The Hip-Hop Cultural Tourist Examination

October 31, 2013 2 comments

tourist

Syllabification: (tour·ist)

Pronunciation: /ˈto͝orist/

noun

  • 1a person who is traveling or visiting a place for pleasure:the pyramids have drawn tourists to Egypt

Courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary. Yes, the King’s English all up in this bitch.

justvisiting

 

 

INTRODUCTORY ESSAY 

Cultural tourism in hip-hop—it’s a touchy subject. Before we delve into this, there are a couple of things that need to be understood. History points to numerous instances in which Blacks have been exploited for labor (have you heard about this thing called slavery?), gawked at (minstrel shows) and had skills and art re-appropriated (rock n roll) for the love of money. The world we live in today is a much more benevolent one than the vaudeville nights and serial racism of the early 20th century. In the past, segregation was explicitly and implicitly forced upon us and as the barriers of race and class break, art begins to permeate between cultures. This is to say that, among many things, music isn’t mutually exclusive to any creed or code and its been that way for a while.

Hip-hop isn’t black music. It’s simply music here for the enjoyment of anybody who wishes to do so. However, there’s a culture that directly correlates with hip-hop. Most rappers are lower-class uneducated1 Black males with a lineage of the aforementioned exploitations. Hip-hop’s content mirrors those features.

Hip-hop isn’t black music. It’s simply music here for the enjoyment of anybody who wishes to do so.

In an essay published over at Noisey called “On Listening To ‘New Slaves’ With White People,” Ernest Baker touches an intuitive perspective: “You can’t fully comprehend [New Slaves'] impact unless you’re black.” Baker then pulls an example from his life in which he listens to the song with a white sorority girl from Oklahoma. He grows frustrated by her laughter during parts of “New Slaves.”  Baker, knowingly or unknowingly, paints a portrait of a common trope: The White Sorority Girl From Oklahoma. (S)he is a person without much access to other cultures thanks to widespread self-segregation. For the record, self-segregation plagues more tropes than the middle class denizen. The old ideal of America being a melting pot is a false ideology. We’re all living in a salad bowl grazing one another, but true marination is oft something to be desired. Or is it, really?

A full comprehension of rap lyrics and sensibilities is paramount, or otherwise you’ll stick out like a black shopper at Barney’s and risk a lack of empathy towards the music’s content. When King L raps, “dropped out first day of school, ’cause niggas got cocaine to move,” on Kanye West’s “Send It Up,” can the suburbanite fully comprehend the gloomy surrealism expressed? It’s easy to grasp this sentiment with tangible real-world examples. To an outsider, the realization and rationalization of  a kid dropping out of school to sell cocaine out of necessity (well, there’s no REAL excuse to quit school and sell drugs) may be lost amidst a wave of silky flows and rambunctious beats.

The exploitation of the darker aspects of black culture is a fairly common practice and is something that Percival Everett’s brilliant book Erasure: A Novel explores bravely. The metafictional novel finds protagonist Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, a largely ignored author of erudite highbrow literature, penning a book about the “ghetto,” dubbed My Pafology (later renamed to the more cheeky Fuck) out of frustration. My Pafology is poorly written, riddled with ignorance (chapter one, is actually chapter “Won”) and laden with misogyny, violence and the like. At its core, Erasure: A Novel is a satire of the publishing world, where Everett himself is a highly gifted author who has escaped massive success for it only to be found in books like Push ( the source material for Precious). However, My Pafology being lauded for being a fun read and its gritty depictions of the inner-city black experience by critics illuminates some real-world absurdities in hip-hop.2

Everybody wanna be a nigga, but don’t nobody wanna be a nigga.

Rationalizing the artistic merit of [pick any lobotomized rapper who is all style and no substance and hardly English] is the response of a dilettante. Living vicariously through the music of a thuggish rapper is a suspect action, but it’s safer when blared through the confines of speakers than acted out in the streets of Chicago’s southside or Houston’s 5th Ward. Everybody wanna be a nigga, but don’t nobody wanna be a nigga. If the music touches you, so be it. Keef and 2 Chainz’s reckless abandon is an excellent score for a drunken night and speaks to the animalistic hedonism in in our viscera. Celebrity culture as a whole has a deep-rooted minstrel show flavor to it and with the addition of hip-hop’s unique cultural aspects, co-option can be cringe inducing.

