Recently Adult Swim comedian Eric Andre came out with a series of tweets that criticized hip-hop for openly embracing and promoting rap artists Kodak Black and XXXtentacion. Just so we're clear on what he said, here's what he said:
i was just looking at World Star Hip Hop on my IG and they’re always promoting XXX and Kodak Black. and i got upset.
i was also mad at myself for promoting XXXTentacion’s music the other day. my friend was like, “that dude beats up pregnant women” :(
1 out of 3 women are beat, raped, or murdered in their lifetime. that’s 1 billion women. Shits got to stop. No more apathy or indifference.
racism, sexism, homophobia - it's all bigotry. it is all part of the same systemic evil that keeps people subservient and disenfranchised.
Alot of supporters of said rappers on the Twittersphere have come out against Eric Andre with the same predictable defenses of their adored idols- in so many words: "She lied to get all his money!" and "They couldn't prove it court!" and "Innocent til' proven guilty, bruh!" And let's not forget the standard "Stick to comedy, bruh" which Eric Andre pointed out himself is just code for "Stick to apathy." and don't criticize anyone in our community.
But I for one believe we should demand some sorts of standards and accountability from our more visible hip-hop artists. There's nothing wrong with that. We don't have to celebrate negativity, violence, and misogyny. And I don't want to hear that "It's all just entertainment." cop-out. He singled these particular artists for a reason. That reason being their criminal records or alleged acts seem to be some pretty reprehensible stuff. They don't appear to be just talking the talk, they're actually walking the walk.
Another reason I agree with his criticisms is because if we don't question, challenge, and police our own culture and those who represent it, then those who are outsiders to our culture will begin to do so and often through a misinformed, uninformed, and biased prism. A lot of the current hip-hop audience (especially those who are fans of Kodak Black & XXXtentacion) are probably not old enough to remember when Fox News' Bill O'Reilly went on a crusade against rappers Nas and Ludacris (even causing Luda to get endorsements pulled from him) for their "vile, obscence" lyrics when in their personal lives, they were clearly normal, law-abiding citizens. And maybe they don't remember the days of C. Delores Tucker, VP Dan Quayle, Senator Bob Dole, and countless other high profile white folks who tried their best to put an end to "gangster rap" by taking the lyrics of songs totally out context to prove rap was responsible for cop-killing and every social ill of the inner-city in the early 90s.
So if they weren't around for days, maybe they don't understand the need for those within hip-hop culture to hold certain ones' feet to the fire for committing heinous acts in real life. It's like when we want Republicans and conservatives to denounce people who are racists and white supremacists and claim to be under that Republican/conservative umbrella. We should likewise denounce, or at the very least criticize those who are members of the hip hop community who seem to embody all those negative things (specifically misogyny & violence) that hip-hop's critics claim is synonymous with hip-hop music and culture itself.
Its waaay better for someone like Eric Andre (who's clearly a fan of hip-hop) to come out with these criticisms than some out-of-touch, but dangerously influential Trump disciples to come out against certain rappers. Because when that happens, the focus goes from a few bad apples to hip-hop as a whole genre because bigots and xenophobes don't have the capacity to distinguish between the good examples and bad examples and will paint all rap with same brush. And when that happens, record company execs and sponsors who pay artists for promotion will get shook from the political pressure and pull support from artists. When comedians, young black actors, or even other rappers criticize the culture, it's from an honest desire to want to see the culture reach it's potential and not go backwards or destroy itself. And it sparks discussions like these where we ask ourselves "Why aren't we giving more of a listening ear to rappers who are socially conscious in their content and personal lives??!"
We live in bizarre times where the media can villainize pretty much anyone. A movement started to stop police killing unarmed black people has been equated to the Ku Klux Klan. And I would hate to see hip-hop be made into the boogieman. Again.