Chap Hop & Race

Appropriation and remix is how we make new things. Chap hop is hip hop plus anachronistic victoriana. I first heard Professor Elemental’s “A Cup of Brown Joy” and it blew me away. Great rhymes, great subject, great presentation.

White rappers always face the history of rap music. It started as black music, just like rock. And just like early rockers, most white rappers adopt the poses and styles of black rappers that came before them. I like that chap hop borrows from hip-hop, a black music tradition, and adapts it in a fresh way. They take the structure and the mechanics, but substitute an entirely different culture and origin myth.

Good appropriation and remix cites sources, calls back to the places it came from. I like Mr B the Gentleman Rhymber’s “Straight Out of Surrey”. Totally it’s own thing, but totally tipping a bowler to the origin.

Like most rappers and rockers, these guys are presenting a facade, they are concerned with keeping it straight. But these guys aren’t trying to maintain “authenticity”. They aren’t trying to make their image fool you.

Hey, did you catch that cameo by Mr B? His rough treatment by Professor Elemental is another part of the callback. Rap battles and diss songs aren’t going to be the same in chap hop, but here is the Professor calling out Mr. B for biting his style.

Yeah – the whole battle is a great way for them to generate interest and sell albums… But isn’t that what most of the great rap rivalries turn into?

The thing that irks me about this fun and silly genre is that it takes rap completely from black people. Just like white people who loved black rock eventually turned it into a white only club, these guys have made chap hop representative of the ethnic monoculture of the victorians – white white white. If the whole thing is a laugh and no one is pretending this is really the 1800s, can we welcome in some color? Hopefully its a matter of time till we get some more chap hop performers – and some of them might bring in a different culture.

I’ll leave you with a great rap battle mixdown between the two:

But wait, there's more

Leave a Reply