Thursday, March 26, 2009 | 3:05pm
UPDATE: MTV’s RESPONDS TO ‘Asher Roth = Moses’ RANT
“He’s the Hip-Hop Goodwill Ambassador, and he has to succeed.” See this is the bullsh*t I’m talking about.
UPDATE: This afternoon I received an email from James Montgomery, the MTV News correspondent responsible for the article at the center of my scathing Rant. I have included his comments and a brief rebuttal at the end of the post.
Although Nas‘ proclaimed “Hip Hop is Dead” in December or 2006, I might have just read its obituary. In an article entitled “Asher Roth Is Proof That Hip-Hop Has Won” that caught my eye on MTV.com, delusional columnist, James Montgomery laments (or should I say gives journalistic fellatio to) burgeoning rapper Asher Roth.
Throughout the article, Montgomery tries to convince readers that the arrival of Asher is somehow vindication of the oft-credited importance of rich white kids’ buying power to the game as if White Suburbia should all of a sudden be dubbed the 5th element of Hip Hop.
For the record, I’ve heard some of Asher Roth’s material and I find him entertaining. His flow is on point in drunk frat boy kind of way and his subject cache is refreshing in this day of carbon copy raps. That said lets not overstate his importance to the game. Dude just stepped on the scene and the white boy lobby group over at MTV is already launching his Hall of Fame campaign.
“He needs to seize those opportunities [available to him],” Montgomery said in his column. “Because he’s also carrying the entire future of hip-hop on his skinny little shoulders. He’s the Hip-Hop Goodwill Ambassador, and he has to succeed.”
SAYS WHO?! B.I.G. needed to succeed. Sh*t he needed to live and how did that work out? Hip Hop needs to stop falling for this trap of allowing the White Corporate Music political machine at MTV or local radio station programming departments determine what is dope. I digress…
Montgomery very eloquently describes Asher Roth’s lyrical style as one that addresses “things like Teddy Ruxpin and pizza, he doesn’t have a thuggish bone in his body, and his lyrics have the depth of a kiddie pool.” So what’s so great about that? Now we’re praising rappers for their lack of lyrical prowess? I thought the whole point was to be dope? Once again I’m not denying his creativity but while creativity may make an artist, it does not make a GREAT artist.
In the end Montgomery’s point is that Asher is “proof that hip-hop has won?” We needed ASHER ROTH for that vindication?! What about Jay-Z performing “Wonderwall” at Glastonbury much to the chagrin of Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher or 50 Cent and his Vitamin Water deal, The Roots being chosen as the house band for NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon? I could go on. Shit we won back in the 80′s when Run DMC raised their sneakers to the heavens and proclaimed “MY ADIDAS!” We didn’t need no snot nose bed head drunk college frat boy type from the ‘burbs to justify our existence. Give me a break.
Montgomery is either very lost or extremely calculated but a little sloppy. His claims that passing “off hip-hop as music made ‘by a people for a people.’” is somehow “terrible” is insane. Hip Hop IS by the people for a people…HIP HOP people! That’s the whole point. Hip Hop is about inclusion. I don’t want to make this about black or white because its not, but its about values. Hip Hop was founded and deep rooted in a base of a rebellious struggle for creative expression. Most of that came out of the ghettos inhabited by black folks in the 70′s and 80′s. But at the same time, Rick Rubin (a white dude) was a pioneer in that struggle but he understood the plight of the movement towards an organized culture. But with the lack of respect the post Golden Era generation has for the music, Hip Hop has opened her doors for imposters and all types of shenanigans.
Today court jesters like Soulja Boy, Lil Wayne or even Joaquin Phoenix with the support of radio payola, special interest and slick ass journalist like Montgomery can not only chisel out a career for themselves but re-write the history books confusing an already gullible youth that the trash they choose to feed them is gourmet. PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN. No one is saying Hip Hop isn’t or shouldn’t be crossover worthy but the music must stay true to the essense…the struggle. The culture has clearly become a victim of its own success. With every success story, the traditioins of the past become lost. In the words of my man Dap from “School Daze”…”WAKE UP!”
In response to my rant, MTV author of “Asher Roth Is Proof That Hip-Hop Has Won” sent me the following email:
I think the point i was making (or fellating, as you put it) was that roth is proof that hip hop has completely enveloped all aspects of our culture. he makes the point of every hip hop detractor (the bill o’reillys, etc) moot simply by existing and flourishing. i mean, yes, i know that rick rubin was white. i know about serch. but mainstream media does not. the average frat guy does not. that’s the point. roth is that tangible proof — anyone without an encyclopedic knowledge (or whatever kind of knowledge is necessary to know who mc serch is, sufficed to say it a “slightly more than casual” one) can look at him and go … wow, you know what, i could do that. i understand that.
if, as you point out, “Hip Hop is about inclusion,” well, then these should all be good things. it has nothing to do with the fact that asher roth is white, it has everything to do with the fact that he is who he is — a kid from the suburbs, went to college, loves weed, etc — and he didn’t have to validate himself or inflate his past to get to where he is today. and if hip hop as an artform, as a cultural force, is to be truly recognized, and to be truly accepted, well, then it needs to be inclusive. it needs to realize that rappers can come from anywhere. there is no MC in a box. that’s why asher needs to succeed. not to save hip hop, but to bring it into the standing it so rightly deserves.
this might be about the dumbest way to go about this, but hey, sometimes things dont need to be smart or precision guided — in fact, the majority of the people don’t notice if they are — they need to be big, dumb and blunt-force.
yours in slick-ass journalism,
While I most certainly welcome the debate I think Montgomery is digging himself a deeper whole. Am I to believe that lil ole Asher Roth is the FIRST EMCEE to provide “proof that hip hop has completely enveloped all aspects of our culture?” I’ve already given numerous examples of that in my previous comments.
I find it hard to believe that we need ROTH to play like Moses and somehow lead us out of bondage. Please! We’ve been turning heads since the 80′s. If anything, Montgomery and the MTV machine should be apologizing for not recognizing Hip Hop’s influence sooner.
Sure white suburbia’s Hip Hop fans can relate more to Asher’s plight but why is that important? They were buying (downloading) rap music long before he came along. If anything it speaks to the diluting of the culture and her music. If there has ever been a major criticism of the rise of Run DMC its that relating more to their fan base than the futuristic, space age cowboys that came before them (see Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) it made every kid in the hood feel like they could rap even when the couldn’t or more importantly…shouldn’t. Paz!