The absurdity is present. Hip-hop falls under the umbrella of entertainment which is meant to be entertained and enjoyed.

There’s nothing inherently bad about being a tourist. The locals know that you’re just visiting. Some will glare as you maneuver through the city and others will treat you with hospitality—maybe even invite you in for a beer. So, if you’ve been christened with the privilege of a visit, have fun, because that’s why you’re here and people swing through the city for a reason. It’s one of the greatest in the world.

As Mostly Junkfood’s resident Phd is Hip-Hop Algorithms I’ve scribbled up an exam for you to be able to determine if you are a hip-hop tourist or a resident.3 I am your sherpa on this mountain.

I’m on Twitter at @hdrewblackburn.

 

RACE AND CLASS AND ASSOCIATIONS

1. What is your race/ethnicity?

A. Black

B. White

C. Hispanic

D. Asian

E. Other

 

2. Did you grow up in the suburbs?

A. No

B. Yes and I listened to a lot of emo/pop-punk bands (Blink 182, Taking Back Sunday, etc)

C. Yes and I listened to a lot of hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, etc)

D. Yes, but I’m still hood

 

3. Have you ever been to the hood/ghetto/barrio/etc.

A. I grew up there

B. I live there now

C. Oh heavens, no

D. Yes, to buy drugs

 

4. How many black friends do you have? (Must actually be a friend—not an acquaintance—and exist off of the internet)

A. 0

B. 1

C. 2-5

D. 5-10

E. 10 +

 

5. Do the people who resemble the very rappers you listen to make you feel uneasy?

A. Yes

B. No

 

6. Do you often jokingly adopt a “black” speech pattern only seem cool or communicate with black people?   

A. Yes

B. No

 

7. Who  introduced you to twerking?

A. I saw it at a party/club

B. Miley Cyrus

C. Ying Yang Twins

D. Juicy J

 

8. Did you vote for Mitt Romney?

A. Yes

B. No

C. I can’t vote (doesn’t matter if the reason is that you’re 13, are a felon, or not a citizen of the Divided States of America)

D. Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax

 

9. Do you feel as though gangsta rap makes you edgy?

A. Yes

B. No

 

10. Are you ’bout that life?

A. Yes

B. No

C. Shouldn’t that say “about?”

 

BEATS AND RHYMES

1a. Nas’ first album is called _______.

1b. Nas’ second album is called _______.

 

2. Do you like country music?

A. Yes

B. No

C. I like old school stuff like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline

 

3. Put the studio albums by A Tribe Called Quest in Chronological order.

 

4. Common’s original rap name was?

 

5. The Geto Boys were apart of what legendary Houston based rap label?

 

6. Name the original song from these Lil Wayne “Freestyles”

-”Get High Rule the World

-”Forever

-”Ridin wit the AK

-”1 King

-”Bass Beat

 

5. Name the sample from these Kanye West beats

-”Spaceship

-”03 Bonnie And Clyde

-”Good Life

- “All Falls Down

- “Takeover

 

6. Do you have any clue what it is that DJ Khaled actually does?

A. Yes

B. No

 

7. What was the name of Jay-Z’s response to “Ether,” that made Yung Hov’s mother demand he apologize to Nas?

 

8. What album did Outkast’s single “The Whole World” appear on? 

 

9. What beat has driven teachers around the nation near the brink of insanity because students recreate it with a writing utensil and their fists?

 

10. Who won the first grammy for Best Rap Performance?

 

11. “Dance With The Devil” is a song by?

 

12. Big Pun stands for?

 

13. The five elements of hip-hop are?

————————————————————-

Scoring is simple. A score of 110+ makes you a hip-hop resident. Below that—don’t wear your I (Heart) Hip-Hop shirt around here.

