It's no secret that TGRL is a fan of Asher Roth, so I was pretty surprised to see an article about everyone's favorite college student pop up on the front page of TheDailyBeast.com, a news and pop culture site to which I am mildly addicted . Written by black officionato Touré, it described the racial threat of Asher Roth to hip-hop culture as a black music genre. Since Roth doesn't idolize or greatly respect blackness, it must be the Caucasianization of hip-hop as the African American community knows it.
I respect Touré as a writer, credible hip-hop enthusiast, and representer of black pride, but something got to me about a page in. He writes, "Hip-hop, like America, is anything but race blind, but Asher doesn't consider hip-hop a black thing—likely because he's from a generation of white kids that thinks black culture belongs to them, too.”
My eyes stopped flicking through the lines. Wait. Hold on. Who said anything about the take over of black culture? What if he just wants to rap? Is there really something that scary about another white rapper? I was confused, but I pushed on. Another quote from the article reveals the real problem. “Ok, but what’s wrong with Asher not wanting to be black? Shouldn’t he be happy being who he is? Sure he should. Everyone should be happy to be themselves. But in hip-hop nowadays being white is a perverse advantage and being happy about being white looks like being a little too happy about having a winning Lotto ticket in a roomful of losers. Because being white in hip-hop shoves white privilege in our faces. It makes the advantages of being white in America that much more obvious.”
It makes sense now; its the invasion of white mediocrity when blacks need to strive to just be heard. I wish I had seen this at the beginning, just leave all the cards on the table at the start and work from there.
Now, digs at Roth’s ability aside, I understand Touré’s worry. But, where does that leave me? I’m a white, teenage Jew who lives in an affluent neighborhood, and I don’t think, and will never think, that I am black in any way, shape, or form. On the other hand, I enjoy rap, I blog on TGLR, and have dabbled in writing rhymes. Am I also perilous to hip-hop, yet another “fan” who erodes the true roots of hip-hop?
I had a conversation in one of my classes of the validity of the n-word, and who should use it. I believed that black people could, and should, use a supposedly demeaning word because of their recognition of its roots and reversal as a prideful stand. A blond-haired girl vehemently opposed me, on the grounds that “I call all my friends n----, and it doesn’t really mean anything.” I buried my face in my hands, and sobbed for the lost causes of Malcom X and W.E.B DuBois. This is why race relations don’t work in our country. The new generation is supposed to be making this great leap into a colorblind world, but so many don’t care enough to actually respect others. It’s like white kids think that black culture belongs to…
I guess I’m the minority. I recognize rap for its lyrics, beats, and flow, and leave the black pride for those who have it. What Asher Roth does and where he stands in among these racial rumblings is only known by him, but let’s just let him be for now. He’s not dropping n-bombs in his music, so that’s a start. Just let the white kid rap, see where he goes, and focus on techno/trans mainstream “hip-hop” that’s spewing from our radios. Popular black rappers can’t produce the rap needed to preserve the roots of hip-hop bodes more trouble than a rap album by a Caucasian artist.
Leave responses, rebuttals, reflections, and check out the full article here.
Keep scribbling in the margins,
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