Music

Best of The Couch Sessions: Hip-Hop Heads Need to “Chill” About Santigold

by Winston "Stone" Ford

Since the Couch Sessions crew will be busy this week in Austin for SXSW–with little time to blog–we decided that this was the perfect time to highlight some of the best interviews, posts and podcasts that we’ve ever dropped on the site in our 5 years of existence. We’ve dug through the archives to find some of the very best content imaginable, showcasing some posts that you have grown to love, as well as some that you might have missed.

We will be back on Monday, March 22nd with a full roundup of the SXSW madness, including our showcase which takes place Wednesday, March 17th.

Originally Written: May 2008

Update: I’m updating the post slightly to remove quotes which were taken out of context. Also, I understand how hip-hop heads may feel about this (I’ll address it later) so I’m not really trying to go at y’all like that.

So Santigold came out in some interview that said that labeling her hip-hop is racist, (Update: read the entire thing in context) and of course, the hip-hop heads went into overdrive:

Wow. See, this is why hipster bullshit needs to go away.

My, my, my what is with some of these artists nowadays? Do they just lack intelligent quotients or have no common sense whatsoever? Like who does PR for these ppl? See why such artists should never be blogged about on a hip hop blog Riz?

So yeah, if these er…hip-hop heads would get said heads out of their asses they would realize that they are contributing to the very same racism that non hip-hop Black artists have to deal with every day.

First off, it doesn’t seem like she’s dissing hip-hop, so calm the f$%k down. She’s dissing the music industry (labels, press, retail, etc…) that automatically places Black people into boxes and assumes that they automatically are hip-hop artists. Santigold doesn’t rap on her album at all. In fact, most of the tracks are rock. So how in the hell is she a hip-hop artist when she doesn’t even rap??? That’s her whole point. For the most part, she does nothing remotely close to hip-hop, yet she is automatically placed in that box.

And that’s the problem. White artists don’t have this issue at all. If Santigold were white, should be hailed as the next Gwen Stefani (old skool Gwen, not Hollaback Gwen), but as a Black artist she’s stuck in the situation of being too “white” for black radio and too “black” to be fully accepted by rock fans.

As far as hip-hop goes, I’ve always taken offense at black people that criticize others for not being “black enough,” with the expectation that to be considered “black” you must do hip-hop. Some of the message board comments and blog hate regarding Santigold were very discouraging to see.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with hip-hop. I love hip-hop, and it’s the defining music of our generation, but it’s upsetting when I hear black people criticize someone for say, doing techno or rock, especially when they are completely oblivious to the fact that black people invented both genres. Shit, Black people did country too dammit!

Black people: you can be whatever you want to be. If you want to rock a skateboard, go for it. Pick up a guitar? Jimi did. Wear some skinny jeans? I can’t get down with that, but you just do you.

Meanwhile, I’m going to go and blast the album Burned Again from Stiffed, Santogold’s old band, and probably round it out with some Bad Brains, and Living Colour. And while I’m at it, maybe some drum and bass, some afrobeat, and some house music as well. And honestly, before you criticize, I suggest you do the same.

Black America is a really complex being sometimes. Just a short year ago we were all criticizing Barack Obama for not being black enough.