hamrock because he’s got a good attitude, but neither of them say very much. Jus Rhyme can’t even rap and has totally lucked-out. I personally love John Brown, he’s really hilarious (and aware of it) and he actually seems like a really bright guy. He obviously understood the “rap about your partner’s faults” prompt as not “snitching” but as an exercise and is smart enough to realize how much time is wasted and opportunities ruined when ill-concieved ideas of pride take over. The guy is also a hook-machine, ‘Smoke in the Club’ and ‘She’s a Stunna’, someone like the Lox or post-Cuban Linx Raekwon should hire him to write their hooks. The show is beginning to lose it’s personalities; John Brown is the only one left with personality but if he ended up winning, I’d be a little confused or disappointed. Pray for $hamrock?

PS: Everyone should be nicer to Crazy Astronaut lady. Seriously, folks.

Written by Brandon

February 8th, 2007 at 6:55 am