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View Full Version : The ol' ethno-tourism question



michael
21-03-2005, 12:42 AM
Sorry if this has come up in one of the other threads and I missed it, but has anyone heard Murs' verses on the topic of white people into hip-hop on the track 'And this is for'? The track's on his album with 9th Wonder, '3:16'.

Pretty good I reckon, fairly equivocal in that he's acknowledging that probably most of his audience is white and he has worked with a large number of white people in hip-hop... he's mainly just sounds like he's thinking out loud, which is a plus in my mind, but he's basically putting the record straight about what he reckons the boundaries lie with how much an insider can understand what it's like being an outsider.

I could look at transcribing some lyrics if anyone's interested, can't find any evidence of them online at the mo.

As an aside, I read an interview with him on some UK hip-hop site where he was saying that grime was the best thing about UK hip-hop. Not wanting to re-open the debate on whether it is hip-hop, but if the "UK hip-hop" scene is as purist as people seem to be suggesting on here then that's a pretty funny slap in the face. :D

Melchior
21-03-2005, 02:12 AM
Lyrics would be good.

It seems that the UK hip hop scene is more open to white people than the US one. Which is good i guess. That might be a result of the fact that it is an imported culture, so no one group can really lay claim to it.

Pearsall
21-03-2005, 06:40 PM
Fuck boundaries. If you believe in individual liberty, then it is the responsibility of no one but the individual as to how they approach the world.

http://onepearsallandhisbooks.blogspot.com/2005/03/thats-not-your-hairstyle.html


Ideological multiculturalism, in its desire to 'celebrate diversity' by calcifying difference, is explicitly anti-individual and weirdly coterminous to nationalisms of all forms that insist there is an 'authentic' way to be a member of any group. Perhaps I am hopelessly libertarian, but I don't think it is anyone but the individual's responsibility and choice as to how they approach the world, especially on benign matters like hairstyles, clothes, music choice, reading matter, and so on. Everyone should have the right to approach the world in whatever way they choose, as long as that doesn't impinge on others' freedoms. If that means white suburban teens dressing in baggy clothes and talking like they're from Brownsville, then that's fine, it's their choice. The ideological multiculturalism that says that there are boundaries beyond which the European/European-descendant cannot pass because of fears of 'appropriation' implicitly implies that all members of other groups cannot behave, dress, or think in ways that might be considered, by some arbitrary standard, 'not of their culture'. Which is, of course, a direct attack on personal liberty.

Pearsall
21-03-2005, 06:41 PM
I'm big on scare quotes.

Omaar
21-03-2005, 09:49 PM
Pearsall - I think your reply suggests that you believe every subject ultimately determines their own life based generally on conscious decisions, while I'm more inclined to say that broader structures play a large role in determing how people act or think.

Also I think appropriation can in certain cirsumstances constitute an attack on other people.

Mike - I'm quite keen to reply but had better not jump the gun and assume what that rap is on before i hear it ..or read it if you post it. Hearing it might have more impact anyway. I'll host it if you like ...

michael
21-03-2005, 09:51 PM
Sorry to be cheap, but it's a "direct attack on personal liberty" to not allow an individual to say someone else shouldn't behave a certain way too. How personal liberty deals with incommensurate ways of living is kind of complicated.

I'll try to sort out these lyrics anyway, so we don't go arguing over straw men.

Pearsall
21-03-2005, 10:39 PM
Pearsall - I think your reply suggests that you believe every subject ultimately determines their own life based generally on conscious decisions, while I'm more inclined to say that broader structures play a large role in determing how people act or think.


Quite obviously people's lifestyles (accent, religion, cultural consumption patterns, etc.) are heavily influenced by their environments (and particularly their parents and friends), and are only partially the result of direct conscious action. That's not my point though. I think that people should have the right to choose how they want to live. Navel-gazing about 'apropriation' generally revolves around the assumption that there is an autonomously correct way to be something. People have been adapting ideas from each other since recorded history began, and there are all kinds of inter-connections between peoples.

I always find it weird to hear such arguments from self-declared progressives, as it's an obvious loan from nationalism ("this is our people, and our people are this, and don't stray from these arbitrary boundaries I have decided on").

