Rap is a Joke: Review

May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment


More interesting stuff on Modern Primate today, about Rap is a Joke’s “Offended” project. The name pretty much gives it away; G-rated, this is not. But what to make of L-$’s trollish engagement with his subjects, particularly his hyper-gay and/or hyper-homophobic verse for fellow rapper Swelly? MP’s Shane Billings offers the following take:

I’m not entirely sure how I should respond to this video and Rap Is a Joke’s “Offended” project. Watching the prior entries into the series doesn’t make it any clearer, especially “Vol. 2,” which is over-the-top racist and doesn’t really affect the target (a white rapper from Kentucky) in the right way.  But I know I care about the response to [Offended Vol. 3: Tonight is the Night] because it does raise issues rarely discussed in rap/hip-hop via a device (comedy/satire/trolling) that can make them publicly accessible even if the initial reactions are strongly negative or unthinkingly positive.  Is this a discussion that can even happen at this time though?

Full article here.

This is all extremely tricky territory, and is precisely the kind of humor I find interesting. Take Volume 2, for me the most vexing of the two mentioned clips, precisely because it DOESN’T accomplish its apparent objective. The video unfolds thusly: L-$ writes history’s most racist rap, plays it for a young white rapper, and waits for his horrified reaction. But this isn’t the reaction he gets. Turns out the kid LOVES what L-$ has done, immediately calling into question the series’ subversive potential. Yeah L-$ called the kid out, sort of, but his critique (to the extent that it is a critique) is dependent upon his audience accepting the premise that this sort of verse is unacceptable. If they don’t, the video becomes something else entirely. So, while Volume 3 suggests that the series has the potential to challenge dominant tropes, Volume 2 suggests that it has the potential to BECOME precisely what it seems to (want to?) work against. In conclusion, I don’t know?


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