Not Quite Bill O'Reilly, Is He? Mike Huckabee vs. Russell Simmons on FOX News

Ah, Russell. I suppose this is him accepting Bill O'Reilly's invitation to appear on FOX News "in response" to his "blog"--fall out from the Jeezy debacle in January. Or not. Simmons is vigorously pushing his website (currently offering $100,000 for photos of Chris Brown and Rihanna together! Hip-hop culture, alive and well!) in all quarters. Let's not fault another man's hustle, but there is something blithe about going on this particular network and having a soothing sit-down with Mike Huckabee, of all people. As a matter of fact, it's Huckabee who seems to have a better handle on the crises of modern rap here:

    When we talk about hip-hop, the culture--but specifically relating to music, most genres of music, whether it's blues or rock or even country or bluegrass--had its origins with people essentially in a struggle. And then it became mainstream, and commercially successful. How do you keep the commercial success of the whole hip-hop culture from almost defying--if not ruining--that earthiness and the raw quality from which it was born?

Which, despite the uncomfortable presence of "earthiness" there--that weird equation of American-Americans and primitivism, maybe explained by the former Republican presidential candidate's 'folksiness,' and maybe not--is as pithy a formulation of the exact problem confronting Simmons et al going forward as any other I've seen. In some ways the original O'Reilly blow-up was basically guys asserting that the Jay-Zs and Jeezys of the world should be done with the "raw quality" aspects of the genre--especially since commercial success has given them such a long reach.

Many people seem to think a kind of sanitization of rap is on the way (this in exchange for a pretty major role in American mainstream political/cultural discourse), which I think might be a bit of a pity. Or alternately, an inversion: as Simmons points out, these guys were doing it their way at a fantastically successful level long before anyone thought to attempt to reign them in.

Heady stuff--then Simmons says the name of his website a bunch of times, and...segment over. [Prefix]

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