But, having firebombed that field of straw men, I'll see the lyrics.

Pearsall
21-03-2005, 10:50 PM
Sorry to be cheap, but it's a "direct attack on personal liberty" to not allow an individual to say someone else shouldn't behave a certain way too. How personal liberty deals with incommensurate ways of living is kind of complicated.

What is the correct way of being white? What is the correct way of being black? What is the correct way of being Chinese, or French, or Persian, or whatever? Isn't that what this boils down to, that there is some kind of correct way of being a member of a racial/ethnic group, and to adapt ideas that someone from another group came up with is a bad, bad, baaaad thing.

In fact, I think that these appropriations/cross-pollinations/whatever (specifically: white suburban youths dressing and speaking like a specific type of inner-city African-American) often (hell, usually) come across as foolish or clumsy, but it's not my business to say that they can't do it, and it ain't yours either.

Omaar
22-03-2005, 01:51 AM
So to take an example from my country (New Zealand), I don't think as a Pakeha (European) I have any 'right' at all to adopt a moko (maori tattoo). I would consider it insulting to Maori to approriate their culture in this way. This view is shared by some Maori, certainly not all, but I don't believe its an impingement on my freedom to act with this kind of respect. This is maybe an extreme example, and I feel it is approriate to approriate Maori culture in other ways ... language perhaps? -but this I consider a way of showing respect rather than exercising my right to act 'freely'.

There are numerous examples of Maori culture being approprited for commercial gain, and while some Maori may approve of this and some may disapprove, I don't view it very positively.

e.g : Moko restaurant in amdsterdam ... I just found this article and haven't read it yet so am unsure of the quality, but it mentions some examples of this kind of appropriation:

" Robbie Williams has recently had a Māori design tattooed on his arm;
soccer demi-god Eric Cantona appeared on the cover of British style mag GQ face-painted with a moko;
Designer Thierry Mugler used masks inspired by moko to launch his spring/summer collection;
an ad for Poloroid cameras features an archetypal boyfriend-your-parents-were- afraid-of adorned with an imitation moko; ... Paco Rabanne's Spring 1998 collection featured two models wearing metal outfits echoing the stylised moko of the film Once Were Warriors; .."

http://awanderingminstreli.tripod.com/tamoko.htm

I don't think this POV requires any notion of authenticity - it's more along the lines of an argument for a type of Cultural Intellectual Property.

Mike maybe you had better post those lyrics up or this thread may spin off on a tangent ....!

Omaar
22-03-2005, 01:53 AM
this quote is pretty superb though:

"You should be happy to have a tribute to your country and your people"

spokesperson for fashion designer Thierry Mugler.

Pearsall
22-03-2005, 03:26 AM
So to take an example from my country (New Zealand), I don't think as a Pakeha (European) I have any 'right' at all to adopt a moko (maori tattoo). I would consider it insulting to Maori to approriate their culture in this way. This view is shared by some Maori, certainly not all, but I don't believe its an impingement on my freedom to act with this kind of respect. This is maybe an extreme example, and I feel it is approriate to approriate Maori culture in other ways ... language perhaps? -but this I consider a way of showing respect rather than exercising my right to act 'freely'.

No, it is absolutely your right to get a Maori tattoo if you choose to get one. Your view of it as something you don't want to do because you feel it is insulting is entirely separate from your right to be free to do it if you choose to. You wouldn't do it because you feel that it is insulting - entirely fair (I wouldn't have it done either). That doesn't mean that you have no right to do it. Now, if you were to exercise your legitimate right to get such a tattoo you would be taking on the responsibility for others' reactions to it - the exercising of rights comes with bearing responsibility for your actions.

Now, you may say that a white dude who gets a Maori tattoo is being disrespectful or unwise or whatever, but he absolutely has the right to do something that you may consider a mistake. Everyone has to set their boundaries for themselves. Also, think about your reaction to people from non-Western cultures appropriating things from Western culture(s). How much do you care about such appropriations? Are you offended by Iranian metalheads or Japanese teens eating hamburgers or Nigerians in three-piece suits?

