Wednesday, January 10, 2007

White Rapper’s Burden AKA Did Vanilla Ice Really Fuck It Up For Everybody?

We’ve all seen Ego Trip’s new reality series The White Rapper Show by now. We all saw MySpace rapper Jah Jah make a damn fool of herself along with a couple of other bastards that shamed my cities name. We all saw John Brown get the dildo shook in his face by Persia. We all saw Persia fire off the “N word” like Michael Richards at the Laugh Factory...but to a white guy she was mad at(?). We all saw Sullee trip over furniture to try to strangle the King Of The Burbs before he got a chance to sit down and properly draw up his Ghetto Revival Plan. We all saw Misfit walking around the house all lotioned up laid out on her bed like it was a Maxim shoot (she raps too, right?). We all saw Dasit bitch out and not even try to save himself and spit off the top with $100,000 on the line (principles be damned, spit somethin’ dummy!). I’m not talking about any of that, my question is “Why does this show exist in the first place?”

The reality is that there is no shortage of talented white emcees (male or female) in 2007. I could easily name 10 more qualified people for labels to consider signing like Copywrite, Y@k Ballz, Jojo Pellegrino, Joe Scudda, Genovese, Epik, Slaine, Invincible, Eternia and Byata. This show isn’t about that, though. The premise of this show is that there hasn’t been another White emcee to BLOW UP since Eminem. That is another matter entirely involving look/appeal, street credibility, promotions, marketing, timing AND talent. Let’s face it, if skills sold lyrically Jay-Z would be more like Talib Kweli. Jay wanted to rhyme like Common Sense, he went platinum and he ain’t rhymed like Common since. In order to find that next White emcee to groom, promote, market and package to people they’ll have to be created or made through a reality show or some other promotional means (American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Last Comic Standing, Making The Band, etc.)..artist development truly is dead.

Ego Trip is merely making the show marketable (and watchable) to people who aren’t even rap/hip hop fans by adding humorous elements that will make it popular on YouTube, Best Week Ever, The Soup and other clip shows that exist purely as free marketing for these programs. I have personally only heard of ONE of these rappers previous to this show...and that’s because he’s from my hometown (What up, Sullee?). Would I even consider buying any product from any of these cats? That remains to be seen (G-Child? No fuckin’ chance in hell). I will tell you that any White emcee now is suffering for the sins made previously by White rappers, record labels, A& R’s and marketing and promotions departments of the past.

Remember Vanilla Ice’s ever changing life story/bio? Remember him selling his likeness to any and all comers? Remember “Word to your mother”? Remember the “Ninja Rap”? Remember the Vanilla Ice doll? Remember “Cool As Ice”? (Remember Big Daddy Kane smashing his girl (Madonna) and the girl who sang the hook on “Cool As Ice” (Naomi Campbell) ?) Remember when BET used to play the “Play That Funky Music” video when his album was called “Hooked” on Atlanta indie label Wrap/Ichiban Records BEFORE SBK Records re-recorded, repackaged and rereleased nationally as “To The Extreme”? I do. Hiis demeanor changed, his look changed, his back story even changed. The label and his management completely fucked his head up and wanted him to be the “Rap James Dean”. He didn’t say no once, he sold the fuck out. He compromised the integrity of Hip Hop and rap music. He turned into a damn cartoon character.

The explosive popularity of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer (a cat he used to open for back in the days) created a backlash that gave rise to the popularity of Gangsta Rap and later the Underground Hip Hop movement that helped to usher in the 2nd Golden Age of hip hop (1992-1996). Ever since then heads haven’t danced and the only White emcee to gain acceptance from heads and universal appeal at the same time has been Eminem. I fault label executives, bad marketing plans, etc. for other White emcees not breaking out.

Look at the white rappers that labels signed in the past thinking (more like hoping and praying) that they’d blow: Marky Mark, Snow, Jesse Jaymes, Tony D (AKA Harvee Wallbanger AKA Tony Dick), Kid Rock (“Grits Sandwiches For Breakfast” sold 100,000 units), Everlast (“Forever Everlasting” didn’t blow), Ali Dee, MC Superb, MC Bink, JT (he had the song “Swing It” and he ended up being the spokesman for HiTek boots when they were hot), Chilly Tee (even the Autobot Matrix couldn’t light the Bomb Squad’s darkest hour), Millkbone and the list goes on.

