SHOPPING AND HIP HOPPING WITH VIOLENCE

This interview caused a minor furore in the UK recently with David Starkey being accused of racism. Of course, he wasn't being racist, he was just stating an uncomfortable fact.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, black kids, born in the UK, spoke with the accent of their home region or spoke posh. Black Country lad, Lenny Henry, is the perfect example of how strong, geographical accents are picked up quickly by young people living in an area (I expect because they want to "fit in" with their peers) even when the accent of their parents is from a different geographical region.

But, at the beginning of the 80s something very weird started to happen in the UK. Firstly in inner city, London, and then spreading to other large cities, young, black people (especially males), who had previously spoken like their white, British contemporaries, started to adopt a bastardised, Jamaican patois. It was about the time of the riots in the UK which were primarily a response to the institutionalised racism in Britain. Because of the failure of white people in the UK to treat black people as equals within society, young, black people turned their back on the concept of integration and chose, in stead, to claim for themselves primary allegiance to an idealised and cherry-picked, "black," cultural identity. At the time this was disappointing for those of us who had been wholeheartedly pursuing a melting pot remedy to racism but we understood their decision and were certainly not fearful of it. Back then, the cultural icons of young, black people in the UK were mainly Jamaican musicians such as Bob Marley who sang about peace and reconciliation as well as trying to make black people proud of their own cultural identities and confident of their capabilities. The other major influence on black, youth culture in the UK was the success of black people in music, films and comedy in the USA. All this was very positive. Performers, such as Eddie Murphy and Aretha Franklin, were black and proud of it and their extreme talent helped to dispel the bigoted view of black people being less human than white people from the consciousness of many white people in the UK, especially the young.

Then, a bad thing happened, that completely upset the liberal, hippy applecart. Performers within the US hip-hop culture stopped rapping about "hotels, motels and holiday inns" and started to get aggressive. Rap lyrics started to become racist rather than encouraging and aggression towards society was promoted by the glamorizing of crime, even violent crime. In Jamaica, roots reggae had given way to dancehall and this too had taken a negative turn with boasting, sexism and homophobia becoming a mainstay of the lyrical repertoire.

What happened next in the UK was even stranger. Firstly Asian youth and then white youth began to listen to rap records. This was not surprising as white youth in the UK have been fans of black music since they first discovered jazz and blues. What was surprising was that they started to talk in the same patois as their black contemporaries. Previously, British, black music fans had revered black people, now they started to identify with them. This is something humans do occasionally. You get Australians pretending to be natives of the deep south of the USA. The French went through a period of pretending they were Scottish. Usually it is just harmless fun. But British youth, of all ethnic backgrounds, decided to idealise one aspect of black culture at just the time that it was going through the most nihilistic expression of itself, namely the promotion of gangstaism with its selfish, sexist, vengeful and "dog eat dog" world view.

When I was a teenager I was fanatical about music. I loved soul music, reggae and, when it arrived on the scene, punk rock. My love of black music greatly influenced my attitude towards black people to the extent that I fought against fascist skinheads in running battles on Brick Lane and elsewhere. My love of punk rock was probably responsible for my iconoclastic personality and suspicion of institutional authority. Young people are influenced by the lyrics, public pronouncements and lifestyles of the musicians they listen to, either directly or second-hand through peer pressure. Those who downplay the influence of music in the lives of the young are dangerously wrong. Heck, if academics can claim that the troubadour movement of the middle ages could influence the thinking of Europeans at the time, then we should be open to the idea of similar influences today. David Starkey is a historian and he will have a better understanding of how such influences work than any trendy politician or liberal talking head.

So, I agree with Starkey. I have been saying for a long time that hip hop culture is a very bad thing. It encourages an ungodly view of life and, especially, other people. It also portrays black people as unintelligent, bigoted thugs and, in doing this, it has caused irrevocable harm to the "peace process" between the races.

But, as a historian myself, I want to take all this back one stage by asking the question, "Why?".

Why are some young, black people and their white and Asian wannabe contemporaries, promoting such a destructive, evil lifestyle and taking it to the streets of the UK?

I do not think it has much to do with black people being treated unjustly within Britain. Black people throughout the Western world have been treated unjustly for centuries and, previously, they have managed to retain their dignity and moral righteousness (in fact, it has been this that has won them their greatest gains in equality). I also do not think that it has much to do with black culture as gangstaism and bigotry are not specifically black expressions of cultural identity. Ironically, I believe that hip hop apes white culture, in particular the culture of white, Western capitalism. The gangs on our city streets are not a living out of African tribal customs, they are the living out, within context, of the practices of modern day, big business. Young people, of all races, see the callous way that the fat cats of industry render their employees jobless and hopeless just so they can make more money and live more obscenely extravagant lives; they see how the lives of other people are expendable in the pursuit of personal profit, they see how the rich are not held accountable for their crimes against humanity and they conclude that if the high and mighty can prosper from such self-centred violence against society, then they have every right to do so themselves.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan caused the recent riots in England. And, everybody who bought into their Randian dream stoked the fires.

