there’s been much said about black music in this city. I have heard that it is corny. It has no real identity. none of it is good. it is mostly done by white people. I’ve even said many times myself that the white rappers feel like blackface. is there a Portland sound?
part of it, at least from my view, is fighting about what this hypothetical sound should sound like in the first place. “this artist is too boom bap.” “this one is too soundcloud emo.” god forbid one is labeled a ‘conscious rapper.’ there is the racism to account for here, too.
the ‘conscious’ rapper is a myth perpetuated by the racist view which says that rap, by default, doesn’t have anything intellectually stimulating to say. as if any other genre, ever, had to prove itself against intellectualism to be valid in the first place. this is very obviously false, yet Portland seems to flit that dubious award on anyone who makes vaguely left of center political statements in their songs. which is fine, I guess, in the larger culture of hip hop. there’s space for a ton of things. but why is this such a common trope in Portland, specifically?
we know there are a lot of white people in Portland, but this cannot be not the full picture. there is a black community in this city. hip hop has not been so underground for the past ~50 years that the only moments which caught the city’s attention belonged to the people who love the ‘conscious’ label. when has there been a big artist from this city who didn’t fit that label?
I actually think all of these aesthetics are a distraction. Portland doesn’t really have any strong rhythmic or melodic identifying characteristics in its sound. Its more about the subject matter. Portland black music tends to be introspective in ways that are taboo or uncommon elsewhere. I have more thoughts about this, but I wanted to get this out here to see what people felt. what do you think?
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