Okay a few years back a white dude asked me some pretty good questions. I’m posting a few of the questions and answers to drop here as food for thought. The topics ranged from dating and entertainment, to history and education. This is the kind of thing that has to happen for America to truly to understand relationships. I think often that Blacks are afraid to let White’s and other cultures ask them questions. Blacks are acutally afraid to let anyone ask them questions. Typically the outcome of questions is a defensive posture instead of an honest response. Here are a few, respond to them yourself in the comments section.
Q: Is there a difference between Hip-Hop and rap?
To preface this question I have to state that Rap is one of the facets of Hip-Hop culture. For this question’s purpose I will draw a distinction between the two. Hip-Hop is a culture that includes four facets: Breakin, Graffiti, Turntablism, and lyrical dominance on the mic or rap. I assume you are asking about the difference between music that is considered Hip-Hop and why some is considered rap. Okay here it goes, Hip-Hop endears itself to the appreciation of verbal manipulation identifiable by the ability to say something of importance in a lyrical manner. In other words, Hip-Hop is life music even at its simplest and base moments such as the signifying in Pharcyde’s Ya Mama, it is about the ability to create a narrative with words. Hip-Hop is closer to poetry in its purest form. It comments on society and life in the inner city, or life in your city as it exists.
Rap music on the other hand is a business. It exists for the sole reason of profit, period. Rap music is more about the beat, the way you can grind with the person you are dancing with, and most recently it is about misogynistic males, wearing gold teeth and platinum chains with fly rides trying to outdo the last disrespectful video.
Personally, to confuse rap and Hip-Hop is an insult to the emcee who freestyles in the rain, at the bus stop, at his school desk or at open mics. The underground nature of battle rhymes and competitions hearkens back to the braggadocio of Slick Rick and Run DMC, while the social consciousness of Aceyalone and Mos Def is a direct reflection of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s anthems.
In a more simple way of presenting what is Hip Hop and what is Rap, two mainstream songs: Listen to Common’s I Used to Love Her, a song addressing the changing trends of rap music. Then listen to Ludacris’ I Got Ho’s, a song protesting the sexual prowess and mack/ pimping skills of one man. This is not to lessen the value of rap but the distinction becomes quite clear. Everyone loves a good party song every now and then, but I think you can have a great song without making Black folks look like oversexed, jewelry wearing, cartoon characters.
Q: Why is it O.K. for Black comics like Chris Rock to make fun of White people, when White comics could never have a successful career demeaning African-Americans?
A: First, I don’t think it is often that comedians actually address White people in their routines unless it makes a valid point about racism or some social situation.
Black comedy is raw like blues music. It comes from an unfiltered line of comics. While White comedy descended from the classic one liner routines of Jack Benny and Lenny Bruce. Black comedy descended from Redd Foxx, Dolemite and Moms Mabley, which had more of a ‘raunchy’ but sometimes political tone.
Black comedians such as Paul Mooney were allowed few outlets to attack injustices; comedy is one of these outlets. Also, there was a sense of empowerment that came with any negative representation of Whites. This is understandable. Today, I think any comedic attacks upon Whites still serve the same purpose, but the attacks are watered down and less political because many Black comics are looking for longevity. I understand this is a generalization, and that some Black comics still have political agendas, but on the whole it appears that Black comedians tone down their acts to gain greater access to other entertainment opportunities.
Back to the question: Black anger is a frightening thing for White America. White America can accept it more when Blacks talk about each other and then sneak in a few comments about White folks.
So to answer your question, it is a matter of tradition. For Whites to speak of Blacks in comedy routines reminds the country of vaudeville and Blackface. I don’t think White comedians want that cloud over them. While Black comedians still feel it is necessary to make light of situations, or people, that are completely absurd like… White people getting lip implants.
These questions and answers were originally asked as a part of Kevin Pendleton’s thesis in San Diego State University’s MFA program in Creative Writing. The thesis is published and can be found in the SDSU on campus library.