POSTSCRIPT 1: The North East of England is the poorest region of England. Yet, during the recent unpleasantness, there were just a handful of arrests for inciting criminal behaviour via Twitter and Facebook. There were no riots. In fact, thousands of young Geordies swamped the social media with demands that there should be no rioting because Geordies are proud of their city.

Newcastle Upon Tyne is not what you would label a multi-cultural city.

POSTSCRIPT 2: This is an article, not a book. I have painted with broad brush strokes to get my point across within the constraints of a blog post. I am perfectly aware that cultures are multi-faceted and hip hop is only representative of a very small proportion of the black population of the world. I know that not all rap lyrics are from the dark side. I am also aware that cultures are made up of individuals with their own unique beliefs and experiences. I am even prepared to consider the possibility that not all leaders of commerce are bastards, although, so far, I have not come across any convincing evidence to the contrary.

Thanks to LaBiscuitsnapper for posting the link to the video and Chelliah Laity whose own post on this matter got me thinking about it for myself.

Comments

SHOPPING AND HIP HOPPING WITH VIOLENCE — 83 Comments

  1. There is a lot in this, about the negativity of aspects of culture, drawing on a capitalistic model that is unavailable. I want to go further to the economic heart of it, and that the gangland culture is a form of alternative economy – with drugs, violence, acquisition, anti-critical education – and that so much of it depressingly copies the valueless instrumental capitalism that runs the rest of the world.

  2. ‘Hip hop culture is a very bad thing’.
    You would not recognize some forms of hip hop even if David Starkey hit you in the face with them.
    Say, have you ever listened to Spearhead? If not, look them up. Definitely not an exception in ‘hip hop culture’. Solid lyrics. Even better music.

    ‘(hip hop culture) encourages an ungodly view of life and, especially, other people. It also portrays black people as unintelligent, bigoted thugs and, in doing this, it has caused irrevocable harm to the “peace process” between the races’.
    See, here I am not sure whether that was a quote from Starkey or even more of your unqualified babbling. You’re speaking of ‘hip hop’ as if it embodied everything you fear about black people or, at least, about black people who do not clearly behave according to your middle aged, middle classed, rich-West wise perspective on things.
    Also, fyi, there is no such thing as ‘races’. Human or otherwise. To speak of anything like human ‘races’ you would have to provide a decent rationale for what elements allegedly set one human ‘race’ apart from other human ‘races’. Beyond ethnic elements (biological or cultural, but certainly not racial) I am afraid you’re only left with uneducated forms of racism.

    That you should give even a hint of credit to such pile of racist rubbish as David Starkey appears to be promoting only helps to explain your previous outbursts of uncontrollable racism as featured in ‘A nigger in the woodpile’ and ‘Hearts of darkness’ or whatever your o so kitschy choice of words was.

    Poor soul, I hope that one day you’ll stop being so afraid of Western-different black people whom you can’t just ignore and go ahead with your successful ministerial life.

    Toc

  3. Toc, congratulations. It is rare that someone writes a response that proves with such clarity that they have not read or understood the post.

    FWIW
    jimB

  4. This is so stupid and ill informed I am surprised you would post it and give it credence. There are plenty of rap and hip hop performers and lyrics that promote peace and love and justice. You might as well condemn 19th century hymns for promoting war (oh maybe they do – Onward Xn Soldiers). Glittering generalities are always the product of lack of knowledge and promotion of an agenda.

  5. In general, Madie, I think you are right on—but not being a contemporary music person myself, I can’t speak with any authority—but I would add that at the root of this is the repudiation of community and the glorification of the individual (which is a wholly predictable dynamic of free market capitalism).
    “I am for ME and ME ALONE. I care nothing about you or anyone else. There is no such thing as ‘the common good’ because there is no such thing as community.”
    Capitalism says that you are in it for yourself alone—and the more you can get (at whatever cost to others) the better. And you can never have enough or get too much. It’s “I’ll get mine and screw you, baby.”
    And one saw that over and over and over during the riots. It is the absolute opposite of the (note: very African) umbutu.
    We see it in religion in extreme Protestantism by which the individual is the ultimate measure of truth (or in Charismatics where the individual emotional jag is the ultimate). We see it in the screaming, rending, pounding music. We see it in the private emotional gush of much so-called art (which is really more like the ‘self-expression’ of masturbation or vomiting than an art that communicates anything).

    You know, it always seems to me that Jesus was a fairly minor moral teacher (i.e., 98% of what he taught had been taught by others—the Stoics, Buddhists, etc.) but what he uniquely promoted was COMMUNITY—bonding, uniting, sharing, gathering, assembling—Holy Communion-ity.

    And the only reason I can smash shop windows, loot stores and burn apartments is because I have ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE OF ANY RELATION OR CONNECTION OR THE FAINTEST COMMONALITY WITH THE OWNERS. There is no community, only separated, un-united, private individuals.

  6. Glad you backed off supporting the article. Still think he does not need any more press. Reinforces fear and does not promote looking at why the music is popular. Music is not a cause – it is a result – it speaks to what is in the mind and heart.

