We hate hip-hop December 5, 2007 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Why can't MetaFilter do rap music?

This happens every time, with every thread related to rap music. It's absolutely obnoxious--and in this case, even more so because we're dealing with an obit thread of someone who is a legendary musician.

I'm a fan of snark, and I've pooped in a few threads myself, but really, it seems like there's not much point coming in and shitting on an obit unless it's out of pure spite. Plus, I mean, maybe if we had done some kind of educated, intelligent discussion of hip-hop in the past, then the snark would be alright--but we just haven't.

As I posted in that thread, the jokes are tired. Those of us who happen to enjoy hip-hop know that you think the names are funny, know that you think the genre is stupid, and understand that you have a barrel-full of hilarious insults ready--one's that we've never heard before!

Could we just once, ever, have an actual thread about hip-hop that doesn't degenerate into the same tired bullshit? Please?
posted by dead_ to Etiquette/Policy at 7:10 AM (195 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

(And just to be clear, some of those comments are funny as hell, and no, I don't think that Pimp C, or any dead person deserves any extra-special respect simply because they're dead... I only wish we could avoid the exact same type of derail that goes on in every thread associated with hip-hop.)
posted by dead_ at 7:14 AM on December 5, 2007


Why does Metafilter hate dead black people they've never heard of?
posted by creeky at 7:21 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Because everyone on MetaFilter is a lame middled aged White dude?
posted by chunking express at 7:25 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't think you can successfully force people to have an educated intelligent discussion about a given topic.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:27 AM on December 5, 2007


Pimp C++
posted by AwkwardPause at 7:27 AM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


There were some classic comments in my thread on Ill Doctrine. And yeah, it is a bit disappointing. But really, there are lots of topics that don't go over well here.
posted by chunking express at 7:27 AM on December 5, 2007


Metafilter has hosted plenty of civilized conversations about hip hop and rap. The Underground Kingz - and their attendant feuds and assault charges - are/were just too silly to warrant much more than jokes.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:28 AM on December 5, 2007


But what would Metafilter be without pretentious blowhards, pissing on everything in sight! Why, might as well take the Santa Claus out of Christmas!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:30 AM on December 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


Why can't MetaFilter do rap music?

Because people keep naming themselves things like "Pimp C".

Trust me, when some member of Coke Dick Motorcycle Awesome keels over, no one online is gonna be talking about his musical contributions.
posted by deern the headlice at 7:31 AM on December 5, 2007


I don't much care or know about hip-hop, so I didn't bother looking or commenting in that thread.

But I know already I love THIS thread.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:31 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm not sure I agree with you, M.C. Lo-Carb!

My last post on hip-hop went over horribly. I refrained from bringing anything to MeTa, because as Wolfdog notes, it is hard to force anyone to have an intelligent discussion about a particular topic.

I guess I'm just dismayed.
posted by dead_ at 7:32 AM on December 5, 2007


Let me just state for the record that I am so against dying. Dying is a bad, bad thing and we must smoke death out of it's hole and bring it to justice.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:33 AM on December 5, 2007


I think if it had started off "Chad Butler", who rapped with the nickname "Pimp C", perhaps some people would have shown a little more respect for his death.

I saw the same thing happen with ODB. Russell Jones' death is cause for pause. An old dirty bastard dying just doesn't seem to command the same level of care.

When Snoop's cousin Lil Half Dead finally... you see where I'm going with this...
posted by cashman at 7:37 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a well-known fact that lame middle aged White dudes cannot stop themselves from snarking over FPPs that concern little-known rappers with ridiculous stage names.
posted by tommasz at 7:38 AM on December 5, 2007


dead_, I didn't think your post went over badly - I thought there was a pretty decent discussion about what is or isn't good rap. I just happen to not like weezy.
posted by cashman at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2007


This callout is bullshit. Remember ODB? A rapper people had actually heard of and gave a shit about? That thread runs the same gamut of respectful, wistful, hilarious and disrespectful that characterizes any obit thread in MetaFilter. The dust hasn't even fucking settled from our last round of Mandatory Consciousness Raising and now we have to worry that we're not sufficiently sensitive to Pimp Fucking C? Give me a break.
posted by felix betachat at 7:42 AM on December 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


It's a well-known fact that lame middle aged White dudes cannot stop themselves from snarking over FPPs that concern little-known rappers with ridiculous stage names.

So you're saying Michael Bolton died? Noooooooo!!!!!!!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:44 AM on December 5, 2007


I don’t think it’s rap. If a country or Jazz musician named “Pimp C” died you’d get the same jokes.

Also, how well known is this Mr. Pimp C fellow? Admittedly I stopped paying attention to music some time around 1992 but I’d never heard of this dude and, no matter how much I try, I’m usually at least vaguely aware of the names of current musicians. If Chuck D or Ice-T died, god forbid, I don’t think you’d get as many “Chuck E” or “Ice-U” jokes.

That’s no excuse for the ignorant among us whose first impulse is to make a joke, but I did want to point out that I don’t think it’s necessarily a rap thing.
posted by bondcliff at 7:48 AM on December 5, 2007


Hey! I just thought of a great rapper name.

[Wait for it...]





Mister_A !
posted by Mister_A at 7:48 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


So, 52 comments in a community of close to 63K constitutes something systemic enough to be labeled as "we" and "middle aged White dudes cannot stop themselves"?

Granted I'm not quite middle aged, but managed to stop myself from snarking.

I think I understand your frustration dead_, but looking at the thread there seemed to be only a few that where actually pretty disrespectful, (yeah I agree autodidact's comment sans any exposition was pretty assholish).

Personally I tire of people making contrived one line obit comments (see the recent poker player death for a slew of examples)
posted by edgeways at 7:49 AM on December 5, 2007


Dead_
I think the kind of people who like to be edgy or contrary from the safety of their computer desk find Hip-hop an easy target, it can be so over the top, self-parodying and so on. People can easily justify their comments by saying "They're thugs!" This is a position that I don't totally disagree with (or rather I have a ton of issues with the negativity, commercialism, homophobia and misogyny in hip-hop which makes my willingness to defend it from accusations of the same complicated) despite my plus 25 years of being a big fan of the genre, but I think it's what you can expect from any contentious issue that represents a threat and an aesthetic negativity to some people.

Rap is an easy target and some people are studio gangsters on the internet, is basically my thinking, also you got a little bit of racism going on there, probably, but oh well, it's not that Klan type of racism, more just your casual "I don't get these people and I don't want to kind." Keep fighting the good fight, the new Wu drops on the 11th.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:52 AM on December 5, 2007 [9 favorites]


I feel like obit threads are tough. You have to sort of have an idea about how MeFites know the person and try to craft something that will either introduce the topic/person, or assume everyone knows them and you can just do a "Guy You Know About, RIP" sort of post. This was hominid211's first post and I felt like he was making the latter sort of post when this crowd probably requires the first, for this person. I don't think it has as much to do with hip-hop, I've seen some really good hip-hop threads. I even posted one.

That said, crapping in obit threads generally is sort of chuckleheaded and it would be nice if people didn't do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Music threads: Highly contentious and subject to a wide variety of opinions, frequently resulting in disagreement and snarkage.
Obituary threads: Highly contentious and subject to a wide variety of opinions, frequently resulting in disagreement and snarkage.

Put them together and what do you get? Unecessary MetaTalk threads, that's what.
posted by baphomet at 7:53 AM on December 5, 2007


I wish I could crack wise about the death of Pimp C. The clothes, the funny names, the alien culture -- the music, oh God, the music -- it's all hilarious and I would like nothing more than to belly up to the snark bar.

But I'm past 45 now and I just remind myself too much of my parent's friends mocking Moby Grape and Electric Prunes. Please, though, those of you in your twenties, carry on.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:54 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


The dust hasn't even fucking settled from our last round of Mandatory Consciousness Raising and now we have to worry that we're not sufficiently sensitive to Pimp Fucking C? Give me a break.
posted by felix betachat at 9:42 AM on December 5


Seconded.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:54 AM on December 5, 2007


and in this case, even more so because we're dealing with an obit thread of someone who is a legendary musician.

WTF? are you serious?
posted by PugAchev at 7:55 AM on December 5, 2007


As much as it pains me to say, I have recently found that MeFi is more enjoyable through the RSS feed. That way I get to see all of the great links and avoid the snarky discussion unless I want to click through on a certain topic.
posted by proj at 7:56 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]




WTF? are you serious?

Just because you don't understand UGK or Pimp C's contributions to the entire spectrum of rap music--and the foundation they built for southern rap as a genre--doesn't make them any less significant.

And yes, I am serious. I figured someone would take issue with that statement--it's really inevitable with rap, which is the point I'm trying to make. It took 26 comments, though, which isn't bad, I guess.
posted by dead_ at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2007


partial law, was that a feud he was having with...the compass? what the hell was that?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2007


ps. I'm saying this not knowing who Pimp C was, except that the Source was eager for him to be out of jail according to the cover of the magazine that is permanently on display in the news stand at the Jay St./Borough Hall stop in Brooklyn. I had nothing to say, so I said nothing.

I did laugh at the "better call Pimp D" line and then I felt a little bad.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:01 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


what the hell was that?

I'm guessing he felt Atlanta had more in common with East Coast rap music than it did with Souther Rap music.

I'm a freaking genius.
posted by chunking express at 8:03 AM on December 5, 2007


If a little known heavy metal musician who went by the stage name "Ass Rapin' Satan" died then I think that you would get the same type of comments. I don't like a lot of hip-hop. I don't like any heavy metal. I usually stay out of threads about both subjects because 1) why would I want to talk about something that I know nothing about and have no real opinion of other than disinterest 2) some people do enjoy them and should be free to talk about them to their hearts content. I do think that both of those genres have more aspects than average to ridicule about (although all genres of music have some inherently ridiculous things about them). Escapism, 13 year old boy fantasy, misogyny, glorification of violence. I think that people leap to make fun of hip-hop for the same reason that people do the same for furries or Harry Potter fan fic: a lot of people seem to like it, but it just strikes the commenter as being so fucking stupid.

At the end of the day, if you go by the name "Pimp C" then you takes your chances of getting made fun of when you die, whether by "middle-aged white people" or not.
posted by ND¢ at 8:05 AM on December 5, 2007


Southern Rap is not something to be celebrated. It's repetative, unoriginal, and derivitive.

