Rapping While White: The Celebrity Edition

The future of hip-hop? Three budding white rappers ride high on family fame.

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With four of his songs swarming their way around the Internet -- including the pop-heavy, Swizz Beatz-produced ode to his hometown "Hollywood" -- opinions are strong, venomous and divisive. Well, as the astute aphorism goes, "haters gonna hate," including the professed arbiters of anything and everything at Gawker. But why are we so opinionated about a collegiate thespian-turned-rapper?

Who: Rich Hil, 20
Child of Designer Tommy Hilfiger

Behind the music: Let's call the tattoo-laden Hil the head honcho of the white-celebrity-progeny rap game. He's a far cry from the seersucker-donning Hamptonians who adorn his father's fashion ads. A proud Nutmegger who reportedly went on hip-hop field trips as a young teen flanked by a family bodyguard, according to the New York Observer, Hil understands where he grew up as well as his station; he just doesn't agree with them. "Not everybody from Texas got a f---ing cowboy hat, you know?" he told the Observer.

Hil's atmospheric and heavily produced style is like an overexposed picture -- there's beauty in its distortion. Hil aspires to be the best rapper to come out of Connecticut, and he just may be. His unadulterated and morose verses and beats are kin to those of friend and Toronto-based R&B crooner the Weeknd, whose shout-out, legend has it, recently got Hil signed to Warner Bros.

But whether you're listening to him spill his soul on "Love My Love" or drop a few ill bars on "Cookies & Apple Juice," it's easy to see his jump into rap as contrived or disingenuous. Hil's transformation from a mere affluent offspring to one with street cred may have come only after tattoo sleeves and court-ordered rehab, but there's some amount of talent there. And that raises the question: Who and what define rap and hip-hop today?  


Who: Pablo Dylan, 15
Grandchild of Singer-Songwriter Bob Dylan

Behind the music: This kid's certainly not shy about riding on the coattails of his grandfather's blues-rock fame. Dylan's "Top of the World," off of his mixtape 10 Minutes, is an unabashed 3-1/2-minute attempt at Drizzy-esque crooning, with verses rife with gratuitous immodesty. In between "reinventing sound," Dylan lets us know that "bitches always hate [him] 'cause they knew they couldn't get some." In "I'm on One," Dylan lets listeners in on his life as a VIP, including his love of Patrón shots.