Damn, this is old news now, my ability to stay on top of rap current events is being severely curbed by my extremely intermittent internet access. I still feel like addressing this though, in case anybody still cares. I happened across this article recently, and for some reason I didn’t just immediately ignore it and move on (rap gossip is about as interesting as any other kind of gossip to me, which is to say it isn’t), and as I began reading the write-up, there were actually quite a few things that surprised me about this article. The story itself, even for somebody that’s not into gossip, is pretty juicy (wealthy British lady from conspiracy-theory-drenched family leaves her rich white husband to be with a rapper from New Orleans), but I wouldn’t be writing about this if that was the only thing that made my eyebrows go up while reading this article.
What really surprised me was the treatment and amount of research of the situation that the writer puts in. I know it’s gossip news and they’re going to make the gossip sound as extreme and shocking as possible, but I think it is pretty telling about how the mainstream media still treats rap and rappers. The rapper in question is Jay Electronica, who now lives in the U.K. and works with this lady who he’s now involved with, and while yes, he is a rapper, as a rapper he does not exactly fit the stereotypes that this article would like to place on him. The first thing that scrunched my brow reading the article (besides the writer obviously not knowing that the tweet they quoted early in the article is a lyric from a song of his) was this:
He has been rapping since 2004 and is known for controversial and explicitly sexual lyrics.
I wonder if there’s a built-in helper thing in Microsoft Word where if it senses you’re talking about a rapper, a little paperclip dude pops up and gives you this little form to fill out where you can just enter the year of a rapper’s beginnings and it’ll insert that sentence into your document. “…known for controversial and explicitly sexual lyrics?” Last time I checked, Jay Electronica was known as the dude that rapped over the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack.
Jay Electronica – The Pledge
I understand that this rich lady committed adultery and it’s big deal or something, and demonizing the dude who the married lady has been sleeping with is a pretty easy angle to take in the story, but it’s interesting to see how all this is treated by this writer. Maybe the writer would have been equally careless about researching any of the people she wrote about, but to me it definitely smacks of somebody trying to subtly play up the “black man stealing away white woman” angle on this story that is such a huge part of the racist history of the West. In the spectrum of rappers, Jay Electronica is not a good example of the “bad boy rapper” as this writer would have you believe. He’s actually a surprisingly emotionally vulnerable rapper if you actually take time to listen to like any of his songs. He is one dude who goes out of his way to be as unstereotypical as possible when it comes to his approach to rap music, but he is still treated as nothing more than an example of the broad category he fits into by the media. I wonder if a non-rapper would get this same sloppy treatment, even in an article like this. Hard to say.
Maybe I’m just getting too worked up about a dumb gossip article, but I really feel like the attitudes that underpin this lady’s writing are very telling about how a lot of people in and out of the media feel about black musicians, and have felt about black musicians of all types for decades.