Omaar
22-03-2005, 04:08 AM
Just addressing the latter point for the mo cos I am meant to be working .. ;)

Iraninan metalheads - I don't think anyone owns the intellectual property on metal and I don't think this is going to cause anyone any hurt to anyone. maybe. but then metal and being offensive are kinda linked in together so maybe thats a more complicated issue.

Nigerian suits and Japanese teens eating hamburgers - I think those are slightly different cases cos that is more like cultural imperialism rather than cultural appropriation. I'm not offended by it but I think its a bit sad, partly depending on whether the suits are imported and whether the burgers are made by an American fast food giant.

Don't you think you don't have a right to do something that is hurtful to someone else? If you can resasonably expect that someone will be offended by your actions? i.e. some Maori being offended by Pakeha having Moko?

Having said that I think it is OK to be offensive sometimes. Maybe if it is for the greater good. I don't know where I'm going with this so I'm going to cut this short now.

Pearsall
22-03-2005, 05:26 AM
No, everyone absolutely has the right to hold offensive ideas and do offensive things. Being offensive and giving offence is an absolute unquestionable right. This does not mean that it is advisable to go out of your way to be a dick to someone, just that it should be a person's right to say or do whatever they feel like as long as it doesn't physically hurt someone else.

That's the absolute core of anyone's commitment to free speech - whether you support people's right to say, believe, or do things that you think are deeply morally questionable. I think Holocaust deniers are odious scumbags, but they have the right to believe that the Jews, for the arcane motives generally attributed to them, concocted 'the Holohoax' as long as they don't physically act on it.

I am, in case you hadn't guessed, a hard-line free speech fanatic. ;)

And, 'cultural imperialism' is such a canard. No one is forcing the (hypothetical) Nigerian into a suit, or the (hypothetical) Japanese teens to eat hamburgers. Marketing opens the door, but you walk through it. Do these people not have agency over their own decisions? Has it not occurred to you that much of this cross-cultural traffic is driven by a natural and healthy curiosity about other people and how they live and what they do? The success of any cultural export, from Hollywood to Bollywood, is down to whether it appeals to people. If people don't like it, then they won't use it. If it connects, then it works. Simple.

Pearsall
22-03-2005, 05:27 AM
That's a bit ranty. Apologies. Bed time.

Melchior
22-03-2005, 05:43 AM
No, everyone absolutely has the right to hold offensive ideas and do offensive things. Being offensive and giving offence is an absolute unquestionable right. This does not mean that it is advisable to go out of your way to be a dick to someone, just that it should be a person's right to say or do whatever they feel like as long as it doesn't physically hurt someone else.

That's the absolute core of anyone's commitment to free speech - whether you support people's right to say, believe, or do things that you think are deeply morally questionable. I think Holocaust deniers are odious scumbags, but they have the right to believe that the Jews, for the arcane motives generally attributed to them, concocted 'the Holohoax' as long as they don't physically act on it.

I am, in case you hadn't guessed, a hard-line free speech fanatic. ;)

Ok, but what about when holocaust denial DOES physically hurt people? For example Mr. A Bigot publishes a pamphlet called, say, 'Did 6 Million Really Die?' and in it says something like 'Soon those who believe the holocaust happened will want another one, and those who don't will want to have one' and Mr. B Bonehead reads i, goes out and kills a jew.

Anyway, I'm not a believer in free speech as such so I shouldn't get into this too much.


And, 'cultural imperialism' is such a canard. No one is forcing the (hypothetical) Nigerian into a suit, or the (hypothetical) Japanese teens to eat hamburgers. Marketing opens the door, but you walk through it. Do these people not have agency over their own decisions? Has it not occurred to you that much of this cross-cultural traffic is driven by a natural and healthy curiosity about other people and how they live and what they do? The success of any cultural export, from Hollywood to Bollywood, is down to whether it appeals to people. If people don't like it, then they won't use it. If it connects, then it works. Simple.

No, but Robbie Williams IS forcing Maori to have their cultural heritage belittled by his addoption of it.