The only successful White groups were the Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass and House Of Pain (who remembers Young Black Teenagers (YBT), The White Boys, B.M.O.C, Bada Bing, Knucklehedz, or N2Deep?). In Boston, the White Boy Crew had a local hit with “Popeye Rap” back in 1986 and then they dissapeared. Other than MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice few White emcees got props for being nice on the mic (although they proved they could make hot beats).

As far as females go, their history is so much bleaker. First there was Tairre B., who was down with Ice T and the Rhyme Syndicate then later with Eazy-E and later with Schooly D. The woman who made “Murder She Wrote” and had her own episode on Pump It Up with Sista Dee (remember that?) had a short rap career and she later switched over to hardcore death metal in the mid to late 90’s (as did Vanilla Ice). Giant Records signed Icy Blu and released her shit sandwich with lyrics in the liner notes so you could read along in disbelief that someone could be this lyrically inept and get signed by the same label that released the New Jack City soundtrack (I remember tears coming out of my eyes from laughing so hard at that ”My Guitar’s Funky” it was a wrap for me). The only other White chick spittin’ I remember from that era was the blonde from Seduction on “Crash” (a song the girls in my neighborhood jammed to death back in the day).

A few years ago, a White female rapper named Sarai was marketed as the “female Eminem (bad idea)” and the label picked her first two singles as the horrid “Pack Ya Bags”and “Ladies”. Both songs were urban radio poison, the video for “Ladies” got burn on MTV and MTV2 for about 3 weeks and then it and Sarai faded into oblivion. Labels have been afraid to sign and attempt to market a White female rapper ever since (by this, of course I mean major labels). Before Eminem came out, Interscope signed Hot Karl and they were giving him the sun, moon and stars because they were going to make him blow. During his recording process (which included a song with his idol, MC Serch), Eminem was signed by Aftermath and Hot Karl ended up the redheaded stepchild in a matter of weeks. He was released from his deal and had to start over with his buzz having died down (The whole story is covered in the indie film “Dropped”, look for it on Netflix).

To summarize, labels realize that the overwhelming majority of rap/hip hop music’s buying audience is White but they have no idea in hell how to find a White emcee that will appeal to White audience but earn respect for their talent and/or skill level from an urban audience. Ego Trip has figured out how to do marketing and promotions, be an artist and repetoire department, make a brand name, do consulting, build/generate an audience and entertain all at the same time. No matter what crazy shit happens in that house or between those individuals I’m going to be asking the same question in my head that everyone else should be asking “Would I buy the winner of this reality shows album when it drops?” If not at least they have $100,000 and plently more in personal appearance money to look forward to if no one takes them seriously after this show ends and their personal B.I. is all over YouTube. Damn, Robert Van fucked it up for everybody!



Travis said...

Nice write up.

I'm not sure what to think of the whole ordeal. In a way it is amazing that another white MC hasn't blown up since Em. I honestly think if Atlantic didn't have their heads up their asses, they could have had him blowing up a couple of years ago.

In general though, I think a lot of white people in hip hop (I'm white myself) concentrate more on imitating the culture rather trying to take the time to understand it. I think that was a reason why 3rd Bass was accecpted as well as they were. If you go on Myspace (that Jah Jah bitch is a perfect example) you see all these cats trying to be something they are not. Kind the felling I'm getting on the show as well. Hell even El-P, the great white hope, is kind of got his niche as a white nerd MC.

pollywog said...

i think jahjah with the right guest spot, marketing and producer could blow up...

...about the only one off that show who might have a chance is, 100 proof

and fuck that serch is a dick...

Dart Adams said...

Cage is as big as he's gonna major thinks he'll blow. Hence no mention (he is one of my favorite emcees though, I got the Nighthawks, Smut Peddlers, Leak Bros. and every other release of his to prove it)


alley al said...

there's a lot of nice white dudes. those guys/gals in the show ain't it. but i've peeped the 2 episodes cuz i'm into it. but i can't watch g-child rhyme or dance. uggghh. it makes me cringe.

hey, no mention of justin warfield? ennhh he's only half white i think. he's also a rockstar @ 30-something years old as "she wants revenge" with dj adam 12.

bumrusherplus said...

The reason 3rd Bass came up is that they paid dues through the proper urban channels. El-P reinvented lyricism on Funcrusher Plus and has since reinvented production on every other project he has touched. Eminem just has fucking talent. The Beastie Boys may have jocked thier way onto Def Jam and into the American pop consciousness via Run DMC but at least they were just being themselves, some beer drinking horny adolescent white boys. The reason all these idiots on that show are worthless is that they have absolutely no credability and very little talent and worst of all they may as well all be wearing a sign that says "I wish I was black." Fuckin idiots.