"Can we, as a country, all
: January 2003: Bubba
Sparxxx and Haystak
guys blah blah blah rap? Let me say blah blah about
that. There are two kinds of music: good and bad.
Was Elvis a racist who stole the black man's blah
blah blah? There are only nine zillion white artists
ahead of Elvis to hang that rap on. Imitators, not
innovators. The initial flak that Elvis caught was
from whites indignant that he had rockabilly'd up
hallowed old Bill Monroe songs like "Blue Moon Of
Kentucky." Elvis would have been a huge star even
if he'd only recorded white shmaltz--his favorite.
But then he'd be called racist for not covering black
his own admission, the bulk of Elvis' artistic larceny
came compliments of white Southern Gospel, its boundaries
with black Gospel blurred long before he made the scene.
He had almost no hits with R&B remakes. His "Hound
Dog" is credited to Big Mama Thornton only by virtue
of legal technicality. The two versions don't even use
the same words. He did to it what the Clash might have
done to it. In fact, "Hound Dog" was written by two
white guys (Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller) who were
writing and producing exclusively for black artists
(the Drifters, the Coasters and many others). Otis Blackwell,
who penned "Don't Be Cruel," "All Shook Up," and Jerry
Lee's "Great Balls Of Fire," was a peculiar, iconoclastic
black artist writing for white rockers. Arthur "Baby,
Let's Play House" Gunter was a black blues artist heavily
influenced by country music.
Why isn't all
this exchange between cultures a good thing? If propis
issue, Elvis didn't call himself "The King Of Rock-n-Roll."
Take it up with the voice of white wealth and privilege,
the cliché and catch-phrase reliant Johnny-come-lately
"media" who initially savaged Elvis worse than anyone
ever did N.W.A. or Ice-T. American Indian activist/poet/performer
John Trudell calls Elvis "America's Baby Boom Che,"
for those of you who need politicized "leftie" credentials.
He lifted himself out of abject poverty by forging cutting-edge,
revolutionary, galvanizing, controversial music,
is still controversial today.
It seems there
would be more about Elvis for ghetto-born black rappers
to relate to rather than condemn. It's not about color,
it's about class. Read a little thing called The
Redneck Manifesto, why dontcha?
us to two current white Southern musicians who also
elect not to perform bluegrass
or dress like
Brooks and Dunn: Georgia's Bubba Sparxxx and Tennesseean
had some mainstream success this past year and a couple
hits with "Ugly" and "Lovely." I learned of him in
faggy, elitist, pretentious Rolling Stone--the
nation's Willamette Week--which nevertheless
shows that Sparxxx' appeal transcends regionalism.
If you don't have his Dark Days, Bright Nights
(Interscope's Beatclub Records), pick it up.
Fulla White Boys and The Natural on Koch
Records' In The Paint) is more underground but appears
on the verge of breaking big. I learned of him in
the tiny, near-militant, Elvis-hating Rap Sheet,
which claims to be the only black-owned hip-hop publication.
A street cred feather in his blue-eyed devil cap indeed.
As your typical
rap fan myself (a dorky middle-aged white man who's
been known to wear dickies--rap name DJ Jazzy Biff),
I must admit to having a predisposition to what my
people bring to the rap table: Beastie Boys, Everlast,
ICP (you heard me). To this homey's ears, Haystak's
voice and delivery alone are perhaps the most compelling
and engaging since Big Pun.
If you're so
hip and enlightened and racially color-blind that
you just have to know who's got what color skin in
a musical production so you can not care about it
(are you with me?), well, you're hearing "black music"
with all these guys. Dr. Dre (Snoop Dogg, N.W.A.)
produces Eminem. Timbaland (Missy Elliott, Jay-Z,
Ludacris) produces Sparxxx. Haystak is on Koch Records'
In The Paint label, current home of Public Enemy and
This is not
to detract from the lads' rhymes, mic skills, taste
or talent one whit. Or from what they have to say.
Sparxxx and 'Stak piqued my slumming white trash sensibilities.
But, due to ingrained Yank bias (I grew up about three
feet above the Mason-Dixon Line), I think I was expecting
more of a goof, sampling barnyard animals and such.
Sadly, there's very little of that, though Sparxxx'
"Bubba Talk" is scored for vocal, percussion, cow
know me at all, I say the same thing but slower than
y'all. A little southern charm to top it off: Okey
dokey, it's that Bubba Talk."
two bars of cattle lowing. Still, you don't want
to make fun of these crackers.
me white boy, cracker, (something unintelligible
that rhymes with devil), damned old evil blue-eyed
devil, paleface, and um proud to be that, dude.
Make up some more shit to mean white boy, I'll be
I don't think
anyone's saying those things to Haystak's face.
the tribe when I'm behind the mic, don't tell me
nuthin' 'bout no goddam stereotypes."
down, big fella.
Brad come to school with gauges, start shootin'
up the rich kids in their faces. Then Mom and Dad
duck the issue: 'It was the crowd that they hung
around, the music that they listened to.' White
boys been dyin' 'round here for years, but it never
makes CNN, you know why? We were put here to die,
so when we kill one another, it comes as no surprise:
We animals in they eyes."
Hee Haw with breakbeats.
too. Media coverage stops at the ghetto's edge and
the CITY LIMITS sign. He's right on all counts.
Bleeding heart liberals' hearts bleed
is dedicated to all the fags and hags who associate
Haystak with racism and rebel flags..."
and burnin' the flag."
went wrong? Here's the voice of the socioeconomic
pool which fights your wars and dies for your "freedom"
agenda. Yet your art, your entertainment, your Hollywood,
your academia, your media disrespect him before
he even opens his mouth, invalidating his experience
with taunts of "racist" and "hillbilly." Must you
over-educated, PBS-minded, rhetoric-reciting, self-absorbed
and self-obsessed "peace" marchers demonize controversial
white voices in order to embrace your fascist definition
of "diversity?" Is your self worth that shaky?
returned from their segregated units in World War
II to a country in which they were excluded from
professional baseball, a country simultaneously
embarking on unprecedented prosperity and a resurgence
of lynching. That cultural dynamic still exists
unabated, though it ain't so "black and white."
Listen to proletariat resentment before it bites
you on the ass.
Rap, shmap. Ultimately it's about the music and
the power of art to distill life to its essentials.
Common essentials. And it's about the power of hip-hop
to cross boundaries as no music or art has before.
"Cool People" on Haystak's The Natural talks
about what constitutes good friends:
that'll be there in jail to see yo ass, put they
fist to the glass . . ."
anyone in this world you'd put your fist to the
casket, all-gold trim, 3-piece pin-stripe, gators
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