Focus; Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America
Certainly one thing we know is that hip hop and hip hop culture is something that has its roots in black urban America. However we also know that it has come to be very popular in white suburban America. It certainly has become an enormous commercial force in the United States however there is another other feature another facet to this as hip hop culture has indeed become hip hop has indeed become a real cultural and political movement something that perhaps hasn't been subject to as much analysis as its commercial impact. Well this morning in this part of focus 580 we will we're going to do that and we'll be talking with someone who is recognized as. Being perhaps one of the leading authorities often quoted on hip hop culture its name is book. He has authored a couple of books including a new one which is just out titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop. He in fact was here in
Champaign Urbana on the U of I campus not very long ago and was here in studio with us to talk and I think at that time we said when the new book came out we'd like to talk again and he said sure he'd be happy to do that he's now spending some time traveling around the country talking about his new book which is now been out I think just almost a matter of days it's published by Basic Books he's out on the West Coast he's in San Francisco and spending some time with us this morning on the telephone. To talk questions of course are welcome as always the number here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We do also have a toll free line that's good anywhere that you can hear us and that is eight hundred to 2 2 9 4 5 5. So again here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 and toll free 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Our guest because it won it was the executive editor of The Source. The country's best selling music magazine for much of the 90s. He also served as editorial
director at Third World Press and as a music reviewer for NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. He has also contributed to a number of publications including The Village Voice the source and the Progressive his weekly column do the knowledge is published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. And his previous book which is also out vailable in bookstores if you would like to take a look at it is entitled The hip hop generation. And as I said he's joining us this morning by telephone. Hello. Hi how you doing today. Good thanks and yourself. Great. Thanks for talking with us we. We certainly appreciate it. Maybe just a basic point to start out with a share that many people would point out just how influential African American music has been as a part of American culture for going back a long time. Certainly has as been true of blues and its influence on rock n roll and so forth and so on even even going back in American popular music jazz ragtime and other forms.
And so I think that some people might on the one hand say the popularity of hip hop music with with white kids is certainly shouldn't be a surprise and that maybe we should expect to see what has happened before which is a kind of appropriation of that item of culture. And and in fact seem white might see one of the cases as we have in the past where it end up that white entrepreneurs and white artists and up taking what essentially was a black musical form taking over making it theirs making the money and coming out the winners. And we've seen that pattern before. I think though that you're prepared to argue that maybe hip hop might follow a different pattern. Yeah I think they are. I think that hip hop will follow a different path and I think the dynamics are different I think we're in a different time. But what I think is important about the book Why White Kids Love Hip Hop is that I think that when our starting point is look at what happened with
racist and black music before then I think when I give myself an opportunity to have a discussion about what's happening that's new. And I think it's a new time I think it's a new time for the way that music is transmitted internationally. I think it's a new time because. The power and impact of the satellite and cable television and cetera. But I also think that it when you talk about it that way you don't see hip hop beyond just being a music and hip hop as a cultural movement and that cultural movement means a lot of a lot of dimensions to what I hope we can get into. Sure. Well when we take just the basic question of who is listening to hip hop it certainly has a very broad appeal that cuts across race lines and we know that there are black kids who listen and white kids who listen and Asian kids who listen and Latino kids who listen and it doesn't it doesn't seem to break down according to race but cut across it what do you we
know about who is listening to hip hop in particular that the percentage of the audience that's white right. Well I think we know less than we think we know. I think that the word on the media vine is that 70 or 80 percent of hip hop audience is white. This is a statistic that I talk about in great detail in the book in a chapter entitled are white or white things really get hot primary audience. Because I think that it has not been studied in in in the church and the book Why White Kids of hip hop I document who has done this kind of research most of the people who claim this in media whether it's the New York Times or The Washington Post or CNN or Fox television they refer back to the record label executive. When you talk to record label executives they refer back to sound scans when you talk the sound and sound scans says they only record over the counter data.