————————————————————-

 

 

RACE AND CLASS AND ASSOCIATIONS (Answers)

1. What is your race/ethnicity?

A. Black (+25)

B. White (+0)

C. Hispanic (+15)

D. Asian (+0)

E. Other (+0) *if you’re upset you are not included, or upset that White is zero you get +15. You’ve been marginalized!

 

2. Did you grow up in the suburbs?

A. No (+15)

B. Yes and I listened to a lot of emo/pop-punk bands (Blink 182, Taking Back Sunday, etc) (-5)

C. Yes and I listened to a lot of hip-hop (Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, etc) (+3)

D. Yes, but I’m still hood (-10)

 

3. Have you ever been to the hood/ghetto/barrio/etc.

A. I grew up there (+10)

B. I live there now (+10)

C. Oh heavens, no (-10)

D. Yes, to buy drugs (-20)

 

4. How many black friends do you have? (Must actually be a friend—not an acquaintance—and exist off of the internet)

A. 0 (-10)

B. 1 (-20)

C. 2-5 (+5)

D. 5-10 (+10)

E. 10 + (+15)

 

5. Do the people who resemble the very rappers you listen to make you feel uneasy?

A. Yes (-15)

B. No (+10)

 

6. Do you often jokingly adopt a “black” speech pattern only seem cool or communicate with black people?   

A. Yes (-25)

B. No (+5)

 

7. Who  introduced you to twerking?

A. I saw it at a party/club  (+10)

B. Miley Cyrus ( There’s no need to continue. You’re a tourist)

C. Ying Yang Twins (+10)

D. Juicy J (-5)

 

8. Did you vote for Mitt Romney?

A. Yes (-100)

B. No (+5)

C. I can’t vote (doesn’t matter if the reason is that you’re 13, are a felon, or not a citizen of the Divided States of America) (+0)

D. Mitt Romney don’t pay no tax (+10)

 

9. Do you feel as though gangsta rap makes you edgy?

A. Yes (-5)

B. No (+5)

 

10. Are you ’bout that life?

A. Yes (+5)

B. No (-5)

C. Shouldn’t that say “about?” (-15)

 

 

BEATS AND RHYMES (Answers)

 

1a. Nas’ first album is called [Illmatic]. (+5)

1b. Nas’ second album is called [It Was Written]. (+10)

 

2. Do you like country music?

A. Yes (-25, c’mon son. This is so close to a John Williams score to lynchings.)

B. No (+5)

C. I like old school stuff like Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline (+0, sorry. No point for good taste outside of hip-hop.)

 

3. Put the studio albums by A Tribe Called Quest in Chronological order.

One point  (+1) for every album named. Another five (+5) if they’re in order for all of the jazz.

People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

The Low End Theory

Midnight Marauders

Beats, Rhymes and Life

The Love Movement

 

4. Common’s original rap name was?

 Common Sense

5. The Geto Boys were apart of what legendary Houston based rap label?

Rap-A Lot (+5)

6. Name the original song from these Lil Wayne “Freestyles”

Plus one (+1) for the right answers

-”Get High Rule the World”  = “If I Ruled The World”

-”Forever” = “Dipset Forever”

-”Ridin wit the AK” =  “Kryptonite (I’m On It)”

-”1 King” = “3 Kings”

-”Bass Beat” = You Know My Style”

 

5. Name the sample from these Kanye West beats

Plus one (+1) for every correct answer

-”Spaceship” = “Distant Lover”

-”03 Bonnie And Clyde” = “Me and My Girlfriend”  & “If I Was Your Girlfriend”

-”Good Life” = “P.Y.T”

- “All Falls Down” = “Mystery of Iniquity”

- “Takeover” = “Five To One”

 

6. Do you have any clue what it is that DJ Khaled actually does?

A. Yes ( +0, YOU LIE)

B. No (+5)

 

7. What was the name of Jay-Z’s response to “Ether,” that made Yung Hov’s mother demand he apologize to Nas?

“Supa Ugly” (+10)

 

8. What album did Outkast’s single “The Whole World” appear on? 

Big Boi and Dre Present… Outkast (+15)

 

9. What beat has driven teachers around the nation near the brink of insanity because students recreate it with a writing utensil and their fists?

“Grindin’” (+10)

 

10. Who won the first grammy for Best Rap Performance?

Dj Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince (+10)

 

11. “Dance With The Devil” is a song by?

Immortal Technique (+5) made this weird ass song. If you’ve listened to this shit more than five times you’re a creep.

 

12. Big Pun stands for?

Big Punisher (+10)

 

13. The five elements of hip-hop are?

Plus five (+5) for every correct answer

Djing

Mcing

Graffiti

Breaking

Beatboxing

 


  1. In a formal sense. 

  2. This right here is the very definition of fuck-shit Mr. Jeremy Gordon 

  3. This is mostly a satirical test. But, satire always has roots in truth