The Library

Why White Kids Love Hip Hop

Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes and the new reality of race in America.
Bakari Kitwana
Basic Civitas Books

Mainstream Rap is arguably the biggest genre of music in the world today, a far cry from its roots back in the late 70s. But with this new found fame and wealth comes new fans, who are invariably white, and, it is argued, these white kids are the largest consumers of rap.So the question which becomes increasingly raised is why do white kids like hip hop? Do they think black culture is just cool and will eventually grow out of it when it becomes less popular? Do they genuinely want to be involved in the culture? Or has it just been marketed well?

Bakari Kitwana covers all these issues and much more in a book which, though dealing with many arguments and various views on either side, runs smoothly and is easy to read.Not only does Kitwana cover these arguments but he also looks at films such as Bulworth and Malibu’s Most Wanted which attempt to give a commentary on rap’s influence on white society, which adds yet another dimension to the discussion.

The most interesting section in the book however, is the final chapters which look at how the hip hop generation can influence politics, regardless of race. With the generation born in the late 70s onwards, black, white, asian, gay, straight, being more and more conscious of the way the Republicans don’t care about the younger generation, and with the Democrats simply trying to suck the votes out of them before dumping them onto a used pile after an election, Kitwana argues that this collective coming together thanks to music could leads to a third party. However with all the intereference by the Democrats and the ludicrous in-fighting for power in these various voting groups, it seems a long way off.

Kitwana is quite daring in the book and tackles many subjects, more than other books I’ve read on the subject and the fact that he ties most of the ends up is testament to his research and writing. This is certainly a book worth reading if you’re interested in an in depth look at how rap has changed and what the white community make of it.