But, hey, so is this callout.
posted by absalom at 8:09 AM on December 5, 2007


Dimebag Darrell.
posted by cashman at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2007


Thanks for linking to the hip-hop tag MC Lo Carb. I would never have seen that Roxanne Shante rap thread otherwise. It's one of the best things I've read on here (I don't usually read youtubey things -- so I missed it the first time).

I think these things are all about audience. People here might not know that much about rap music. If the post explained more about why Pimp C was good at what he did, then maybe it would have been better (at least I would have been more interested in clicking on the links).
posted by bluefly at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2007


The Four Elements of Hip HopMetafilter: snark, thread-shitting, bean plate overthinking and callouts. One love, y'all.
posted by mullacc at 8:11 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Dude, it was a shit post. It got shit comments. We can't save every foul tip from the peanut gallery.

"Trust me, when some member of Coke Dick Motorcycle Awesome keels over, no one online is gonna be talking about his musical contributions."

Christ, they SUCK! I had expected such good things from them when I went to see them, and instead I get the lame-ass post-hardcore grind-'n'-croon bullshit.

Even worse is that I went to high school with a guy named, for real, Coke Dick. (I had classes with his sister, Cassie).

As a further aside, the new Wu album looks wack. Plenty of dissension in the ranks over it too.
posted by klangklangston at 8:12 AM on December 5, 2007


At the end of the day, if you go by the name "Pimp C insert any MeFi handle here" then you takes your chances of getting made fun of when you die, whether by "middle-aged white people" or not.

You do indeed take your chances, but it's not really about the name, is it? See what I'm saying?
posted by dead_ at 8:13 AM on December 5, 2007


That said, crapping in obit threads generally is sort of chuckleheaded
I wish there was a more definite admin stance on this one. I've a feeling that if Bill Clinton and GW Bush died on the same day, saying "I'm glad he's dead. The fuck. He spoiled it for everyone. I hate him, I'm glad he's dead. I want to piss on his headstone." on Bill Clinton's thread would get you a time-out but saying it in the GWB thread would just get you a reproachful tap on the wrist.

Obit threads are hard to administer, because the admins are probably going to feel strongly that the person who died deserves / doesn't deserve scorn & this will influence any admining.
posted by seanyboy at 8:16 AM on December 5, 2007


I expect the new Wu is going to be pretty weak Klang, but I'll take as much Pretty Toney as I can get. "Big round onions on a T-bone steak, my stomach growling yo I want some"
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:18 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm kinda hoping that 8 Diagrams will mark a shift to a more mature, thoughtful style among the more talented Wu-Tang MCs, something like GZA's work w/Muggs on Grandmasters. But I'm an optimist.
posted by box at 8:22 AM on December 5, 2007


Rap music is just one of several topics that metafilter doesn't do well (sports being another). Sure, there are exceptions, but few and far between. Members who know nothing about the topic run to those threads to crap in them.

I had no idea who this rapper was but when hearing of his death and the first thought that crossed my mind was "now onto pimp d". I never thought of putting it in the thread because one, it seemed too easy, and two, seemed crass. Someone else did and it got a lot of favorites.

You're fighting a losing battle.
posted by justgary at 8:24 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: chuckleheaded.
posted by slogger at 8:27 AM on December 5, 2007


You do indeed take your chances, but it's not really about the name, is it? See what I'm saying?

No I don't think that it was solely about his name, which is why I had that other paragraph before the one you quoted. I do think that a post that read "Chad Butler one half of Texas rap group UGK (along with Bernard Freeman) was found dead today in a hotel room in Los Angeles." would not have had people go out of their way to poke fun of it. It would not have been a good post though, because people who do know him know him by his stage name. I think that the perceived ridiculousness of his stage name is one part of what drew out the haters snarkers.

I should say that I am not in favor of people shitting in obit posts. I think that it is in poor taste, but that is just one man's opinion. I am just stating what I think motivates people on Metafilter to go out of their way to say negative things about hip-hop, which I agree with you, does occur.
posted by ND¢ at 8:29 AM on December 5, 2007


On Topic (And you're gonna hate me for saying this) : Metafilter hates hip hop because the genre allow MeFites to say "Look. I'm not some knee-jerk liberal who loves black people regardless. That'd be ridiculous and it'd undermine the position I'm trying to hold. So I'll prove it's not simply about colour by picking some well criticised section of black culture and hating that."

To my mind, it's an upside down version of "I'm not racist, I have Black friends".
posted by seanyboy at 8:32 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think metafilter hates hip hop at all. Or is partcularly racist (beyond a "we're mostly a bunch of white people so that's what most of our cultural backgrounds reflect).

I just think we like to make fun of people with goofy, made up names.

Names like Pimp C.

Or dead_

Or dersins.
posted by dersins at 8:48 AM on December 5, 2007


I've a feeling that if Bill Clinton and GW Bush died on the same day, saying "I'm glad he's dead. The fuck. He spoiled it for everyone. I hate him, I'm glad he's dead. I want to piss on his headstone." on Bill Clinton's thread would get you a time-out but saying it in the GWB thread would just get you a reproachful tap on the wrist.

I think you're wrong about that, but it's a counterfactual, impossible to know. This does sum up an issue with community policing generally, and the difference between moderating small sites and moderating large sites. If people don't bring attention to assholish comments in a thread that are delete-worthy or action-worthy, there's a chance we won't see them. I read almost every thread in AskMe, but not on the Blue. I won't know there's action in the Blue unless someone flags it, cortex and mathowie spend more time there, but I don't think either of them reads whole threads. What's flagged represent what people think is beyond the pale which is probably informed by their own attitudes about the topic.

Also, no one gets a timeout for saying shitty things about Clinton or Bush unless it's obsessive, illegal or part of some larger drama. It's really almost all reproachful taps on the wrist all over the site, which is debatable policy for another day, but nonetheless true.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


dead_ posted "Why can't MetaFilter do rap music?"

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and interpret that as a real question, not just a rhetorical question to excuse you bitching about a thread not going the way you wanted.

MeFi can do rap music fine, and has, often, in the past. However, there are a few qualifiers. MeFi can't do gangster rap well. MeFi is sensitive to odd names. MeFi has a hard time with obit threads.

Let's look at each of those (in reverse order):

MeFi can't do obit threads well, because there's a mix of people who believe that all death should be treated solemnly, and of people who think that death comes to everyone, every day, and that there's no reason to be solemn if you've got no connection to the deceased. For the former, the latter seem like dicks. For the latter, the former seem authoritarian ("Don't comment here unless you're going to say something nice about the dead") and possibly artificial (pretending to be sad about someone they aren't actually sad about).

MeFi can't do odd names well, because, well, silly names are silly. Sure, we can do MeFi handles fine, but that's because we know eachother by those names, and they stop seeming odd. Ice-T, Mos Def, and Eminem get the same treatment: they seem normal, because we've heard them a million times. But bust out a silly name whose silliness hasn't be worn off through exposure, and you're going to get: people finding a silly name silly. And I can think of few topics, if any at all, on MeFi where someone will have the opportunity to make a joke about something obviously silly and not actually do it.

MeFi can't do gangster rap well for a couple of reasons, I suspect. The one that pops immediately to mind is that the stuff being sung about is pretty much antithetical to almost all of MeFi's user base. We're not talking rap about smoking a blunt, having a few beers, playing some video games, and looking at porn on the net. We're talking rap about all that, and shooting people and fucking bitches and the like. Stuff which, if real, everyone here would abhor. Now, when it comes to things like this in other genres (metal, for example), there isn't much backlash because people know it's just posturing. I'm not a giant metal fan, but I like a bit, and even I can only think of maybe 2 cases of metal folks doing what they're singing about (the black metal murder, and the black metal church burnings). So when a metal or industrial or what-have-you person sings about hideous stuff, it's treated like a fictional movie about hideous stuff. With gangster rap, you have artists who really are getting busted for assault, theft, murder, etc., so in general the mindset against a gangster rapper already starts out negative.

So, yeah, an obit about a generally unknown person (that is, maybe known in their field, but not generally known in the Snoop Dogg / Chuck D / Ice-T sense), who is part of a gangster rap unit, and has a silly name hits multiple points on the "making jokes in thread" checklist. That isn't the same as saying "MetaFilter can't do rap music".
posted by Bugbread at 9:08 AM on December 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


If it makes you feel any better I look down my nose simultaneously at obit thread shitters, generic contextual snark, and shitty posts. Don't let your disdain for one cloud your vision, pass the condescension around the table! Also, more gravy.

I imagined this post would have been inspired by a deletion, but I don't get the sense it's a zombie thread. Too bad, it would have made a good one.

I'm a fan of snark, and I've pooped in a few threads myself, but really, it seems like there's not much point coming in and shitting on an obit unless it's out of pure spite.

Or you're bored, completely disconnected with the persona and scene at hand, and presented with links to TMZ, Wikipedia, and a brief interview with an online magazine, the third of which you can completely ignore. As far as snark bait is concerned, that's like throwing yourself to the wolves and not expecting to be mauled to death. I'm not saying it's justified, but it has a lot less to do with the person and scene at hand, and a lot more to do with the culture that has developed around these parts.

Or uh... what bugbread said.
posted by prostyle at 9:12 AM on December 5, 2007


So, OK, I don't know rap music that well. I enjoy enough artists to know that the genre isn't the "PIMP HO CRACK KILL POPO" shit that gets attached to it. I should also mention that Pimp C does sound like a silly name to me.

[Enter plate of beans]

But then again, it's not my language. I come from a musical background where objectively ridiculous and meaningless band names like "Hoobastank" and "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah" and "Squirrel Nut Zippers" are neither considered out of the ordinary nor so silly it's worth devoting an entire internet discussion towards mocking them. Obscure, weird names are the norm for performers in the musical genres I listen to and so if someone from the Flaming Lips died nobody would go on in the thread about what a stupid band name the guy had.

My point to the (probably white, probably rural/suburban raised) Mefites mocking this guy on the basis of his name is that a name like "Pimp C" is coming from a completely different cultural background than you and thus you're seeing completely different implications. It's part of the stage-presence and theatrics of the guy, theatrics that can only be appreciated if you are willing to not immediately dismiss them as complete stupidity.