They don't record demographic data. And so it's interesting that this idea that white kids by most hip hop is something that's just so readily accepted probably one of the most well-known things about hip hop which actually isn't even documented. Well why would what's the two people who are in the industry what's the appeal of an idea like that. Well I think that the I think the appeal is there was a time when hip I mean well first of all I think it's a Reeses assumption to begin with but I think that there was a time in hip hop when hip hop was growing and it was suffering severely by you know the police response to concerts. And a lot of causes are being set down in in the late 80s and early 90s because you know there was this fear of too many black kids getting together. And so there was a there was a clear you have among people marketing using among party promoters You know the audience and to see if the
venue I talk about this in some detail in the book and I think that in the process of doing that I think the audience is also shifting. They're one of the things that seems to preoccupy people is this. This question I guess. For want of a better word it's a kind of an authenticity question that is who who created the music. Whose is it. And if that shifts over time then what does that mean for the music does does that mean for example if it's if it turns out to be true that the majority of the audience for the hip hop is white I guess one would have to ask the question well so what. I mean does that as specifically as regards the music does that somehow then change the music does it change the message does it change what it means if you have an art form that's essentially created by one group of people if it's embraced by somebody else. Well I you know so what does is there's there's that either good or bad or it just or you just say well that just is it isn't really one of the other.
I think that it has a lot to do with power and influence. If you saying that white kids by most rap music and if you're also saying that rap music is principally is BS and homos as is portrayed via VH 1 and then be easy and clear channel or Radio 1 then if you're saying that white kids are buying most of that music then if it's a nice package of America's all racial politics young white kids who are somehow taking part in enjoying this that a continuation of white supremacy. I don't agree with that and I don't think the devil is going on and I think that people who want to present that image are don't want to deal with the fact that young Americans born after the Civil Rights Movement have lived their entire lives and post again in America and black and white kids Asian American kids Native American kids Latino American kids are processing rates radically different than our parents generation.
And you think that music has something to do that. I think that the cultural movement of hip hop has something to do with the music. Hip Hop which came out of hip hop culture in the South Bronx in the early 70s has moved around the country moved around the world because of the power and influence of American corporations and just commerce. And so this this music has more of the culture into a national phenomenon. So you have a cultural movement around the country and around the world where young people are making their own music. Young people are creating breakdancing collectives and spoken word collective young party promoters are drawing hip hop parties and young deejays are making mix tapes and you have this phenomenon of young hip hop activists and gazing activism you have this phenomena around the country. So the music has been a driving force for creating a national cultural movement. And I think the cultural
movement is very local It's national and local But what we see is a national presentation which is the distortion a hip hop by corporatization. And I think there's a difference. Let me introduce Again our guest for this part of focus 580 which I had with writer but Cari Kitwana who has written a lot about hip hop culture. He was executive editor of the source that was the country's best selling music magazine for much of the 90s. He's also served as editorial director at Third World Press and has written for a number of different publications He's the author of two books Hip-Hop Generation and a new book which has just been published titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop and it's published by Basic Books and he's out on the West Coast. This morning he's been traveling around talking about the book and questions comments from people who are listening they are certainly welcome. All you need to do is call us the number here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 we do also have a toll free line good. Anywhere you can hear us that's eight hundred to 2
2 9 4 5 5. I think it's we know generally what our people know what hip hop music is and a superficial level. If you use a phrase like hip hop culture I suppose people immediately will think about. Styles of dress and use of language and gesture an attitude all very kind of surface things. But if I ask the question and we try to go to a deeper level about hip hop culture how do you define that what when you say would you talk about hip hop culture what do you mean. Right. Difficult question and I think is an important question and is there we have the opportunity to really flesh it out when we're talking about culture we're talking about. Well the pioneers would define hip hop culture as graffiti breakdancing rapping in D-Day the commercialization of rap music expands those definitions. So now we're talking about verbal language we're talking about body language talking last hour we're talking about
