I haven’t read Tanz’s Other People’s Property: A Shadow History of Hip-Hop in White America yet , but from the Unmasked One’s review, I gather that in it he chronicles white people’s participation in hip-hop culture, and goes on some sort of white pilgrimage to examine what hip-hop looks like outside of the inner city—in the process characterizing white fans as cultural tourists that fetishize black people.
Tom Breihan from Status Ain’t Hood recently weighed in on the book in the Village Voice, arguing that hip-hop music is now the “default pop music,” and that white kids have just as much of a right to it as anyone else. He dismisses the notion white kids have a tenuous bond with the culture—pointing to the fact that they buy CDs by black artists (as opposed to needing an Elvis figure to translate the music for them) as a sign of progress in race relations. “Could it be that the people who buy music aren’t necessarily buying it because they want to identify with the people making that music?” he asks. “Maybe white listeners are learning that they don’t need white performers to reinterpret black music for them.”
It doesn’t seem to occur to him that some white kids identify with the people making the music—that some white kids actually feel an affinity with black artists.
Hip-hop, after all, isn’t just a genre of pop music. It’s a culture. And it’s a black culture. Being a white person in hip-hop is essentially being a white person in black culture, and that’s a complex experience.
I don’t think that white people’s involvement in hip-hop can be reduced to the stereotypes of the clueless suburban... [continues]
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