White rappers

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/18/white-rappers.html

No white rapper history is complete with out this lady:


Heeeeeeeyyyy… Where the hell has @Ed_Piskor Hip Hop’s Family Tree been lately?


It’s been off breaking my heart with its absence


I lumbered into that article just itching to be offended, but it wasn’t that bad. Although the Clash’s invaluable contribution is always overlooked in these type of retrospectives. The instrumental version of Magnificent Seven was BLOWING UP radio stations for weeks in NYC before Blondie released Rapture, and had already garnered universal honest-to-god street creed. Mick Jones, and later Big Audio Dynamite (helped pioneer sampling), played a seminal role in getting hip-hop (for better or worse) to the white, acid-washed clad and power-banged masses. (Also Sandinista! is the best record in the history of ever). For me though, it was Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys. Raising Hell was the single most valuable piece of contraband at my grade school, and when Licensed to Ill came out, it was Beatles level hysteria at my school.

“Jonesy was always on the button when it came to new things,” says Strummer now. “That stuff we made the week after he came back from Brooklyn with those Sugarhill records – it all still rocks. This was 1980. And I’ve got to say the next year, when we played Bonds in New York, the Brooklyn crowd booed Grandmaster Flash off our stage. Now they’re all ‘hip hop wibbly wibbly wop, it don’t stop,’ with the funny handshakes and all that. But when we presented it to them then, they booed it off. Grandmaster Flash doing ‘The Message’, and it was booed off.” - Joe Strummer


1990: Vanilla Ice, a.k.a. Robert Van Winkle, sets white
people back 1,000 years by engaging in the most egregious act of
perpetration since The Donation of Constantine.

lol’d mightily.

he brings up a good point that Paul Wall is the least gimmicky, most straight-forwardly great rapper that happens to be white. I’m not really a fan of the style of the beats in southern rap (plus I was already middle-aged when he came out) but I did always like the bars I heard by him.

something happened, and nobody wants to talk about it. I don’t believe it was anything bad, but he initially left because of a working tour of Europe that he did, and when he came back, I’m guessing everyone decided that BoingBoing was really not the best place for something hip-hop themed? @beschizza, how close was I?

Mr 44, if you or anyone else haven’t read the Wizzywig comics that landed him the gig here, you really ought to. I’ve never marathoned a whole graphic novel before or since.


I second this. Ed Piskor is the artist’s artist. Wizzywig was phenomenal, and Hip Hop Family Tree as well. He’s up to volume three, I really hope he is continuing.

Edit: Just wanted to add for anyone that liked Hip Hop Family Tree, but only saw it here on BoingBoing, it was not a BoingBoing exclusive type thing. He has published three entire volumes of long(ish)form Hip Hop Family Tree stories, which are absolutely beautiful; attention to detail and print quality makes them well worth springing for from Fantagraphics.


Say wah? It was a truly wonderful thing. I can’t say that rap and hip hop are like my main genre, but electronica is, and so much of it was built on the base of rap and hip hop. And I do truly enjoy many acts and was attracted to it in the 80s because it was new - even though it was impossible to find unless you were friends with older kids (or had cable). Anyway, Ed’s series was not only educational, but I really enjoyed the technical aspect making it look like an old, yellowed comic page, as well as some of his nods to 90s comics creators in parts.

I did hunt that down once… but it was during a turbulent time and I never got a chance to read it. Now I have to go find where I put it…


oh, totally. I’m just guessing, I don’t really know that was the reason.

You can’t discuss early rap & hip-hop without mentioning the Grandmaster:

And the white rapper analysis is way too America-centric:

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Here’s a good example of how NOT to do it:

Post Malone

Although I don’t align with the author’s views 100%, his concern that hip hop is always in danger of being co-opted and thus marginalized is worth consideration. Was recently reading a James Baldwin essay that lamented the lack of a universal language or form of expression that would empower black people to tell their story. I could’t help but wonder what Baldwin would have thought about hip hop (partially because Ta-Nehisi Coates seems to suggest that it may indeed be that language, or at least a crucial part of it).