clothing. We're talking about added to we talk about entire worldview. The best way I think for people who are outside of the culture to get it is when you make a comparison to. You make a comparison to say the civil rights movement in the civil rights era and there was a civil rights culture that went with that. You could be a young person 15 or 16 involved and an activist organization in the 60s or in the 70s or even in the 50s. That was a part of the youth culture of the time. Hip hop is the youth culture of this time. And as a culture it has a political imperative it has an economic imperative it has a spiritual imperative. And I think that those dimensions of hip hop are lost in the commercialization of it all we mostly see in the commercialization of hip hop in mainstream hip hop those are the sort of selling 1.4 million CDs in four days. That was the case of the massacre by 50 Cent. What we're seeing is sex and violence which is a part of American entertainment it's not a hip hop
thing. It's so American it's a daemon thing of course you get artists that break through that and there are exceptions and even artists like 50 Cent I would say there are some exceptions to that formula but that is the dominant form of the in that context. What people are missing who aren't a part of the culture is what's going on off the radar and there's a lot of a lot going on off the radar you can look at artists like a soft rock or Sage Francis or atmosphere. These are white hip hop artists who most people never even heard of who are selling about 100000 CDs per release. This is huge. These artists are touring around the country doing something like 200 concerts or more a year around the country and venues anywhere from the size of about 200 to fifteen hundred. And these are the having a huge impact. There are black artists in that same around many of them are politically political in their content and these artists are you know doing the same to most kinds of concerts. But again the racial dynamic falls into play because these artists
are not selling as much as their white counterparts. And the audience that they're performing for is 95 percent white which is the case of someone like 50 Cent or Eminem with audiences a look there's a lot more diverse it could be 50 percent white it could be 40 percent white in some cities it could be 60 percent white in some cities so it's a little it's a little if you start to get a sense of a little bit of a difference. Well what. Why is it that makes it sound as if you would say the black audience that white audiences are more accepting of a black performer in a sense I mean they're more willing to buy that person's CDs and go to see that person then then are the black. And then there's a black audience to do that same thing with white performers. This is interesting I think that's what I'm saying but i give us what i just said well you know it sounded like that. I think that I think that is complicated. I mean I think there's a lot of layers to it. Some of the artist that I mentioned who are selling well in the quote unquote underground but basically what the independent artists want finds a major record label
these artists are some people like to believe are new on guard and hip. And the style and the style of the music is a little bit different. You look at it doesn't have the same hit music sound and appearance as some of the mainstream black artists of the same time you take someone like Eminem who does fit that mold and he is selling to a lot of black kids as well as white. But again you can't it's difficult to pin down when there's no one documenting the audience. But what I do see is the other indicators for example when I worked at the source we did demographic surveys of our readers and we often found that at the at the at the at the high end our audience was 40 percent white in terms of the magazines who were selling to. So it seems farfetched to me that the source the magazine the Eddas hype was selling over 500000 magazines a month. That the that it could be that far different
for music to be going to 70 or 80 percent white is. Well I can understand that part of this does involve the issue of within any kind of art form you're talking. But there's a main stream which is always going to be the most popular perhaps the most accessible the most accessible and then there will always they'll be an on guard. And for those people who are doing things that are a little bit different maybe a little bit more difficult maybe not as accessible they're sent there their appeal is not going to be as great and that's kind of always the way that it's been no matter what kind of art form you're talking about. I think you also have what you have is within America I think today amongst a lot of white kids many of whom I talk to I talk a lot of white kids across the country and in the book I talk to kids in Oregon I talk to kids in Montana I talk to Hip-Hop kids in Gainesville Florida and Salt Lake City Utah in Minneapolis and you start to get you know a sense of where kids has a lot of kids who are into hip hop and who are young are looking for a counterculture or looking for
an oppositional identity. And they're finding that in hip hop. And so as they began to seek out artists a lot of kids who are in that mind frame are looking for artists who aren't commercial they want artists who are going against the grain. In so many ways one of the talk about in the book is that hip hop has become the new alternative music for many years. And rock n roll you could find an aspect of rock n roll that was represented counterculture whether it was the punk movement whether it was the grunge music movement. But with the decline of both of those movements many of those kids are now getting into hip hop and hip hop really within and history has been marketed and promoted as the new alternative music. I'm interested in having you talk a bit more about this idea that that hip hop and hip hop culture is going to have an influence or has already had an influence on the way people in particular young people think about race. OK. This is a good one. Again this is layered stuff.
