TV

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

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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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