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March 2022

Have You Tried Less Tiresome Music?

I have questions, dear reader. Important, probing questions. Are you unenthused by hip-hop tracks about “police brutality and racialised oppression”? Does rapping about poverty and “the woes of Black Americans as artists” not render you giddy and enthralled? Do you not delight in endless repetition of the word nigga?

I ask because we’re told, by Dr Jeremy McCool and Dr Tyrone Smith, two devotees of “critical race theory,” that a failure to gush with enthusiasm is a result of “systemic bias and inherent prejudice,” and is suppressing such innovation. It is, they say,

The silencing of intellectuals in music.

This profound and damning revelation was uncovered by means of a “notional study” in which 310 participants, young adults, half of whom “self-identified” as black and the other half as white, were invited to listen to various tracks and read selected lyrics, before being asked whether they would be likely to skip said track if heard in the car, or would instead continue listening, mesmerised and ready to be educated.

In each instance, the white participants in the experiment rejected the messaging at a higher frequency than the Black participants.

Extrapolating with gusto - one might say wildly - our scholars promptly invoke “the silencing of Black narratives and perspectives.” It turns out that if a hundred or so white people are slightly less interested in rote racial narcissism expressed via the medium of rap, this could result in “artists who typically make thought-provoking music being shunned by the industry.” It’s all terribly unfair, you see. If true.

It remains unclear whether our mighty scholars considered the quality of the music as music, i.e., beyond any supposedly radical and “thought-provoking” content, those “deeper political implications.” Nor is it clear whether lyrical monotony, generic braggadocio and crass sexual references may have played a part in boring some more than others. To say nothing of many rappers’ own reliance on cartoonish racial stereotypes. Readers are, however, invited to ponder the intellectual heft of the following extract from one of the selected tracks, Da Baby’s Rockstar:

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