How departing the way of it to me it's simple. I give the example of the sword battle with MNM which I have attempted dedicated to in the book. I think that it's impossible to continue to talk about race the same way after hip hop. I think that when the source began to attack the MNM and say that he is the Elvis of hip hop it doesn't make any sense especially for a magazine who has been at the forefront really of advancing the idea of a hip hop cultural movement. And so the idea that white kids are that that Eminem for example who grew up as poor as many black artists somehow is is just benefiting and stealing hip hop in the same way that Elvis stole rock n roll. When when when Eminem constantly and his racial announces in terms of his lyrics I think he's far more sophisticated than
many artists and I think that he understands that there is a new racial politics. And you hear it in the music the way that he processes race the way that the racial critique now in terms of the other music beyond that I think that he's average. I think there are people who think that he's the best grabber ever having lived. Listen to that much hip hop. And so I think that he in terms of his racial analysis so I think he's at the forefront if you listen a lot of things that he's saying on the song white America because in a lot of things he's saying on the on the song. It's a very sophisticated racial analysis I think there is a new racial politics that is emerging with this generation because of the impact of the civil rights movement and the success of the civil rights movement. You have young white kids vastly more familiar with black culture than they were then then black then white kids of any other generation because of the impact of African-Americans in terms of popular culture in this country etc. etc. because of the changing music scene because you have more white
kids in America today who I think are facing that there is a declining sense of among young white kids of white skin privilege. And so I think that because of all these variables you're starting to get a new way of thinking about race because of the emigration from many different communities from around the world in our lifetimes. I think that we started this process of race and think through race differently. Given the first time that I think that we've seen a new racial politics in America we've seen it before. What's unique about this moment is there is an institutional structure Hip-Hop embedded in the culture of America embedded in the society because of the effect the commerce that is allowing for the ideas that are being set forth in terms of race that are different to have for the same thing happen with the abolitionist movement. The same thing happened with the civil rights movement and because of that we saw a great dramatic changes in the country after those movies and I think the same thing will happen because of hip hop.
Yeah. Well a number of years ago I was having a conversation with the music writer Nelson George and he was the first person I ever heard who was in this conversation to use the term White Negro and he was talking about this very thing we're talking about that is performers who have been. Accused of and maybe rightly accused of appropriating black culture in gesture and music and probably the original White Negro was Elvis Presley. And there are others I don't know if he made up that term or somebody else did make it out to Norman Mailer but I don't know I don't know when you're I mean you know mailer did it well. So so that anyway it was Nelson that was the first person I ever heard use the term and and and I guess I'm I'm sort of curious about how you if you say somebody like Eminem is is at least expressing a culture that he really is is and in many ways his I mean that comes up it comes out of a sort of environment off which he grew. How do you how do you how do you think about a term like that does a term like that really mean something.
