Asher Roth, born in the suburbs of Philadelphia personifies, the ideals set forth by David Hayes in Fear of a Black Planet. I Love College
Sam Adams, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, also shows the ideals of David Hayes. I Hate College
How do the two versions of Asher Roth's I Love College show white audiences understandings of black youth who are otherwise absent from their home community? Did the breakthrough in rap emerge from the popularity among White Non-Urban youth?
Here is an interview with the Mountain Brothers' in 2001, shortly before they disbanded: Interview with HHE Do you find it interesting that nothing is mentioned about being "Asian American" hip hop artists?
A music video to one of the Mountain Brothers' singles: Galaxies. What would you say are some similarities and differences between this video and some of the other hip hop videos we've seen? Did you find anything that made this video particularly indicative of the Asian American experience?
The wikipedia article on the Mountain Brothers:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_Brothers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_BrothersThe website to the only member of the Mountain Brothers who is still involved in music: http://www.myspace.com/chopsmusicdotcom. Do you find it interesting that Chops is blatantly advertising his association with Lil' Wayne? Is this not some form of "selling out"?
Watch this video for a current view of Asian American hip hop: http://thecreatorsproject.com/creators/drunken-tiger
- Wong spends a good part of her article comparing three independent record labels: AARising, Asian Improv, and Classified Records. Look at the contrasting ways each choose to market themselves, particularly how Classified actively “downplays ethnicity” (245) whereas Asian Improv “provides a principled Asian American place in the industry” (241). What do you think it means to provide a principled Asian American place? What are the pros and cons of taking these different types of approaches to ethnicity?
- What do you make of Wong’s claim that the Mountain Brothers group “have participated in the hegemonies of ‘the industry’ yet… have resisted it too” (253)? Is it really possible to remain true to one’s own identity while becoming a mainstream commercial success? Or, is there some sacrifice?
Tristan's Questions on Hayes:
I'm sure I won't be the only one to ask this, but how important is it that Hayes' interviewees are Canadian? It seems to me that Hayes is assumptive of a continuity between American and Canadian culture in relation to hip-hop, is that the case? Can hip-hop be understood as North American? Or is it an intrinsically American form (rising from the systematic racism and urban tensions of the Bronx)?
Also, the rap fans in Scottsville set up a clear dichotomy between East and West coast rap, leaving other American hip-hop hubs (Miami, Atlanta, Chicago) out of the equation. Is it fair for Hayes to set up this opposition between Biggie/Tupic and other rappers like Chingy, Ludacris, and Nelly when his subjects little mention of them at all? Can Nelly really be viewed as a member of the "wider field of hip-hop" (69)?
Will's Questions on Hayes:
In his article, Hayes criticizes his interviewees for their lack of “willingness to embark on such a project,” the “project” being an overhaul of conceptions of blackness by white youth. Is there any legitimacy to white participation, however racialized it may be, in a black art form in regards to increasing understandings of race relations? Are these participants subconsciously learning more about blackness (“embarking” on the “project”) more so than their white neighbors, or does their participation only serve to cement their misconceptions of other races?
Wong observes that “the global flow of capital and the language of aesthetic quality come from older discourses of imperialism and colonialism that established the political vocabulary of us/Other, here/Elsewhere” (239). But I wonder if there’s more pertinence in analyzing this creation of aesthetic hierarchies with regards to the complex structure of race relations in, and only in, the United States. Wong asserts that the absence of a commonplace narrative of Asian American arts movements renders record companies that appeal to this demographic especially independent in creating new routes for creative expression. But how does the erasure of Asian American art forms from commonplace conceptions of racialized music in America -- black hip hop, white rock n’ roll, etc -- feed into conceptions of aesthetic quality that also inscribe how power is balanced along axes of race? Do Asian Americans, by way of being erased from the landscape of popular music at large, also avoid the imposition of aesthetic hierarchies that have marginalized both genres and the racialized voices that generate them?
Hayes largely dismisses white suburban youths' infatuation with rap as a shallow exoticization of the music culture. According to Hayes, their subsequent mirroring of rap artists place themselves in opposition to their community's ideas of acceptably white behavior, essentially positioning themselves as outcasts. Is it possible that Hayes is overlooking a reverse possibility, in which these youths are responding to a pre-established feeling of alienation in their own community and turn to rap culture in order to find an identity outside of the prototypical white suburban identity that they feel distanced from (something similar to Goth culture participants' motivations in joining the scene)?
In this article, Hayes writes that, "However, they--
like all whites--are implicated in the maintenance of our present inequitable structures of power, and therefore must do more than put on a Fubu jersey and attend a Snoop Dogg concert". Beyond the ambiguity of the truculent phrase "structures of power", it seems Hayes is suggesting that these "structures" are the problem, which the hip-hop fan, in exchange for the benefit of listenership, ought to aspire to. To generalize this argument would mean that in order to experience another race or ethnicity's culture with any sense of legitimacy one ought to seek to actively empathize and redress that culture's marginalized position. In other words to enjoy a culture means to support it's emancipatory politics. Is this a fair expectation and what is the philosophical foundational value at work here? If it is fair, is it indeed reasonable to expect all cultural output as a productive output for garnering socio-political advocacy?
On a similar note, is the line of opposition in the consumption of hip-hop by white suburbia question of racial appropriation, or is it primarily a question of socio-economic appropriation?
I thought that Hayes had a really good idea in his essay; however, I feel as if he barely scratched the surface on an issue which is much larger than it may seem to him. From the very beginning, I think that Hayes problematized his own argument by believing that any sort of othered identity was missing from their rural population. I think that a lot of the times when Hayes believes that by listening to hip-hop and emulating rap culture to examine "the 'spectacle of the "Other,"'" shows how they are constructing their identity out of racial difference. I have a problem with that because he keeps with this tone throughout the essay, and I think that this would have been more interesting in examining if these kids were in fact examining such spectacle, or are trying to come to an understanding of the other. Maybe some of them did not have much interaction with black people in their day to day lives, but is this true for everyone he is talking about? How would interaction change the view of the other? How would a view of the spectacle of the other change the view on an urban white kid?
Do you think there is anything positive that can come of white people in all-white suburbs (mis)representing black culture? What would perceptions of black culture be like in such towns if no other cultures were imitated? Would media images be the prevailing influence on people's perceptions of "the other" in either case?
Hayes seems to suggest that it is detrimental for suburban white kids to listen to rap without understanding black culture, because it paints an incomplete picture. How is that same picture affecting the expectations of black youth?
Hayes alludes to the minimal, systematic knowledge that fans learn in high school as one of the reasons for the lack of deeper understanding of issues facing black communities. If so, how can non-urban white fans effectively familiarize themselves with the “wider social contexts” (80) that inform rap? And who should be responsible for this? And do fans have to be informed at such level?