April 25, 2008


Ding-ding, 'nother letter! Race, rap-crit, Fat Mike softballs, punks saying fag vs. rappers saying it--lets talk about it all!


Wait, wait. Time out. I have to disagree with the last posted letter from your mailbag. On the contrary, it seems to me that white-hipster outlets such as Pitchfork feel a need to justify and quantify their positive reviews of mainstream rap music by pointing out that the last Snoop Dogg album is good despite sexism. Eminem is a talented artist despite his homophobia. It works in the opposite way as well-do you remember their review of Sage Francis' "A Healthy Distrust"? Rather than examine the album musically, the majority of the review was fuled by the thesis that Sage Francis is a great rapper because he's not homophobic.
What is this shit? When's the last time you read a review that felt a need to point out that Mos Def, Common, Cage, Rhymefest, El-P, SA Smash, whothefuckever use the word "fag"? It's all about the music when a rapper is beloved by indie-kids but if the act gets more play in Harlem than Williamsburg, expect some sort of back-handed apology for the positive review.
Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming Pitchfork for the advent of this double-standard; I think they do a great job most of the time. I am also certainly not trying to suggest that mainstream rap is not frequently sexist or homophobic.
Here's what I am saying: Why do certain acts, in rock and rap, get a pass based on the idea that what they're saying is "rhetoric"? When 50 Cent says "bitch", that's a reflection of his ignorance but when the Descendents sing, "go away you fucking gay!" that's just a funny legendary pop-punk band clowning around? Unlike Slim Shady who only wrote a song about killing his girlfriend with a knife, Sid Vicious actually did it. How often do we talk about that? The Sex Pistols are the stuff of Greil Marcus books and Urban Outfitters tees. I hear about how Cam'ron disrespects women in a review, which he does, but why doesn't any punk magazine ask Fat Mike why he has lyrics like, "you can't change the world by hating men" instead of asking him to explain how much he hates George Bush?
There's no litmus test generally applied to people who are into emo/punk/metal-core/screamo/insert variation of rock cloaked in phony anti-mainstream ideals here. Why? Why the assumption that a rad record collection can earn you pass on bad ideas? Or vice versa?


Posted by Jessica at April 25, 2008 04:15 PM | TrackBack