Every hobby is associated with a certain clique of people. The Star Wars fandom is generally associated with nerds, coffee shops with hipsters, and book clubs with housewives. People outside of those stereotypes who are interested in those same hobbies are deemed as weird. A man wearing coveralls, a trucker hat, and a dip of chewing tobacco in his lip would be looked upon strangely by others if he were to be spotted enjoying a cup of joe at the new coffee shop in town. This same social phenomena appears in my life when people find out I’m a fan of rap music. While I’ll admit that I’m not as well-versed in every artist in the game right now or the full history of rap, it’s the genre that I connect the most with.
However, since I’m white I hear the same question anytime friends find out about my musical tastes.
“Do you wish you were black?” Ah, the “Eminem wannabe” response. We’ve all heard it before. This phrase makes my eyes do a barrel roll. Yes, I enjoy rap music. I can’t help that your closed-minded view of rap music leads you to believe that all rappers are black, or that you have to be a certain race to enjoy a certain genre of music. Even in recent rap, you have artists like Macklemore, Slug from Atmosphere, Eminem, Ubiquitous from Ces Cru, Fat Joe, Snow Tha Product, and many more that are both established and well-respected by their peers. Rap, just like all genres, is open to people of all races. Just like how Darius Rucker broke into the country scene even though he didn’t fit the standard country-genre stereotype.
Another stereotype about rap that bothers me is the idea that all rap is about misogyny, gang-related activities, and drug use. While it is true that a lot of the mainstream exposure for rap covers this, and that rap rose to popularity in the early 90’s with gangster rap, this stereotype hardly covers all of rap music. Like all genres of music, rap can be used to convey emotion and to help not only the listener but the artists themselves deal with emotional struggle in their lives. For instance, “Yesterday” by Atmosphere is a song where Slug (the MC of the group) is saying all of the things he wished he had said to his father before he passed away. Also, Kendrick Lamar’s album “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” is explicitly anti-gangster/criminal while also showing the peer pressure side of gang life in low-income areas.
So please, if you have a white friend that happens to enjoy rap or hip hop, just leave him be. He’s probably had to deal with it his entire life, and you aren’t going to say anything he hasn’t heard before.