observations, reviews and ramblings about Hip-Hop culture, sports, politics and the industry and life in general.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Fear The Mask

I was watching Current TV over the weekend.
A really good channel. I hope they can keep the lights on.

Anyhoo, there was a piece about this group Northern State. A rap trio of white girls from Long Island. It was an interesting story about how they submitted an album to Columbia and got shelved and are now indie. You know, the usual sob story. The other part of the story was the “white, suburban angle.” Sort of a ‘can you believe these white girls rap?’ There were the comparisons to the Beasties, how they were working with the King Ad Rock, and footage of them performing in flip-flops, sailor hats, and nurse uniforms.

The music was whatever. It was Hip-Hop in a modern way. Technically it was Hip-Hop with that all too familiar alternative twinge that 80’s babies from Def Jux to Pharell use. Simple rhyme patterns over basic Hip-Hop beats with a guitar thrown in here and there. Hey reminded me of Princess Superstar but not quite as sexual. The ladies made some interesting comments about they understood how peculiar they are. But whatever superficial contradictions that existed they were Hip-Hop because that is what they grew up on.

As much as I believe they were heartfelt I couldn’t get the taste of mockery out of my mouth. With the outfits and rhyme style, part of me felt they were making fun of Hip-Hop. On one hand claiming to be real Hip-Hop heads unfairly pigeon holed, then on the other hand pimping their whiteness, if that makes sense. Not trying too hard because they knew their whiteness would deflect any hardcore criticism that a trio of Black MC’s would receive. They set up an argument that if you dissed them you were caught up in good old American sexism and racism. But for me they had no swing and no fundamental skill. I would have said the same if they were three girls or guys from Bed Stuy or Lynchburg.

The comparisons to the Beasties were obvious and initially the Beasties used the similar shtick until they and we realized they were truly nice. Nice in their production, nice in their art direction, and nice in their simple rhymes that I later viewed as a tribute to the Cold Crush days. But whatever, this is not about the Beasties.

More and more these groups like Northern State and hipsters who love Dip Set, Lupe, Pharell, Jeezy and all that make me uncomfortable. I swear I hear them snickering. Laughing at, not with Jim Jones. And the almost cartoonish depictions in the videos contribute to the joke. Now maybe I am being too sensitive and these cats really connect with the Snowman. And maybe Northern State is just interpreting Hip-Hop in their way. A way that 33 year old from the Bronx can’t understand. But I still wonder if this is just a mask they are wearing.

BTW, the Pharell album is not bad

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