“The White Rapper Show” to mock white emcees?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

white rapper show vh1VH1 will debut a new reality show in January called “Egotrip Presents the White Rapper Show,” hosted by white rapper MC Serch from the early 90s hip hop group 3rd Bass. From Variety.com:

Contestants will live together in the South Bronx as a series of challenges test their music talent and ability to mesh with black culture. Michael Hirschorn, the net’s exec VP of programming, emphasized that the show would be equal parts culture study and comedy…

Hirschorn was mum on specific situations and obstacles that the competitors will face, saying only that there would be both “creative and cultural trials.” Challenges could include anything from freestyle battles in Harlem’s Rucker Park to selling sno-cones in a hip-hop club.

But some white hip hop heads worry that the show will turn into a mockery of white rappers. (Hat tip to Rafi at Oh Word for the links.) MC Serch has been blogging about the upcoming show on his MySpace page and recently wrote this:

A white rapper cannot be considered a white rapper until he rips in front of a crowd of black people. I am not saying they all have to be black. You can have some spanish, some multi-racial kids mixed in there for flavor, I would even say Asain people. But if you are a white rapper that performs in front of a white crowd then you are not a rapper at all. You are a guy who is simulating what it feels like to rock a crowd.

A white rapper named Sage Francis responded to MC Serch in a long open letter on his own MySpace page, refuting Serch’s points:

If a white rapper cries in front of a black crowd and no one posts it on youtube, is he still emo? If it IS posted on youtube and a black person watches it…does that make him an official rapper? If your group was manufactured by someone who wanted to put two white rappers together and hopefully exploit the race situation…and then someone named Vanilla Ice comes around and gets exploited even BETTER than you…and you beat down a Vanilla Ice impostor in the video to a song that actually makes its way onto commercial charts…are you street? Are you hood? Are you an honorary black person if you co-opt enough black culture? How’s that high top fade doing these days?

It’ll be interesting to see how this show turns out, considering how many tricky issues of cultural appropriation and authenticity are involved. The Egotrip team has done some good shows for VH1, dissecting race issues in pop culture (huh, sound familiar? ;) ). They were the ones behind “TV’s Illest Minority Moments” and the three-part series “Race-O-Rama,” both of which I thought were pretty entertaining and for the most part, on-point.

Musical yellowface

by guest contributor Kai Chang, originally published at Zuky

musical yellowface chinky musicThe bare title of this post might already be enough to summon, in your head, the ubiquitous musical phrase that says “chinky!” with as much self-conscious gusto as bamboo fonts and gongs:

Having grown up in a music-loving household filled with both Chinese and Western classical music, this little melody has always annoyed me. It’s basically what white folks play every time Orientalism is invoked in a TV show, movie, or pop song. It’s so prevalent that I honestly suspect that many white folks unconsciously hear this ditty when they see me walk into the room.

Funny thing is, it’s neither Chinese nor even representative of Chinese music. It’s a white supremacist construction whose artistic purpose is to caricaturize, mock, and dehumanize Asians.

From Ask The A.V. Club:

Nilsson calls this “the Far East Proto-Cliché,” and documents its use in popular and light classical music back to the 1880s. Although it was used to signify generalized Asian exoticism (associated with places as far-flung as Persia and Egypt), by the early 20th century, it’s nearly omnipresent in music associated with “chinoiserie,” the fad for Oriental décor and dress.

Every two-bit jazz combo in the country seems to have recorded a novelty song with some version of the Proto-Cliché, from “Chinatown My Chinatown” to “Chong, He Come From Hong Kong” to “My Yokohama Girl.” The Walt Disney music department was especially fond of the trope. Versions occur in “The China Plate” (a Disney Silly Symphony in which painted figures on a piece of porcelain come to life), a few propaganda cartoons from the World War II period, and most beloved by The A.V. Club, the classic music-ed cartoon “Toot, Whistle, Plunk, and Boom.”

Check out the exhaustive research piece by Martin Nilsson.

links for 2006-11-08

links for 2006-11-7

  1. Love ‘Springtime for Hitler’? Then Here’s the CD for You – New York Times

    “from a century-old genre that is essentially Jewish minstrelsy. Often known as Jewish dialect music, it was performed in vaudeville houses by singers in hooked putty noses, oversize derbies and tattered overcoats…”

  2. Nickelodeon’s Diverse Programming – Broadcasting & Cable

    Thanks Caroline! “Among Nickelodeon’s upcoming shows is El Tigre, which will debut in March. The show is about a Mexican-American teenager who has to choose between becoming a superhero or a villain. Ni Hao Kai-Lan revolves around a Chinese family…”

  3. The Pigeon-Holing of Keith Ellison (Congress’ First Muslim?) – CJR Daily

    “He is not wearing his religion on his sleeve, but the media has been putting it back on his sleeve,” Saeed says of Ellison, attributing this in part to the seeming appeal of Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” framework and to “a post-9/11 obses

  4. Things You Need To Understand #4 « The Angry Black Woman

    “This post is required reading for anyone who wishes to engage me in any debate on White Privilege or who insists that it doesn’t exist (or it doesn’t exist for you).”

