Reclaiming the n-word has been one of the few successful projects of our lifetime, and most of the thanks belongs to hip hop. The n-word used to be a word white people said to black people. Now it is a word black people say to one another, while white people hope silently that a black person will say it to them. This situation is better in all regards—except, ironically, for hip hop. The prevalence of the n-word in rap poses a major problem to its largest audience demographic, white people between the ages of 18 and 35. Now that the work of reclamation has been achieved, we should agree to replace the n-word in music with the word “Inca,” so that when we are rapping along with “Pass Dat,” we don’t have to choose between saying the n-word fifty times and delivering an inferior performance.
Remember when Johnny Cash went to prison for confessing to a Reno-area murder in “Folsom Prison Blues?” I’m joking, of course: Johnny Cash was white. In unrelated news, two Pittsburgh rappers have been found guilty of intimidation of witnesses, conspiracy and making terroristic threats on the basis of a rap video posted on YouTube. Jamal Knox and Rashee Beasley are rappers in the same sense that they are adults, which is to say technically. But they did rap about violence against police officers in a song that mentioned two Pittsburgh cops by name. Both were sentenced to prison by Judge Jeffrey Manning, in what the Times calls a nationwide trend of prosecutors using rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials.
Regular readers of Combat! blog know that I do not like Ke$ha. For sheer use in lists and arbitrary examples, you could make a textually-supported argument that I like Ke$ha less than virtually all other pop culture phenomena. I dislike her music. I dislike her persona. I especially dislike what she represents about the music industry and, to a lesser extent, music journalism. Last week, on Grantland, the otherwise respectable Steven Hyden remarked that he is glad pop music critics like Ke$ha’s new album, Warrior. He cited Simon Reynolds’s favorable review at the New York Times. His argument was so compelling that I listened to “Crazy Kids” from Warrior. It did not make me like Ke$ha. Instead, it focused my Ke$ha-hating into a powerful laser, which I then passed through the prism of my liberal arts education to separate into its two components:
- I dislike her horrible rap-singing voice.
- Her “garbage chic” ethos appeals to narcissism in order to draw a false equivalence between hedonism and transgression, encouraging the listener to believe that going out is an act of self-expression—one of the most pernicious lies of contemporary culture.
Item (1) is a matter of personal taste. Discussion of item (2) after the jump.
Behold “Drank In My Cup,” which I first encountered in remix form on the excellent 2 Chainz & Future mixtape Codeine Astronauts. Be warned that Codeine Astronauts is perhaps the most ridiculous mixtape ever, albeit in delightful ways. One of the many entities involved in its release is Ticketmaster Tapes, so on the download version a white voice periodically says “Ticketmaster tapes! Real quality street music!” in the middle of the song. It kind of makes it all better. There is also a skit in which Big Moe discovers that some unscrupulous fellows have put Karo in the drank. Hilarity/violence ensues.
Today is the Florida Republican primary, when grandmothers across the state will vote on whom they like better: Mitt Romney, who looks like the hedge fund manager their granddaughter married, or Newt Gingrich, who looks like the guy who tried to finger them in the hot tub. It may be a tough day for Newton.* Fortunately, he has a comprehensive plan to expand his appeal beyond just, you know, munitions factory owners. Speaker Gingrich is for everybody, and everybody enjoys hip hop. Seriously, there is a pro-Gingrich rap song now, and that’s it—he was the last one. Props to Ben al-Fowlkes for the link.