Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who's your favorite alternablack artist?

Having discovered the new Kanye West video for "Homecoming" featuring Chris Martin (one of my favorite songs on the latest album, maybe of any album of his) I have been raving about it all day. I discussed it with my music blogger friends back in the states, and the consensus is: pretty damn good. So in my enthusiasm to keep spreading the word, I brought up the video in an aim convo with one of my best friends from home. I sent him the link and waited for his reaction. Now, I wasn't necessarily expecting rave reviews from him (we have different tastes in music, I hate to say this, but I think mine is better. And only because I'm training myself to review music as a career!), but the answer I got kind of shocked me.

The first words off of his fingertips were "You know Lupe Fiasco? I think he's better." Now, this doesn't seem like a big deal, right? Lots of people like Lupe more, and I think he's great, too. But, for some reason it really annoyed me. It took me a few minutes to figure out why, and then it hit me. The manner in which he responded almost indicated the opinion that "there can only be one good black artist doing creative hip-hop." After being annoyed with his reaction, I was a little stunned by mine.

I'm a black female, but I must admit that I have had a pretty pampered, lucky life when it comes to issues of race and discrimination, with the exception of encountering a few ignorant people over the years. Growing up in "multicultural town" Teaneck, spending most of my time in diverse New York, and studying in Paris where they loves them some black women, I must admit that race issues are usually not in the forefront of my life.

But, this comment made me angry. Why can't there be two good black alternative hip-hop artists? Why is the reflex reaction most often to rank who's better. I'm not saying that people are not allowed to have favorites, I sure do in every genre that I listen to, but the quickness with which my friend responded almost suggested that he already had his favorite black artist of this kind picked out in his head, and he wasn't willing to make room for two. When I bring up my fave indie rock bands, my friend usually doesn't have a better band of the same vein so readily at hand.

Now, I usually don't care what color is behind the people making the songs, they just have to be creative and good, but, within a matter of seconds, the issue of race in music hit me in the face. Did I overreact? Did I not? Is Lupe Fiasco simply better? Is Kanye? Or can we just agree that Kanye and Lupe are two different artists? It's 2 am in Paris, so many questions, give me some opinions.


Narth Mallus the Reginald said...

I have run into similar patterns before. People sometimes feel like they have to choose someone in rap as their favorite of each type of rapper. Then they don't waiver or even show any calue in the other artists at all. If you like nas, you cannot like Jay-Z.

However, I don't think life is that cut and dry. I think we need to learn to give more collective credit to individuals who are doing there thing.

Funnie said...

It's all about competition. We are born amongst competition and raised with encouragement for rivalry. It's starts when we're young with our siblings and is enforced by every sport and game we play and is even thoroughly infused in our government. Some say it's natural, others just live with it. Lupe is my favorite rapper right now and it's always up for change. I don't think Lupe is better then Kanye, he is just what i want to hear right now; and i think rap, like all music and music like all art, has its basics and after you master the basics everyone is on an even playing field and then only creativity and influence gives credibility.

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