Posted: February 2013

WHITE RAPPERS

Sabrina Singer


 

I spent hours as a kid listening to the Beastie Boys album “Licensed to Ill.” Even as a small child I understood that white rappers were best poised to understand my white girl problems. I was sitting in the backseat of a beat-up silver Hyundai when I heard the first lesson the Beastie Boys taught me: I might have to fight for my right to party (it wasn’t the natural right I had assumed it would be). I learned other valuable lessons from that album: people do not sleep in Brooklyn, and the best girls grow up to do the dishes, laundry, and clean the bedroom. Most importantly, this early introduction to white rap music helped me to understand that white rappers uniquely understand my white girl problems.

And then there was Eminem. Although he certainly had white girl problems, he also seemed to have real problems that other people might also have. On “My Name Is” off his breakout album The Slim Shady LP, he rapped about how his mom did more drugs than he did! Unreasonable! Then, 8 Mile came out and, while I wasn’t actually allowed to watch the movie when it was released, I immediately understood that Detroit was a scary place full of drugs and the potential for gang violence. A few years later I felt bad that chicks didn’t know the name of Eminem’s band but were still all on him like they wanted to hold hands. That seemed like a white girl problem to me.

 In recent years, the most common incarnation of the white rapper is your average frat douchebag. I’m talking about Sammy Adams, Mac Miller, and Hoodie Allen. 

Adams, who refers to himself as Boston’s boy (which is most likely spelled boiii), raps about things that I understand quite well. He hates college but loves all the parties. Single doesn’t mean he’s looking for somebody (TESTIFY!). Mac Miller also raps about issues relevant to my First World life. For example, one of his hit songs has something to do with ordering a sandwich. Finally, discourse I can relate to. Many times listening to Eminem’s songs I felt like I couldn’t relate to him in the same way I might relate to someone who had lived a more privileged life.

 

Hoodie Allen may best embody the new generation of white dude rappers. He grew up in a middle class neighborhood outside New York City, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and then worked for a few years at Google. In making a name for himself among white girls of the college-age variety, he appeals to their romantic side. In his song “Feel the Love” he raps that “All I want to do is drink wine and make babies.” I can assure you that it’s one of the fundamental laws of nature that white girls only want to drink wine and make babies.

Finally we come to Macklemore, whose “Thrift Shop” is about finding unique vintage clothes at a thrift shop. The mass appeal is found in the line: “That shirt’s hella dope/And having the same one as six other people in this club is a hella don’t.” Nobody wants to show up to the club in the same outfit as another girl—even though there is no way she looks better in it. Still, Macklemore is highly significant in the evolution of rap music: he may be the first white hipster rapper! My greatest wish is only that other non-traditional white rappers will make it big. I would love to see a female equivalent to Mac Miller rap about which tropical location to visit over spring break or how to bake the perfect cupcake. Now these are tthe people I can relate to.