  7. There is so little life-affirming rap that it has its own sub-category (positive rap). I can’t remember positive jazz, blues, soul or funk. It’s also been twenty odd years since P.M.Dawn and De La Soul tried to steer rap away from its aggressive stance. As for Christian rap. Ye gods! It’s as bad as Christian rock. The only band I ever rated was P.I.D. and they must be as old as me.

  8. That’s not an apology, Ann.

    And no, music is not just a result of cultural mores. It can be used, and often is, to promote and make popular the agenda of the few. Wagner’s music caused, in part, nazism. The troubadours invented chivalry and Romanticism came from those artists initially promoting it.

    My guess is that I know more about music than anybody who visits this blog. Not only that I was active in quite a few youth movements and I know how they work.

  9. I’ve thought the same about music in general. I got the idea from some good sources, too. Plato spent a good deal of The Republic (I’m away from my copy so I can’t get a citation but I think Book 3 is the place to look) discussing the importance of music in the foundation and management of the state. He expresses the idea that training in appropriate music is more important in establishing the sort of public morality (needed for a society to hold together) than any other form of education.

    There is an apocryphal saying that has been attributed to many different thinkers: “Let me write the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws.” That sums it up rather nicely, I suppose.

  10. Thanks, Dennis.

    I think what is important is balance. There has always been rebellion in music and that, I believe, is a good thing, that is beneficial to society. There was plenty of rebellion in rock and roll. But nobody cut up live chickens because of Alice Cooper or Ozzie Osborne because of the irony in their music. Rap used to have irony (I cite “If I Ruled the World” in evidence) but it is long gone. Gangsta rappers are gangsters. How unimaginative is that?

    The tragedy is that rap started off with a social conscience. Melle Mel’s rhymes were righteous and attacked the gang and drug cultures that were destroying young black people.

  11. and an important point that needs to be added:

    we should remember the role that the music and entertainment industry, particularly companies like Sony (previously CBS records), Universal, etc., played in promoting rap/ hip hop, including the most violent and extreme images of gangsta’ life. The record labels saw that their sales to urban youth were dropping in the late 70s and early 80s. Rap was selected as a way to turn around sales and it worked. Because the sales were higher for records promoting violence, they were nurtured and defended (with record executives paying for attorneys where needed).

    As in everything else this big in modern life, it was deliberately nurtured for the sake of profit. Not only did violent music and the associated violent street life copy the corporate attitudes, it was nurtured and promoted in the same way that smoking as a lifestyle has been nurtured and promoted by the tobacco companies. The record labels did more than just advertise their new records, they created focus groups and studies to see what images and what messages would sell in inner cities and among every other demographic (white/ rural/ etc.) A multiyear marketing program resulting in vast profits stands directly behind this stuff (as it does behind almost every other major lifestyle movement in modern life.) They knew what they were doing: you don’t commission multiple marketing studies without having someone say in your ear: “it may be very profitable, but we are selling death.”

    There will be those who will yell that you are attacking freedom of expression/ speech/ culture/ whatever. It is nice that they will have bought in to the arguments of some very unsavory entertainment execs.

    You can almost hear the record execs behind their complaints: “How dare you attack the free expression this young performer and the vast sums of money I’ve made promoting the destruction of urban communities! Why you must be an elitist racist to think that I am not due vast sums of money for deliberately and knowingly marketing death and violence!”

  12. Yes! Yes! Yes!

    The only people profiting from gangsta rap are the record company execs and the only people dying because of it are poor black kids.

  13. Hmm.. for the moment we will leave the comment about knowing more than all your visitors lie.

    The problem with pointing to one or two “rap artists” who are relatively positive is that we know who they are. They stand out precisely because the rest of the work is so negative, violent and anti-community.

    I have the same reaction to Wagner. Pointing out to me that a particular element is technically brilliant or particularly moving ignores the content and message of the whole.

    The music a culture hears, the art a society nurtures tells us a lot about that society or culture. As that changes, propelled in our day by a ravenous “entertainment industry” it not only reflects change it makes change.

    FWIW
    jimB

  14. Whether music comes out of a culture or a culture is created by music seems to me to be a chicken/egg sort of question. My guess would be that cause/effect moves in both directions. Having said that, I do not let music executives off the hook for promoting and giving preference to violent, racist, misogynist music. They are indeed culpable.

    As to the video, Mitchell makes a great deal of sense, and young Jones makes sense. Starkey’s commentary comes across to me as rather thinly veiled racism.

    Young people, as they grow up, are fed through TV commercials and advertisers about what they should want from life, which is…stuff. The poor youth can’t afford the stuff. A good many of them don’t have jobs. They have no stake in a society which appears not to care very much about them, so it doesn’t matter to them if their community is destroyed, and they will even participate in the destruction. They are young people of no hope, and young people of no hope with time on their hands do not bode well for the health of a community.