This doesn't mean you think he's rapping about some high philosophical discourse (though some rappers certainly do). Look at Bollywood. Plenty of Americans enjoy Bollywood, despite the fact much of Bollywood is a completely foreign and, to an outsider, terribly silly experience. What the hell is up with those hand gestures? The random musical numbers with nonsensical transitions to faraway places? The singing sounds nothing like the singing most of us are exposed to, it's all high and tinny and weird. But fuck, we enjoy it anyway because we've learned to love it in its own context. Does this mean all of Bollywood is a work of film genius? No, but it doesn't have to be for you to enjoy it.

I'm sure there are some anthropological terms that would better make my point. But I'm saying, you dismissing this guy (and rap) entirely because of stage names like "Pimp C" is like a non-Westerner throwing out indie/electronic rock because they think names like "Husker Du" and "The Apples in Stereo" and "Death Cab for Cutie" sound stupid and singing about your ex-girlfriend and your disillusionment with love is lame. Or shit, here's a blunter analogy: Only kids in the US paint their faces, so the whole geisha culture in Japan is immature and babyish, right?

[Plate of beans exeunt]
posted by schroedinger at 9:17 AM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


To make rap posts more outstanding on Metafilter, you can:

1. Post something like Brian Wilson's lost rap song (because there are a lot of music geeks here who will tell you how much they love/hate Wilson and I think that would cause a lot of hatred from both sides).

A. Or the collaboration between The Fat Boys and The Beach Boys, but there's no way I'm linking to that because I would have to listen to it then.


2. Somehow, bring the Replacements into the discussion.

3. Three words: nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia.

Personally, I didn't see the post and didn't know much about Pimp C because I'm not into rappers as much as I am producers/DJs nowadays, so I'm sorry that he's dead and that it didn't go well. I think that most people have the right idea above in that it is easier to snark on Metafilter than to try and become engaged in the post's subject matter. Also, what dersins said. Also, at least it didn't get deleted. Also, I now, for some reason, have "Da haa, Da haa" from "Rappin' Duke" in my head. Why is that?
posted by sleepy pete at 9:21 AM on December 5, 2007


Just because you don't understand...

what I don't understand is calling someone who most people have never heard of a "legendary musician"
posted by PugAchev at 9:25 AM on December 5, 2007


Pimping is legendary. You have to admit that.
posted by found missing at 9:27 AM on December 5, 2007


I cannot name one famous Russian-based musician off the top of my head. Does that mean Russia does not produce legendary musicians? So a musician isn't legendary unless they're known by white Americans?
posted by schroedinger at 9:31 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Also, I now, for some reason, have "Da haa, Da haa" from "Rappin' Duke" in my head. Why is that?

Because you never thought that hip-hop would take it this far.
posted by box at 9:34 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Ass Rapin' Satan" died

Well, shit. Can this day get any worse?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


why in the world would anybody ass rape Satan of all people?
posted by matteo at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2007


I don't particularly like classical music, but: Stravinsky, Profokiev, Rachmaninoff, Rimsky-Korsakov.

Also: Your favorite Russian composer sucks.

Also: Time to call Stravinsk F.
posted by box at 9:40 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not a racist, and I don't really have any black friends. Some black acquiantances, yes, but we never really got close. I'm also not a fan of hip-hop, but that's more of a personal choice, as I was born lacking any sort of rhythm, or cool factor.

I'm sure you all wanted to know that.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2007


Mefi doesn't do rap music well. Nor does it do obits well. Ditto contentious topics like politics and religion. There are plenty of users, though, who think that acrimony, spite, and repetitous monolithic opinion are valuable contributions to lively argument. These people probably aren't stupid, but they often seem it.

The rap thread linked as proof of rap threads' dismal showing here proves instead, in its utter normalcy, that we can expect no better and no worse from any thread, though some are worse than others, and others are better.

Obituary threads suck because, by being posted to the Mefi front page, they encourage snark, one-liners, and jokes, but by being about death and the grave and paying respect, they shame users who approach the thread with the same mindset they approach any other thread. It's just as unfair to the legion of users who come here for levity, banter, and ego-stroking frippery to put up a No Jokes Allowed thread (with a subject whose name begs quips) as it is for the jokers to give in to temptation and trample the sanctity of these hallowed threads.

No, it's not just about rap, it's about obits, self-control, and the nature of Mefi itself. As an inveterate joker, a rap fan, and a careful observer of the social treands on this site, I'd say you're barking up the wrong tree. The problem isn't rap threads, or the Mefi user base, or a cadre of jokers ruining this for everyone; it's with obit threads and the likelihood of people who care enough to comment thoughtfully to expect everyone else to think and write the same way they do.

It's not a failing of the serious-minded griever or the lighthearted joker, nor is it a failing of Mefi at all: it's what you should expect out of obit threads. They're always like this, and though the Mefi user base may on average hate rap music or even black people, Pimp C's obit thread is not an example of this.
posted by breezeway at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


why in the world would anybody ass rape Satan of all people?

Ask Saddam.
posted by dersins at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and interpret that as a real question, not just a rhetorical question to excuse you bitching about a thread not going the way you wanted.

Nah, it was a real question. I had no direction I wanted the thread to go, as I didn't post it. I was only upset by the fact that the same tired old snark comes out, every time with rap. A lot, but not always, it seems that rap threads get the lion's share of thread-poopin'.

And bugbread, I agree with much of what you have to say. You've done a fine job at deconstructing the motivations that people have to come in and crap on obit threads, threads that involve strange personas, and poorly constructed posts.

You talked a bit about how people perceive music in terms of metal and gangster rap, which is to say, on-stage pretending versus real bullets. It's a connection that is often made.

The rejection of rap values by mainstream America usually comes under a banner that reads, "Rap music is bad! Misogyny! Murder! Etc!" The fact is, however, that most of these musicians (Pimp C included) have risen from environments that are steeped in drugs, guns, oppression, death, poverty and violence. So even if it isn't something to be enjoyed by all or lauded as a moral compass, it is certainly culturally informative and absolutely worth discussing on a variety of levels--from the way in which the lifestyle is fetishized to the way it is play-acted by studio-gangsters--you get both ends.

By simply mocking it and turning our backs, we are refusing to discuss issues that are literally blaring at us from ghettos nationwide, and we are drawing conclusions with no real studies or data: are inner-city teens really abusing drugs and shooting one another due to the music? Is it safe to conclude that because Pimp C raps about guns and black people happen to shoot each other and go to jail a lot, that rap music is the cause? Or is there something else at work here, like the latent racism that still exists in America, underscored by centuries of slavery and endemic urban poverty? I guess that's why it's troubling to me that metal gets a pass in their pretending, while rap gets stomped down because it's too real. Somewhat of an interesting paradox, I think.

In any case, yes, you're right:

So, yeah, an obit about a generally unknown person (that is, maybe known in their field, but not generally known in the Snoop Dogg / Chuck D / Ice-T sense), who is part of a gangster rap unit, and has a silly name hits multiple points on the "making jokes in thread" checklist. That isn't the same as saying "MetaFilter can't do rap music".

I just feel as though we sometimes get caught with so much noise and so little signal in rap threads, which is why I framed my post this way. Perhaps I was a bit overzealous with my statement.
posted by dead_ at 9:46 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Why can't MetaFilter do rap music?"

We lack rhythm.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that this MeTa thread is way better than the FPP it refers to.
posted by tommasz at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2007


I've a feeling that if Bill Clinton and GW Bush died on the same day, saying "I'm glad he's dead...

That would be Pimp Clinton and the Notorious B.U.S.H.
posted by Elmore at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


"I come from a musical background where objectively ridiculous and meaningless band names like "Hoobastank" and "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah" and "Squirrel Nut Zippers" are neither considered out of the ordinary nor so silly it's worth devoting an entire internet discussion towards mocking them."

Um... You should go to ILX sometime. There are, in fact, whole internet discussions mocking "Clap Your Hands Say Yeah."

"I cannot name one famous Russian-based musician off the top of my head. Does that mean Russia does not produce legendary musicians? So a musician isn't legendary unless they're known by white Americans?"

Pimp C wasn't even that well-known among black Americans. He was well-known to a subset of hip-hop heads, and that's about it. It's the equivalent of the guy from For Squirrels dying (which he did).
posted by klangklangston at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2007


To make rap posts more outstanding on Metafilter...

... talk about White people.

Gottcha.
posted by chunking express at 9:59 AM on December 5, 2007


Just wait 'til Engelbert Humperdinck dies. Then we'll learn that MetaFilter hates white male entertainers with funny names.

Pimp D, we're waiting!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:01 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Engelbert Humperdinck already died, in 1921, duh.
posted by found missing at 10:02 AM on December 5, 2007


schroedinger writes " I cannot name one famous Russian-based musician off the top of my head. Does that mean Russia does not produce legendary musicians? So a musician isn't legendary unless they're known by white Americans?"

ok, sure, that makes sense.
posted by PugAchev at 10:06 AM on December 5, 2007


It's simple. Y'all are hatin' because you're jealous that when someone lays down some pimpin' ass beats, I can get on the floor and dance like this, while y'all can only dance like this.
posted by kkokkodalk at 10:10 AM on December 5, 2007


For Squirrels? More like THREE Squirrels now, amirite?
posted by Kwine at 10:11 AM on December 5, 2007


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a great band name.

I'm also fond of Does It Offend You, Yeah? and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, fwiw
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on December 5, 2007


1. The post was bad; it needed some fleshing out and background links and compelling content.

2. Still: There are approx. 946 posts on the front page of metafilter right now; why did people choose that one to shit in? Isn't there one about fat people around?

3. I tend to agree with dead_. We don't do rap well, but yeah, we don't do "white trash" well either. The Great White nightclub fire was a real fuckin' beaut.

4. I love how people here get all indignant about what felonious assholes gangsta rappers are (which, in many cases, is true and bugs me too) yet their hearts go pitter patter over any number of musicians and artistes whose reps aren't particularly stellar...James Brown, Ike Turner, MC5 (was it Wayne Kramer or Rob Tyner who was the notorious misogynist), Sex Pistols, Merle Haggard...or Burroughs, who shot his wife, or Ginsburg, who defended NAMBLA....

