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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

For a brief moment, during the last week of January, the song hit No. 1 on the iTunes U.S. chart, which gave Shapiro the audacity, and the apparent receipts, to call himself the “#1 rapper in America.”

It’s not surprising that such a large swath of music consumers would find “Facts” entertaining.

Eminem, a white rapper, might be a case study. In the early 2000s, he achieved great success in part because of the way he gave voice to the repressed rage of certain segments of “White America.”

But since the presidential election of Donald Trump in 2016, that rage felt all across white America has been politicized and commercialized to such a degree that I believe hip-hop listeners have heard enough of white grievance.

It also seems white artists like Eminem took notice.

In his 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards freestyle cypher, Eminem went to great lengths to distance himself from the actions of his fans who seemed to be politically aligned with Trump and the alt-right.


Eminem’s freestyle affected his popularity badly enough that he later backtracked his remarks and apologized to his Trump-loving fans on a song called “The Ringer” on his 2018 album “Kamikaze.”

From its start more than 50 years ago, hip-hop has never been singularly focused on mainstream measures of success such as Grammy nominations and awards, music industry chart rankings or sold-out concerts. Nor have its cultural practitioners and producers been gender or race exclusive.

In fact, before rap became an international multibillion dollar industry, early rappers were wary of the mainstream music industry, and many believed it would negatively affect the integrity of the music and culture.

But even early rappers were forced to find a complicated balance between culture and capitalism.


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