As an artist in the genre derived from black adversity, Post Malone legitimately believes that being a white rapper is a struggle.
It seems as though Post Malone is distancing himself from the hip-hop genre after using the culture to gain his own prominence, adding to the list of names including Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. His capricious relationship with hip-hop has been continuous for some time, yet in the recent installment, the rapper directly addressed racial issues within the music industry, receiving backlash from social media.
“Do you, Post Malone, ever feel anxious about working in a primarily black-identified genre of music?” the interviewer from GQ asked.
“I definitely feel like there’s a struggle being a white rapper. But I don’t want to be a rapper. I just want to be a person that makes music,” Post replied. “I make music that I like and I think that kicks a*s, that I think the people who f*ck with me as a person and as an artist will like.”
He did happen to agree with extended questioning that “it’s political to be a black rapper” and “that there are separate struggles that go along with race.” But the responses he made were undoubtedly revealing; Post refuses to acknowledge his privilege in an industry that emerged from the negative repercussions of just that.
The reality of the situation is that it’s easier to be a white rapper. It’s easier to thrive in a society that is willing to let you. It’s easier to find success in a world where white people benefit more just because the pigmentation of their skin, where they are able to steal culture from other people and then denounce it after their own success.
Rap was invented by African-Americans in the mid-’70s, when black people still faced constant racism. One of the most iconic songs toward the beginning of the rap movement in 1988 was N.W.A.’s “F*ck Tha Police.” The song first shocked its listeners, but revealed an underlying message about police brutality and racial profiling. The song was courageous as an outcry against the racism by police and is still relevant today.
While there are many rappers who use music to preach about drugs and misogyny, there are also many, such as Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, who use the platform to speak on prominent struggles as the black man in a racist society.
The genre is in response to the systemic racism instigated by privileged white men just like Post Malone. The struggle of being a white rapper, therefore, is difficult to identify.
His relationship with hip-hop can only be defined as paradoxical — he continuously degrades the genre while he profits off of it.
“If you’re looking for lyrics, if you’re looking to cry, if you’re looking to think about life, don’t listen to hip-hop,” Post said in a previous interview (as if rappers have never produced emotional songs before), yet he continues to produce music in that genre due to its popularity.
In response to the criticism of his statement, Post replied with, “There’s a lot of people that wanted to talk down on me, and laugh at me, and call me a culture vulture, and say I don’t appreciate hip-hop, and I don’t do nothing for the culture. So, I guess this is me telling y’all to live your best life. Don’t listen to what the f*ck nobody has to say about you, cause you are the f*ckin’ sh*t, and you can do whatever the f*ck you wanna do if you believe in your f*ckin’ self.” This response only exemplifies his ignorance toward his mistakes and the respect of the culture.
Post Malone is certainly not the first one to appropriate a culture in the music industry, and he’s certainly not going to be the last. But it is important to realize that an appreciation for the origination and the people who created something should be present when one is using someone else’s culture for their own success.