5. Atlanta is SO not the south.
posted by veronica sawyer at 10:19 AM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Shit, box, I just realized that those lines were on a mix I was listening to this morning. Damn you, Girl Talk.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:25 AM on December 5, 2007


dead_, I will never make fun of anything you like musically. I try to look at all genres equally and can pick out at least one artist that, whether I like them or not myself, shows talent in that area and I can acknowledge it. I'm sorry other people can't; everyone has different tastes.

Well, except for that damn "new country" and happy hardcore, that is.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:27 AM on December 5, 2007


Oh yeah, well I heard Morrissey was a racist!
posted by ludwig_van at 10:32 AM on December 5, 2007


Does anyone ever say that they like all kinds/genres/whatnot of music without immediately qualifying it?
posted by box at 10:33 AM on December 5, 2007


I only listen to race music.
posted by found missing at 10:35 AM on December 5, 2007


dead_, I can understand why you think mefi doesn't do hip hop.

It's not that. It's that the same handful of obnoxious mefites can't do anything without being turdburgling shitwiches. Hip hop seems to be one of their less creative outlets for burgling turds, but what are you gonna do. There are plenty of mefites who love hip hop, though, I promise. It's just that we all have better places to express our love, like with our friends or in our own heads with the headphones on.
posted by shmegegge at 10:42 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why can't rap music do MetaFilter?
posted by wendell at 10:43 AM on December 5, 2007


Does anyone ever say that they like all kinds/genres/whatnot of music without immediately qualifying it?

Yes, and those people are always lying.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:50 AM on December 5, 2007


box: To be fair, I said I try to look at all genres equally, whether I like them or not. I don't like all genres; however, for example, I know that Emmylou Harris is talented, and love Patsy Cline. I can appreciate when someone has talent in their given genre (Kanye West, Miriam Makeba, Sleep, Hank Williams, Bela Bartok, Antony and the Johnsons, the Virgin Prunes) without buying or choosing to listen to said genre in its entirety. I won't dismiss a style of music based on my distaste for, or love of, a particular artist. However, there are a couple of genres that I have yet to find an artist that I can appreciate on any level... those two being happy hardcore and new country. I'm sure I just haven't heard the right artist yet.

It's defeatist to make blanket statements when it is something that is very dear and emotional to others you'd like to develop an intellectual rapport with, but that is only my opinion.

sorry happy hardcore and new country enthusiasts if I have offended.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:55 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


As much as it pains me to say, I have recently found that MeFi is more enjoyable through the RSS feed. That way I get to see all of the great links and avoid the snarky discussion unless I want to click through on a certain topic.

Uh, how does that differ from looking at the MeFi front page and not clicking through to the comment thread?
posted by languagehat at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's functionally the same thing, it's just easier for me and removes the temptation to click on the comments. It may sound silly, but actually navigating to MeFi seems like more of a commitment to browse the site, whereas seeing the links in my RSS reader allows it to blend in with other entries. Stupid, I know, but I'm giving myself a bit of a timeout from MeFi proper.
posted by proj at 11:02 AM on December 5, 2007


I'm giving myself a bit of a timeout from MeFi proper.

And yet MeFi proper is so much fun! That's why you're in this thread, amirite?! ;)
posted by dead_ at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2007


dead_ writes "I was only upset by the fact that the same tired old snark comes out, every time with rap."

Again, from my experience, that's not true. It comes out with gangsta rap. Posts about Mos Def or anticon or Cannibal Ox or the like get very little of that snark.

Unicorn on the cob writes "sorry happy hardcore and new country enthusiasts if I have offended."

No offense taken by us in the happy hardcore contingent. You never insulted, just said you didn't like that. We support you.

languagehat writes "Uh, how does that differ from looking at the MeFi front page and not clicking through to the comment thread?"

RSS shows the More Inside.
posted by Bugbread at 11:18 AM on December 5, 2007


The dust hasn't even fucking settled from our last round of Mandatory Consciousness Raising and now we have to worry that we're not sufficiently sensitive to Pimp Fucking C? Give me a break.

I hope "Oh ferchrissakes, we agreed not to belittle women, what more do you want??" doesn't become the complain refrain around here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:19 AM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah is a great band name.


On that line of good names, bad bands, my favorite is 'I love you, but I've chosen darkness'
posted by micayetoca at 11:21 AM on December 5, 2007


Why can't MetaFilter do rap music?

Well, I took a shot at it. Seems to be going pretty well.
posted by Artw at 11:21 AM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


The dust hasn't even fucking settled from our last round of Mandatory Consciousness Raising

If the consciousness raising had been truly mandatory you wouldn't be making comments like that. Consciousness raising is always optional.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:38 AM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


True, so true. The sweetest option on the tree.
posted by breezeway at 11:46 AM on December 5, 2007


I saw a front page post on MeFi the other day.
I clicked through and read it.
It said we were suckers.
posted by The World Famous at 11:48 AM on December 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


I think mefi does rap very well. It's here that mefis US-centric nature really pays off.
Never having visited the US I can only imagine the way people are breaking out in spontaneous rapping everywhere.

At least maryh obliged by confirming my preconceived notion.

Funny.
posted by jouke at 12:22 PM on December 5, 2007


RSS shows the More Inside.

Thanks.
posted by languagehat at 12:25 PM on December 5, 2007


... they tried to tell me that my license was suspended
I got offended
for a minute then pretended
that I never even got the damn letter
posted by algreer at 12:34 PM on December 5, 2007


why in the world would anybody ass rape Satan of all people?

How else that punk gonna know you own his ass?
posted by gompa at 12:35 PM on December 5, 2007


Posts about Mos Def or anticon or Cannibal Ox or the like get very little of that snark.

OK, so we do white-kids rap well. Though I guess it could be argued that gangsta rap = white-kids rap.
posted by veronica sawyer at 12:38 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Let us have this discussion again when Jizmak Da Gusha from GWAR dies tragically.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:41 PM on December 5, 2007


why in the world would anybody ass rape Satan of all people?

My fictional deceased heavy metal musician is actually referring to himself as a satan who rapes asses, not a person who rapes Satan's ass. This is assuming that he assumes that there is a satan for each kind of punishment in hell. There's "Oil Boilin' Satan" and "Fingernail Removin' Satan" and, of course, "Ass Rapin' Satan". Collect them all!
posted by ND¢ at 12:42 PM on December 5, 2007


I feel like Hairpullin' Satan is the most underappreciated of the Satans. He's a lot tougher than you might think.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:54 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I understand where dead_ is coming from here, though I don't necessarily see it in this thread. Given the relative obscurity of Pimp C and the lack of explanatory materials to defuse the inevitable lolrapisntmusic kneejerkery that is sure to follow the mention of a random dead guy with a name like that.

However, I have spent a bit of energy in these pages (mostly early in my tenure) fighting it out with some folks who have very strong and underinformed opinions about hip hop. It does seem (to me) that most of the rap related FPPs have to contend with a predictable and vocal minority who feel the need to tell us that our favorite genre of music isn't, or the need to gratuitously mock Black English.

The level at which a certain percentage of otherwise thoughtful mefites address this music is unsophisticated, closed-minded, and often cavalierly (and racistly in the sense conveyed above by D. Wino) disrespectful. That I do not like because it doesn't jive with my sense of mefites in general--a curious and generally empathetic bunch.

But I will post my soon-to-be-instant-classic Ghostface FPP soon, and bring light to the nonbelievers.
posted by kosem at 12:54 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


OK, so we do white-kids rap well.

Exactly. I think this is why the Public Enemy thread is doing well, but a thread about Lil Wayne not so much.
posted by chunking express at 12:57 PM on December 5, 2007


veronica sawyer writes "OK, so we do white-kids rap well."

anticon, I get, but I didn't know Mos Def or Cannibal Ox were white.

veronica sawyer writes "Though I guess it could be argued that gangsta rap = white-kids rap."

Yeah, I think the "rap is for black people only" ship sailed a while ago. There are whites who listen to gangsta rap, and whites who listen to alt-rap. MeFites tend to fall in the alt-rap area (surprise surprise, considering that MeFites fall into the alt-anything area). Which leads to the amazing conclusion "MeFites don't handle discussion of genres that MeFites don't like well, but we're good at discussing genres we like".

We're good at discussing Radiohead and Explosions In The Sky, but bad at discussing Great White or Bon Jovi, but nobody would thus say that we're "bad at discussing rock".
posted by Bugbread at 12:57 PM on December 5, 2007


All Hail Our Lord and Master, Stern Look Satan!
posted by hydrophonic at 1:00 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm a big fan of "Forced Listening to Music You HATE Satan", because of his versatility: gangsta rap, death metal, new country, lite jazz, Opera, Manilow, he does it all! AND a spot-on impression of the Spice Girls.
posted by wendell at 1:00 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


mos def and cann ox are not white. some of their fans are, but the majority of hip hop sales for mtv commercial hip hop are white kids. if we want to make that distinction (and I'm really not sure that we do) then the only black hip hop is the underground.
posted by shmegegge at 1:03 PM on December 5, 2007


OK, so we do white-kids rap well.
Exactly. I think this is why the Public Enemy thread is doing well


Public Enemy is white-kids rap?

*is confused*
posted by languagehat at 1:16 PM on December 5, 2007


anticon, I get, but I didn't know Mos Def or Cannibal Ox were white.

Are you being deliberately dense here? Their fanbase is almost entirely white, and they are known for their hordes of white fanboys across the nation. They are the definition of white-kid rap.
posted by dead_ at 1:21 PM on December 5, 2007


So... if I were not hindered by my whiteness Pimp C would sound just as good as Public Enemy to me?

Hmmm...
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2007


I think Terminator X is going to have a hard time finding samples today of scared newscasters going on about how scary the group are, so yeah. Or were you just trying to be obtuse?
posted by chunking express at 1:23 PM on December 5, 2007


Public Enemy is white-kids rap?

In a nutshell, many white listeners make a subtle distinction in the genre where music that contains a conscious, uplifting message (ala Public Enemy, Mos Def, etc.) or music that is intensely abstract (Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, etc) are held up as good examples of rap music, while the rest is put down as bad.

