Hip Hop is a progressive sound. Hip Hop, like other musical genres, is one that changes over time to help broaden the sound. Hip Hop has gone from appealing to only a minimal demographic, to now a target audience that crosses different musical genres through it. With that, comes changes that some view as “unwarranted.” And through this comes progressive actions and views that the more conservative fans, if you will, may not want.
Lord Jamar is a Hip Hop “legendary” (and yes I quoted legendary because that’s up for debate; the legend comes from what Lord Jamar views himself as) MC who is a member of Brand Nubian, a Hip Hop group formed in the late 1980s. He released a solo project in 2006 called The 5% Album which was dedicated to the Nation of Gods and Earths, another group he is a member of. Jamar has been vocal and very critical in his views of white rappers in Hip Hop. He has referred to white rappers as “guests in Hip-Hop.” He’s has publicly threatened rapper Yelawolf before, and has bashed Macklemore for not being true to the culture of hip hop.
In a recent interview on VLAD TV, Jamar made some very controversial comments. He would start by saying that celebrating and acknowledging white rappers like Macklemore and Yelawolf “circumvent the creators of the genre.” He continued saying, “Nobody that you would call a true Hip Hop fan or enthusiast have a Macklemore album,” and that “Black people never heard of Macklemore, [Yelawolf] but they’re going on tours, have million of fans, they making money, and they don’t have to come through the real channels to be accepted…They like “I got all these white ass fans, I don’t need y’all black mothafuckas.”” He would also question white rappers knowledge to the history of what they’re entering. Jamar would even go onto referencing Macklemore’s song “White Privilege.” He would give the song props, but would proceed to say how he’s been saying what that song speaks about but since Macklemore is a white persons, him saying it to white people he’s not racist. Whereas if a black person said that, the black person would be deemed racist.
I have many problems with what Lord Jamar said, and the message he’s sending to Hip Hop fans. One, Lord Jamar can’t just say white rappers are circumventing the creators of the genre. We don’t know who Yelawolf and Macklemore’s influences are. It’s possible they like the same artist that different demographics share. To say “true” Hip-Hop fans don’t have a Macklemore album is completely ignorant. I personally believe Kendrick Lamar’s good kid M.A.A.D. city should have won, but that doesn’t take away from how good Macklemore’s The Heist was. The album has every element of true Hip-Hop in it. If black people don’t listen or never heard of Macklemore, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be “going on tours, having million of fans, and making money.” How are you going to say they didn’t come through real channels of Hip-Hop? It’s not about race but about the person rapping on the mic. A black rapper could be just as ignorant to the culture of Hip-Hop than a white person. So is that black rapper circumventing the genre? Or nah? Macklemore talks about a variation of topics that affect our livelihood everyday like addictions, gay acceptance, downfalls of materialism, etc., but we have many black rappers talking about ho’s and money. Which one sounds more ignorant to the Tupac Shakur’s, Notorious B.I.G’s and the Big L’s of our past?
Lord Jamar isn’t the only, first, or last person to say this in the Hip Hop community. But I use him as an example to show just how ignorant we are to change. It’s crazy to think how hard we fought to get in certain places in this world but in our open musical genre, we do the same damn thing and white people aren’t allowed? That sounds as ignorant as the people that didn’t want Jimi Hendrix in rock. If Macklemore was a black guy with the same exact story and album, would he be so critiqued? I thought Hip-Hop was a MC’s way of telling his or her story that can relate to whoever can. Yes, Macklemore relates to more white people than other races, but that’s Hip Hop. The same is said for black rappers. Like I said earlier, Hip-Hop is a progressive art. To deny or unfairly question a certain race’s Hip Hop card is wrong… Music is for hearing, not seeing.