And how do you sort out somebody who in a sense is really doing something that comes out of what they came from and somebody who was just stealing something because it seems to have potential. I talk in the book and that chapter which is I use the term culture band in the title a taboo is you have a culture band and I make a distinction between someone who is stealing culture and someone who is appropriating culture and eg now living where they got it from. That's a very big difference. If you're if you're selling what they used to call raise Records which was you know black people making black music or white people making black music and then the packaging. Was had white people on the cover. But it was black artist that was making the music. The implications are vastly different. I think the Eminem is an artist who acknowledges where he came from and I think that you start to get into some of the one of the try to
do in the book is to talk about economics in great detail because second the economics tell the big part of the story of a lot of what happens in America. And in terms of the tasing economy as we move into the global economy in the in the late 60s and early 70s we saw manufacturing jobs going overseas. We saw education cuts in some of the schools. We saw the rise of incarceration. And I think that what we had then was young African-Americans and other people of color from throughout the Caribbean beginning to create a music and a culture that was responding to how do you survive the downsides of globalization. How do you deal with the reality as a young person that the best job you can get in America graduating from high school is to go into the military. How do you deal with that reality so hip hop becomes a response to that. I think as globalization has escalated now we have a reality where middle class people black and white those jobs are now being
outsourced outsourced in the same way that manufacturing jobs are being sent overseas. And the late 60s and early 70s and so when I talk about in the book is that in many cases just starting to get the same sense or growing as the alienation from mainstream American life among a lot of white American you Asian American you that's you know America's native America that cetera and that is to me what explains the draw to hip hop not just nationally but internationally. Our guest in this part of focus 580 is book KID 1 and he's written a lot about hip hop culture. He has done work for various publications including The Village Voice The Progressive his weekly column do the knowledge is published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He is the author of two books The Hip-Hop Generation and his newest that's just out. Why White Kids Love Hip Hop it's published by Basic Books. He was executive editor of the source the country's best selling music magazine for much of the 90s. He's also served as editorial director at Third World Press and also as a music reviewer for
NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. As we talk here continue to talk more about our mid point questions are welcome anybody who is listening wants to get on the conversation can do that by calling us 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 that's the Champaign-Urbana number we do also have a toll free line good anywhere that you can hear us so if it would be a long distance call use that number that's 800 to. 2 2 9 4 5 5. One of the things that you and I talk about when you were here last was the the increasing involvement of people who were in in the hip hop world in politics and the idea that here we had within hip hop culture people who were attracted to hip hop was a potential political voting bloc something that could be organized. And and we talked a little bit about that and efforts to organize in the runup to the 2004 elections. Right. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about where things stand right at the moment and if that's something that is
continuing to happen. Yes a good question. It is something that's still happening. I talk about this some in the book I have a chapter the last chapter where I talk about the activism that took place at the national level around. The 2004 election I talk in great detail about what I call white hip hop activists and I believe that these young white hip hop activists or at the forefront in terms of defining and created a framework for young white kids who are into hip hop to begin to think through some of these questions. You know there's a writer who I interview in the book his name is Billy whims that he founded an organization called The League of pissed off voters along with a woman named Kyle Stewart who's an attorney out of L.A. Billy wrote a book in 1994 called Bomb the suburbs. Bill Hughes a white kid from Chicago high part. His parents were professors at the University because he was a later I was a student at Oberlin. He grew up as a graffiti writer and he talks about the responsibility of white
kids who are growing up and hip hop. And this was 1994. A lot has changed since 94 but I think a lot what he has to say is still accurate but. People like Billy and people like Kyle and people like Wendy Day and others who I interview in the book I think are beginning to define what it means to be a white hip hop activist. And so I talk about that in the book I talk about some of some of the people who I interview were children of activists some of the people who I interviewed were in the punk rock movement and were older and late on that the hip hop some of the kids were that into hip hop and hip hop led them to politics because of the content and theme of hip hop. So you start to get a range of the political thought that's out there amongst a lot of young like kids who are trying to get engaged in this hip hop political movement which right now on the surface seems to be mostly black. And I made the comparison of this to the early days of hip hop
concerts which were mostly black because it was in a space where white kids felt welcome to organizations like the League of pissed off voters I think this time to create a space where white kids who are into hip hop and politics can feel comfortable coming into the hip hop political movement because if you ever attended events like the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network these events like ninety nine percent black and you would think that white kids who are into hip hop aren't political. So I try to lay some of these issues out in the book. Well we have scholars to bring in let's do that. We'll start with someone listening in Champaign. Whine whine. Well yes I want to make a comment about what you had asked earlier about the difference between some of the artists that are appropriate in the music and so many artist that are still in it right. Two names but no ice and Eminem. The difference between the two. That's pretty much the answer to that question right there.
