You may have noticed that our URL references Hip Hop Fights Back, a different blog about rap run by an asshole. Why is Jake Bourey an asshole? Why is Hip Hop Fights Back a misguided hive of condescension? Let’s break it down.
Jake Bourey is, without mincing words, racist and classist in his assessments of rap music. He praises the boilerplate assortment of conscious/“lyrical” artists to the exclusion of more popular artists, denigrating them based on intelligence. He thinks a J. Cole-type is superior to a Nicki Minaj-type because J. Cole uses more vocabulary.
J. Cole, however, is boring. You can hear what J. Cole is doing in the work of a dozen other artists. Plus, he thought this line (link warning: heterosexist slurs, wack lyrics) was a good idea. Nicki, by comparison, is carving out her niche in an oft-misogynist industry and rapping her ass off at the same time. Among two technically proficient rappers, Jake Bourey will err toward the one that fits with his preconceived notions about brains and skill.
Here’s the problem with that. When you insult a rapper because their rap isn’t intelligent, you’re making a racist assumption.
Rap, since its inception, has been split between MCs and party rappers (terminology cribbed from the excellent documentary Beef). When you say that Lil Wayne, for example, isn’t a rapper, you’re ignoring the art form’s roots and showing your ignorance. It’s baffling how a white guy can get away with presenting himself as a discerning authority on an art created/chiefly practiced by POC.
The same thing happens when you reduce a rapper to a lyricist. For instance, Jake Bourey doesn’t like Lil Wayne. He hears his rhymes and puts him in the “not lyrical” category. This ignores the factors that go beyond the words: cadence, delivery, all the unseen factors beyond writing a rhyme and saying it. Just because you’re rapping fast and you’re white doesn’t make you good.
What he doesn’t realize is, Chief Keef isn’t a bad rapper. Drake isn’t a bad rapper. Juicy J isn’t a bad rapper. They just make music for people who aren’t you. The failure to recognize this prompts Jake Bourey to disdain them, and equate a lack of lyrical complexity with a lack of quality.
Jake Bourey is trying to run a rap blog as a person who doesn’t consider half the genre’s music authentic. This blog may be run by two white people, but at least we see ourselves as we should: rap outsiders. Kids on a blog sharing songs they like. Jake Bourey thinks his opinions matter, when they’re really just the underdeveloped thoughts of a kid with a lack of understanding, and more importantly, a lack of respect.
And to paraphrase Lil’ Wayne: