Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis Says Hip-Hop is “More damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee”

Photo Credit: Jonathan Capehart/The Washington Post

Wynton Marsalis has some choice words on rap and hip-hop.

In the latest episode of Washington Post podcast Cape Up with Jonathan Capehart, jazz musician Wynton Marsalis said he believes rap and hip-hop are “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”

The 56-year-old trumpeter and composer who is currently the artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center expressed his long-standing critique of rap music.

“I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have a music talking about niggers and bitches and hoes. It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it,” he said. “To me, that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”

READ: Activists Who Tore Down Durham Confederate Statue Cleared of Charges

Alongside his his antipathy to rap and hip-hop and the damage he believes the genre and culture inflicts on black Americans, the musician also spoke on his role in New Orleans’s removal of Confederate statues last year. “I feel that that’s much more of a racial issue than taking Robert E. Lee’s statue down,” Marsalis said. “There’s more niggers in that than there is in Robert E. Lee’s statue.”

In 1997, Marsalis became the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for music in with his vocal and orchestral rumination on slavery, “Blood on the Fields.”

READThis Is Black America: Donald Glover’s Wake-Up Call

When asked his thoughts on Childish Gambino‘s “This Is America,” he said, “I applaud his creativity and what he’s doing. From a social standpoint, it’s hard to decry a thing that you depict. That’s difficult.”

In response to Kanye West‘s comments earlier this month arguing black people chose to be enslaved, Marsalis said, “I think Kanye West makes products. He’s going to put his product out, and he wants his product to sell. I would not give seriousness to what he said, in that way.”

He continued, “It’s not like Martin Luther King said it, a person who knows or is conscious of a certain thing. … [H]e’s entitled to whatever it is he wants to say. The quality of his thought is in the products he makes.”


Listen to the full podcast episode below:

Ivie Ani

Ivie is a Nigerian-American, native New Yorker, and journalist covering culture. Usually on-air, on deadline, and on point. @ivieani

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Ivie Ani

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