The part that is put down almost always encompasses the facets of black, urban life that white people have a traditional aversion to. Nevermind that Pimp C is very literally a cultural documentarian; the same kids who would bump a Mos Def CD will still toss Pimp C's in the trash can and call it ignorant, which is the ironic, almost hilarious part of the whole issue.

Well, hilarious if it didn't reveal their ignorance. "Yeah, I love Talib Kweli but I'd never listen to UGK, they are idiots. I only like conscious music. I like hip-hop but I hate rap music. There's a difference, you know!" Yeah, there sure is, and making the distinction reveals the creeping racism that comes with this kind of art crossing cultural borders--some people will never get it.
posted by dead_ at 1:29 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


Whitey is such a racist asshole.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


And not to drone on too much longer...

...but it's about standards and context. When affluent white kids who have never lived in these environments begin to evaluate hip-hop based on their standards and their context, then the disconnect is born. There's droves of hip-hop heads at liberal arts schools around the country who think they get rap music and black culture because they own a few Dead Prez albums, know the lyrics to Ms. Fat Booty, and have a Black Star t-shirt.

Of course, no one has to like any particular artist in any genre, but the broad dismissal--by hip-hop fans--of artists like Pimp C as "low hip-hop" reveals that they have yet to really investigate the genre and to understand it from within. So that's why we have white-kid rap, I guess.
posted by dead_ at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2007


Public Enemy is uplifting?

Well, whatever. You know a hell of a lot more about the music than I do, and it's true, I am white, so what do I know? But I don't like Public Enemy because they efface the facets of black, urban life that white people have a traditional aversion to (not that I had a clue that's what they were doing) but because they make great, powerful music. Or at least that's what I thought. What do I know?
posted by languagehat at 1:37 PM on December 5, 2007


lh, I hope what I wrote didn't come off as a criticism of your musical tastes--I too like Public Enemy for the exact same reasons you do.

There's nothing wrong with liking Public Enemy, or liking it exclusively. There's nothing wrong with knowing very little about rap music. The problem starts when white liberal hip-hop fans begin making genre distinctions--those creating the music almost never do. Seeing them do it really lays bare their hidden prejudices.

This is why the PE thread is going well, as one noted above.

Then again, maybe I'm just overanalyzing something much simpler: Public Enemy, now 20-years in the past, safely appeals to a much wider audience and can be discussed without all of the name calling.

An interesting thought: if MeFi had been around 20 years ago, how would a Public Enemy thread read?
posted by dead_ at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2007


dead_ writes "Yeah, there sure is, and making the distinction reveals the creeping racism that comes with this kind of art crossing cultural borders--some people will never get it."

Wait. So if someone likes music by a black artist whose message is uplifting, and dislikes music by a black artist whose message is bleak, that's racism? Where exactly does the whole "race" aspect fit into that racism conclusion?

dead_ writes "Are you being deliberately dense here? Their fanbase is almost entirely white, and they are known for their hordes of white fanboys across the nation. They are the definition of white-kid rap."

I'm not being deliberately dense. I don't live in "the nation", I live in Japan. I've never even heard Mos Def (or Tupac, for that matter). I know Cannibal Ox because one of their tracks was used in a video game. I'm completely out of the loop. My impression of white-kid rap was Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Tupac Shakur. 90% gangster rap. Am I wrong? Are you saying that all that hip-hop marketing I see vaguely from here overseas is aimed at the black market? My impression is that that changed sometime around a decade ago.
posted by Bugbread at 1:44 PM on December 5, 2007


I'm off to listen to the uplifting sounds of NWA.
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on December 5, 2007


dead_ writes "The problem starts when white liberal hip-hop fans begin making genre distinctions--those creating the music almost never do."

So the whole Dirty South / Jook / Crunk / Bounce sub-genre stuff came from the white liberal hip-hop fans? Who all, if I understand you, hate the whole genre anyway? Why would a bunch of white liberal hip-hop fans make genre distinctions within a genre they hate?
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2007


Wait. So if someone likes music by a black artist whose message is uplifting, and dislikes music by a black artist whose message is bleak, that's racism? Where exactly does the whole "race" aspect fit into that racism conclusion?

I thought my word-choice may have been too strong there. It's not that disliking any type of music is racist, it's that even intelligent people still continue to reject discussing urban black music because it makes them uncomfortable, and because they are unfamiliar with it. Instead of entering a discussion, they will mock and joke and laugh. This is what we do at MeFi. This is why I posted the thread. I don't care if anyone likes the music.

Are you saying that all that hip-hop marketing I see vaguely from here overseas is aimed at the black market

No, it's aimed at an overseas market, and in Japan (I too lived there and speak the language) they are aiming to please a club audience.
posted by dead_ at 1:53 PM on December 5, 2007


But how do we feel about white people with dreads?
posted by dersins at 1:55 PM on December 5, 2007


There's nothing wrong with knowing very little about rap music. The problem starts when white liberal hip-hop fans begin making genre distinctions--those creating the music almost never do.

I guess I see where you're coming from; since I don't know much about rap (except what I like) and don't read criticism, historical overviews, etc., I'm completely unaware of what these white liberal hip-hop fans are up to. But you're spot-on about musicians not making distinctions; "if it sounds good, it is good" has been the credo of just about every musician I've known.
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on December 5, 2007


bugbred, the distinction I'm talking about is between "hip-hop" and "rap," as I said above--made only, and exclusively, by affluent listeners who are completely removed from the culture. Those listeners almost always happen to be white. Surely you've heard this made, right?

Rap and hip-hop are the same thing. Kids who are uncomfortable with some parts of the music began making a distinction to make themselves feel better about slumming it. Like I said, a common mantra is, "Yeah I listen to hip-hop but I hate rap music." Surely you've heard of this?
posted by dead_ at 1:56 PM on December 5, 2007


But how do we feel about white people with dreads?

I knew that the ad hominem would come sooner or later.

I'm going to duck out of here now.
posted by dead_ at 1:57 PM on December 5, 2007


(checks profile)

Oh man, that's funny. I'm sorry, but seriously, WTF? Mr Back Power dude is white and has crusty-locks?

You can cry ad hominem all you like but that's still funny as hell.
posted by Artw at 2:03 PM on December 5, 2007


Huh? I thought we were talking about white people co-opting part-- but not all-- of black culture, misunderstanding it, and thus displaying A) their racism (whether conscious or unconscious) and B) their ignorance. In that context, why is it inappropriate to bring up white guys with dreads?
posted by dersins at 2:03 PM on December 5, 2007


dead_ writes "It's not that disliking any type of music is racist, it's that even intelligent people still continue to reject discussing urban black music because it makes them uncomfortable, and because they are unfamiliar with it."

Yeah, but I think MeFites do that for every genre they aren't into, regardless of race. If people here dislike music, they make fun of it. I'd need some convincing evidence that blackness was a factor in MeFites making fun of gangsta rap, because "they make fun of it, and it's black" isn't enough. After all, people make fun of nu-metal, but you wouldn't assume that it was racist against whites because "they make fun of it, and it's white".

dead_ writes "bugbred, the distinction I'm talking about is between 'hip-hop' and 'rap,' as I said above--made only, and exclusively, by affluent listeners who are completely removed from the culture."

Oh, ok, sorry, I misread you. And, yeah, you're right. I only hear "rap" used by people who don't like hip-hop (actually, I was really surprised you used it up at the top of this MeTa post).

dead_ writes "Like I said, a common mantra is, 'Yeah I listen to hip-hop but I hate rap music.' Surely you've heard of this?"

Actually, no. I always heard it more like
A: "Rap sucks."
B: "First, it's called hip-hop, and second, there's a shitload of good hip-hop."
C: "I dunno, I like some hip-hop, but I hate that gangster stuff."

That is, I always hear people who hate all hip-hop (A) just use "rap" (refusing, for some reason, to call it hip-hop), people who like all kinds of hip-hop (B) just using "hip-hop", and people who like some kinds and not others (C) using "hip-hop" for all of it, but then using individual sub-genres to discuss the types they do and don't like.

But, again, like I say, I'm talking about what I see people on the net say. I don't hear any discussion about hip-hop in person in English here. So maybe I'm just hanging out in the wrong net-places.

dead_ writes "No, it's aimed at an overseas market, and in Japan (I too lived there and speak the language) they are aiming to please a club audience."

Sorry, my phrasing was horrible. When I said "all that hip-hop marketing I see vaguely from here overseas", I didn't mean the marketing here in Japan, but the marketing in the US that I see vaguely from over here: the selection of songs in XBox games that I import from the US, the advertisements on US web sites, the soundtracks in movies, that kind of thing. The US-oriented marketing that manages to reach me here in Japan, not the stuff actually marketed here in Japan, which I know is an entirely different beast altogether.
posted by Bugbread at 2:09 PM on December 5, 2007


I am still laughing my ass off, BTW. It may be some time before I can stop.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on December 5, 2007


Artw writes "Mr Back Power dude is white and has crusty-locks?"

What's wrong with white people having strong backs?
posted by Bugbread at 2:11 PM on December 5, 2007


He's not being a black power dude in any way shape or form that I can see, do you want to enlighten us as to how Dead_ is being a "black power" dude or do you want to continue to prove the point that many people here have made between giggles? The fuck.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:18 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


In a nutshell, many white listeners make a subtle distinction in the genre where music that contains a conscious, uplifting message (ala Public Enemy, Mos Def, etc.) or music that is intensely abstract (Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, etc) are held up as good examples of rap music, while the rest is put down as bad.

Ok, but look. I am a white girl, no question about it. I know next to nothing about living in black urban environments.

But what on earth is wrong with liking music with a "get down and get funky" or uplifting vibe as opposed to what I hear primarily from the "gangsta rap" sector? I don't like being called a bitch or a ho, or feeling like any kind of sexual object, I don't like hearing insanely sexual content at every turn, I don't like hearing about murder or what kind of car is hot, etc. I'm not going to say that one is absolutely bad and the other absolutely good - we all have our musical tastes.

But I think that rap is always going to get this distinction that other music doesn't - because it involves talking. And when you're talking, as opposed to singing (very small distinction, but it is there), people feel you're putting out a message in a very basic way. And there are some "messages" that put people off. Maybe it's us delicate white folks who are most vocal about it, I don't know.

