African American culture is something which has been appropriated and stolen from countless times over the centuries, particularly when it comes to music.
Rock N Roll was created by black artists like Lil Richard, yet Elvis Presley is hailed as the King of Rock. This is why some black hip-hop fans are very protective of the genre. Hip-hop is an art-form that was created by black people to express black experiences in America. They do not want Eminem or Mac Miller to be credited as its creator one day. This does not mean that non-black hip-hop fans are not welcomed to enjoy this music. However, it is important for them to be mindful of the space that they’re inhabiting. There are a few ways that they can do that.
Do not say the N-word under any circumstance!
In 2018, where Google is free and you can find racial think-pieces on every social media site, I should not have to explain why non-black people cannot say the n-word. However, an incident at a Kendrick Lamar concert, where a white fan used the word on stage, shows that some people still do not understand it. It does not matter if a rapper says the word in a song, you’re rapping along too. It does not matter if you say it with an “A” instead of an “ER”. It does not matter if you do not mean to demean black people when you use the word. If you are not black, you do not get use a slur that was reclaimed by black people. End of story. There is nothing to debate.
Remember where the music comes from
It is okay to appreciate hip hop and rap music. However, the moment that you think that a non-black person makes hip-hop look better, then there is a problem. Hip Hop is for black people. It always has been and it still is today. So, when you think that non-black people better reflect the art-form, you are erasing the people which it is meant for. This is the same thing that happens with Elvis and Rock music. If you are going to occupy a space in hip-hop, then acknowledge that this is a black space for black music. Do not say that non-black people do hip-hop better than black people. You are a guest in this genre so please treat your surroundings with respect!
Do not react if a song calls you out
This section is, particularly for white hip-hop fans. If a black rapper speaks you out on racism, do not respond by saying things like “This does not make me feel comfortable” or “why does everything have to be race.” Black people have been suffering from racism in America for over 400 years. So, hip hop will likely express some type of contempt for that, since it is a black art. That is perfectly fine. Hip-hop is meant to talk about black experiences, one of which is dealing with systematic and social prejudice from white people. No one gets to tell us what to discuss with our music. If that makes you uncomfortable, then that’s not our problem.
If you are a non-black hip-hop fan, then you are welcome to be apart of the genre. However, only if you respect it and the people who built it.