    The youths are smart enough to note that rich corporations pillage communities with impunity, with no consequences. Rather than blaming speech patterns or music tastes, we grown-ups should be asking ourselves why the young are so disaffected and whether, at heart, we really care about ALL our children and youth and take steps to form a society that promotes their well-being.

    I’m not picking on the English, because I’d say much the same about the US, nor am I justifying violence, destruction, and burning. There’s no excuse for that sort of behavior. I’m asking why the youth take that path.

  15. Mimi,

    What I think you miss, and I think a good deal of what the discussion and post seek to make clear is that the causal relationship exists and is nurtured by the ravenous corporate greed of some executives and the few successful rap musicians.

    Consider that in the first great depression, the poverty, lack of social services or safety net, and hopelessness was at least as bad as now if not a lot worse.

    The music was union organizing songs, socialist songs certainly, and community hymn singing. Did we have suffering and people who were discarded, detached and left on the curb? Absolutely! But they were singing the IWW songbook, the Delta Blues, and the Sacred Harp. They saw themselves as part of a wronged community perhaps, they were far from perfect people, but they were not looting stores in organized “flash riots”

    Context and art do matter. The fact is that someone (cf. Sony and ABC) is cynically selling what makes the young feel violent, deprived and atomically removed from community. They sell it as “black music” and a lot of black youth are sucked into it. So are an increasing number of white kids. Add a spark, any spark and you have riots.

    FWIW
    jimB

  16. “Nobody listens to that which they are not already ready to hear.”

    Yes, that’s why we have laws about not inciting hatred in Europe. We learnt that it is best not to speak out loud some of the things people want to hear during the 30s and 40s.

    No apology yet, I notice.

  17. Jim, I didn’t entirely miss it, did I?

    Having said that, I do not let music executives off the hook for promoting and giving preference to violent, racist, misogynist music. They are indeed culpable.

    I stand by what I said. Of course, it’s just my opinion. Anyone is free to disagree and have a different opinion.

  18. Ironically, I believe that hip hop apes white culture, in particular the culture of white, Western capitalism. The gangs on our city streets are not a living out of African tribal customs, they are the living out, within context, of the practices of modern day, big business.

    WORD. (But not The Word)

  19. I’m saying “Word” to your claim, as clarified. There is some good hip-hop, but the Money-Money-Money/Hoochies-Hoochies-Hoochies/Guns-Guns-Guns form of hip-hop is as you say.

  20. Jim, MP, you appear to believe that hip hop culture is, essentially, a bad thing, because a majority of its artists have whored and are still whoring themselves to Big Disco and, at the same time providing awful role models to youth in vulnerable situations.

    Two can sing to that tune. See, since MOST Christian preachers, ministers, healers, bishops, pastors et al appear to believe (either by conviction or consent to institutional homophobia) that gay people are not ‘normal’, why don’t we just give up in affirming that the love in Christ knows no discrimination, including gender-discrimination? After all, we gay-affirming Christians should expect others to feel about us just as some of us feel about, say, non-stereotypical hip hop artists.

    Yes, MP, it’s ok to want your cake and eat it too. It just doesnt work.

    And do consider checking out stuff by Spearhead. Wooorth it.

    Toc

  21. “Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan caused the recent riots in England.”

    I believe you have made an excellent (and intriguing) point here, MadPriest. I imagine I’ll probably think about it for quite some time.

  22. I think hip hop is a bad thing because it is a lot less than black people can achieve. The amount of talent required to cobble together a load of samples of real musicians work and recite a nursery rhyme over it is very small compared to the talent of the great soul singers and M.O.B.O. musicians of the pre-hip hop era. It’s like saying my photoshops are worth the same as a real cartoonist’s work. That so many young, black people celebrate this underachievement is a tragedy.

    And I’m willing to consider the proposition that Christianity, as we experience it today, is a bad thing.

  23. The verbal dexterity of the best rappers surely compares favourably with the best that contemporary pop has to offer (and it is worrying that people don’t allow the same potential for irony and playfulness in hip-hop that they do in more ‘respectable’ art forms; Eminem is not, in point of fact, actually a serial killer, and Seamus Heaney applauded him for a reason. An air of drugs, menace and violence was one thing that made the Stones so alluring but people don’t – or at least shouldn’t – blame them for ‘glamourising’ and so inculcating self or societal destruction).

    And Jay-Z, for example, went from living in poverty to being worth half a billion dollars (which, no, doesn’t go on glocks and rocks; he’s heavily involved in Bono-esque charity projects). Sounds like a pretty good role model to me. Whereas Kanye West’s Prince-style genius on albums like My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy makes Gaga look like what she really is : just a visual project, with a few catchy songs.

    Apparently kids are also prone to call the police “Feds”, like they do in The Wire. Is the greatest TV show ever made at fault now too? Nonsense.

