With white artists like Eminem, Paul Wall and the Beastie Boys, local white rappers prove today's rap is colorblind.
Bring in 'da noise
When Eminem released his third album "The Eminem Show" in 2003, he appeared in his song "Without Me" to have made peace with the fact that he wasn't alone.
The lines, "Here's a concept that works: 20 million other white rappers emerge; But no matter how many people are in the sea; it'll be so empty without me," ultimately resonated with most people, including rappers -- black and white. And for many aspiring white rappers, Eminem paved the way for them to have any chance at success in the rap industry.
"There's so many people that actually felt like they were in his shoes ... if there's someone who's in Nebraska that's having issues with their mom doing drugs and stuff and living in a trailer -- that's something that no one in hip-hop ever touched really," said Josh "Cazulty" Campbell, 24, a white rapper from Tulsa who just kicked off the 35-city tour Fire and Ice 2006, with Tech N9ne and Paul Wall. "His impact is on everything. Period."
And, of course, in that candid white-boy rapper style, Eminem was absolutely right: a million other white rappers have emerged, even in Oklahoma. But in most cases, they're
'DAMN, THOSE BOYS CAN RAP'
"Major labels are still looking for the next Eminem, which is a mistake," said Ben "Benzo" Marshall, 29, another white rapper from Tulsa who performs with Cazulty in the Fire and Ice 2006 tour.
Benzo said the stigma that there can only be one big white rapper still exists in the hip-hop industry.
"We still get Eminem jokes all the time," he said. "I don't know how many interviews I've done in the past where I've been on the radio, and someone would say, 'Oh, the Beastie Boys,' and 'Oh, Eminem.' That's the only thing I would hear for a while, and that's what's going to be there for a while, at least until someone else breaks through."
Cazulty, on the other hand, said he just laughs it off.
"[Eminem] made it to where people paid more attention to the fact that you could rap," he said. "People were like, 'Damn, we know he's white now, but the son of a b---- got skill.' At first we'll still be in that, 'We're trying to be Eminems,' but then they see us live, and they're like, 'Damn, those boys can rap.'"
Raised in southern California, Cazulty said he grew up listening to rappers like Dr. Dre, Too Short and Tupac before moving to Oklahoma, where he was introduced to Tech N9ne, while Benzo, who started out playing the drums with Blaine Nelson of The Ills, said his influences come from hip hop figures DMX, Tupac, Tech N9ne and Run-DMC as well as Metallica and Led Zeppelin.
"I tend to make a little more intricate drum beats," Benzo said. "I kind of think out of the box sometimes. I always think of drums, bass and guitar initially, then go off from that."
For Cazulty and Benzo, fighting stereotypes has been one of the hardest parts of the game.
"We're not putting ourselves in that category where we're stuck in that certain crowd," Cazulty said. "Tech N9ne's biggest fan base is juggalos, and he's black. And most of your juggalos are white, (Insane Clown Posse) and stuff. We don't really want to be locked down to any cliches or stereotypes."
WIGGERS, JUGGALOS AND THE GOOFS
For Travis, 29, who prefers his stage name "Dr. Dirty Knees," rap is nothing more than a genre that represents stereotypes and talentless wannabes who aren't real musicians. As one of the lead vocalists for Deep Donkey Crew, self-proclaimed as "Oklahoma City's Premier Gay Communist Rap Group," whose songs include, "Suckin' Yo' D--- 2 Nite" and "Choke a Ho," Dr. Dirty Knees said he refuses to accept rap as an art or even recognize the term "rap artist."
"I hate it when people say, 'hip-hop artist,'" he said. "You could train a monkey to do this ... I could go into an old folks home, (and) I could make a rap group. It is so easy. You don't have to know anything. Now the thing is, could you take any two dudes and put them in a rock band? No. You know why? Because rock music requires some talent.
"Rap was started to give a musical expression to people who could not afford musical instruments, and now it's just for lazy white people. I do it because people give me free drugs, and it makes teenagers want to have sex with me. And that's the only reason to do rap music."
