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For the past two years, Drake has been one of the hottest acts in hip-hop. From high profile guest appearances to a ubiquitous presence on urban radio, it is nearly impossible to follow hip-hop and not get regular doses of the Toronto-born rapper.
In addition to his lyrical deficiencies, there is something naggingly inauthentic about Drake. And nope, it’s not because he’s a half-white Canadian named Aubrey whose original claim to fame was playing Jimmy Brooks on the teen drama Degrassi High. While such information does nothing to enhance his street bona fides, it certainly doesn’t merit missing him outright. After all, some of hip-hop’s greatest talents (whether they admit it or not) have come from a variety of privileged race, class, and geographic backgrounds. Also, despite being a running buddy of Lil Wayne, Drake’s raps don’t include drug dealing, poverty, violence, or any of the other stale tropes of ghetto authenticity found in mainstream hip-hop narratives. Still, his persona and music feel like the product of industry cynicism rather than an organic outgrowth of hip-hop culture.
And the list goes on… Sadly, such paint-by-the-numbers thinking not only forces Drake into the public sphere, but also excludes more gifted artists who don’t fit neatly into the prefigured boxes of industry honchos.
Marc Lamont Hill is Associate Professor of Education at Columbia University. He blogs regularly at MarcLamontHill.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Want to know what to watch this weekend? Here's TheLoop21.com's new movies list for films being released today: http://theloop21.com/entertain ment/new-movies-opening-may-21
If you want to know what's coming up next week, here's the new movies list for May 28: http://theloop21.com/entertain ment/new-movies-opening-may-28
IN THE LOOP WITH… Misty Copeland
“It’s so easy to feel like race isn’t an issue anymore because of Obama but I really still feel like it is a big issue. I feel like it’s something I see and deal with everyday in my field.”- Misty Copeland
Although her own career was severely limited due to her race, when film legend Lena Horne passed away she was credited with paving the way for countless black actresses and singers working today. But one corner of entertainment still looks very much like it did when Horne struggled to break through more than fifty years ago. According to an analysis by the New York Times there have been only two Black women in history who have achieved the rank of principal at any of America’s most prominent classical ballet companies. Widespread speculation says Misty Copeland, a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre (ABT), will become the third.
During our chat, Copeland, ABT’s first Black soloist in more than thirty years, noted that Black male ballet dancers seem to have found wider acceptance. While observers have chalked this up to the scarcity of male dancers in general, Copeland goes further.
“Black men have been principal dancers at major companies for years but they’re not the ballet. The ballerina is what symbolizes the ballet and I think it’s hard for a lot of people to see Black women, who they may consider too strong or too harsh,” in certain roles Copeland said.
“The classical ballet world is all about tradition. The families that support the ballet don’t want to see something that they’re not used to seeing and I think that a Black woman in the role of ballerina is just too much for them to take.”
But Copeland is not deterred. While her fans, (including actress Victoria Rowell) speculate that she might soon become the first Black principal dancer in ABT’s seventy-year history, Copeland already has her eyes set on other goals.
“I’m really into fashion and am in the process of launching a dancewear line in August,” and contrary to the stereotypes about ballerinas she added, “I love food,” and “my favorite CD at the moment is [the rapper] Drake.”
Claim to Fame: Soloist with the American Ballet Theatre, currently performing at the Metropolitan Opera House now through July 10th. Ticket information can be found here: http://www.abt.org/
Affiliation: American Ballet Theatre
Education: Southbay Ballet and American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company (for a year)
Currently Resides (city or region): New York, NY