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In Defense (?) of the Rock/Hip-Hop Mash-up by jason
August 26, 2011, 2:04 pm
Filed under: Editorial, Mash Up Monday, Remix | Tags: , , ,

Pt. 2: The Combination Made My Eyes Bleed

Last 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, by next week, I’ll have some readers, as well as some mash-up artists, who have chimed in on this.

So, yeah. Rock/hip-hop mash ups. Last week, I talked about how the history of popular music in the western world is that of white people stealing black music. OK…that’s a simplified version of what I said, but it’s the basic premise. And I’m not saying this out of any white guilt or anything…the roots of rock n’ roll may be sullied by cultural theft, but I doubt you could listen to today’s rock and say “There they go again!” I mean, while the roots of rock come from blues, it has evolved into something else.

So, back to the question of the first post: Does taking rock music and mashing it with hip-hop devalue hip-hop? Does it “whitewash” the music of the minority?

Instead of being evasive here, I’m going to answer this for myself, but feel free to write in and add to or disagree with me.

I am going to say that the rock/hip-hop mash-up does not devalue hip-hop, for several reasons. First of all, in every mash-up I have ever listened to, the producers give credit to the original artists up front. There is no attempt to hide the fact that the hip-hop elements of the mash-up came from black artists; in fact, it is often part of the “selling point.” I don’t listen to these mash-ups because I like rock. I listen to them to hear awesome remixes of hip-hop songs.

Secondly, hip-hop has a legacy of sampling other music. I mean, in it’s own way, hip-hop began as a mash-up, with pioneers like Kool Herc simply talking in rhythm with the records they played at clubs. This was often African Americans taking music that was a part of their culture and reusing it, but not always. And I’m not denying that a lot of hip-hop uses original music as the backing track, but that legacy of sampling is there.

Kool Herc making a mash-up before that was even a thing.

Third, well…does everything we do have to have a political motive? If someone takes a rock song and a hip-hop song and puts them together, can’t it just be because it sounds good? Looking back with 20/20 hindsight, one can see that a certain rock song might fit perfectly with a certain hip-hop song, or some white dude with a computer might realize that Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” is the universal solvent. I mean, listen to Wugazi’s “Suicide Surprise,” and at about 2:28 in, tell me that that the music doesn’t make that song more powerful.

But what about those rock/hip-hop groups, like Linkin Park? Aren’t they doing the same thing, just with all original music? Where do they fit in? Well, I’ll talk about them next week.

What do you think? Am I right? Am I off base? Am I an idiot? Comment below, or contact us, and we’ll talk about it next week!

-jason

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