For him, white rappers fit into one of three categories.
"First one, you got your wiggers -- for a lack of a better term," he said. "These are the people who want to be represented as serious, legitimate rappers. These people are idiots. No one will ever, ever, ever look at a white person as a legitimate rapper, and they shouldn't. Rap music, at its heart, is about oppression ... even if you have a guy who actually had a rough upbringing, no one's going to look at him as the spiritual equivalent of Tupac or Biggie because even the poorest white guy is like a bar of soap and a thesaurus away from a middle-class existence if he tried."
The second group would be the juggalos, he said.
A juggalo is defined as "one who is down with clown," according to urbandictionary.com. "The term was derived from the Insane Clown Posse in the late '80s ... (and) was mainly meant to define people who were too different, like them, to be accepted in other social groups.
"These would be the people inspired by Insane Clown Posse," Dr. Dirty Knees said. "These guys are kind of like the first group. They take themselves seriously, but they don't try to co-opt the black culture quite as much, rather they try to prescribe to the white trash aesthetic."
And then -- last, but certainly not least -- the comedy groups.
"The third category is the one, I guess, you would put us in, which is the goofy, hopelessly middle class kind of comedy rap group," he said.
But don't call Deep Donkey Crew parody.
"I don't do parody songs," Dr. Dirty Knees said. "We're supposed to be a gay N.W.A., not a gay Weird Al...Once you go down that road, you can't come back from that."
Dr. Dirty Knees said he began playing in a band with some talented musicians but had nothing in common with them, which was the catalyst for the creation of Deep Donkey Crew.
"I decided, 'I'm going to start a band with people I like,' he said. "So I called these guys who had no musical experience -- never touched a microphone in their life...and I guess within a year, we were probably one of the best known rap groups in Oklahoma City."
THE ROCK MUSICIAN PLAGUE
Although he may not share the exact same philosophy as his counterpart, Cody Wright, 24, a recent OU graduate whose stage name is "Grody Cody," also got together with a friend to create rap duo Power Raymond, a band that defines its music as "what you get when you cross the devil with an eskimo."
"I always did just regular rock music, I guess, but then one day I just decided, 'I guess --like most people do -- I should do a rap song.' I did a couple and showed some of my friends, and everyone liked it."
With song titles like "Who Wants That Pussy," Power Raymond goes "the complete vulgar route" and choose to cater to an audience of "creeps and freaks," according to Grody Cody. But on a larger scale, he said he thinks white rappers typically choose one of two techniques.
"They can either overcompensate for a lack of being black and act even more black to try to prove that they're black, or they can go the complete nerd rap route, where it just completely avoids all comparisons, so they don't even have to worry about that," he said. "We're trying to bridge that gap. It's easy to fall into trying to sound a little more black because I think that's what gives rap its whole style, rhythm and smoothness...that's what makes it sound so cool."
Grody Cody and his friend, Derek Harris, 25, the other member of Power Raymond whose stage name is yet to be determined (they're debating between Hydro Harris or D-Rek), began working on their music in 2003 and have been doing shows for less than a year. But like Travis and Deep Donkey Crew, they happened upon their music by accident, or what Grody Cody calls, "the sad part of the story."
Grody Cody had been playing in a rock band, playing different music and writing a few songs since he was 16. But after letting some of his friends listen to his music, the response was sheer politeness.
"That's nice. Good job," he said they would say.
But after showing them his new hip hop-inspired by potty-mouth humor, they absolutely loved it, he said.
"Sometimes it was kind of frustrating because I'm like, 'No, my rock songs. Come on, that's my heart,' but they're like, 'Yeah, I don't care about your heart, give me the dirty rap,'" he said. "Always."
A similar scenario occurred for Dr. Dirty Knees, something that could easily be described as the rock musician plague.
"Every comedy rap group has a frustrated indie rock musician in it," he said. "In Deep Donkey Crew, that's me. In Power Raymond, that's Cody. There's always a real serious musician, and it's always the same story. They kind of start this whole joke project with some friends, and it ends up becoming more popular than the serious stuff."
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