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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

In July 2023, Jason Aldean, a white country singer, released a video for “Try That In A Small Town” that was criticized for promoting racial violence. That song shot up to No. 1.

In November 2023, a video of country singer Morgan Wallen, who is also white, surfaced and went viral. In the video, he is captured saying, “take care of this p— a– n—.” While Wallen was roundly condemned and apologized for his racist and sexist language, his music has also topped the charts.

But to simply call MacDonald and Shapiro’s “Facts” racist would be too quick a dismissal of all that is at play.

By performing over a popular-sounding trap-style beat, Shapiro and MacDonald might lead listeners to overlook their heavy reliance on Black vernacular speech, which toes the line between minstrelsy and abject cultural appropriation.

Because it’s delivered in the form of a conventional rap song, a listener might even be convinced that the racism and sexism the artists are performing are expectations, and Shapiro and McDonald are just doing what all rappers do.

It’s a clever gambit. It’s “rapwashing” racism so audiences don’t perceive the obvious intent.

 

Early in the song, MacDonald tries out a melodic delivery, rap-singing:

“This ain’t rap. This ain’t money, cars, and clothes. We won’t turn your sons into thugs or your daughters into h—.”

The song goes further:

“Claim that I’m racist. Yeah, alright. I’m not ashamed because I’m white. If every Caucasian’s a bigot, I guess every Muslim’s a terrorist. Every liberal is right.”

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