    (p.s. – never commented here before but read it for years, so despite my disagreement with the orginal post: keep up the brave, good, hilarious and original work, Father J! :-))

  24. >>>>I think hip hop is a bad thing because it is a lot less than black people can achieve. The amount of talent required to cobble together a load of samples of real musicians work and recite a nursery rhyme over it is

    Nonsense. Whenever people say that raps easy, and they’re asked to write one, they invariably respond with “yo, you know I can rap/it ain’t no crap/you’re gonna get zapped” garbage. The vocabulary, rhythmm, use of assonance etc etc that one finds in the best rap demonstrates an invention and craft that would be lauded in more ‘traditional’ poetry. The point about sampling is to create a hook. Lots of ‘respectable’ rock bands (like Oasis, whose Noel Gallagher condemned Jay-Z at Glastonbury) create album after albums of similar-sounding songs, with workaday riffs and heard-it-all-before melodies. I love REM, but Peter Buck was very amusing and honest when he pointed out that most of their chord progressions were nicked from The Byrds!

    There’s a troubling double standard in the fact that intertextuality et all is perfectly respectable in the Quality Lit Biz, but rappers *creating* a catchy combination of hooks and beats is damned as less ‘creative’ than the phoned-in phrases of much ‘respectable’ rock.

  25. Boaz, thank you for translating my last comment into Australian.

    cerebusboy, I agree that rap is equivalent to current pop (and most previous pop for that matter). In my last comment I am comparing it to the highest achievements of black music forms such as soul, jazz, gospel and the blues.

    “The Message” was both verbally dexterous and poetic; Scott Heron and the Last Poets were wordsmiths of the highest order. But rap has now become lazy doggerel and hearing “Uh Huh Huh” over and over again makes me want to scream “STFU!”

    I know from my experience of blogging that a huge percentage of people don’t get irony. A high percentage of this percentage get aggressive very easily. Those of us who use irony have to be careful in our use of it. Direct calls for violent action are far too dangerous to be employed ironically in uncontrolled situations. I made the mistake once of headlining a piece on black homophobia, “Nigger in the Woodpile.” That’s a great piece of irony but most people saw it as racial hatred.

    I would be interested to know how the Jay-Z’s of rap are now regarded by the hip hop underground. My guess is that they will be regarded in the same way that rock purists now regard Bono.

  26. Thanks for that reply Madpriest. Will check out the Nigger in the Woodpile post.

    In your list of the highest forms of black music, would you agree that, in some, their appeal is due to factors like rhythm i.e. they are good to dance to? The genius of a James Brown (or a master/stealer of the form like Elvis) is due to their instinctive appeal, they are not, nor do they aspire to be, primarily intellectual? It is strange when the key aspects of rap – beats and flow – are undervalued so when their equivalent in other forms of black music are rightly praised.

    Jay-Z has his share of haters, but I’m not sure how it’s important. Gangsta rap isn’t all rap. Gangsta is Dre, Snoop (albeit with a twist) and The Game. Eminem had such an impact because he was wrapping about poverty and violence; Kanye West has spoken out against homophobia and raps about important issues etc. Why damn a whole genre – rap – because some of it is lazy doggerel, if the best, most famous and most successful work of rappers such as Kanye or Eminem is not? ‘Most’ of any form of music is rubbish. And there is no mainstream pop equivalent of (say) Jay-Z’s ” blame Reagan for making me into a Monster/Blame Oliver North and Iran Contra”. And a few years ago Nas was going to call a serious album on serious issues “Nigger” : he had to change it as, being a rapper, people assumed he was just being puerile and attention-seeking. That incident shows the follow of anti-rap oversimplifications, not the intrinsic oversimplifications of rappers per se

  27. Yes, most black music that was produced in the pre-hip hop era was pop music. But even then, great talent was needed from the session musicians on the backing. But I am talking about aspiration and so I am referring to singers such as Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin and musicians such as Donald Byrd and Booker T. I regard hip hop production as a mechanical skill in the same way I regard photoshopping as a mechanical skill.

    I did say in the original post that not all rap is gangsta. But going back to what this post was originally in response to, the claim is that gangsta rap contributed to mind set of the rioters. Not all politicians in Germany in the 30s called for the extermination of the Jewish population. Unfortunately, those that did had the greatest effect on the thinking and actions of the German population of the time.

  28. cart and horse surely? I’m sure I’m not unique in liking things like (say) Shameless and hip-hop because I can relate to them more than I can middle-class guff like Harry Potter. You might claim that there are more people who riot than there are law-abiding listeners like me, but I’m not sure what empirical basis you’d have for doing so.

    Why would it be in the interests of record companies to whip-up attitudes that lead to rioting? That makes as much sense as them encouraging the Pirate Bay or BitTorrent!

  29. I am not claiming anything percentagewise. I am agreeing with the claim that gangsta rap led to the rioting. I don’t think individual record companies give a damn about any collateral damage caused to other businesses.

  30. Also, it’s limiting when people use talent in a sense close to “something difficult to do; doing the laborious naturally”. If someone put a gun to your head (analogy taken from Dave Sim) and asked you draw either a Rockwell Saturday Post cover or a cubist Picasso which would you choose? I’d say most people would go for the Picasso, because it’s “easier”. Does that make Rockwell more talented than Picasso? Dave Sim says “yes”, but I’d say “of course not”.

