Considering the Role of Race in Rap Music


The Fader brings an interesting concept to our attention in a recently published article titled “What Is the Place for White Rappers Today?” Author Matthew Trammell interviews Mac Miller and Vince Staples to map out the dynamics. Trammell says:

Today, the white rapper’s position in hip-hop is a bit like the black citizen’s position in America: both at the center and on the fringe, a group with a complicated history that keeps throwing wrenches into the status quo.

The duo confronts the come up of the “white rapper” and the difference between people supporting white rappers because they’re white, which is problematic to say the least, and people supporting white rappers, like Macklemore, because we can all relate to only having $20 dollars in our pockets. In simple terms, support for an artist shouldn’t be based on the fact that they’re white. Miller gives a better point of comparison:

Good and bad music, it has so much less to do with what race people are.

Staples adds to Miller’s point:

Being in a certain social situation and being of a certain kind of class has nothing to do with what color you are.

While interviewing artists, we should be asking about more than just the music. Music needs to be handed more credit, in that sense. It’s more than just rhythm and melody— it’s a network of ideas and tendencies with its own system of operation and maybe that system should be questioned more often.