White people and their sometimes-problematic place in hip-hop culture have been in the news recently. At The New Republic last week Dave Bry mulled Chief Keef and whether it's ok for white music critics to like violent rap, while we wrote about white entertainers who think they have a pass to say the n-word. Not entirely related but still on-point was our buddy Skinny Friedman's piece on folks who shouldn't be writing about rap music in the first place.
But what about white hip-hop fans? There aren't many rappers who don't welcome them into the fold, but most everyone would agree that there are rules for their fandom — for the purpose of avoiding racist, douchey, or idiotic behavior. So here they are.
1) When singing along to rap songs with the n-word, substitue “ninja”
2) Don't assume black rappers hate or are uncomfortable around white people
As a white guy who writes about rap music, I'm asked constantly, even today, “how that is.” The implication is that hip-hop is a racist black fraternity where outsiders aren't welcome. It also implies that black rappers aren't professional, or at least aren't familiar with or comfortable around white people. This doesn't make a bit of sense if one has even a passing familiarity with the media or celebrity or life in the 21st century.
3) Like what you like
White people apologizing for the kind of hip-hop they prefer — especially because they think it's not sufficiently “street” — is super lame. Growing up I had this bizarre idea that A Tribe Called Quest was only for white people, but everyone loves that shit. Also, don't think that liking militant political hip-hop or gangsta rap makes you cool or relatable to black people.
4) When you're saying rap names like “Lil Wayne” or “Masta Killa” just say them in the traditional white person way
Don't try to say “Lil.” You sound like a moron. Just say “Little.” And “Master” and “Killer.” No one will bat an eyelash.
5) Just don't use an accent
Like, at all, ever. Just talk how you naturally talk. Only Bubba Sparxxx can be Bubba Sparxxx.
6) Don't giggle or act nervous when you talk about hip-hop
Rock music is not the “default” favorite music of white folks; rap is the preferred strain for millions of Caucasian people around the world. Liking hip-hop is not weird, or a novelty. You won't be thrown out of your parents' country club.
7) Don't use terms like “gat” or “hood rat” or anything with a loaded racial etymology
Even as a joke. Especially as a joke. In addition to casually racist, you'll sound super outdated.
8) Don't beat box
Unless you know how, which you don't.