By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
If there's one thing the self-satisfied, liberal, tofu-munching, cappuccino-sipping, in vitro fertilization-using coastal elite hate, it's Fox News. The Rupert Murdoch-owned home to such neoconservative mouthpieces as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity is known for cheerleading the Iraq war and not finding John McCain sufficiently right-wing.
It even has the audacity to declare itself "Fair and Balanced," which is approximately as accurate, liberals would argue, as Paul Wall calling himself African-American.
Which brings us to the coastal hip-hop elite's favorite whipping boy: Southern rap.
With its focus on stripped-down beats and basic lyricism, it is the spawn of Satan himself, argue the b-boyin', Shaolin-representin', G-funkin', Golden Era nostalgi-encia.
But though Fox News and Southern rap both have anti-intellectual appeal, there's more to the story than that. Rather than simply pandering to the red-state masses, they have tapped into powerful populist sensibilities in spots that didn't previously have a national voice.
By the early part of this decade, the lyricism of New York rap and the gangland stories of Los Angeles hip-hop had grown out of touch with Midwestern and Southern audiences—and, particularly, girls who wanted to dance. Production techniques had grown vastly more sophisticated, to the point where many celebrated founding fathers' tracks sounded—I hate to say it—corny.
(Don't get me wrong, Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow the Leader" is a classic song. But can you really imagine a club full of anyone but ironic hipsters dancing to it?)
And so genres like crunk and snap music stepped in to fill the void, and hit makers like Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, the Cash Money crew and Lil Jon offered style over substance and big, ridiculous beats to stimulate your ass, if not your mind.
Meanwhile, rather than exercising their famous "tolerance," liberals blew a gasket after Fox News debuted in 1996, and they continue to believe it more biased and somehow lesser than CNN or MSNBC. More likely, it's because Fox News just doesn't fit their stereotypes of what a cable news channel should be. Rightfully so: Perky Fox Report host Shepard Smith certainly doesn't seem like he could hold an intelligent conversation on Russian politics. He's silly. He appears to wear eyeliner. He's energetic.
And yet, the more you watch him, the more you appreciate him for being who he is. Kinda like Atlanta's Soulja Boy and his "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" song and dance.
Really? Is it so crass to embrace your dancing shoes over your thinking cap? Do you need to be an expert in Eastern mysticism to enjoy an album?
No. Though they can appear simplistic, the best Southern rap songs don't come about easily. Sure, screaming "Yeah!" and "OK!" at the top of your lungs (or, in the case of DJ Khaled, "We the best!") doesn't seem like it requires much effort, but you're nuts if you think crafting party-starting jams is easy. Let's not forget that the genre's brightest stars, like Houston's UGK and Scarface, New Orleans' Lil Wayne and Atlanta's T.I., Ludacris and Outkast can all hold their own with the coasts' intellectual best.
As for "minstrel rap"—that lowest common denominator outpost of the genre characterized by nursery rhyme interpretations (Jibbs' "Chain Hang Low," for example) and racial stereotypes (Ms. Peachez' "Fry That Chicken")—well, that's about as hard to defend as the shrill, reactionary pattering of Sean Hannity.
But painting the whole genre of Southern rap with a broad brush is problematic, just like it's easy to forget that beyond blowhards like Greta Van Susteren, Fox has measured, insightful hosts like Brit Hume and Chris Wallace. The latter, in fact, recently called into Fox & Friends to offer a smackdown after the show's hosts spent a couple hours trashing Obama.
So, yeah Southern Rap and Fox News: Not as different as we initially thought, huh?
Still not convinced? OK, then consider the countless Southern rap odes to big cars and, thus, the wasteful misuse of fossil fuel. That's an indulgence only the global-warming deniers on Fox News can endorse.
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