"Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one." - Charles Mackay
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Honest Truths
Copied this from a much more self sustained (IE Better) site than my own to add to my informational foundation. heres the link to the site
The Difference Between Me And You: Honest CriticismBy
Harold M. Clemens

I might actually take what rap critics say seriously, if they usually weren’t spineless and opportunistic. The truth is the Wendell Talleys, John McWhorters, and Gregory Kanes of the world attack rap not out of concern for the future of Black people, but out of shame, elitism, and cowardice. If black uplift was their sincere agenda, they’d be as, likely more, vocal about a hell of a lot more than rap, but somehow the music and its primary base, poor Blacks, garner more of their attention than any other topic.

There’s a difference between these clowns and people like Cornel West and Louis Farrakhan, who both deal primarily with the Black experience and likewise, heavily criticize rap. The latter two rightly inveigh against the context of the music more heavily than they scream on the music itself. Also, they have expertise and are outspoken on countless topics outside of the rap realm. For example, Dr. West is obsessed with corporate hegemony, while Minister Farrakhan obsesses over America’s relationship with the Arab world. Both men are far from perfect, but they convey sincerity because they are curious, controversial, and vociferous about seemingly all issues, not just the one white folks wants to hear bad talk about. Further, each fellow incorporates his larger, global knowledge into his opinion on raps problems-a monumental feat considering the idiotic, moralistic blabber of his counterparts.

Craven, black Big Heads preach and preach and preach, even more than the good Minister, but have sh*t to say about anything that could get they asses in trouble or, better put, put their popularity in jeopardy. For example, in his article from March 23 in The Baltimore Sun, farcically entitled “How Hip-Hop Drags Down Black Culture,” Wendell Talley calls hip-hop “a historic atrocity.” (Word?!) He moans later in his diatribe that, “[hip-hop has created] a celebrity class denoted by felons such as Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Lil' Kim who are intrinsically linked with vulgarity and criminality.” I hear him loud and clear (Right on, Brutha!), but in almost 600 words he failed to mention that mainstream culture has created a celebrity class, called movie stars, denoted by people that imitate felons and thus themselves are now “intrinsically linked with vulgarity and criminality” too. For example, Al Pacino is best remembered as the maniacal “Tony Montana” a.k.a. Scarface, or the sociopath “Michael Corleone.” This fact is more than worth mentioning, since rappers themselves adoringly imitate these characters; hence, the rapper, Brad Jordan’s stage name is “Scarface” and too many rappers, like Fat Joe and the deceased Biggie Smalls refer to themselves as “the Don.” Even the video for “Many Men,” by 50 Cent, who’s mentioned in the op-ed, is a sketch of a scene from the popular classic The Godfather.

F*ck dat! The joke of the mid-90s amongst true hip-hop fans was why in hell rappers would name themselves after white mobsters (real and fictional) that probably would think they are monkeys; e.g. Wu-Tang referring to themselves as “Wu-Gambinos,” “Capone” from Capone-N-Noreaga, Styles from the Lox adopting “Pinero” (Pacino plus De Niro), Biggie Smalls’ reference to himself as “Frank White,” the main character from the movie King of New York.

Would Mr. Talley argue that Al Pacino and others are responsible for corrupting rappers with their portrayals? I doubt it. On the other hand, I’m sure, given the tone and substance of his piece, that he would hypocritically hold somebody like Scarface, the rapper, responsible for corrupting kids of all colors. So much for consistency. He has beef with black, gangsta rappers, but sh*t to say ‘bout white, gangster actors, who have obviously influenced them. (Urgent Bulletin: Rappers are human too!) (Gasp!)

Mr. Talley probably knows that The Baltimore Sun wouldn’t have published him if he had written an article about rap’s popularity with suburban youth being White America’s own art coming back to bite it in the ass. Poor Black folk see gangster flicks and find significant currency in the “get money at all costs” mentality the characters possess because they themselves know intimately that by design, in this country, black people compose the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder and white people the top, with other ethnicities in between. They enjoy seeing the subversion and circumvention of state authority because they know too intimately its corruption and conspiracies. They bask in the violence on film because violence is the fastest way to gain power, of which they have none.

With sufficient incentive and in antisocial reverence, some street dudes roughly emulate and aspire to become the gangsters they see on screen. Subsequently, white kids ravenously consume rap, the music these disillusioned street kids eventually produce, and begin to emulate the rappers. The result is an ironic cycle in which white actors influence black youth that become artists, who then influence white youth.

In Talley’s piece he claims hip-hop culture has shunned morality, scholarship, entrepreneurship and personal accountability, the “socioeconomic characteristics needed for upward mobility.” (Word up! Horatio Alger represent, represent!) But again, he probably knows that his joint wouldn’t be too popular, if it also included a probable explanation of why people in the streets are skeptical of his “upward mobility” formula. Even if every black person in the country wholeheartedly embraced each characteristic, because of stigma, a wealth gap that started with slavery, cronyism, and other factors, we still wouldn’t achieve the same level of aggregate success as whites. More importantly, white America didn’t even earn its status through disciplined embrace of these principles. Perhaps the author didn’t notice, however, unlike himself, rappers have always been outspoken about this last

“Crime don't pay/ that's what they tell us/ But that's because the other motherfuckers gettin’ jealous/ But I'ma tell you this they neighborhood got the Goodfellas/ But they come arrest us for the same shit they sell us.”- Kool G. Rap, “Crime Pays”

If Mr. Talley were half as concerned with Black prosperity as he is with a pat on the head from white people, in addition to scolding rap for supposedly abandoning scholarship, he would have mentioned that Black people earn less and have higher unemployment rates than their white counterparts at every education level; while highlighting rap’s lack of morality, he would have mentioned the immoral example set by our president, whose family fortune, which facilitated his rise to office, came at the expense of mass Jewish extermination (see: Prescott Bush); at the same time that he rebuked rap’s violent content, he would have insisted that Hollywood directors tone down and/or make amends for depicting gratuitous violence that reaches impressionable eyes all over the world, including too many black ones.

Such comprehensive, contextual criticism requires courage and genuine love, not opportunism, shame, and cowardice though. Thus, I will never entertain craven Wendell Talley’s jabs at rap, or those of his ideological buddies. Neither should ya’ll

Mr. Talley: in the words of Common,
“I see the bitch in you.”

This report speaks a lot of truth. Unneccesary criticism of hip hop music is a class phenomenon within the black (and with the rise of reggaeton, soon to include Latino) community which at its best might be made from a real concern of what the ideology of hip hop (/Money rules everything around me/, or/ lifes a bitch and then we die)

but like most self criticism their is a place and a time for it. To so eagerly bad mouth artistic expression shows a loathing of it which is sad and scary considering that in the end none of his angry remarks did anything but make himself look better to the mostly white readers of the baltimore sun.
posted by R J Noriega at 2:05 PM | Permalink |


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