    Also, the usual narratives in gangsta rap are about drug dealing, becoming rich or dying trying, killing someone because they killed your friend etc etc. Stealing trainers from JD sport and smashing up pound shops is pathetically chavvy, not “gangsta”. If people who did so are already mishearing lyrics so then does that not suggest that the blame can hardly be put at the door of the person who wrote them?

  31. PS: I’d like to second this: “Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan caused the recent riots in England.”

    You are SO not just whistling Dixie.

    Divide and conquer. It still works.

    I have to wonder if Mr. Starkey would have been called racist for his statements, if he had been a black American and still said the same thing.

  32. Your first point has merit. All I can say is that, as a photoshopper, I see myself as a sampler rather than an artist. Beyond that I don’t think I can put into words my reasoning for this.

    Your second point is overly simplistic and I believe you know it to be. Influences translate differently into different cultures. It’s complicated.

    The blokje who got killed was a gansta from a well known extended family of gangstas. His family’s reaction (claiming innocence for someone they knew to be guilty) was very ganstaish. An English gangster’s family would never have cried foul like that. They would have simply accepted that their man had died from one of the hazards of their trade.

  33. David Starkey may be guilty of believing that his culture is “better” than gansta culture, but he is not a racist. In fact, he made it clear that the English riots were not a black thing. If anything, he was belittling white, English youths for being stupid and gullible rather than black, American rappers.

  34. Um, didn’t people go through this in the early years of rock-n-roll music?

    Yes. But I can’t remember Bill Haley glorifying criminality. However, I accuse Death Metal of being a negative influence that does lead to criminality and nihilistic behaviour as readily as I accuse gangsta rap of leading to the same. Overall, though, I blame capitalism, and I hope I have made that obvious.

  35. Photoshopping is not the most natural analogy for sampling. A better (albeit necessarily imperfect one) would be if you saw a photograph or painting, identified an aspect that nobody else had, and created something new and exciting with it. As Jay-Z rapped once : “So yeah I sampled your voice, you was usin it wrong
    You made it a hot line, I made it a hot song” . The latter is superior to the former, and all art has influences (And no I’m certainly not saying that a rap song that samples Otis Redding or the like is superior to it, let alone necessarily so. It’s an analogy to show that sampling is by no means a non-creative act)

    If influence translates differently across cultures then surely we should err VERY much on the side of caution when claiming causality between art (or “art”) and violence?

    I disagree about your characterisation of the family’s response (although gangsta is surely written from the POV of the criminal, not the grieving family, so your analogy would be flawed in any case): gangsta is “Cop Killer” (the sentiment; the song itself is dodgy rock), tattooed tears for people you’ve killed etc etc.

    More generally, I think someone like the RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan is simply a superb inventive musician by any ‘reasonable’ standard, not just the degraded standards of contemporary pop.

  36. I have an album of Wu-Tang Clan backing tracks performed by real musicians. It’s a lot better than the original album 🙂 This is true.

  37. RE: death & speed metal

    Yeah, I can see that, and metal is mostly white boy music. My thoughts immediately turn to Pantera’s album “Vulgar Display of Power” and one song on it called “Fucking Hostile.” I’d say it qualifies.

    RE: “I blame capitalism…”

    And with good reason. On many levels, as soon as we get dragged into discussions like this at all, we’re ALL just tools.

  38. Oh by the way, this is an amusing aside…

    I was talking to Joe about this blog post this morning, and I asked him, “Since you lived near the res in AZ and you interacted with Natives periodically, how do THEY respond to the racial tension between black & white people?”

    He laughed and said, “Well, it can be best summed up in the phrase ‘a pox on BOTH your houses!'”

    He told me that a lot of Natives just regard black Americans as having assimilated into Anglo culture as second class citizens, and in so doing they have really lost their own cultural identity completely. He said that Natives are happy to be third class citizens as long as they can maintain their languages, traditions, distinct cultural identity, etc.

    🙂

  39. you are biting your own tail. worth repeating myself.

    ‘Hip hop culture is a very bad thing’.
    You would not recognize some forms of hip hop even if David Starkey hit you in the face with them.
    Say, have you ever listened to Spearhead? If not, look them up. Definitely not an exception in ‘hip hop culture’. Solid lyrics. Even better music.

    ‘(hip hop culture) encourages an ungodly view of life and, especially, other people. It also portrays black people as unintelligent, bigoted thugs and, in doing this, it has caused irrevocable harm to the “peace process” between the races’.
    See, here I am not sure whether that was a quote from Starkey or even more of your unqualified babbling. You’re speaking of ‘hip hop’ as if it embodied everything you fear about black people or, at least, about black people who do not clearly behave according to your middle aged, middle classed, rich-West wise perspective on things.
    Also, fyi, there is no such thing as ‘races’. Human or otherwise. To speak of anything like human ‘races’ you would have to provide a decent rationale for what elements allegedly set one human ‘race’ apart from other human ‘races’. Beyond ethnic elements (biological or cultural, but certainly not racial) I am afraid you’re only left with uneducated forms of racism.

