Photo Source: Luigi Beverelli
Wynton Marsalis Doubles Down on His Criticisms of Hip-Hop
Photo Source: Luigi Beverelli
Wynton Marsalis is not backing down from his comments about hip-hop
Jazz great Wynton Marsalis has responded to criticism over the controversial comments he made about hip-hop. (In an interview with Washington Post, Marsalis said hip-hop was “more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”)
Marsalis responded on Facebook, writing a long — more than 2,000 words — essay expounding on his thoughts on hip-hop.
READ:Jazz Musician Wynton Marsalis Says Hip-Hop is "More Damaging than a Statue of Robert E. Lee"
In short: Marsalis, who uses phrases like "pornographic products" and "minstrel show ghetto routines," isn't taking anything back. In fact, he's doubling down on his criticisms of hip-hop.
Using the Shaun King method, Marsalis has 10 different points he wanted to touch on. Points three and four best summarizes his views on hip-hop:
3. I stand by what I say about those products that express the things I take exception to. The vast majority of works, which don’t present the type of material I was referring to, are not included in observations about mainstream vulgarity and pornography. I have been public with these concerns since the mid to late 1980’s (when I was in my twenties) and have not and did not say ALL at any time in recent memory.
4. A number of (NOT ALL) hip hop musicians have gone on record saying that the marketplace and the industry encourages them to make their material more commercial by adding violent and profanity laced, materialistic and over-the-top stereotypical images and concepts to their work. They too know that this mythology reinforces destructive behavior at home and influences the world’s view of the Afro American in a decidedly negative direction. If you love black people how can you love this? Hmmmm…..Because someone will pay to go on a safari (and watch you) doesn’t mean they admire the hippos.
READ: This Is Black America: Donald Glover’s Wake-Up Call
In point number nine, Marsalis speaks about the consumers of hip-hop music (aka hip-hop fans):
9. So far as the pornographic products and the minstrel show ghetto routines that are very popular, I can only say: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. We want to consume these products and want them for our kids. It is people’s right to choose this, as it is mine to express my thoughts and perhaps dissuade some from the specific products to which I refer. I accept the will of the people as what it is, but don’t change my opinion of the products I’m talking about.
And then, finally, Marsalis spoke about the comparisons he made to the Robert E. Lee statue. His argument, essentially, is that today Robert E. Lee isn't celebrated while hip-hop music and culture is.
Here's what he said:
Today, Robert E. Lee is not widely or openly celebrated in the country and does not hold a position of prestige or power in the cultural marketplace. The irony of the situation is mind boggling because, I’m sure that many people who have called for the removal of Lee (and other Confederate monuments as racist symbols that have helped to perpetuate age old stereotypes) are also defending some of the most popular and most promoted products (THOUGH CLEARLY NOT ALL OF ) an art form that is doing the exact same thing-except now, the perpetuation of negative imagery and stereotypes are self-inflicted for a paycheck.
There are a finite number of Confederate statues in the country that could be physically removed tomorrow, political ramifications notwithstanding. While this will not remove the ideology that the statues represent, it would at least remove them from public spaces and end their reign of public celebration.
Those who believe these symbols represent their view of an imperfect America today are fighting to keep those symbols alive - blemishes and all - the same way that many are standing in line to defend the free speech of some of the most popular aspects of hip hop products (NOT ALL) with all of it’s warts.
The big difference is that the Civil War was waged and definitively decided. The cultural war is ongoing and fortunately or unfortunately depending on your vantage point some of the most popular aspects of hip hop (THOUGH DEFINITELY NOT ALL) is providing much needed capital via the marketplace to both sides of that war and as such will continue it’s reign as the soundtrack for American popular culture. Until it doesn’t.
It's an interesting statement, to say the least. Read the entire statement (if you have the time) below.