It's Persall vs. The Wellingtonians!!! ;)

Omaar
22-03-2005, 08:17 AM
it's Pearsall vs. The Wellingtonians!!!

er yeah sorry bout that Pearsall. ;)

Anyway, I uploaded an mp3 I found of this tune here (http://www.motordisco.com/music/murs-andthisisfor.mp3)

michael
22-03-2005, 12:57 PM
Anyway, I uploaded an mp3 I found of this tune here (http://www.motordisco.com/music/murs-andthisisfor.mp3)
And I transcribed the entire lyrics before logging on to Dissensus. :rolleyes: I'd recommend people listen to the MP3, cos lyrics are almost always worse when you just read them, but here they are in a lovely shade of yellow. Things get relevant to why I mentioned the track at all in the second verse.


How times done changed
These thugs they just do what they like
Some of them be on Friendster trying to find a new wife
And still hit the block and sling rocks at night
But you can be dead warm with your pockets right
Contrary to what the legendary BIG had to say
You don't have to sell drugs or make the NBA
It's easy to get a grant and get aa MBA
To achieve one goal there's more than one way
Young people on the whole we have lost our way
I don't care what it cost, I'm not impressed my nigga
That throwback jersey is a dress my nigga
I remember diamonds used to be a girls best friend
Enslaving black children with the third world gems
I don't care about your rims
Kids ride big wheels up until they learn balance
And it's obvious you haven't
With way more ego than you have true talent

And this is for... x4

Any white boy who thinks he knows my struggle
Cos he listens to Pac and his adrenalin doubles
Now I ain't got problems wit you being yourself
But when you front and use the N word it just don't help
I might not trip and your friends'll laugh at you
But I know some real niggas that'll straight up slap you
Now you can be down, but let's act growed up
Because we ain't the same colour when police show up
My culture's not a trend, being black is not in
But for you it's just a phase you're gonna have to transcend
While even if I tried I could never blend
To society's mainstream - American dream
Yeah it's all one love - but remember one thing
This music is my life, not a cultural fling
It's an expression of the soul when we dance and sing
And you were blessed to have the chance to even glance the scene

And this is for... x4

Man, I do the same music, they stop coming to shows
It's like they scared of the white boys in the front boys
First I was like "so? I'm gonna get my dough"
But the numbers kept falling as my fan base would grow
And now I'm concerned so I gotta speak up
First the money was the only thing shutting me up
But now I don't care - don't support me, get mad
Why wouldn't you abort me? My own people have

I feel like I should have the scams white rappers have
It's sad but that's the way it is
What's the reason that my album doesn't sell like his?
Don't front like you don't know why the hell that is
It's because he's white, you can relate to his face
Through the years you've been taught that black is unsafe
Plus it's only natural for your own to be embraced
Conscious or subconscious you can't say that ain't the case
Only reason it took so long for it to take place
Up until now your only choice was 3rd Base
For others like Ice wasn't really that tight
Now you got some white dudes who can truly rock the mic
You relate to their stories cos you share that past
Question is, why would you listen to Murs's black ass?
I asked myself for a while now I finally get it
Good music transcends all physical limits
It's more than something that you hear
It's something that you feel
When I offer an experience the passion is real
Used to feel I should be silent, I was scared to do this song
But I want everyone aware of what is going on
Yes it is jazz, and yes it is the blues
And yes it is the exact same way they did rock
But I refuse to watch the same thing happen to hip-hop
I refuse to watch that bullshit

And this is for... x4



So just to cut the freedom of speech thing off, my initial mention of boundaries was re: limits of understanding, not about actions.

Meh, now I feel like these lyrics have been built up, but I meant it when I said I thought what Murs had to say was "pretty good".

I guess by posting the lyrics here I'm inviting each and every line to be critiqued and pulled to bits. They certainly do throw up lots of questions for me.

Omaar
23-03-2005, 02:51 AM
yeah nice reverse thread.

DJ PIMP
23-03-2005, 03:01 AM
I don't see how you get around this by making glitchy trip-hop :-P

michael
23-03-2005, 06:46 AM
I don't see how you get around this by making glitchy trip-hop :-P
Yeah, neither.