    That you should give even a hint of credit to such pile of racist rubbish as David Starkey appears to be promoting only helps to explain your previous outbursts of uncontrollable racism as featured in ‘A nigger in the woodpile’ and ‘Hearts of darkness’ or whatever your o so kitschy choice of words was.

    Poor soul, I hope that one day you’ll stop being so afraid of Western-different black people whom you can’t just ignore and go ahead with your successful ministerial life.

    Toc

  40. lol, I’d love to hear that Wu Tang album! Do they do the kung fu samples too? *rolls eyes* 😉

    If “sampling” was good enough for TS Eliot and Edwin Morgan then it’s good enough for music.

    As for hip-hop and intelligence: many would say that the IQ test is itself racist, but if you can provide any kind of objective and respectable intelligence test that would assess the (e.g.) vocabulary, development of metaphor, originality of imagery, mastery of rhythm etc of a Jay-Z and Eminem as “stupid” then I’d love to see it.

  41. If there’s something red hand caught racists can do well is projecting.

    As for Spearhead being more reggae than rap, well, I think you’re being either ignorant, misleading or, even worse, racist. Franti would be amused by your assumptions -which run contrary to everything him and others from Spearhead say about themselves.

    You are simply not being honest, and pretending to take the high road while at it. Childlike.

    Toc.

  42. As for Spearhead being more reggae than rap, well, I think you’re being either ignorant, misleading or, even worse, racist.

    So you are talking about the reggae singer, Michael Franti. “Yell Fire” is one of the greatest reggae albums of the last few years.

  43. I have over 60000 records in my personal collection, about 70% of them are by black artists. You don’t stand a chance of besting me, troll.

  44. Spearhead makes hip hop. They mix it up with other genres, but their rooting is hip hop all the way. Calling a band reggae by what they’ve done in a single, late album amounts to calling the Beatles drug trippers on account of having recorded Revolver.

    I mean, you can not possibly say Spearhead and not say hip hop. You could leave the reggae label out and still be able to aptly describe what they do by speaking of hip hop.

    My point is: your assesment of hip hop, whether as music, culture, aesthetics, is biased and misinformed. For what I care, I could claim that your punk roots have a role in rioting, selfish, mob-like violence -providing I am willing to call you names and make up facts for the sake of my argument… like claiming that Ramones is not punk, but ‘loud folk’, for example. Childish, I am telling you.

    But your zeroing on Maggie the Mad and Ronnie the Puppet was s p o t o n . But I said that before.

    Beating you? Why would I be interested in that?

    My one concern has been to help you understand that racist arguments are not good arguments (as the rest of this posting will show).

    As for your 6 billion records and -given your language and arguments, I guess also- toys, I can tell you about a ‘race’ (wink wink) whose representatives have forcibly stolen (‘collected’) and still ‘collect’ artifacts of other ‘races’ they have in the past deemed or still deem ‘inferior’. It is called ‘the British’ or, more specifically, ‘British Museums’ or also ‘British Royal Army’ or whatever your king-led hosts are called (wink wink).

    Also, keep them 6 billion records handy. This con job your blog has turned into can only last for so long and a 1960’s Chuck Berry LP may well be where your next beans and sausage (wink wink) comes from.

    Toc.

  45. Don’t you think Michael Franti is just a bit too white to be authentic hip hop? To be honest he sounds more like Sting than Public Enemy.

  46. This (above) would work if only you were smart enough for me and I was racist enough for it.

    It does not work.

    It does show how dishonest you are. But it does not work as you meant it.

    Are you really older than 50?

    Really-really?

    Other than 6 billion records and a pooh-pooh-me-me-cash-cash blog and a a years old grudge against, well, anything, really… can you show some common sense for the age you have?

    Some honesty, at the very least?

    Toc

  47. I can tell you about a ‘race’ (wink wink) whose representatives have forcibly stolen (‘collected’) and still ‘collect’ artifacts of other ‘races’ they have in the past deemed or still deem ‘inferior’. It is called ‘the British’ or, more specifically, ‘British Museums’ or also ‘British Royal Army’ or whatever your king-led hosts are called (wink wink).

    The above was written by a white, Canadian schoolboy. This means he is actually living in a country stolen off its native peoples. May farmworker ancestors may have profited slightly from the British Empire but at least they never massacred anybody.

    Troll, you are a phoney!

  48. Wow…my head is spinning. I’m not a fan of hip/hop or rap. The portion that glorifies violence, misogyny, homophobia, crime, etc. is appalling. Then again, there is a similar violence that runs through much of our culture these days. I saw a statistic that said last year 11 of the 12 most popular tv shows regularly featured a corpse in each episode. Do I believe the violence in our media (music, television, news AKA infotainment, movies, etc.) triggers the rioting behavior seen recently in London et al or seen in the flash mob crime sprees beginning to erupt around the United States? Absolutely not. Out of control capitalism is to blame for that behavior, a near police state in communities of color (note the insanely high percentage of incarcerated black males, thanks to draconian drug law,and a rising unemployment level significantly higher in the black community…that is what is leading to the rioting. Hip/hop and rap are merely providing the sound track to the devastation.