And I'd like to know. I'd like to ask the gentleman on the office. What about what is rock music standards far as any kind of impact on the pop culture. That's a good question. What I see in terms of rock's impact on hip hop Most certainly you see it in some of the sampling. I think you started to see it and groups teaming up like Linkin Park and Daisy which really isn't anything new because it's Run DMC did the same thing in other groups have done it since but what I see that's different in terms of the crossing over in the mingling of rock and rap is and this is the article that I referenced in the book from a professor I think his name is Bill use mine but he talks about why. Rap groups or White Rock slash rap groups borrowing from hip hop and he talks about this as a way of displacing blackness so you know this particular writer takes the position that these
attempts to combine rock and rap are an attempt to keep to keep and maintain white supremacy So even though you're dealing with rap you're dealing with it in a way that rap music and black artists are are are are kind of being pushed to the side. He also used the expression expunging blackness in expunging black signifies. I agree with this to a certain extent but I think that the image of hip hop is so strongly associated with African-Americans that it would take an army of Eminem to to to change to change that. That's good. Well thank. For the Co. Thank you. Let's go to somebody else here this is a caller in Crete on our toll free line line for Hello. You know my philosophy is that the more the parents hate it the more the teenagers love it and I think that's one of the more important aspects for jazz or rock n roll and hip hop but I have a series of questions regarding violinists it seems as a constant reminder of this violent
phenomenon almost on a bi monthly basis of shootouts at studios people being shot in cars etc. almost East-West civil war going on like we had one mean 1860s North-South. Also the question of the Mafia the words Mafia and record companies and gaudy and things like that. And the issue of how much does the mafia have an influence on hip hop recording sessions etc.. Oh writing this is interesting. Let's see. I think that the FBI and local law enforcement have done so the excellent job of monitoring hip hop artists. I don't think anyone has anything to fear about hip hop getting out of control in a violent way. I think that the violence in hip hop in the media is overblown for a long time before hip hop really became mainstream American culture. Violence was the only time when the media even talked about hip hop.
What I see happening now there's an organization that monitors violence at concerts and it shows that violence is down. And they and they monitor internationally rap music figures then to answer that statistic but not in a major way I'd say I think of some like the percent of the incidents or less we're at a rap concert. And I think you're talking about under I think the last report showed by 25 incidents internationally that they could point to. So I think that this is something that the media over you know builds up beyond what it is and some of the references to. The mafia and gaiety and all that kind of the hook. I mean I think it's a sensational attempt to sell records and you know violence sells in America. And so I mean I think that's what it is I think that is it's something that I think is damaging for our young people and it's something I think that we should fight at an entertainment level. I think when we fight at just the hip hop only level then
we get into blaming young black kids once again for America's problems. I'm for the country taking a stand and setting a standard for violence and sex and entertainment I think is inappropriate that we more allow this stuff to be marketed to our children and I think we should do something about it. But I think it has to be done at the entertainment level not just the hip hop level. What have you heard about the Mafia's influence on the record companies over some of the stars of hip hop. What I have seen is more you know I think there's a there is a more influence of. People who are involved in the drug scene trying to make their money illegal. More so than a Mafia specific connection. I'm not familiar with anything like that other than you know what I've seen in terms of if you look at a lot of the emergence of hip hop films and a lot of the hip hop films celebrate and make reference to some of the
mafia oriented films you know films like The Godfather films like you know just just gang culture films like Scarface and to me what I see is a celebration of an underdog character who kind of rises against the odds who isn't supposed to make it who is an outcast from America and that is and part of the American story and it's something that I think a lot of young kids are feeling as they feel more alienated from mainstream American life. Final question do you see any east west of hostility between the east coast nor New York and California. I think a lot less of an overblown I think it was overblown back when it was a real when back when they had the when there was Tupac and Biggie you know battling are whacked. I thought that that you know that there was some element so that was real. But you know in the midst of even all that these artists were being monitored by the FBI and this is documented so it's not just some luck