I totally get that any subject is fair game and I've never stomped on any art piece, music or otherwise. It's all expression. But yeah, I like positive messages more than negative ones. Can't help myself.

(And I've heard some "good" gangsta rap, as in, it has good beats, creative arrangements, etc. But I couldn't really listen to it regularly without feeling like I'm compromising my ideals because of the content involved.)
posted by agregoli at 2:18 PM on December 5, 2007


One more quick question, dead_, if you're still reading this:

If Mos Def and Cannibal Ox have primarily white audiences, and gangsta rap has primarily black audiences, and you're saying that shows some sort of latent white racism, why does it not similarly show latent black racism? What about the racial split with bands like The Arcade Fire? Do they have a primarily white audience because blacks have latent racism?
posted by Bugbread at 2:22 PM on December 5, 2007


Divine_Wino - I think you missed dead_ giving his lecture on how whitey can never appreciate the beauty of Pimp C because he only likes rap that has been packaged up for him by The Man, like Public Enemy, which is a totally evil cultral appropriation of the beautiful black mansd music, whicvh only true brothers can understand (which is the whole of the thread, as far as I can see)

And then he turns out to be a fucking Wigga.

Quibble away all you like, it's still funny as hell.
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on December 5, 2007


Artw:

You're mischaracterizing what dead_ is saying (I don't think he's making a lot of sense, but I'm certainly not getting a "beautiful black mans music" or "evil cultural appropriation" vibe). And you're using the word "wigga". And your spelling is going insane ("Mr Back Power", "cultral", "mansd", "whicvh"). Are you drunk?
posted by Bugbread at 2:34 PM on December 5, 2007


Maybe reign that in, Artw. You're pretty much flat-out being a jerk here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:37 PM on December 5, 2007


"Back power!"

I'm just seeing a lot of people bent at the waist, hands on their knees, screaming that in the street.


On preview: Wigga? Does he really deserve that? Do we really deserve that?
posted by sleepy pete at 2:37 PM on December 5, 2007


And then he turns out to be a fucking Wigga.

Res ipsa loquitur.
posted by kosem at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2007


Let's see what happens in the inevitable obit thread when Eminem dies. Then we'll really know if its racisim or just the fact that people like making fun of goofy rap names.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2007


I've only been trained in the vernacular, but that sounds bad.
posted by breezeway at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2007


Wait, so if white people aren't allowed to debate the merits of "black" music, what the hell are all of us doing in this thread?

And I'm still waiting for someone to tell me whether it was Wayne Kramer or Rob Tyner who hated women? Or was it both? Surely one of you must have memorized Please Kill Me.
posted by veronica sawyer at 2:44 PM on December 5, 2007


agregoli, I don't think he has a problem with that, any more than with my liking Public Enemy. He has a problem with what he perceives as white critics creating artificial distinctions in what is a unitary music and privileging one artificially created half over the other for reasons that have nothing to do with the music itself. I think the main problem in this thread is that he's arguing with people outside the thread, and people inside the thread are taking offense at volleys not directed at them.

Artw, you are indeed being a complete jerk here. It's a complicated business being a white fan/player of black (or "black," if you prefer) music; I have a good friend who's a white blues musician, and he rails against white appropriation of black music all the time, while still loving and playing black music. It's natural, when you're immersed in a culture that a lot of people don't understand/appreciate, to get defensive about it. If you can't muster up the effort to deal with the complications, fine, but don't shit in the thread.
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on December 5, 2007


Wait, so if white people aren't allowed to debate the merits of "black" music

Nobody's saying that.
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on December 5, 2007


Nobody's saying that.

Except the guy taking us to task for not appreciating rap properly, and if we do happen to appreciate rap we’re doing it wrong because it’s “white peoples rap” - and therefore it is implied that we are WHITE and furthermore implied that because of this we must be WRONG.

That's my jerks interpretation of course, I'll try and keep a broad mind if someone cares to explain to me how something else is being said here.
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2007


Still waiting to hear from Posty Post and Thready Thread on this one.
posted by hellbient at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2007


Lets see who can shove the most words in dead_'s mouth.

Go MetaFilter! Go!
posted by chunking express at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


He has a problem with what he perceives as white critics creating artificial distinctions in what is a unitary music and privileging one artificially created half over the other for reasons that have nothing to do with the music itself.

I guess I'm not grasping that it doesn't have anything to do with the music itself. It seems like it has everything to do with the music itself.
posted by agregoli at 3:02 PM on December 5, 2007


Except the guy taking us to task for not appreciating rap properly

Actually, Artw, my comment was directed at you.
posted by veronica sawyer at 3:07 PM on December 5, 2007


I likes me my rap vanilla. And icy.
posted by Kwine at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2007


And then he turns out to be a fucking Wigga.

Quibble away all you like, it's still funny as hell.
posted by Artw at 2:26 PM on December 5 [+] [Flagged]


Obviously, I flagged this, but if this doesn't count as "racism," I don't know what does.
posted by proj at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Obviously, I flagged this, but if this doesn't count as "racism," I don't know what does.

Dude, I'm just stunned to see it all. I haven't heard the term "wigger/wigga" since about 1993. It's as if Artw just called him a hopped-up beatnik or something.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:25 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


BTW, I should point out that dead_ has gotten pissed and left the thread, so debating amongst eachother may still have a point, but trying to debate him on this is kinda futile right now.

proj writes "Obviously, I flagged this, but if this doesn't count as 'racism,' I don't know what does."

Yeah, that was one of the first times I've seen pure straight-up racism on MeFi. "White nigger" indeed.
posted by Bugbread at 3:28 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast writes "It's as if Artw just called him a hopped-up beatnik or something."

I was watching a 1950's young crime flick the other day, and the protagonist, bursting with anger at the villain trying to kill his kinda-girlfriend, attacks the villain, throwing him up against the wall and shouting the following blindingly angry epithet:

"YOU SLOB!"
posted by Bugbread at 3:30 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was watching a 1980s action flick on TV the other day, and the protagonist, bursting with anger at the villain trying to kill his wife, attacks the villain, shooting him and calling him the following blindingly angry epithet:

"Mister Falcon!"
posted by The World Famous at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2007


I guess I'm not grasping that it doesn't have anything to do with the music itself. It seems like it has everything to do with the music itself.

Are you talking about your distinction? Because that's not what he's talking about. Anyway, I don't think he'd have a problem with someone who knows and cares about the music discussing the complicated problem of violence and sexism in and around it; what he's objecting to (I think) is white critics using it as a stick to bash a manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable. Compare the hysterical reaction of many critics and cultural figures to early rock and roll (e.g., Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis).
posted by languagehat at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a well-known fact that lame middle aged White dudes cannot stop themselves from snarking over FPPs that concern little-known rappers with ridiculous stage names.

And yet they swoon in paroxysms of joy when we get posts about middle aged white dudes with a penchant for cod-pieces.

Go figure.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2007


Don't worry, Dead_, I understand what you're talking about and will be back in a little bit to do what I can to help/hurt.
posted by klangklangston at 3:56 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


languagehat writes "I don't think he'd have a problem with someone who knows and cares about the music discussing the complicated problem of violence and sexism in and around it; what he's objecting to (I think) is white critics using it as a stick to bash a manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable."

I don't know what the Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis critics said, but you're saying that there's a problem with white critics using violent and sexist lyrics to bash violence and sexism (which are the manifestations of black culture that makes them uncomfortable?) Or are you saying that he's saying there's a problem with white critics using violent and sexist lyrics to bash hip-hop (which is the manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable?)

Because if it's the former, then I just can't really see why using violence and sexism to bash violence and sexism is bad, and if it's the latter, I'd agree if white people were using it to bash all hip-hop, but dead_ made it pretty clear that white people weren't doing that, they in fact had several genres and artists where the audience was primarily white, and that the manifestation they were attacking was gangsta rap. If that's what you meant, what is the objection?
posted by Bugbread at 4:00 PM on December 5, 2007


"YOU SLOB!"

You think that's rubbish. I was watching Die Hard on network TV the other day and Bruce called someone a melon farmer.
posted by seanyboy at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2007


I hate that I did not have access to the internet for most of the day, and I am quite surprised at the reaction (a great MeTa thread!) to my little obituary post. With hindsight, I would have liked to gone a little more in depth, as I do forget that not everyone is a rap nerd like me.

On the matter of "gangsta rap" vs. "hip hop" UGK themselves have collaborated with some pretty diverse talents including Outkast, Dizzee Rascal and MIA. Dismissing music as just "gangsta" glosses over multiple topics, most of which can be boiled down to: getting inebriated and hanging out with friends, sex, trouble with relationships, and violence. Exactly how is this any different from the majority of all popular music?
posted by hominid211 at 4:30 PM on December 5, 2007


Well see there's niggers and they're stupid and lazy and beneath my contempt and then there's white niggers and they should know better and that's even worse.

I don't agree with every point that dead_ has made here, but I can have an intelligent and friendly conversation with him about that any time I want.

Fuck you Artw.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:32 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, I thought using Cannibal Ox as an example of non-"gangsta" rap was pretty amusing. El-P's production and use of a thesaurus certainly doesn't make The Cold Vein any less violent.
posted by hominid211 at 4:33 PM on December 5, 2007


As I read this thread, all I can think of is Do The Right Thing.

Only instead of being parodied by little people muppets, this time it is unwittingly parodied by MeFites.

I could easily entertain the whimsy that in the 1980's Spike Lee was looking deep into Pi one day and discovered this delicious MeTa thread embedded in there and thought that it would make a great movie. And it did.

Do The Right Thing

(It isn't nice to call anybody anything that ends with igga.)
posted by isopraxis at 4:34 PM on December 5, 2007


Or are you saying that he's saying there's a problem with white critics using violent and sexist lyrics to bash hip-hop (which is the manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable?)

I'm feeling almost hopeless about parsing everybody's positions at this point, but I think part of the argument is against white critics using the specter of observed violent and sexist lyrics in some examples of hip-hop/rap to define and dismiss more generally segments of the overall genre. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater, culturally speaking.

