Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Top Ten Appropriators of Hip Hop

So, Iggy Azalea blah blah blah. She is the first person ever to use music from another culture without understanding, yeah? Now we've started, let's blame the guilty...

As I understand it from Q-Tip's twitter lecture (great use of the medium there, man. Designed for soundbites, the Tribe Called Quest rapper did a series of tweets that built up into something better expressed in a blog post), hip hop is a manifestation of 1970s African American culture, that has a political and social importance. Eminem is a white guy who makes comedy records: he's Weird Al with beats and a few DJ mates.

Goldie Looking Chain
They are from Wales and sing about living with their nan and going to the drive-in restaurant. Their subject matter disrespects the seriousness of hip hop culture.

From Scotland, sings in an accent and bangs on about politics in the UK, ignoring the more important issues he could read about on Buzzfeed.

See that song Royals? Well, it dissed American hip hop's preoccupation with conspicuous consumption.

Despite being blessed with the smoothest flow of his generation, he turned up doing a rap on Groove is in the Heart, a pop song. The feel good energy of the tune, and its association with the then fashionable hedonism of dance culture, occluded the post-Vietnam blues for a 'don't worry be happy' vibe. Technically, Q-Tip was appropriated, but he let it happen, and had a big smile in the video.

Since her entire career has been based on sucking up vibrant talent through her blood trumpet (as Alan Millar said), I bet she appropriated hip hop somewhere. Just like she did to vogue, Ali G and American Pie.

Kanye West
Recent releases from Kanye suggest that he is a celebrity capitalist, who uses the poses and sounds of hip hop to make lost lists of his possessions and explain how brilliant he is. Not exactly exploring the experience of the streets, is he?

The Streets
A latter-day William Blake according to The Guardian, Mike Skinner destroyed UK hip hop by associating it with emo poetry and half-baked satire. By far the most pernicious artist on this list, since he made it possible for rappers to think that diluted hip hop and beats made through pressing repeat on a CD player could make the charts.

Robin Thicke
No list of arses is complete without The Thickness and his Big Dick. Maybe that thing he did with Miley counts. I don't know. I am not researching his catalogue.

Rick Astley
I seem to remember the future viral internet celebrity as being described by his producer as 'a white man with a black voice.' Technically, this isn't hip hop but a reminder of how the appropriation of African American music by a white music industry didn't start with Iggy. Let me introduce you to Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley, Dave Brubeck...

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