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  1. #21
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    There's an entire large segment of hip hop (underground/indie) that is probably more popular among suburban white kids (like myself) than black urban kids, and isn't about "being poor in a ghetto, being black, being gangster, going to prison, shooting cops, and murdering people", and, frankly, is not only much better than, but is in many ways directly opposed to the crap you seem to be referring to.



    (its popularity does seem to be increasing among black youths, though, with new crossover acts like Odd Future)





    Frankly, with the quality of the music in that subgenre, it's odd to me how anyone could not be drawn to it.

    Putting that aside for the moment, though, I fancy myself a bit of a hip hop historian, so let me walk you through exactly how it was that White America came to be sold on hip hop...

    First (and you may be too young to have experienced this), white kids my age (children of the 80s [young Gen Xers, old Millennials]) were brought into the hip hop fold when we were kids through total pop hop (garbage) that was decidedly not gangster, like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice. The first album I ever bought (on cassette, mind you) was Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (my favorite song was "Pray", for those in the Hammer know *wink* *hammer dance*):



    ...and I would be lying if were to say that I did not at one time think Vanilla Ice was cool:



    Then, moving on from the late 80s into the 90s, there was the undeniably strong Fresh Prince effect:



    I mean, Will Smith was one of the hip hop stars of the 80s, and with this show he basically took over America. He presented a face so non-threatening and enjoyable that even grandmothers could say they really liked a rapper.

    Moving on, growing up in California, when I was in middle and high school, the whole West Coast vs. East Coast feud drew people in as well. Regardless of what race or socioeconomic status you were, this was about geography! All of a sudden, you and the gangsters on your side of the country were on the same side against the gangsters on the other side of the country. Race didn't matter.



    Then add in Eminem blowing up when I was, I dunno, a freshman in high school, as well as pop-heavy hip hop acts like Will Smith, or Run DMC collaborating with Aerosmith, other white hip hop acts like The Beastie Boys, or Naughty by Nature, and even other white acts that blended rock and hip hop, like *trying to remember these first douchebags' names* *can't remember it* whatever that band with Fred Durst was called and Linkin Park (who were blowing up, respectively, in the middle and end of my high school years), I mean, it's really not that difficult to see how white people got into hip hop. I mean, shit, the industry sure as shit wanted them to -- there's a shit ton of disposable income within that demographic -- and you can't tell me acts like Nelly, or even Dr. Dre's 'Chronic 2001', weren't aimed directly at suburban white kids. And if you could like Dre, why couldn't you like NWA, Eazy E, Ice Cube, Westside Connection, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and all kinds of other acts. I mean, shiit, I'm pretty sure my grandma could get down with a slick Nate Dogg hook. Who couldn't?



    And that's mostly just West Coast shit.

    (Oh, which reminds me... as the voice says at the beginning of the video: "He who controls the dance floor, controls the People." I mean, let's be real, 90s hip hop is fun as hell to dance to.)



    Then there was East Coast shit, and, I mean, how fucking gangster, really, were Ma$e and Puff Daddy? Shit, Puff probably grew up wealthier than I did. I remember this shit coming out early when I was in high school, and there was nobody on the planet who didn't like this song. So now you've thrown Biggie into the mix, and he's more thug than Jay-Z ever was, so now you've got pretty much most of the mainstream hip hop establishment in bed with White America:



    Then you've got weird ass acts like Wu Tang Clan, which is comprised solely of black dudes, but whose name (as well as many thematic elements in their music) is basically one giant shout-out to Asian/Japanese culture, and whose lyrics/songs, while gangster in a sense, were also so out there and weird that they managed to cross over (interestingly/oddly) all the way into a white skaterpunk demographic:




    Another act who kinda fit that weird hop style, but catered to more mainstream tastes was Busta Rhymes, who, despite his relative unimportance and obscurity now, was actually a pretty major influence in pulling the suburban white kid into the hip hop scene:



    Which reminds me (seeing as how he had a hit with Janet Jackson somewhere around my sophomore/junior year), that, honestly, Michael Jackson was a pretty big influence on white kids being open to getting into hip hop. As ridiculous as it may seem now, I remember as a kid having very strong post-racial views in no small part because of Michael Jackson, and, well, it's not hard to see how his stuff was not only aimed directly at white suburban kids (not exclusively, of course -- it was intended for everyone), but it was very specifically intended to stir post-racial views in the youth.