DavidD
23-03-2005, 08:33 PM
I feel like I should have the scams white rappers have

Is actually "should have the scans" as in numbers.
And "white rappers" = sage francis and aesop rock, i would presume. (among others)

I like that song. I just sold my Murs album though, the one on Def Jux before that one. "End of the Beginning."

michael
23-03-2005, 11:43 PM
I feel like I should have the scams white rappers have

Is actually "should have the scans" as in numbers.
And "white rappers" = sage francis and aesop rock, i would presume. (among others)


Ah, I did think he was saying "scans" but didn't know the jargon, so assumed I just misheard him!

And yep, I think he's talking about people he tours with, hangs with, etc. Slug would come in there, they apparently did a whole album together.

Omaar
24-03-2005, 01:18 AM
Maybe he means | he feels his rhymes | do not scan || as well as those | of white rappers.

sean downes
24-03-2005, 02:56 PM
those lyrics are jaw droppingly bad.

dubplatestyle
24-03-2005, 04:29 PM
the idea that dude should have the "scans that white rappers have" is ridiculous as there is only one white rapper who routinely trounces the black competition sales-wise and right now even his black protege is kicking his honky ass at the top of billboard.

dubplatestyle
24-03-2005, 04:30 PM
the simple fact is that the majority of white listeners are going to be buying the game or even a b-lister like c-murder before they buy el-p or aesop rock.

Eric
24-03-2005, 04:55 PM
the simple fact is that the majority of white listeners are going to be buying the game or even a b-lister like c-murder before they buy el-p or aesop rock.

not just WHITE listeners right?

dubplatestyle
24-03-2005, 05:16 PM
well that seems to be dude's main concern

dubplatestyle
24-03-2005, 05:17 PM
though if i took an informal poll of black folks in my building, i doubt they've heard of murs either

DavidD
24-03-2005, 10:51 PM
Jess, I don't think he's talking about the pop charts at all, he's clearly referring to that little underground/indie world he inhabits where the best selling artists are guys like Aesop Rock and Sage Francis.

DavidD
25-03-2005, 01:21 AM
(and as someone who had an ill-concieved dallience with that undie world at the beginning of college I can safely and sadly say he is very very OTM)

michael
25-03-2005, 02:57 AM
Yeah, look, I think I needed to provide context in my initial post. As David says, I think it's more about all the college radio nerds who suddenly went "thank God, there's intelligent hip-hop after all!" when Anticon first started releasing things. Murs is releasing on Def Jux, collabing with Slug and so on, so is going to be lumped into the same arena, and is reflecting on the audience he encounters in that arena, I guess.

I can't remember if I've said it before in this thread, but Murs is big on the idea of not preaching, and of happily contradicting yourself across tracks, as your ideas shift and you re-think things. So anything he does say I take as more like thinking out loud, rather than like addressing "the people" or some shit.

As for the personal context, I'd spent the weekend sitting on soulseek, chatting with kids in the hip-hop rooms and finding most really damn racist, both those into the nerdy shit and those into the more straight up gangsta thing. It was really depressing (Both sitting on soulseek for a weekend, and what the discussion was like. :)). So when I came across this Murs tune towards the end of the weekend I was excited by his take on it.

Omaar
29-03-2005, 06:03 AM
What were the kidz on slsk saying?

michael
29-03-2005, 08:35 AM
Someone said about being black and others started saying stuff like "fuck off you nigger" and "your skin looks like someone wiped shit all over you".

Some other user said she was part Chinese and others started saying "fucking gook, no wonder you don't make sense, fuck off and don't come back until you learn english". Plus "bet you have no tits", "bet you're a slut", that type of thing.

This was in between "anyone got any classic EPMD???" and that kind of thing. Maybe not from the same users, I wasn't keeping track.

Noah Baby Food
29-03-2005, 01:17 PM
Chatroom thugs talk tough behind a modem
But if they try it in the streets then someone gonna show 'dem

copyright moi

stelfox
29-03-2005, 01:57 PM
though if i took an informal poll of black folks in my building, i doubt they've heard of murs either

nor should they. he's fucking rubbish.