New hip-hop tackles white privilege

As a kind of update to a heavily-trafficked list of decent white rappers I posted a while ago, I want to shout out two new songs directly addressing white (and light skin) privilege and its role in hip-hop culture and society at large. Credit to these guys for taking on a difficult subject and shedding light. There is way too much 50 Cent and Soulja Boy on the radio here in Haiti… Listen: Wale’s “Shades featuring Chrisette Michelle” and Macklemore’s “White Privilege.” (Macklemore is white and from my hometown of Seattle.)

7 White Rappers Way Better than Eminem and Asher Roth

Hip-hop was born of racial consciousness. You can’t divide hip-hop from the social and political circumstances from which it came. There may be new occupants in this house called hip-hop. Most of the people who built this house of hip-hop would say, everybody is welcome in this house, but the people who built it were people of color… you go into somebody’s house, then you gotta respect that. If you don’t have that [racial] humility, you won’t have the foundation that provides.

I’m not sure that Eminem and Asher Roth occupy a healthy space in the “house of hip-hop,” as Dan Charnas calls it in Jay Smooth’s latest video. Continue reading “7 White Rappers Way Better than Eminem and Asher Roth”

SXSW 2008: Talking with Blue Scholars

It’s too bad I didn’t discover Blue Scholars earlier, say, in 2004 when I felt disillusioned and fed up with school during my freshmen year at the University of Washington. “Fuck class, get your education on the Ave,” the rallying cry of the song “The Ave,” was exactly what I wanted to do (video here). Finally listening to their debut EP got me hooked on underground hip-hop – that fiercely independent, worldwide, beat-infused CNN of the streets. This genre would become the soundtrack to my radio show. And whenever I miss home here in Austin, I play a Blue Scholars track. They are all about representing Seattle from the bottom up, from the Southside to the 2000 WTO riots to the daily ride on the Metro bus.

When I heard MC Geologic and producer Sabzi were coming to Austin for SXSW 2008, I arranged to skip work to interview them. I met them in their hotel room and had a wonderful chat with two of the most down-to-earth and inspiring “cultural workers” in the game right now. Tune in below the jump.

Continue reading “SXSW 2008: Talking with Blue Scholars”