Even Talib Kweli is, like, damn, that’s a cold-ass honky …
Appearing this week on Vlad TV (aka “the TMZ of hip hop”), the Brooklyn-born rapper was asked about white privilege in hip hop. Specifically, how being Caucasian can help some artists, like Mac Miller, make it to #1 on the charts. Kweli gave he honest (and true) assessment:
“I agree with that. This country is still based on racism. That will never change unless we tear it down and start over. White privilege is a real thing. And especially white male privilege. I have male privilege as a black male. But I don’t have white male privilege.”
Kweli then talked at length about the phenomenon of Eminem, who is, of course, a white rapper. Kweli repeatedly says in the video above that Eminem is an immensely talented gamechanger in hip hop. But he also acknowledges that Eminem’s privileged racial background was advantageous to his career: “I’ve never seen a rapper be on the cover of Rolling Stone so quickly … that’s because he’s the white boy. He has the blonde hair.”
Kweli’s comments made me think of a post I read on a race and pop culture blog back in March called “Race + Hip Hop + LGBT Equality: On Macklemore’s Straight Privilege.” The author, Hel Gebreamlak, wrote about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ song about marriage equality, ” Same Love,” and was arguing that hip-hop artists of color who have done songs about the gay rights have gotten ignored while these two, who are white, have gotten immense mainstream success. The piece was pretty controversial — truly a sign that it was making a good point. (Incidentally, Kweli recently announced that he’s going on tour with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.)
Obviously I am only scratching the surface of a hugely complicated issue and of course, Talib Kweli isn’t the first hip hop artist to talk about racism in his work or in interviews. But I’m glad he did and frankly, I was really happy to hear him discussing white male privilege in hip hop, too. Sexism in hip hop isn’t discussed nearly as much as it should be. I mean, look no further to Snoop Lion’s recent quote that “rap is so masculine … it’s like a football team.” (In that same quote, he also said homosexuality would never be accepted in rap.) Why, just this few months alone Rick Ross got dropped by Reebok as a spokesperson for his rap about drugging and raping a woman.
What do you think about Talib Kweli’s comments? Let us know in the comments.