    Of course I could be wrong…

  49. I think you are being a bit too kind and liberal towards the youth, Larry. But then you are a too kind and liberal sort of guy 🙂

  50. I actually did not see the ‘white’ bit in your comment at first.

    You’ve really, really bought into this whole racist bullshit, eh? If only you were honest about it, rather than revealing your own, putrid racist self only when you lose control of your verbal sphynter.

    Toc

  51. You’re seemingly too lazy to scroll any further up, so let me give you a hand. It is sad seeing you making arguments out of IP readings instead of actually accounting for your racist bullshit spewed above. And if you think you know anything about me (like… my college in Toronto?), besides my opinions, don’t be such a coward and vomit it already. Cowards feel safer after barfing they say.

    ———————

    ‘Hip hop culture is a very bad thing’.
    You would not recognize some forms of hip hop even if David Starkey hit you in the face with them.
    Say, have you ever listened to Spearhead? If not, look them up. Definitely not an exception in ‘hip hop culture’. Solid lyrics. Even better music.

    ‘(hip hop culture) encourages an ungodly view of life and, especially, other people. It also portrays black people as unintelligent, bigoted thugs and, in doing this, it has caused irrevocable harm to the “peace process” between the races’.
    See, here I am not sure whether that was a quote from Starkey or even more of your unqualified babbling. You’re speaking of ‘hip hop’ as if it embodied everything you fear about black people or, at least, about black people who do not clearly behave according to your middle aged, middle classed, rich-West wise perspective on things.
    Also, fyi, there is no such thing as ‘races’. Human or otherwise. To speak of anything like human ‘races’ you would have to provide a decent rationale for what elements allegedly set one human ‘race’ apart from other human ‘races’. Beyond ethnic elements (biological or cultural, but certainly not racial) I am afraid you’re only left with uneducated forms of racism.

    That you should give even a hint of credit to such pile of racist rubbish as David Starkey appears to be promoting only helps to explain your previous outbursts of uncontrollable racism as featured in ‘A nigger in the woodpile’ and ‘Hearts of darkness’ or whatever your o so kitschy choice of words was.

    Poor soul, I hope that one day you’ll stop being so afraid of Western-different black people whom you can’t just ignore and go ahead with your successful ministerial life.

    Toc

  52. won?
    what?
    were you competing?
    poor thing, that must have been a lonely time there.

    Ok, you won. Sure. Another day for the leech I guess.

    I can only hope it all turns into good stuff for your sermon next sunday. Just make sure you don’t tell the racist bits to the ‘wrong’ people. Which is, besides the KKK-types, just about anyone else but you and your imaginary friends, I mean, congregants.

    Toc.

  53. Can you tell what colleges I went to?
    Do you use Reiki or the Ouiji board?
    And I like the 1st amendment; prior restraint is basic law in the US, fortunately.
    As a personal note, have you made provision in your will for that terrific collection? There can’t be many like it anywhere and many schools and libraries would like to have it.

  54. Young man?

    Man?

    You reallly don’t know anything, don’tcha?

    Losing? Who would be concerned about losing with YOU?

    I am concerned, however, that you are a racist, that you are so while pretending to be some post modern Christian preacher, and that ia a lie. And I’ll keep calling you out -something most of your readers appears to not have the time or the self respect to do.

    So, Mad Racist, believe you me, I’d rather win a peeing contest than an argument with you.

    I will, however, do my best to show you your own, disgunsting, dishonest racism. What you do with that is entirely your and your custodians’ problem.

    Because you DO have custodians, dontcha?

    Toc

  55. Look, you bastard! All my life I’ve wanted to be black and not just an insignificant, spoilt, middle class white boy. That’s why I buy rap records and accuse everybody else of being racist. Innit!

    Toc

  56. Toc, the rule is that when a person exposes her illiteracy by resorting to profanity and name calling, they have lost the intellectual high ground and the argument. End of story. Your resorting to name calling and the ad hominem fallacy marks you the looser.

    FWIW
    jimB

  57. MP, how many birth certificates do want? I am a gypsy remember? We can provide them, in England. Very legitimate, for enough cash the registrar will even verify them. 😉 Hey for enough money we can talk in noble birth!

    In the wagons, we care that babies come from the tribe. But that is about it. “Bastard” does not mean much to us. The Christians in the villages think it is a big deal. We do not. A woman chooses the man she chooses period. And if he is not of the people, we can make him one of us if he has but the brains to come away with the wagons. We do not worry about divorce courts much either.

    FWIW
    jimB

  58. you are a coward leech.
    your mother would be proud. she told me so as soon as she let go of my buddy’s cock.
    Toc.

  59. You’re welcome and thank you for your analysis.

    Ironically, I believe that hip hop apes white culture, in particular the culture of white, Western capitalism.

    THIS. It explains so much of the bling culture that is antithetical to the values one would associate with the ‘black community’.