The A-Typical Race Unifier

Apparently a memo was sent to North American DJs that declares hyphy mashups as the new crunk, or even, the new snap rap. Regardless of any internal communication, the message is clear: white people love trendy rap.

Caucasians loved black music before Charlie Parker played segregated shows in the American South, before the Muscle Shoals sound and way before Michael Jackson was babysitting white child-actors. Tremendous changes in civil rights happened since the Cotton Club opened its doors to all-white audiences craving black music, but the re-occurring pattern is if white people dig it, radio plays it and record companies sign it. Ultra afro-centric rappers like Talib Kweli have a not-so-surprisingly white following, yet their rap platforms speak of white government oppression and historical slights against other races, which are factual enough to not alienate white record purchasers.

Wannabe DJs relish in hype, trying desperately to be different while they follow trendsetters. In the case of DJs du jour, groups like The Rub spawn imitators from Holland to the Canadian Prairies. And while everyone is biting everyone, sub-cultures grow like flowers and racial walls are breaking down. Too bad flowers die. This rap revolution is no fallen Berlin Wall, but the onslaught of Internet publicity is a positive step into a quasi-Martin Luther King Jr. dream.

Sixteen months ago young people of all ethnicities annoyed right-minded people, or simply people with common sense, by shouting “Whut it do” as if they were teenagers in 1998, and screaming “Wassup” because Budweiser commercials said it was cool. Sure, idiosyncrasies are predestined to be lame after rap headlines deem styles played, but the bond of current status can make two of the largest bigots friends.

Twelve years ago, hyphy was limited to the Bay Area. But today, parties thousands of miles away from Oakland have sweaty bodies gyrating to a low bass sound that wasn’t worthy of play until popular DJs like Eleven started dropping hyphy mixes. And if ghostriding whips and listening to Mistah F.A.B. bring two people in Ohio together, then rap has done its job.

White, black, yellow and brown — the industry does not care, because everyone’s favorite colors are green, gold and platinum. Rap’s only sacrifices are the Three Rs: Rap, Remix and Remarket. Take the Three Rs, drop them in Iraq and maybe the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam will stop killing each other — probably not, but the War on Terror cannot do any worse.

Bottom line, if rap trends unite the wrong side of the tracks with the O.C., then everything will not be so black and white. Before everyone holds hands like a `80s AIDS concert, people can always relay love for Lupe Fiasco to find common ground.

Jordan Chalifoux

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