Surface Level or Level Surface

Urthboy’s debut WordPress piece is an excellent one, discussing the oft-misunderstood phrase ‘white privilege’ in the context of Australian hip-hop.

Hip-hop as a genre has it’s own issues and stereotypes, in the same way pop is “too mainstream” or indie rock is “too hipster” etc. The number of times I’ve seen someone visibly cringe when hearing the phrase ‘Aussie hip-hop’ is saddening, especially given the hard yards I know so many artists have put in. Not everyone enjoys rap music, but there seems to be a special hatred reserved just for the Australian variant. This is something all rappers in this country know and deal with.

Urthboy has dedicated much of his life to hip-hop; growing up studying the founders and forefathers of the movement, making music that discusses real issues like racism and politics, running an inclusive record label and generally giving back to the culture. I can’t imagine how difficult it is, being so passionate about hip-hop, yet knowing a large portion of people believe all white rappers are appropriating black culture for their own personal gain in yet another subtle form of oppression.

Reading Surface Level or Level Surface sent me down a rabbit hole of personal enlightenment that took me to numerous essays, videos, interviews, websites and blogs, including Aamer Rahman’s which I found particularly eye-opening and confronting. Urthboy’s description of Fear of a Brown Planet’s comedy as “genius” is accurate; how Rahman and Nazeem Hussain are able to combine humour with sickening racism facts is beyond me. Reading Rahman’s blog helped me begin to understand how white privilege has been helping me get ahead my entire life without me even realising. And, although I don’t consider myself a racist, I did get through all three seasons of Game of Thrones without picking up the racist subtext, highlighted by this particular post. There’s obviously much I have to learn.

Smokey's Blog

I read Aamer Rahman’s great White Rapper FAQ and Part 2 and felt compelled to add to it. I’m a big fan of Fear of a Brown Planet and I reckon their humour is genius – but the piece got me thinking.

As a white rapper and label manager it’s been easy to fool myself into thinking that white privilege doesn’t exist.

I’ve always felt that as long as my music and deeds represent in a genuine way, I’m doing my bit. It’s much more humbling getting my head around acknowledging that privilege and how it trumps my perception of what ‘doing my bit’ means. For example, I consider myself uncompromisingly anti-racist but as a white male, I benefit from racism. Like some fucked up Steven Bradbury scenario where I stand to gain if sections of our society have their opportunities obstructed. Stop. Think about that.

Having it pointed…

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