of yours the theory you have police officers and the entourage of off duty officers an entourage of both began to pop. So I think that a lot of this stuff needs to be analyzed at a greater level. I don't think that there is an East Coast West Coast war that never has been there's been a handful of artists who had beef with the artist another Hampel artist and I don't think it signifies an entire city and it definitely doesn't signify and tie coasts. Thank you very much. All right let's go to we have another cell phone or someone calling here on the cell phone on our line one. Hello. Yes hello. Yeah I'm really enjoying the show. I'm going to go ahead and ask my question and then. Listen to the response. I think one of the things that in these times really give me hope for the possibility of widespread political change is the the power of hip hop I think to bring young people
together young people from from you know different geographical location different socioeconomic backgrounds and you know really with I think I think it have the potential to to bring them together and to to create really some powerful changes in our political system. I think what's challenging for me as someone who's not that familiar with hip hop is I guess the fact that most of. Of what I hear really seems to be stuck in the kind of glorification of the violent lifestyle that that doesn't really lead anywhere. And that one really has to dig deep to try to find more you know more politically aware or politically oriented Hip-Hop. And I was just wondering what your thoughts were about that and maybe if you had recommendations Pacific recommendations for listeners who are
interested in exploring more political hip hop and. And then also just what your thoughts are as far as whether or not you see the hip hop movement moving as a whole into a more sort of politically aware and politically engaged process. I think I'll bring up and listen to Rama. OK. What can I write a dissertation on it. Let me say I think that your open your opening comments. You're right on target and I think what you're saying is accurate I think that that is what's happening and I think it is very powerful. And you know people want to deal with that in terms of how can I respond to that. Nelly ville for example sold 9 million CDs to date. The massacre by 50 Cent sold 1.4 million CDs in four days. I think the potential of translating those numbers and to political power is very real and very possible and that's what the
Hip-Hop Political Movement is about. And so I think many activists on the ground locally have been involved in this process you know going back 10 or 15 years. What we have more recently are a handful of groups trying to take that to a national level of the group that just emerged recently called the Hip Hop Caucus out of Washington D.C. that's on some real interesting work. But in terms of recommendation for Imo the point you made about how the the what you mostly see I mean again we get back to setting a standard as a as a country for the entertainment industry I mean I think this whole idea of the consolidation of American entertainment in the hands of a of a handful of corporations is a part of the problem. You do have some local radio stations that are you know wising up and letting artists get on the air so you're getting more circulation. But. I think that in terms of finding out this information I think you do have to do but I think there are a lot more opportunities than they used to than they used to be in terms of digging their mistake these days who are you know
concentrating just on politics of the D-Day out of North Carolina. Her name is MC sailor and she has a website I think is in CSAIL or dot com. Her stuff is very political. She is making mix tapes that has a range the artist on this. Some of them I've never even heard of. So I think that. And if that was incredible you'd think about an artist like Immortal Technique artist like Brother Ali at a Minneapolis artist like Miss a live and acrobatic out of Boston. These artists I think are delving deep with the politics and a real strong political conversation. So I see the movement is I think is very viable. I think that a lot of people are fed up. In the book what I talk about is the how how a Washington election a nineteen eighty three and I show the similarities between the climate then for those people who are outside of the process many of whom hadn't voted before. And I make this comparison to the climate now with hip hop and that was a very cross racial movement to elect Harold Washington and it was a very cross racial thing cross-cultural
government I think we can do the same thing with hip hop if we look and learn from that example. There's that I hope the guts of the questions the call let's go on here we have another caller in this is Urbana lying. Two good running one for making shallow well that women in hip hop think you'll write a book just about women in hip pap and how they process the information they're bringing to their listeners and how they write it and who listen specifically to women have pap. That's a good question. I think that I'm working on a piece on women in hip hop. It's called The Love Hip Hop a black women. But there are other pieces out already that a circular And I think are important is a book out by Mark Anthony Neal called New Black Man. And in the last chapter he talks in detail about representations of women in hip hop. There's a new book coming out by a professor at the head of black studies at Vanderbilt University. Her
name is Dr. Sharp Tracy Sabo rewiring the book is entitled hold down. And so indeed there's Joan Morgan's book once again has come home to roost. So there's a lot of information that is a part of the book by going to Wimpole which is called check it while I record it with deals with the impact of women on hip hop. So there's a lot of information out there already and I think there's more coming. I think that is problematic. The representation the women and I see more and more a resistance and a response to it. One of the trends that I see most certainly on the in the underground and that the independent artist level is there are more women coming to the shows than they used to be. People talk about the rise of a white audience I think that that's an element. But another element that people are talking about is the rise of a younger audience of hip hop kids coming to concerts and a rise of women coming to independent concerts. So I see some interesting trends. I see women around the country protesting and
