a.k.a. the great american music blog
Yeah, the controversy is pretty appalling. I think Jon Stewart covered the whole thing best:http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-may-11-2011/tone-def-poetry-jam?xrs=share_copy
Jon Stewart's flow was as appalling as the whole controversy. It was especially silly because it was about, of all people, Common. People analyze Illmatic as poetry, so Nas's inclusion in some kind of national poetry thing seems feasible. If relatively close-minded people objected to that, it would at least be reasonable, since plenty of Nas's lyrics are arguably misogynistic/homophobic/violent/etc, notwithstanding their lyrical and emotional sophistication. But with Common, they had to dig hilariously deep into his catalogue to find ANYTHING to object to, which just made it all so idiotic.
My choice of Nas as an example of a gifted rapper with some questionable content was just off the top of my head, but I didn't think about how particularly problematic he would be. And the critics wouldn't have to dig deep-- I was just listening to the Main Source album (BTW, Q, if you don't have that, it's essential), which has "Nasty Nas's" very first appearance on record, on the song, "Live at the Barbecue." That verse (which is awesome) contains the following lines:"When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffin Jesus""Police murderer, I'm causin hysteria"and, most awkwardly for the White House poetry slam, "Kidnap the President's wife without a plan / And hangin n**as like the Ku Klux Klan." Anyway, if you didn't see Jon Stewart taking Bill O'Reilly to task last night, find video footage of that on the web, because it was predictably great. The thing is, although this was unquestionably racist and hypocritical, I think this was just Fox News grasping at anything it could find in the wake of the suddenly rejuvenated Obama presidency post-OBL.
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