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First things first, I’m a fan of J Cole. I’ve seen him in concert four times and I think he is one of the most talented rappers out here. As much, as I’m a fan of his music, I can’t let his verse on Fire Squad fly. His intentions are in the right place, but the verse isn’t the message he wanted to really get across. His verse created a tension and people started saying white people and black people in regards to music and that is everything that is wrong with music.
This is J Cole’s explanation of this verse. Quotes from his interview on Power 105.1
“That has nothing to do with dissing Eminem or dissing any of those people. That part of the verse is an observation, me making an observation of culture right now, what’s happening.”
“I went to the iTunes Jazz page and I was like, ‘Oh!’ It hit me,” he said. “The entire page of iTunes Jazz is 99.7% white people.”
“It’s fine; anybody could do whatever music they want, it’s art,” he added. “Jazz is a black form of music in its origins. And not only is it a black form of music, it was the hip-hop of its day. It was that much of a rebellious music.”
It’s not Iggy Azalea’s fault. It’s not Eminem’s fault. And I don’t want to put Eminem in a category with anybody in terms of skill level. What I’m saying is, there comes a time when the system realizes that, I can sell this white person a lot easier — it’s no conscious person.”
“I fast forward 20, 30 years from now, and I see hip-hop being completely white.”
Also, in J Cole’s interview from Power 105.1, Kanye West has basically said they same thing in his Breakfast Club interview.
Now, there is one big problem in his explanation and one in his verse. These two problems create a divide in music and that isn’t what music is about.The first problem is him bringing up the Grammy’s in his verse and another problem is him labelling music “black” music in his explanation. I’ll focus on the Grammy part first.
Imagine being Eminem, being influenced by all these black rappers growing up and he wants to become a rapper. Obviously, Eminem would go on to become one of the greatest rappers of our time, but imagine him starting up. There was no one like him before and that’s hard for someone. He of course, would go on to be the first white rapper to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album. Also, Eminem, a white artist was snubbed in 2001 because he lost album of the year when everyone at the time, thought he would win. Eminem was also the first rapper to be nominated in the album of the year category. Steely Dan’s, “Two Against Nature would win.” So if you think Kendrick Lamar got snubbed in 2013, imagine Eminem getting snubbed.
Here is a quote from a Billboard article about the 2001 Grammy’s
“The Marshall Mathers LP” by controversial rapper Eminem is the album that most deserves the coveted album of the year honor at tonight’s (Feb. 21) 43rd annual Grammy Awards, according to a recent Billboard.com poll. The Web/Aftermath/Interscope album was the clear winner among voters, pulling in nearly half — 49.7% — of 6,414 votes cast.
“Eminem’s set easily outdistanced Radiohead’s “Kid A” (Capitol), which was chosen as the best by 25.6% of respondents. Beck’s “Midnite Vultures” (DGC/Geffen/Interscope) placed third, although it came in far behind with just 9.2% of the vote.”
“The remaining two nominees, Steely Dan’s “Two Against Nature” (Giant) and Paul Simon’s “You’re The One” (Warner Bros.), were more or less evenly split, with 7.8% and 7.7%, respectively.”
Sidenote : Now, I don’t even like saying, black or white to identify a person, but that’s what the world does. Sometimes, I’ll do that, but, I know deep down, it’s wrong. In the context of this post, I will say black or white.
Now, Eminem opened the door for white rappers and last year Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won the Grammy for best rap album. Since 1996, the first year the Grammy’s including the category of best rap album of the year, Eminem and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are the only two white artist to win this award. 1996-2014 is 18 years and Eminem was the only white rapper winning the award until 2014.
Telling someone they only won something because of the colour of their skin is a horrible thing to do to someone. Maybe Iggy Azelea will win, but she would only be the 3rd white rapper to win the Grammy for best rap album in 19 years and isn’t that a good thing? Personally, I’d prefer Childish Gambino or Eminem to win the award, but that’s just my personal bias. Just remember, being a white rapper will always be hard because people will always think rap is black. Imagine the hardship of trying to make it and then people telling you, you only won an award because you’re white. Just think about that. Think an artist got snubbed because they were black, Eminem got snubbed for The Marshal Mathers LP.
Labelling Music “Black”
This is the part that, I really don’t like. This is the type of thing that creates a barrier between races. Some genres do have origins from black people. Jazz is one of those cases. Some genres do have origins from white people too. Pyotr llyich Tchaikovksy was a Russian white composer who would heavily influence Michael Jackson. Classical music has its origin from white people. What i’m about to get at is, artist all around the world are influenced by different sounds and apply the sound and influences to their music. No music is black or white, regardless of its origin. Music is art and art is shared.
Here is a quote from Michael Jackson from his interview with Ebony
“Ever since I was a little boy, I would study composition. And it was Tchaikovsky that influenced me the most. If you take an album like Nutcracker Suite, every song is a killer, every one. So I said to myself, “Why can´t their be a pop album where every…”—people used to do an album where you´d get one good song, and the rest were like B-sides. They´d call them “album songs”— and I would say to myself, “Why can´t every one be like a hit song? Why can´t every song be so great that people would want to buy it if you could release it as a single?” So I always tried to strive for that. That was my purpose for the next album. That was the whole idea. I wanted to just put any one out that we wanted. I worked hard for it.”
Michael Jackson, took what he learned from Tchaikovksy, a white composer and applied that to his albums. His albums full of hits. What did Michael Jackson say when he felt he was snubbed at the Grammys for Off The Wall? “It was totally unfair that it didn’t get record of the year and it can never happen again” He went on to win record of the year with “Beat It” with Thriller, an album full of hits. If you’re an artist and you get snubbed by the Grammy’s, just work harder. Michael Jackson beat Lionel Ritchie and The Police for record of the year. His competition was harder than now. What did Kanye West do after the Taylor Swift incidence, he made My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Here is a quote from his interview with Zane Lowe
“I showed people that I understand how to make perfect,” he said. “Dark Fantasy can be considered to be perfect. I know how to make perfect, but that’s not what I’m here to do. I’m here to crack the pavement and make new grounds sonically and in society, culturally.”
Now, Michael Jackson was influenced by a white person and went on to become the greatest artist of all time. Eminem was influenced by black rappers and has gone to become one of the greatest rappers of our time. Labelling music as black or white, will continue to keep races apart. Music is supposed to bring us together. Do companies think that white people will sell more than a black person in music? Maybe, they do. MTV didn’t let Michael Jackson play his videos and he changed that. What does that tell you? If you work hard enough, you can break that logic.
On the topic of capitalism in music which really is what J Cole was trying to explain in his verse, Kanye West already explained that situation in 2013. Billionaires control the world and are in firm control of our capitalistic society. That’s why Kanye West wants to become a billionaire because money can change the world. That’s the one thing, I truly hate about this world because Kanye West tells us how it is and people call it rants. Now, J Cole is saying the same thing and everyone is saying it’s the truth.
Just listen to New Slaves again
Now, continuing to label music as “black” or “white” and people will continue to label each other by the colour of people’s skins instead, of the person.
J Cole is finally starting to understand the world around him and i’m proud of him for that. His performance of Be Free reminds me of Kanye West performance of New Slaves.
MY MOTTO IS: IF YOU WANNA WIN THE LOTTERY, YOU HAVE TO MAKE THE MONEY TO BUY A TICKET!
From The 6ix,With Love
Thank You For Reading
Sincerely, Kid From The 6ix
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