  5. Cover the basics – Having Read The Fine Print……

    “Privilege is the ability to be over someone else without an tangible justification. By being over it you don’t have to deal with the muck and mire of NOT having it. Privilege is more about NOT having to deal with something than the actually having of mor

  6. Low IQs are Africa’s curse, says lecturer – The Observer

    Thanks Tariq! “an evolutionary psychologist, is now accused of reviving the politics of eugenics by publishing the research which concludes that low IQ levels, rather than poverty and disease, are the reason why life expectancy is low and infant mortality

  7. Army Recruiters Accused of Misleading Students to Get Them to Enlist – ABC News

    “Nobody is going over to Iraq anymore?” one student asks a recruiter. “No, we’re bringing people back,” he replies. “We’re not at war. War ended a long time ago,” another recruiter says.

  8. Wrassling – Oh Word

    “by acknowledging the comparison, we’ve more or less accepted it as status quo. No one ever goes “rap is like pro-wrestling: we need to do something about it”. Instead, when some rapper gets shot, we roll our eyes, repeat the line and go back to our

    to hiphop 
  9. “Wife Swap” seeks “hip hop families” – AllHipHop.com

    ” Wife Swap is seeking families who live a Hip-Hop lifestyle (including career choice) and believe freedom of expression is important to their children”

  10. ‘Master-race’ children revisit past – Scotsman.com News

    “The Lebensborn children were bred in special clinics, where SS men were mated with German maidens selected for their racial purity. They were then parcelled out to be brought up in the foster care of fanatical Nazis…”

  11. Imelda Marcos to Launch Bling – Bling Accessories Line – New York Times

    “Imelda Marcos, the Philippines’ former first lady famed for her rapacious extravagance, plans to launch a line of cheap accessories and sports shoes aimed at the youth market this month…Filipinos used the phrase ”Imeldific” to describe acts of excess

    to asian 
  12. Pakistan’s ground-breaking transvestite – BBC NEWS

    “Going by the name of Begum (Lady) Nawazish Ali, she hosts an eponymous talk show that has taken Pakistan by storm. Flirting and skirting her way through politics, society gossip and plain old sexual chemistry, Begum has become the most popular icon to in

    to glbt tv desi 

Watch out for the evil American Indian identity thieves!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Yet another race-baiting political ad. This one from Jeff Johnson, who’s running for Attorney General in Minnesota. Notice how the American Indian sitting in his dark apartment is juxtaposed with images of Johnson’s smiling white family, sitting in the great outdoors, flooded with sunlight. (Thanks to Rob at Newspaper Rock for the tip!)

It’s bigger than hip-hop

by guest contributor Dumi, originally published at BlackatMichigan.com

nyoilI’m guilty of it. You’re probably guilty of it, you know, it usually goes something like this “I listen to hip-hop, not rap.” The distinction between hip-hop and rap is one that “heads” have been making for years. While there are number of nuanced arguments about Hip-Hop as a culture, the hip-hop versus rap dichotomy is outdated and useless.

So the gist of the argument is usually any commercial rap music is classified as “rap” and anything that may be underground or semi-authentic is “hip-hop.” The water usually gets murky when you ask about folks who have cross over appeal, but ya’ll know what I mean. I recently realized, I can no longer do this bullshit distinction between hip-hop and rap. First let me make it clear, I’m not saying that I can’t tell some difference between the two. This doesn’t mean that I don’t watch 106 and Park with a pain in my stomach. None of that changes, but my decision is one that is much like many disgruntled married couples, I can’t split (hip hop from rap)… because of the children.

When I first started spewing the distinction it was in cinder block dorm rooms, but now that I hear the argument I hear it on TV, on websites, in blogs. As someone who considers himself somewhat of a scholar of Hip-Hop, I can appreciate a theoretical distinction. But I’m trying to look at it from the bottom up, not top down. I really started thinking about this distinction when I was reading blac(k)ademic’s post on NYOil’s video “Ya’ll should all get lynched”.

Over at blac(k)ademic NYOIL’s video and comments have created quite a stir. In reading through I recalled that people like to distinguish between hip-hop and rap. As someone who consumes more hip-hop than rap, I can honestly say, they’re not all that different. Let me go through my issues Rolodex: misogyny – check, homophobia – check, violence – check, drugs – check (yes, weed counts), foul language – check, materialism – check (yo rapping about your sneakers counts too!). Continue reading

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World