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In Defense (?) of the Rock/Hip-Hop Mash-up by jason
August 19, 2011, 11:17 am
Filed under: hip-hop, Mash Up Monday, Pop, Rock

Pt. 1: The questions are posed.

This comes out of a couple discussions I’ve had, both with Jayson and with friends who read To Eleven, and I’m hoping to start a conversation about it here with the rest of the readers. During Mash-up Monday, we often feature producers who take hip-hop (which, for the sake of argument, we will say is an “African-American” art form, or an art-form popularized by African American culture), and rock (which, though deriving its roots from blues, an African-American art form, was made popular by Caucasians from the US and Europe) and mash them up.

This causes a kind of ethical problem for me. See, as a white dude who grew up in the late 20th century and who got an English Degree, I recognize that the history of popular music in western society is often marked by the appropriation of the music of the minority, usually used as an expression of their oppression, turning it into a thing to make money for white dudes.

I'm looking at you.

Hip-hop has it’s own race-thing going on. It’s one art-form that hasn’t been appropriated in the same way, at least in the States. It is still thought of as a “black” art form, and it is difficult for a white guy to be successful. This isn’t to say that white people can’t be successful or taken seriously in the hip-hop world. I mean, you have Eminem, and Soul Khan seems to be doing well in the independent scene, but it is a predominantly “black” art form.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, with the rock/rap mash-up, what we see is a bunch of producers, many of whom are white, taking hip-hop, a decidedly “black” art-form, and mashing it with rock music, which is a predominantly “white” art form. This leads to the question, “Does mashing hip-hop and rock devalue hip-hop?” Does it beg the question, “Does hip-hop NEED to be mashed up, or should it just be left alone”?

And this is what I’m asking you, as a reader. What do you think of these mash-ups? What do you think it says about attitudes towards the heritage of each form, if it says anything at all? Does the mash-up pay homage to each form, or does it appropriate them, diluting the history of each form? And should we even care?


Leave a comment below, comment on our Facebook Page,send us an e-mail, or hit us up on Twitter.

Let us know what you think, and we’ll return to this discussion next week.



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[…] week, I began a discussion of the racial implications of mash-ups using Hip-hop and Rock music. I’m going to discuss this a little further this week, and then hopefully, but next week, […]

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