Why is it so hard to accept music from any source, regardless of sex, creed, color, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, and dare we say—race? It’s the 21st century and yet there is a still a divide in several genres: J-pop isn’t quite respected in Western pop music, French rap artists aren’t making any benchmarks either and while it has its fan base, tribal music still isn’t wildly popular. So, why would white rappers have it easy? While we may laugh at some of their work (Vanilla Ice), or read tabloid rags to catch up on their latest controversies (Eminem), we don’t think of them as influential in hip-hop.
Well, here are 12 acts who make us want to put our hands in the air and wave ‘em like we just don’t care.
The Beastie Boys
If you’ve listened to their landmarks Licensed to Ill and Paul’s Boutique, or their standouts Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty, then it’s a no-brainer why these legendary Brooklynites are the first white rap group of any significance. When they first arrived on the scene as hardcore punk-rockers in 1979, they were laughed at on principal because of their flamboyant flagrant decorum and frat-boy shtick. Their debut wasn’t much help but catapulted them to the hip-hop hall of fame. They keep switching genres and finding new sounds, and… that’s what real artists are so supposed to do.
Askmen.com compared the hip-hop guru to underground icons Kool Keith and Del tha Funkee Homosapien, but we can all agree that this lovely emcee with the sweet beats and the hot-to-def rhymes is a magisterial force in the land of rap. Labyrinthine and oracular all at once, with a sleazy perversion, he set the standard for the future of hip-hop with his four-star Labor Days which spun a yarn that made pop culture and mythology references.
Horrorcore rap emcee Chris Palko, better known as Cage, knows what it’s like to have a hard-knock life. Raised with an vituperate and physically-abusive stepfather, he was destined for ills. He was a part of a drug-dependent teenage wasteland and turned to crime, eventually landing in a mental institution after his mom convinced the court he was mentally unstable, became an early test patient for Prozac, and became a candidate for suicide watch after trying to hang himself with his shoelaces. So, its no wonder why his introspective lyrics are like salsa night at an abattoir.
Brother Ali, the Midwest-bullied, nigh-blind, Muslim born albino was blackballed for his appearance and hence, his strong ties to the African-American struggle! Funny thing: He’s as Anglo-Saxon as it gets. No matter, the hypnotizing music on his spellbinding The Undisputed Truth was a seminal, provocative hodgepodge of bureaucratic and introspective promulgations of American life. A firebrand rapper, he is one catchy S.O.B.
The New Jersey turntable raconteur feared “the Vanilla Ice stigma” and honed his skills rapping in black nightclubs from the age of 12 and inspired by a bevy of Trenton, New Jersey crews. He upped the ante and decided it was time to drop outrageous content when he got his stage feet. His latest effort, The S.O.N. LP is a critically-acclaimed underground staple.
Slug (of Atmosphere)
Slug, the godfather of the Minnesota indie rap scene with the God-awful moniker is one of the most debatable race-related rappers: being half-white, and a quarter black and a quarter Native American. But then again, who isn’t a quarter Native American? (we’re kidding.) The self-financing DIY mojo wordsmith has an easily identifiable flow and diverse production, making him a force to be reckoned with.
The machine gun barrage of Tennessee izzle-chic rapper Lil’ Wyte came out at a time where Southern rap was on the rise once more but he went largely ignored by the pop music game. Regardless, his dynamic bounce on the beat rhymes are instant party-starters!
Okay, so there are comparisons to a certain 8 Mile hip-hop icon, but there’s no use denying that this white rapper has a lot of star power, so much that Slim Shady asked producer Jim Jonsin for a meet-and-greet with the the Alabama rapper. Expected to see explosions on his debut album Trunk Muzik: 0-60 in September, we’re on the edge of our seats.
It’s 1989, 3rd Bass have released their platinum selling debut after signing to the legendary Def Jam and their best-known single “Pop Goes the Weasel” established their bombastic stereophonic sound and feel-good club chatter as emblems of hip-hop royalty. And that’s why he’s here. That, and the fact that he was the host of The (White) Rapper Show.
Hailing from the underground Philadelphia supergroup Jedi Mind Tricks, once Muslim Italian-American emcee Vinnie Paz hits the mic with his powerhouse grandiloquent rap speak and drumbeat flow—in two seconds flat—we’re dehydrated from all of the sweat on the dance floor.
His landmark breakthrough Asleep in the Bread Aisle, and its kitsch alternative rap album sensibilities mixed with Roth’s happy-go-lucky palaver was fun and allowed us to just relax and dance on fumes when he dropped it last spring. Noted as being the prototype for Levittown cosmopolitan nerdcore rap types, he dropped his subterranean dweeb self-depreciation and got a life… and if you’ve heard “I Love College,” you know it ain’t half bad.
El-P is simply the one-man band producer that nearly matches Kanye West in production and busting out sweet rhymes. For over a decade, his repugnance to fat cat corporate music has bought him a legion of fans with his avant-garde backbeats and spitting head-spinning long-winded, passionate and loquacious rant-rhymes. Starting Definitive Jux for conscious rap, he is noted for his use of sci-fi word play that’s referenced Phillip K. Dick, George Orwell and even Gene Roddenberry.