It did, though, and soon the "whiteness" of my list was being mocked--exclusively by other white people. I wasn't offended, since the mockery was good natured and pretty funny. But after yesterday's post, in which I might have implied that mainstream music critics spend so much time talking about hip-hop because they don't want to be perceived as racists, I thought about the Facebook incident again. Specifically, I thought (as I did at the time) about why it was acceptable for me to be mocked for listening to so much "white" music when I would never have considered firing back that others' lists were too "black."
These are hardly profound thoughts. We're all aware of concepts like "reverse" racism, white guilt and tokenism. While I don't think that white people who love hip-hop are necessarily guilty of engaging in any of the above, I have to admit that my comments yesterday were intended to make readers question whether any are present when white hipsters heap praise on "Kanye." Of course it's completely possible for someone to genuinely love both hip-hop and indie rock, but one wonders whether it's really possible to connect with both in the way some critics want claim to.
While I don't think there's a genre of music out there that I inherently dislike, I have to admit that very little hip-hop appeals to me. When it does, it's generally in the vein of early '90s Public Enemy and Ice Cube records, and the appeal is almost entirely technical. Those were some of the best-produced records of their time, but that's as far as my interest goes. I don't--and, thanks to my socio-economic background, can't--identify with the sentiments being expressed in the lyrics. As much as I appreciate the craftsmanship of the beats and the significance of the chaotic soundscapes, it's an intellectual appreciation. My favorite Ice Cube track doesn't move me the way even my least favorite Cocteau Twins track does.
I've always felt like this is a pretty honest assessment of the situation, and not one that leaves me open to charges of racism. I've always rejected the claim, often made by hip-hop's detractors, that it's an inherently inferior form of music since it is often based on samples and allusions rather than completely original musicianship. The same complaint has been lodged against musical styles that I love, like electronic and industrial, for years, and it has always rung just as hollow. I don't have a grudge against hip-hop, but that doesn't change the fact that none of it has ever spoken to me at a level that made me cherish it the same way I cherish records by Slowdive, The Cure, The Pet Shop Boys, and so on.
I don't think my taste in music is "too white," nor do I think that others' taste is "too black." You should listen to the music that moves you, makes you feel sorry for all those poor bastards who didn't live long enough to hear it. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time.