I'm having a hard time conveying that to my satisfaction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:46 PM on December 5, 2007


Yeah, pretty much what cortex said, but I'm not going to try to interpret for dead_ any further: if he feels like dealing with this any further, he can do it himself.
posted by languagehat at 5:12 PM on December 5, 2007


*watches MeTa get wicked, wicked*
posted by jonmc at 5:34 PM on December 5, 2007


Well see there's niggers and they're stupid and lazy and beneath my contempt and then there's white niggers and they should know better and that's even worse.

I know what you're trying to do here, but I don't like it. Don't shit where you eat, or something.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:47 PM on December 5, 2007


I think you just did a good job there cortex.

Another way of looking at it is the frustration of trying to defend something you know some people can't understand or see past the surface of.

It's not merely a case of someone criticizing or mocking something someone merely likes, it's mocking and criticizing something that someone feels they appreciate on a cultural level.

This is something that separates hip hop from say, heavy metal, or other genres/subcultures. It's easy for me to "get" Metallica without being an angry drunk white dude. It's a lot harder to go in the other direction.

One of the things that pissed me off more than anything on this site was a comment once that it's useless to discuss any meaning or cultural influence of Jay-Z or 50 cent, because there's no way they're that deep. (i'm paraphrasing and not going to link to it directly, because it's not my intention to call out the commenter)

It's hard to read something like that, because it supposes for no stated reason that neither of them is smart enough to have put any thought into what they do. It supposes that there's no way that what these guys are doing is no different than what Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Quentin Tarantino, Thom Yorke, or any other creative professional does. Ya know...Make shit up.

When you completely discount the possibility that yes, some of these angry foul-mouthed scary black dudes actually understand literary technique it reeks of a lot more than simple "preference". It takes a herculean amount of patience to not extrapolate that if you think they're not that deep, then you probably think I'm not that deep either.

Jay Z knows exactly what he's doing at all times. I wish i knew 10% of what that dude knows about the business of popular culture.

I happened to be at the office of a national hip hop/urban culture magazine when the news broke of Pimp C's death. Guess what? We made some snarky jokes. I wish I had thought of the "Pimp D" joke at the time cause it would have went over well. However we could make the jokes without automatically belittling everything the guy did or stood for. It's a fine line that a lot of people around here trample on indiscriminately.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:56 PM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's easy for me to "get" Metallica without being an angry drunk white dude.

The fact that you think that shows that you don't actually "get" Metallica. I don't "get" them, either, but that doesn't mean I can't form an educated opinion as to whether or not they suck. If someone who hates metal wants to tell me that Lars is a horrible drummer, I'm not going to pretend they're wrong just because they haven't delved firsthand into the dark and scary world that is the Bay Area metal scene of the '80s.

When you completely discount the possibility that yes, some of these angry foul-mouthed scary black dudes actually understand literary technique it reeks of a lot more than simple "preference."

What if I assume that they do understand both literary technique and music production, but that they go ahead and make music that I think is inane anyway? Then is it ok for me to not like what they are doing and saying? And what if I don't think they're scary? Then is it ok for me to think they're lame?

There is some pretty incredible musicianship and production artistry that goes into making a good hip hop record. And the lyrics are often thoughtful and carefully chosen. But that doesn't mean I have to think that they are making a deep philosophical statement all the time, or that I have to like it.

I have no doubt that you, billyfleetwood, are a deep person with genuine feelings, a real life, and that you are intelligent and thoughtful.

But the thought that 50 Cent might be well-educated in literary technique and form just makes me want to mock his lyrics more, not less.
posted by The World Famous at 6:15 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know what you're trying to do here, but I don't like it. Don't shit where you eat, or something.

Can you elaborate for me? Are you bothered by me using a proscribed word in the context of chastising someone else for using it in earnest or is it something else?

Because we might be at the point where I say I don't care to be instructed in what words I can and cannot use in a non-malicious context or we might be at the point where we can conclude this conversation via MeMail, but in either case I suspect we are at the point where I respectfully ask you to clarify what you are saying to me.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:48 PM on December 5, 2007


Takeaway: Whether you love to hate it, whether I'm in or outdated, if I've been overrated or maybe you're most favorite, you expect me still to write my verse on time, and I expect you not to front when you hear my rhyme.
posted by Kwine at 6:52 PM on December 5, 2007


Did I really just make a you're/your mistake? I guess I did. Don't expect me to smile 'cause it's in good taste!
posted by Kwine at 6:53 PM on December 5, 2007


hominid211 writes "most of which can be boiled down to: getting inebriated and hanging out with friends, sex, trouble with relationships, and violence. Exactly how is this any different from the majority of all popular music?"

Uh...the violence part?

billyfleetwood writes "This is something that separates hip hop from say, heavy metal, or other genres/subcultures. It's easy for me to 'get' Metallica without being an angry drunk white dude. It's a lot harder to go in the other direction."

Well, Metallica is metal lite. It's easy to understand, like Jay-Z is easy to understand. Cannibal Corpse would be a better example. And I know a lot of folks who get Metallica but have problems getting Carcass. I'd say when you reach any extremes in the musical spectrum, be they lyrical extremes (Cannibal Corpse (metal), Necro (hip-hop)) or musical extremes (Merzbow (noise), Eurovision Song Contest winners (pablum)), or rhythmic extremes (minimal techno, Shitmat (breakcore)), you're going to get a problem with people having a hard time 'getting' it. It's not unique to hip-hop.
posted by Bugbread at 6:57 PM on December 5, 2007


Oh, and cortex? You explained that exceptionally.
posted by Bugbread at 6:58 PM on December 5, 2007


Uh...the violence part?

Hip-hop is hardly the only genre of music that talks about violence.

*returns to Slayer mp3's*

(seriously, we live in a world that's often violent. we can't expect artists to ignore that. And it isn't necessarily about 'message.' Sometimes people are just decribing the world as they see it.)
posted by jonmc at 7:30 PM on December 5, 2007


(seriously, we live in a world that's often violent. we can't expect artists to ignore that. And it isn't necessarily about 'message.' Sometimes people are just decribing the world as they see it.)

That's exactly why I dig Magma.
posted by breezeway at 7:51 PM on December 5, 2007


That makes no sense, breezeway. Digging magma would melt your shovel, causing you to sink deeper into the lava quagmire.
posted by jonmc at 7:58 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hip Hop Rule #12: If you're still using the term "Gangster Rap" after 1995, you're a sucker and need to get cut.
posted by SweetJesus at 8:03 PM on December 5, 2007


Uh...the violence part?

"Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields / Sold in the market down in New Orleans / Scarred old slaver knows he's doing all right / Hear him whip the women just around midnight."

--The opening lines from "Brown Sugar," which was a #1 hit for the Rolling Stones. It's racist, violent and misogynistic. Saying there's a problem with such topics in hip hop is missing the bigger picture; there's a problem with violence, racism and misogyny in general culture. With rap music, it's easy for middle class Americans to believe it exists for and within a vacuum--ghetto/gangsta culture is thought of as some sort of distant jungle primitive tribe.
posted by hominid211 at 8:20 PM on December 5, 2007


Metallica just popped into my head, maybe that was too specific of an example. Point being, Metallica Rulz!

The World Famous, I don't think you and I disagree at all. If you say you don't like Metallica because Lars is a terrible drummer, then I would respect your opinion. If you then continued that thought to "i don't even know why they even have drums, it's just a guy beating on some animal skins. How is that music?" I would think you were an idiot.

It doesn't take much cultural knowledge to figure out what Metallica is trying to do. I have no argument as to anyone's assessment of how successful they are at it.

My gripe with the way metafilter does hip-hop "poorly" is that a lot of it comes across as saying 50 Cent is a shitty rapper not because he's less adept at his wordplay than Jay-Z, but because there can be no such thing as a good rapper.

But the thought that 50 Cent might be well-educated in literary technique and form just makes me want to mock his lyrics more, not less.

I'm no 50 cent fan. I don't dislike him because he isn't Radiohead. I dislike him because he isn't B.I.G. That's the distinction that people who shit on hip hop threads seem to miss a lot of the time.

and bugbread, i feel what you're saying about subcultures being hard to get. But what makes hip hop unique in my example is that what makes it hard to get for some is a cultural thing, and not a preference thing. I would go as far as to amend my claims of uniqueness to add that I often feel the same cultural blindness tends to exist when it comes to Country&Western music.

If there's some death metal neighborhood out there where people grow up wearing corpse-paint as a cultural norm, then I stand corrected.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:21 PM on December 5, 2007


Digging magma would melt your shovel, causing you to sink deeper into the lava quagmire.

Aha! Unless said magma digger had asbestos water wings and a wetsuit made of magically insulating, all-natural tiger penis -- it's not just for power, virility, and stamina anymore -- but what about my flamin' head? Cursed forethought, why have you failed me again?
posted by breezeway at 8:27 PM on December 5, 2007


Also in violent (and often misogynistic) non-rap popular music:
-"Hey Joe" by Jimi Hendrix
-Any of a number of fifth wave emo bands. (has the mall emo obsession of killing ex-girlfriends finally subsided? I've not been keeping up)
-A good percentage of Johnny Cash's oeuvre-- there's a collection which featured a disk called Murder

I could probably come up with examples all night. While hip hop is a subculture, it's still very much in line with the faults and strengths of the rest of American culture. Artistically, there is a distinct similarity between HBO creating The Sopranos and Biggie creating Ready to Die.
posted by hominid211 at 8:53 PM on December 5, 2007


Divine_Wino, I'm writing this here and not in memail because it's not a derail to discuss use of racial language in this MeTa, because I hope what I'm gonna say might resonate with other people, and because I'm really not trying to beef with you.

So, to expand on why I didn't like what you wrote, I didn't think the chastisement effect was worth the violence. It's a case by case judgment. I see "nigger" or "white nigger" as explicitly violent words, and "wigga" as something more toothless. We might differ on that judgment. Anyway, using tha N WORD *gasp* to underline how misguided or derogatory its wigga derivative may have been in use, seems overbold and insensitive to the people still tuned into its earnest epithetical use by those with real intentions of violence.

You'd probably say "but these words should be stripped of their power," and I'd agree, but it's very very hard to accomplish that in this text format. It's a gamble, and what you wager is your semblance of sensitivity to the relevant power struggle, when you toss racial epithets lightly around as if they can't hurt you. It gives pause to others and makes them wonder if perhaps it isn't you the words were meant to hurt, and then they wonder whether comfort with slurs might be easier to come by from a position of privilege. For my part, the weight of your point wasn't worth the shock and confusion about intent that came from your particular delivery method.

