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Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

Some facts about me: I’m white (a full fledged WASP actually); I’m middle class; I’m in my 30s; I’m a father; I live in the midwest; and I love hip hop.  It’s that last one that surprises people.  Due to the first five things listed I’m not supposed to like hip hop, even though I’m a huge music fan.  Nonetheless, whether it’s Golden Era East Coast, hardcore West Coast, southern, indie, or otherwise, if it falls under the hip hop umbrella there’s a good chance I listen to it.

The simple reason people are surprised by my hip hop fandom is it’s not ‘my’ music.  Hip hop, rose from the streets to tell the stories of the street.  Meanwhile, I’m about as ‘street’ as a labradoodle, and can’t pretend to relate to hip hop’s stories through personal experience.  Those stories, or at least the ones many people identify as wholly representative of hip hop, are largely made up of hustling, gang banging, and the like, and involve violence, drug dealing, misogyny, and other things utterly alien to my suburban, midwestern upbringing.  Obviously songs of this type are a subcategory of the broader hip hop spectrum, but the real problem with the assumption that I wouldn’t be a hip hop fan is the underlying presumption that just because I haven’t personally experienced these things I have no interest in the art that is being created as a result.  Good art should challenge its audience in some way and hip hop often does so by confronting its listeners with hard truths.

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