Rappers' audience mostly white

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Tipper Gore doesn't want to hear this, but I like rap music.

After a long day using my brain at the office, I can't handle any subject matter deeper than making money, evading police and dancing with round-butted women. Joss Stone? Foo Fighters? Nah. "G-Unit in the house, that's my clique."

Plus, my parents raised me on Motown and '70s funk.

This was the natural outgrowth. Of course, my mother would be appalled by that comparison -- she believes modern music is contributing to the downfall of civilization. I remember her catching me listening to "Rub You the Right Way" by Johnny Gill on my car radio in 1990.

"You can't call yourself a Christian and listen to this," she said. "Just listen to that sexual beat! You hear that?"

She rhythmically pounded on the dashboard of my Honda Accord to demonstrate. It's one of those disturbing images your parents inadvertently burn into your brain.

Still, it didn't change my taste in music. So when the Lil Jon/50 Cent/Eminem "Anger Management Tour" decided to come to Tampa, I decided to go.

Monday was concert night. The Other Half and I were parked and walking in a half-hour early, past a line with several hundred people in it, all trying to buy tickets.

You know why we weren't in that line? Because we're getting old. As such, I ordered online the first day of sales.

A lot of the 20-somethings there probably looked at each other an hour before the start time and said, "Dude! You know what would be neat? Going to Eminem tonight!" To which their friends replied, "Dude!"

I'd been secretly congratulating myself for my diverse worldview and open-minded demeanor, plunging myself into a cross-cultural concert where I'd surely be just one of a few white folks. After all, how many people like me have real thug flava?

Ummm... interesting Lil Jon/50 Cent/ Eminem demographic. White. Very white.

Still, I thought Mr. Half and I would be the whitest until I realized the guy next to me had shaved his arm hair. Squeezed against me in the packed arena, he kept scraping me with his stubble. Then, ordered to "get your [expletive deleted] hands up," he mechanically waved them side to side in a manner that had nothing to do with the actual beat.

I guess once kids in the 'burbs are wearing G-Unit and Shady T-shirts, your street cred is pretty much gone.

Some security agents ran a metal-detector wand over Mr. Half, so we felt a little cool and dangerous. That certainly didn't happen at the George Jones and Aretha Franklin concerts we caught last year.

Anyway, turns out "Anger Management" was a lot of fun.

I learned how Lil Jon managed to make a career out of screaming "Yayah!" "Whuuut?" and "Oh-Kayah!" 50 Cent managed to get his shirt off by his third song. Eminem proved to be the misunderstood, troubled genius I've grown to love all these years.

And this 30-something white girl got crunk.

Heidi Hall is a former managing editor for the Southeast Missourian. She resides in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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