The Best Rappers Sound White
Yeah, you read that right. *cue hegemony, White supremacy talk*
Every so often we get a rapper that just speciuh (read “special”). Reuh speciuh! And there are a number of factors that combine to make most rappers special. Especially those who have prolonged careers and are able to become entities in the industry, transcending genres and all. Some of the characteristics are storytelling ability, wordplay, and a lot of the time just an overall swagger that makes them sellable. More so than most have likely bothered giving thought to though, are the types of words and phrases rappers use which strikes the average listener, as they have likely never been privy to a certain vernacular, dialect or jargon. So when they hear a bar delivered using words comprised in a manner which they’ve never encountered, they offer the emcee kudos for delivering a message in a new way. It’s awesome shit.
But now to the meat of the issue, the reason you’re still here, though you must be still here to be reading this right now meaning you didn’t get on a high horse and dip, but I digress! The rappers who have been most successful at capturing us via their dialect, and most successful in general, often come with words and phrases -even accents- that are mostly used by White people. There’s nothing wrong with it and there’s good reason for it as well. If you’re having a hard time following, think about it this way:
You’re a Southern California kid, been there your whole life, haven’t ventured out too much, been playing kickball with the same folks since you can remember and one day, a new student comes into your class from Texas. That kid immediately has the sauce just cause he has that twang and he calls soda “pop” and tips his hat to all the lil’ girls and grown women in the faculty who swoon all the same. He’s winning.
Now this is the type of situation we find ourselves in when listening to rappers who come off sounding “White”. It’s nothing like we’re used to, so we affect toward them and they get points just for being different. It’s also to account for the excitement we get when Kendrick Lamar or The Game rap in spanish. Shit is fuego!
Let’s start with most obvious example: Marshall Mathers. Most would argue that Eminem got on cause of his vile lyrics and skin color but that is not the case, solely. His skin color was important but not for reasons that the digital activist -who shouldn’t be here anymore, cause I promote White supremacy- might suggest. It’s the dialect Em has, as a White person, distinguishing him from the majority of rappers.
The first verse of the classic “My Fault” ends with a group of rhymes that the average rapper simply wouldn’t think as the words are not a part of the stereotypical rapper’s vocab.
“Oh hell, I might as well try ‘em this party so DRAG//
Oh DAG, I didn’t mean for you to eat the whole bag!”
The two phrases “so drag” and “oh dag” allow Eminem to punctuate the most pivotal moment in the story with a stylistic execution that is simple, yet second to none.
Stan is full of the distinct word choices that helped Eminem’s ascension to rap royalty. And if you’re not in agreement that Eminem is not in at least Top 7 rappers of all time (7 is being generous). You should probably leave.
But think about the ways in which Em used phrases like “blistering cold”. And the way he corresponds rhymes with his midwestern accent and verbiage gives him even more of an upper hand, like when he said:
“You got some issues Stan, I think you need some counseling//
To help your ass from bouncing off the walls when you get down some”
Another emcee to infuse “White talk” into his music is the 6 God. His establishing verses were often made special by the words he used that again distinguished him from popular rappers of the time. Personally, I’ll never forget hearing Drake on “Money to Blow”. The bar that has stuck with until this day was “come take a look, get a load of this nigga”. That phrase “get a load of this nigga” made me pause and think, what other rapper has ever said said words that could come be a part of a Clark Gable dialogue. Many have spit egotistical bars and in many different ways but saying hearing him say “get a load” of him was something I only imagined hearing in a “Leave it to Beaver” episode or some colloquial American pop culture and the introduction of that into the Rap was something, that I think, separated Drake from other rappers. The virtuoso continues doing this type of thing throughout his career.
Alas, the man whose elegant vocabulary elevated him to what should be every Top 5 list ever. That’s right. Hov! Even when he’s not actually rapping he’s using “White” phrases that set him apart.
“This is a public service announcement sponsored by Just Blaze and the good folks at Rocafella records”
Who does he think he is, Al Capone? Shall I continue? Remember when he said, “tryna play the boy like he’s saccharine”? Like wtf is saccharine, right? I’ve never seen saccharine in the hood. He continues to deliver words in a vernacular foreign to most rappers, listeners and really any other musicians contributing to his already impeccable storytelling, stand out wordplay, which make him, IMO the best rapper ever.
So maybe it’s not so much these rappers sounding “White” as it is the implementation of language that is not commonly found in hoods around America. But considering the dominance of English in the America and its roots as an anglophone language, the mastering of said language leads to one sounding, essentially, White.
This is not to say that using “White english” is the only recipe for being a great rapper, but doing something like it always always helps.
Note: Please leave all hate in the comments for me to read while on the toilet.