    So, I mean, White America was well-lubed for the mass influx of hip hop that was to come in the 90s.

    Then related genres, like R&B, kept the lube going, with acts like Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, TLC, et al.



    I mean, I specifically remember being in 5th or 6th grade, and wanting to rail the fuck out of Chili.

    Add in R&B/hip-hop crossover acts like The Fugees and Outkast...





    ...and, I mean, how many more steps must one take to be willing to open up to hip hop?

    Add on top of this the fact that white kids my age grew up idolizing sports heroes like Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson and Ken Griffey, Jr, and, I mean, when you want to grow up and "Be Like Mike", how much more does it take for you to want to "Be Like Pac"?

    I could go on about the kind of hip hop I got into after the mainstream stuff started to suck, but, as for now, the defense rests.
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  2. #22
    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    This is something I don't think I am capable of understanding. Why would rich white people living in suburban homes find music that talks about being poor in a ghetto, being black, being gangster, going to prison, shooting cops, and murdering people something that they feel they can identify with?

    I kind of get how it's sort of a social thing. Maybe people use it for entertainment purposes then and nothing else, like for clubs and partying and stuff. And I get how it has a kind of poetry to it. But it's weird that people would identify with something that is almost opposite to what they represent themselves in society.

    Explains to mez, please.
    Maybe they just listen to it for the beat and don't care much about the lyrics?
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  3. #23
    Senior Member Little_Sticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swivelinglight View Post
    What it sounds like though is you're trying to argue that it's ridiculous for rich white people to listen to any kind of rap, hip-hop, or R&B. Based on your admission that you don't know anything about rap then I'd wager you should listen to some of it before you make judgments on who should and should not listen to it.
    Dude, I obviously offended you. Anyway, it's interesting that you thought this is the case. I'm not heavy into the music, but I do like some of it. I was just reflecting on some people I've been around that have listened to the kind of rap I was talking about and they didn't see it in any way strange. It made me uncomfortable/weird to identify with it by being around them (friends or whatever), is all.

    Quote Originally Posted by FireShield98 View Post
    So perhaps the reason that people who can't relate to it enjoy it is because they like how it sounds.
    Quote Originally Posted by SuchIrony View Post
    Maybe they just listen to it for the beat and don't care much about the lyrics?
    Yeah, maybe. To be honest, I find most of it seems kind of boring to listen to. The instrumental variation isn't there much (except what KDude posted, which I like a lot) and then it all depends on the voice/lyrics/style of the rapper. I wonder if such people don't have an eclectic collection of music that they've been exposed to to get bored from it. I don't know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Swivelinglight View Post

    Yeah, dude, the first video is sort of what I'm talking about. It's almost like its cult music or something.

    I don't get that from the second one.

    Quote Originally Posted by chana View Post
    what i don't understand with myself is that i like some pretty misogynistic rap songs and if people were talking like that to me in person i would get pissed off about it but somehow in song form i just think it's entertaining.
    That could be it. Maybe people don't take it as seriously as the music portrays itself, so it doesn't seem weird to identify with.

    @Zarathustra
    I actually liked Eminem and some of those songs you've posted. But Wu-Tang Clan and Atmosphere and 'Bow Down'; man, that stuff is just bizarre to me. I guess it's what chana said, it's not taken that seriously and maybe then it's just purely entertainment.

  4. #24
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    My guess is because it's exotic with some element of danger. Allows them to vent their teenage angst in an otherwise boring suburb that lacks diversity.

    You should give em some credit though, rap/hip-hop culture that is. It's not all hardcore tough-guy front. Some speak about universal struggles. Basically what @Zarathustra said.


  5. #25
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    It's a sort of fantasy world. Some people like 19th century literature, some people like cowboy Westerns, other people enjoy imagining that Nazi Germany was the pinnacle of human civilization, and then there are these folks who romanticize being a gangsta.

    It's never appealed to me, though I do like some of the work of Tupac and Eminem (primarily) it's because I genuinely enjoy their work as musical artists, I don't prescribe to the lifestyle, aesthetic, or whatever even remotely.

    Maybe it seems exciting to some people?

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marmie Dearest View Post
    It's a sort of fantasy world. Some people like 19th century literature, some people like cowboy Westerns, other people enjoy imagining that Nazi Germany was the pinnacle of human civilization, and then there are these folks who romanticize being a gangsta.

    It's never appealed to me, though I do like some of the work of Tupac and Eminem (primarily) it's because I genuinely enjoy their work as musical artists, I don't prescribe to the lifestyle, aesthetic, or whatever even remotely.

    Maybe it seems exciting to some people?
    I kind of agree with this.

    I grew up in the area shown in Eminem's movie 8 mile and actually know where some of the places shown in it are located, so I identify with it a bit since I grew up with that sort of thing. I also grew out of it though.

    I'd probably continue to be into it if there were more stuff like this:



  7. #27
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    [YOUTUBE="pFLuJYgbw7c"]Summer in Brooklyn[/YOUTUBE]

  8. #28
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    I'm more curious as to why people adopt emo/screamo culture? I could understand why people would idolize being tough, but why idolize weakness and suicidal behavior?

  9. #29
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little_Sticks View Post
    This is something I don't think I am capable of understanding. Why would rich white people living in suburban homes find music that talks about being poor in a ghetto, being black, being gangster, going to prison, shooting cops, and murdering people something that they feel they can identify with?

    I kind of get how it's sort of a social thing. Maybe people use it for entertainment purposes then and nothing else, like for clubs and partying and stuff. And I get how it has a kind of poetry to it. But it's weird that people would identify with something that is almost opposite to what they represent themselves in society.

    Explains to mez, please.
    I never identified with Eminem or the ilk if that's whats being discussed here, I think its ill, celebrates being unable to control your moods or being angry and out of control, there's a vague sense of grievance too. Far too much of it appears to be a rant about his personal relationships or what he thinks people think about him and how they are all wrong and he doesnt care. Music for the maturationally challenged.

    Some gangster rap is cool to listen to, although I bet the ones I do listen too are too mainstream to be described as a cultural statement, like fifty cent's In The Club, I dont really like that guy as an artist, despite the fact people repeatedly say that he's a nice guy and very amenable and approachable he does far too good an impression of a hard case thug during ANY interview I've seen of him. Also, I think that he's a good example of a bad one hit wonder phenomenon. I'd say that I like cypress hill or other examples but I dont know if its gangster rap so much as metal rap, I like RATM too and think that they are different culturally from a lot of the more shameless hip hop or gangster scenes.

    I like some tunes from Ice T, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, although I dont give all the lyrics that much credience, I really do think that some of Ice Cube's tunes were deliberate attempts to freak out the elements who he thought he was "worrying" with his success and as a consequence I guess there's an irony value to it.

    Although I dont think I know properly what the scene is we're talking about, one of casual violence and aggression, broken or flat affect, contradictory views of wealth ranging from wanting it, being unashamed about it but then claiming that material distance from your origins or beginnings will result in cultural distance and the need to testify to "keeping it real" or living as you once did and not being assimilated culturally or normatively into respectability.

    I dont like any of those things, maybe there's a class dimension to this, I dont like heavy identification with any social class, there is snobbery and there is inverse or reverse snobbery too, both have their own sorts of calling cards which are bitter, resentful, all of that kind of ill shit.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ü View Post
    I'm more curious as to why people adopt emo/screamo culture? I could understand why people would idolize being tough, but why idolize weakness and suicidal behavior?
    I dont know if it is about being tough, it is about hardening your heart and flat or broken affect, I idealised that at a time in my teens and it was about becoming the very thing I feared and ego-defence, it was all bad. I only really was able to properly analyse it within the last three to five years because I hadnt the knowledge really to know it and call it what it was. Its part of the reason I believe that people can change because I know how I have done in the past, how it has been context and environmentally specific.

    I think that the emo/screamo culture is something similar too, although the opposite extreme, one is about repression of affect and emotion, the other is about absurd, and absurdly constant, expression of the same.

    Both are a pretty awful response to managing your emotions and anticipations of response to the same, it doesnt surprise me that when you take it out of class or status contexts or those in which violence can be passe that its mainly young people/people growing up who're into these scenes.

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