Social Question

josie's avatar

Is it a problem being a white rapper?

Asked by josie (30931points) December 18th, 2017

There is a controversy about a tweet that Nicki Minaj made about white rappers.

I am not sure one way or the other if she was being sarcastic. It sort of looks that way, but who knows?

Still, what is the issue with whiter rappers?

I did not grow up in a big urban center. My introduction to hip hop was Eminem. I don’t get it. What’s the big deal?

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11 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

Hey, be cool, or we won’t be able to play or listen to jazz, either.

MrGrimm888's avatar

No… See Paul Wall….

MrGrimm888's avatar

Sittin sidewayz….....

funkdaddy's avatar

I’ll just pass along what I learned as a white kid, who loved rap, in a mostly black high school. This is all out of date, things are “better” now, but some history probably helps here.

It’s basically like basketball. Some white guys can be good at basketball, but they’re expected to be John Stockton or Larry Bird in the short shorts, even today. Technically proficient to cover up their lack of athletics, which is “true” talent. I played as much basketball as I could, there were consistently one or two white guys, so we were either “white boy” or “Opie” if someone was feeling good. It’s a lot of fun to dunk on the white guy, it’s extra shameful to have the white guy block your shot. Today there are 2 non-European white guys in the top 50 here. There’s a racial element that white basketball players don’t pass the “eyeball test” (get em Gordon).

Before Eminem, white rappers were mostly pretty bad. Not that there aren’t a lot of bad black rappers, but the most famous white guys would have been something like Vanilla Ice, Snow, and House of Pain… that’s really it before Eminem. (honorable mention to Marky Mark, but he was someone’s brother, so it was always assumed he’d join a boy band soon). The Beastie Boys didn’t count, because that was something different.

Good producers would find a white guy who was OK, make some hits, and then that guy would disappear, because it was seen as a gimmick. (see Sparxxx, Bubba)

So most white rappers are viewed as gimmicks. They’re here for an album, maybe two, which each have one hit, maybe two, then gone. They’re seen as having outsized success compared to their talent, like most producer driven musical artists.

Eminem is different because he’s actually really really good. You can disagree with his content, his message, or whatever you’d like, but he’s good at both rapping and marketing, and has been for a long long time.

Compare that to Post Malone, the latest and greatest white rapper. He’s captured a moment, but it’s hard to believe he’ll be anywhere in public consciousness in 5 years.

Nicki Minaj has probably seen enough to know that, and has had some success going after the short timers before. Gotta stay in the public eye somehow, I guess.

kritiper's avatar

If someone thinks it is a problem, they’re racist. Rap is for everyone, isn’t it??

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s the opposite side of the “debate” around Obama’s qualifications for President, and as with Obama, thank God for Eminem. Even those black folks most hardened against commercial expropriation of black culture are disarmed of the argument that white boys can’t rap.

Zaku's avatar

Not to me. My favorite rappers are both white: the Hiphopopotamus and the Rhymenoceros

rojo's avatar

Not my favorite form of music but I don’t have a problem with it. Seems to me it, like many other things, should be based on ability and not ethnicity.

rojo's avatar

Has anyone ever tried to rap Dr. Seuss? Seems like it should be possible.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Basically what @funkdaddy said. By the flip side of the token it’s like black guys playing metal music. Of the few that do come along many are, quite frankly, dumb and gimmicky and disappear before long (I’m looking at you Body Count). But there are some, like Terrence Hobbs (Suffocation) and Alex Hellid (Entombed) who are really good at their craft, and have lasted for ages because they’re really good.

Catnip5's avatar

I liked, and agree with, both @funkdaddy ‘s and @Darth_Algar ‘s on this scenario. Cultural appropriation does seem to play a driving factor for the industry in some cases too. A challenging part there is how it could really takes talent and skills to produce a genre of music than race.

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