I think I want this for X-mas this year…

El-P holds his own…

I’m not sure where they are getting the notion that people who study hip hop don’t see color… It’s not my field but much of what I’ve read more often than not discusses race as an integral part of the genre, even if it’s not exclusively black. I’m not sure anyone who studies the form would deny it has its roots in the black community and black culture (global black culture at that).

Anyway… interesting. Not much in the way of analysis and they miss much… like what about the Revolting Cock’s song with rapping, Beers, Steers, and Queers:


I think he would have liked some of it, but not all. It’s a mixed bag, yeah? Some of it is truly empowering and some isn’t.[quote=“Mister44, post:8, topic:81664”]
Say wah? It was a truly wonderful thing.

Agreed. It did seem like every time the hip hop series was posted, someone complained about it, which sucks. Don’t like it, don’t read it, yeah? That being said, it always seemed generally popular from the happy mutants POV.


just now thinking that the absence of Action Bronson and El-P were pretty glaring omissions, but I guess he was sticking to the rappers that charted, so that does make sense. although I don’t think that Wu affiliate guy charted? I’d never even heard of him.

also, Upski’s 1993 article from The Source We Use Words Like Mackadocious and the book it was later included in, Bomb the Suburbs, is required reading on the topic of whites and hip hop.

That is the best dancing GIF (Killer Mike) that I have ever seen. It just makes me happy to watch it.

Seriously. I was disappointed in that too. Hip hop presents a lot of cultural conundrums to really dig into, this is only one. One thing about hip hop that has long puzzled me was the lack of a ‘punk scene’. That notion of an artist being intentionally outside of ‘commercial success’ for ideological reasons doesn’t seem to have an analogue in hip hop music. There have certainly been artists who pushed the envelope (Brotha Lynch Hung, Paris, Immortal Technique, etc), but it’s not the same. Maybe it’s because authentic hip hop is itself outside of the ‘mainstream’, in a sense, even though ‘white’ audiences occasionally support the artists who don’t challenge them too much (I use this term as Ta-Nehisi Coates does, to indicate institutional whiteness, not necessarily skin color).

Seems like a good time to drop in a mention for Warsaw Pack :

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It’s there, but there’s no cohesive label or differentiator that makes it substantially different from hip hop in general. Rhymesayers, Def Jux, Weightless, etc. But yeah, real hip hop is punk, in my book, although punk wasn’t really punk, either.

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I haven’t heard much El-P, I’ll check it out. Have you heard Kate Tempest yet? She is incredibly talented, but doesn’t seem to be catching on over here. She is about as far outside hip hop norms as I have yet to see. She writes and performs poetry too.

Europe is Lost

The Beigeness

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Wait a sec, how did they not include Die Antwoord? I know it isn’t strictly a rap act, but still…

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Since I’ve been working on my punk chapter I have some theories on that… first, I think there are some underground hip hop artists… they tend to be shared on mixed tapes and tend to localized scenes. Plus there are plenty who are on indie or their own labels, Killer Mike is on his own label, right?

But this:

is pretty much it, I think. Since it’s a black art form (generally speaking) and it often glories in that and celebrates that, it carries with it a subversion of the institutionalized racism in which it developed. Look at how bent out of shape people get when Kanye West does… almost anything. People just can’t stand that he’s so arrogant and full of himself, but little is said of white rock stars who are the same. What’s considered “normal rock star behavior” and accepted when whites do it, generally becomes seemingly dangerous if black rappers do it. Just think about the reactions to a song like Body Count’s Cop Killer vs. say Johnny Cash singing about similar themes. Only one of these songs got the artist in trouble with their record label…

So, that’s my theory. Rap is subversive, because of it’s association with the black community as a language of empowerment. Punk, on the other hand, rests itself on being underground and subversive of mainstream culture/values… and since it’s much whiter, it needs to use being underground to attach itself to authenticity…

Or some shit! :wink:

I like this… truth!