responding to the negative representations of women and I think it's going to have an impact I think that this will inevitably be a part of any significant Hip-Hop Political Movement you know about five six minutes left in this part of focus. I'm sure we get one or two more callers in a People want to call real quick. Our guest this morning is because he could want to he's writer has written a lot about hip hop culture. He's the author of two books The Hip-Hop Generation the end of the brand new one it's titled Why White Kids Love Hip Hop it's published by Basic Books. One thing. You talked a bit earlier about the fact that hip hop culture has certain imperatives political economic and spiritual rank and we've touched on some of those a little bit except maybe the third one tell me what are the spiritual imperatives of hip hop. I'm working on a new book also with a young minister. His name is Jeff Johnson. The book is looking at Christianity and hip hop. We kind of get into a lot of these
issues in terms of the spiritual and kind of I think that this is one of the things that's kind of been left off the radar along with a lot of other things happening in hip hop but if you start to listen intensely to the music you start to pick up on a lot of spiritual references a lot of searching amongst young people for spiritual center. And I think that hip hop is offering answers. You know there's even the odd of like 50 Cent he's talking about God alongside of a lot of the crazy things but you start to see a pattern in the music where young people are raising the question. The other thing that's going on again is that a belief the radar is the emergence of a number of hip hop ministries around the country young people in the church tired of. Other young not enough young people being in the church are beginning to are young ministers men tired of the old the old guard not allowing hip hop into the church are doing a lot of creative things in terms of creating hip hop ministries of the church in Baltimore called Empowerment Temple huge following
in the thousands. Church is less than a year old. They have a deejay on Sunday morning. You have to think of Kurtis Blow is going to be doing a ministry similar to that. You also have Mays who was with the bad boy who left the door of the church you have a ministry in Chicago. I think they call it the house. And the minister Phil Jackson and others around the country so you star in this is one of the trends that I see is the emergence of the hip hop ministry where young people are creating churches that speak to hip hop as a youth culture and incorporating that to the church and a spiritual dimension into that. One of things I think is really interesting. When you're making this argument about the power of hip hop culture to bring together people across lines of race who maybe have common experiences what it suggests to me as a one of the things that maybe has the power to do is to get people thinking about and talking about something in this country that we don't think about and talk about very much and that's class. Right.
And I wonder to what extent you think hip hop really does it deal with that and does it deal with that in a way that's really obvious so that people know that is what they're talking about. I think so. I think even when you talk about want to play Jay-Z because these artists are addressing class issues you know whether this Celebrating 100 belated train get on the one hand or whether they're talking about where they came from and how and what options were available to them. One other I think class is a huge issue in hip hop. You have. If the group got a camera with a base but they're there they're young activists who are very a following. The group of course that my cool rich white kids and they are trying to find ways to fund activist groups. So I think there's a lot of ways that class is being addressed mostly by Art is what talking about the issues the issues of young people who
are seeking jobs in this economy and can't find them is a very important study that came out of the Center for Labor Market Research at Northeastern University that found that two thirds of young people today were this standard of living with less than their parents in the in the in the older generation was 1950. So we seem to be going backwards. Economically the IRS did a report that showed the income for the top 1 percent of Americas was a hundred and sixty two thousand dollars a year after taxes compared to the bottom 40 percent which is about twenty one thousand dollars. You have to taxes. And I think that this is the climate that young people are finding themselves in with college education becoming more and more out of reach with a public education system that more and more isn't working. And the best job option that we seem to be offering our young people is opportunity to go fight in Iraq. I think we have to do better and I think that the Hip-Hop Political Movement is raising these kind of questions.
- Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America
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- Bakari Kitwana, writer and author of the column "Do The Knowledge" in The Cleveland Plain Dealer
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- APA: Focus; Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the New Reality of Race in America . Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_16-fx73t9dn9c