The bizarre world of "hick-hop"

As much as I love hip-hop, the genre's lack of tonal diversity always annoyed me. Whether you believe that rap's infatuation with gangsta culture was organic or engineered, the oppressive stranglehold that gangsta rap imposed on the entirety of hip-hop stifled viable subgenres for decades. Let's take rock as an example. Metal is a genre of rock that is entirely divergent from folk or punk and houses a staggering number of micro-genres under its leathery bat wing. There's speed metal, thrash metal, sludge metal, death metal, and melodic death metal, to name a few. Every metal subgenre is sonically and tonal distinct from the former and immediately recognizable to a seasoned ear. And, again, that's just metal. 

Until recently, rap has only allowed a minimal amount of latitude when it comes to subgenres. Thankfully with the rise of artists like JuiceWrld and Lil Uzi Vert, subgenres like emo-rap are gaining more attention than they would've only a decade ago. However, as the lanes of expression broaden, so does the access of "interlopers" in the genre. Frat rap- the jovial musings of keg-crushing suburban white youth- is one of the most despised subgenres in rap because it is divergent from "real hip-hop." But with as commercial as the genre has become, what is "real hip-hop?" 

Having a codified list of rules of conduct for all MCs made sense when the genre was in its infancy, but post MC Hammer, I believe that all genres of rap are viable- no matter how niche. You can't have your cake and eat it too. If rap is supposed to function as a multimillion-dollar genre that allows impoverished youth to rise from the trenches by relaying their recollections of urban horror, you can't be mad when white kids take an interest. If Black Americans only purchased rap, there would be substantially less money in the field. Furthermore, you can't be upset when the aforementioned white fans are inspired to write songs that cater to their own experience. And if they do create songs that reflect their life, why is that less valid than other forms of rap? This question brings us tidily to "hick-hop." 

With the ubiquity of hip-hop in the late 90s and early 00s, it was inevitable that rap would find its way into the trailer parks and homes of "white trash." Hell, one of rap's most beloved figures in Eminem is a proud piece of "white trash." However, Eminem has always shown great reverence for Black culture—except for that one time—by eschewing aspects of his own culture that might be unpalatable in the world of rap. The same can not be said for other "white trash" rappers that proudly display rebel flags in their music videos. On the one hand, "hick-hop" is a wildly popular genre within its niche, meaning that it resonates with a sizable chunk of the country. On the other hand, the very nature of a rap subgenre that extolls the virtues of a culture that seemingly "hates" Black people is pretty damn jarring. 

In the video linked above, Murs and HiphopDX explore the controversial world of "hick-hop."