Hip-Hop: Is There a Double Standard in America?

At the Washington Post, Gilbert Newman Perkins discusses America's foundering perceptions of hip-hop, arguing that it's largely pundits who know nothing about the art who shape opinion about it.

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Fox News' Bill O'Reilly (Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time)

Howard professor Gilbert Newman Perkins, in a piece at the Washington Post, tackles America's foundering perceptions about hip-hop, arguing that it's largely pundits who know nothing about the art -- or how to groove to it! -- who shape opinion about it.

If I were a betting man, I'd wager that neither Bill O'Reilly nor Don Lemon is a good dancer. Like many who go to soulful music concerts and experience the rhythms yet are unable to move to the beat, O'Reilly and Lemon have heard hip-hop (allegedly) and completely missed the literary prowess of the music. 

Not long ago, pundits O'Reilly of Fox News and Lemon of CNN asserted that hip-hop music and children raised out of wedlock are root causes of all ills in the black community, including the epidemic of violence in urban areas. The lack of employment opportunities was strangely absent from their analysis. Neither man noted that, of the 25 million children being raised by a single parent in this country in 2011, the largest share by race, 9.5 million, were white, according to the National Kids Count Data Center

Hip-hop compositions are masterful poetry: The form of the standard hip-hop song is three verses of 16 bars written to various beats-per-minute patterns, which mirrors Shakespeare's use of iambic pentameter. Other literary techniques can also be found in hip-hop. The character-building methods of Jay-Z and the Notorious B.I.G., for example, resemble those of H.G. Wells. Some comparative associations from Kanye West and Lil Wayne resemble F. Scott Fitzgerald's use of extended simile.

I suspect that O'Reilly and Lemon missed it when Lil Wayne said that "Real Gs move in silence like lasagna." But our young black boys didn't because they are brilliant.

Read Gilbert Newman Perkins' entire piece at the Washington Post.

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