The Null Device

McWhorter on hip-hop

John McWhorter (the Black American linguist who wrote The Power of Babel, a very enlightening natural history of language) writes that hip-hop holds blacks back; in particular, singling out the dominant theme of violence, misogyny and nihilism that passes for "keeping it real" in mainstream hip-hop. (via MeFi)

There are 4 comments on "McWhorter on hip-hop":

Posted by: dj http:// Thu Aug 7 07:25:21 2003

How much did that article get spanked at MeFi!

"Hip-hop creates nothing"

anyone who can write that line with a straight face is hard to take seriously.

He makes a token effort at looking at the non-gangsta elements of hip-hop and then procedes to once again talk again of hip-hop as if solely composed of g's.

it's PRMC crowd all over again - he would get on just fine with Tipper Gore.

Posted by: acb Thu Aug 7 07:33:56 2003

By 'hip-hop' he seems to mean 'thug culture'; and suggests that in his view, other streams of hip-hop have negligible cultural effect these days.

Equating hip-hop with gangsta machismo and violence is like equating punk with eXtreme-sportz mooks in big yellow shorts. However, as far as cultural influence goes, he has a point. Just as most teenaged "punks" aren't much into thinking for themselves (as Biafra said), it's conceivable that most hip-hop fans don't care for the conscious, intelligent, experimental stuff, and that the drive to push the envelope does cause hypermasculinity and aggression to become accepted models for behaviour among young black men.

Posted by: dj http:// Fri Aug 8 00:19:40 2003

Yeah, but you and i and could have said that in a much more nuanced and frankly better written article. ;)

Other hip-hop people have said that a long time ago, like over ten years ago.

Posted by: acb Fri Aug 8 00:48:45 2003

Yes; it's a pity very few people listened to them because that's not where the money was.