Just my gut reaction. Hope it's an interesting data point.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:47 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc writes "Hip-hop is hardly the only genre of music that talks about violence."

Yes. But I doubt you agree with hominid that it is a component of "the majority of all popular music". That was my disagreement.

hominid211 writes "--The opening lines from 'Brown Sugar,' which was a #1 hit for the Rolling Stones."

Wait, are you changing your argument? Is it now that violence occasionally occurs in some popular music? Because before, I could have sworn you said the majority of all popular music.

Now, don't get me wrong, maybe popular music nowadays is all violent. I dunno, I've been out of the country. But if so, it's a recent development. When I graduated high school, the top 10 Billboard for the year were:

I Will Always Love You
- Whitney Houston
End of the Road
- Boys II Men
Jump
- Kris Kross
Baby Got Back
- Sir Mix-A-Lot
Save The Best For Last
- Vanessa Williams
I'm Too Sexy
- R*S*F (Right Said Fred)
To Be With You
- Mr. Big
How Do You Talk To An Angel
- The Heights
I'll Be There
- Mariah Carey
All 4 Love
- Color Me Badd

I'd find it quite surprising if 6 or more of those songs talked about violence.

Basically, I think it's facile to pretend that the lyrics of gangster rap songs aren't particularly out of line with the rest of the pop music world. They are. But that doesn't mean that it's an exclusively hip-hop thing, either. Cannibal Corpse has fucked up lyrics, and they're metal. David Allen Coe has some fucked up lyrics, and he's country. So pretending that there isn't a whole lot of difference between NWA lyrics and Avril Lavigne lyrics seems like ignoring reality in order to try to make a point, as does pretending that the statement "gangster rap has violent lyrics" is synonymous with "only gangster rap has violent lyrics".
posted by Bugbread at 3:07 AM on December 6, 2007


Ambrosia,
We part ways here, entirely, but I thank you for responding to me.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:20 AM on December 6, 2007


Anyway, I don't think he'd have a problem with someone who knows and cares about the music discussing the complicated problem of violence and sexism in and around it; what he's objecting to (I think) is white critics using it as a stick to bash a manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable.

I guess I wonder then, if that's the case, how he knows the difference between the two when it's just screen names on Metafilter.
posted by agregoli at 7:31 AM on December 6, 2007


Well, that's a problem, obviously, and I suspect part of the reason he was applying his criticism to the wrong people.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on December 6, 2007


Wait, are you changing your argument? Is it now that violence occasionally occurs in some popular music? Because before, I could have sworn you said the majority of all popular music.

No, I said the majority of popular music fits within that particular list of topics, one of which is violence.
posted by hominid211 at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2007


I'm very late here, but I'm wondering if some kind soul can explain rap (hip-hop, etc.) to this very very very white boy. I don't mean explain it's cultural importance. I THINK I understand that. I mean explain its aesthetics.

I'll fess up and say that I've hated all the rap I've ever heard. I'm not sure anyone will be able to make me like it, but I'd like to at least have a rudimentary understanding of what people who do like it like about it. I don't like Metal, either, but I do have a (very simplistic and incomplete) understanding of its aesthetics.

I'm very very white (musically), because I've never gotten into most popular music produced after the 1940s. The pop music I listen to is the stuff composed by all those Jewish guys (Irving Berlin, etc.) Other than that, I mostly listen to classical.

But whereas I have little appreciation for metal, rock, disco, etc., it doesn't sound totally alien to me. And every once in a while, I do hear a modern pop song that I like (e.g. I like a lot of Beatles stuff). But that's never happened to me with a rap song. Not even once.

I can understand liking the lyrics if you feel they contain important messages. But I'm not into didactic stuff. Is that my stumbling block? If you dislike message stuff, is there no way in? Is there something going on besides the message?

Also, I've tried listening to rap for the lyrics, but they always sound so crude to me. I don't mean crude in terms of profanity, which is fine. I mean crude in terms of word choice and rhyme. I'm betting this is because I've heard bad examples. Are there lyrics online from well-written rap songs? Is there a Shakespeare or Byron of rap lyrics? Even if I don't get into the music, I can always appreciate strong, evocative language. So if some exists, that might be my way in.
posted by grumblebee at 9:42 AM on December 6, 2007


Anyway, I don't think he'd have a problem with someone who knows and cares about the music discussing the complicated problem of violence and sexism in and around it; what he's objecting to (I think) is white critics using it as a stick to bash a manifestation of black culture that makes them uncomfortable. Compare the hysterical reaction of many critics and cultural figures to early rock and roll (e.g., Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis).

I'm not really sure the average me-fi reaction to some modern rap they never heard of (as opposed to the various, general older, acts that get a good reception) is less based on violence and sexism than the opinion that most of the current stuff out there is a bit crap. It's like a bunch of bitter old punks praising the Sex Pistols and the Clash dismissing any modern punk as a bunch of modern derivative crap that lacks the spark and intelligence of punk acts back in the day. And they'd be right - classics are classic for a reason: They were made back when the ideas were fresh, and they've stood the test of time - all the crap and fluff being winnowed out over the years.

I'm sure there's a certain element of granddadism involved too. Nothings as good as it was back in my day.

[/NOT GRANDDADIST]

Maybe If I went back to the same bus shelter near the village green (AKA "The hood") that me and my homies used to hang out at listening to Public Enemy and 2 Live Crew there would probably be some kids there listening to something new and fresh beyond my experience, that raises the artform to new heights.

I would call the cops on them for loitering and demand they be ASBOed.

posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on December 6, 2007


grumblebee listen to some Nas.
posted by chunking express at 10:25 AM on December 6, 2007


"I mean explain its aesthetics."

Ok, I can give it a shot, specifically within the context of the African-American musical tradition. Keep in mind that on any one of these points, I could write a couple of pages with specific examples, so I'm gonna keep this necessarily facile and glib to avoid having to dig up my copy of Orr to make sure that my cites match up with arguments about oral culture, etc.

First, you've got to realize that one of the biggest peeves for any hip-hop head is seeing people treat it like it's stupid because it's folk music, and that's what I think dead_ was kind of getting at (a straw-man: "Heh heh it's spelled "Africa," Bambaataa). That's where I'd put the first aesthetic signpost—Rap (and hip hop, but I'm gonna write rap 'cuz it's shorter and I got ADD) is FOLK music. It's got the same breadth and length and depth that any folk medium does, and that influences a LOT of the aesthetic choices.

Rap as a folk medium influences the aesthetics of rap in three primary ways:

First off, it's cheap. It is the cheapest damn music to make outside of a campfire. You need a) an MC and b) a beat. That gives it an incredibly low barrier to entry, and a lot of disses regarding rap I roll my eyes at the same way I do when people make fun of blogs—yes, anyone can blog. Not anyone can blog well.

Second off, it's tradition-bound and primarily orally transmitted. I don't mean that it's tradition-bound like classical or Big Band or other (essentially dead) genres, but rather that there are familiar texts that individuals riff off of, and those are recognized within the genre. There's an incredible body of reference, similar to jazz, that good rappers know and allude to. See: Ego Trippin' by De La Soul for a rundown of the most popular tropes.

Third, and this may seem to contradict the previous point, it's aggregative. Rap incorporates elements from everything it comes in contact with, mutating the primary forms. For a cudgel of an analogy, jazz is French and rap is English. This makes the palette a lot broader, and means that it's able to change a lot quicker. Frankly, this is where American "folk" music fell off—see Dylan electric.

Now, on to the forerunners of rap and why the "it's all gangsta ho" shit gets tiring—Rap comes out of a Black aesthetic shaped a lot by slavery and subtext. Being ultimately blues-based, it incorporates the tradition of murder ballads like Stagger Lee, and verbal interplay like the Signifyin' Monkey, which may be lost on you, Grumblebee. Not as a diss or anything, I just doubt you've done many dozens in your life, whereas that's a big part of a black adolescence. That's combined with folks like Langston Hughes and James Baldwin by way of the black nationalist poetry movement that really came out in the '60s. If you want "rap" or proto-rap that has serious literary balls behind it, check out The Last Poets (Niggers Are Scared of Revolution) or Gil Scot-Heron (The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, or Whitey on the Moon), or Linton Kwesi Johnston.

Johnston brings us to another big tradition in rap, which is that of the West Indies and sound system dance parties. That's arguably where modern rap got started, DJs "toasting" over records. There are all sorts of artists who make this connection explicit, from KRS-1 to Wyclef Jean. And, of course, appreciating that often means digging back into dub and reggae, which brings us back to Big Band and jump blues.

But the dance parties are a big continuing aspect of rap, especially commercial rap, that a lot of [white] people don't get. In fact, that's pretty much exactly what 50 Cent is, dance party+signifyin'. And hence the objection over folks saying "well, I like the uplifting rap" or "conscious rap" or "backpacker rap"—it's like saying that you like folk music, but none of the songs where people die. Or Shakespeare, but only the sonnets. It's a choice, sure, but it's shutting out such a large part of the music based on an arbitrary distinction that puts you apart from being a fan of the music, and it ultimately feels ignorant and juvenile to someone who is familiar with the tropes.

And, like anything, there are good bits and bad bits within that, but they deserve to be evaluated on their own merits, within the context of a broader sense of rap and hip hop, not as blanket statements.
posted by klangklangston at 7:37 PM on December 6, 2007 [10 favorites]


klangklangston, thank you very much for taking the time to write that. I learned a lot.
posted by grumblebee at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2007


klang: Drinks on me for that. Well done.
posted by kosem at 10:07 PM on December 6, 2007


hominid211 writes "No, I said the majority of popular music fits within that particular list of topics, one of which is violence."

No, you asked, rhetorically, how it was different. My answer is that: "it's different because the majority of popular music doesn't include all the violence". I don't know how much clearer to make it. You're saying that pop music fits within that list of topics. I'm saying that the difference is in the part outside majority pop music but inside the gangsta rap part of the Venn diagram.
posted by Bugbread at 11:15 AM on December 7, 2007


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