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Ben Shapiro’s hip-hop hypocrisy and white male grievance lands him on top of pop music charts for a brief moment

A.D. Carson, University of Virginia, The Conversation on

Published in News & Features

Over the past decade, conservative commentator and podcaster Ben Shapiro has made a living telling his followers that rap isn’t music.

If anyone thinks so, Shapiro tweeted in 2012, “you’re stupid.”

Shapiro explained his reasoning during a 2019 interview:

“In my view, and in the view of my music theorist father who went to music school, there are three elements to music,” Shapiro said. “There is harmony, there is melody and there is rhythm. Rap only fulfills one of these, the rhythm section.”

As a result, Shapiro concluded, rap is “basically spoken rhythm.”

“It’s not actually a form of music,” he said. “It’s a form of rhythmic speaking.”

 

Leave it to Shapiro, then, to drop a “rhythmic speaking” song filled with white grievance during the early days of the 2024 U.S. presidential campaign.

Teaming up with Canadian rapper Tom MacDonald, Shapiro released “Facts” in January 2024. Given today’s bitter partisan divide and extremist culture wars, it comes as no surprise that Shapiro’s track quickly found a devoted following. But his racist, anti-rap rap lyrics ultimately repeat the same tired charges right-wing politicians have used against hip-hop since its birth over 50 years ago.

My father isn’t a music theorist. But as a scholar who earned a Ph.D. by writing a rap album and continues to release rap music about race and American society as my academic work, I knew a hit song filled with racist diatribes like “Facts” was bound to happen.

It’s not the first time blatant racism has propelled an artist to the top of music charts.

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