Pale Comparison

Everlast is coming to town on December 9th. He is playing Toby Keith’s I “heart” This Bar & Grill. First of all, these two sentences put together... pretty hilarious. The fact that Toby Keith has a bar and grill is funny, and calling it “I ‘Heart’ This Bar & Grill,” after his song of the same name (minus the grill part) is fucking hilarious. Then telling me that Everlast (of House of Pain fame) is playing there with Scott Russo and Big B has got me ROFLing.

Then I stop to wonder: Who are Scott Russo and Big B anyway?

Then I laugh again.

This got me thinking about how back in 1992, I would have beat up your mom for the chance to see House of Pain play anywhere. Even Garth Brooks Thunder Rolls Bowling Alley Lounge. I was huge into that shit, dog! I would even tape Yo MTV Raps – both The Dr. Dre/Ed Lover AND Fab Five Freddy versions. So I have a point of reference when I say what I am about to say. Which is this: In the entire history of time there have only ever been two good white rappers.

Everlast, sadly, isn’t one of them. Go download “Jump Around,” take nostalgia out of the equation and tell me it’s not a shitty song. If you have been unfortunate enough to hear any songs from Everlast’s more recent rap project, La Coka Nostra, you will wish it was half as good as “Jump Around.”

But obviously Everlast is not all about the raps. In fact, his parallel musical careers are a genius move, if you ask me. On one hand he has morphed into a red-neckesque, bluesy type singer dude. On the other, he still sorta raps on the side. Good for him: It was his only real choice if he wanted to maintain a career in the music industry. White rappers very quickly wear out their novelty appeal, and if they want to stay commercially viable it’s essential they branch into something else. So Everlast is part bluesman.

The only time you could argue Everlast’s rap/blues streams have merged into one river is in 1998, when he had a huge sing-rap hit with “What It’s Like.” It’s not coincidence he hit the biggest when he somehow merged all his energies into one undeniably memorable thing. The song was all about how heart attacks are so terrible – or something like that – and it established a blueprint Kid Rock ended up using to (somehow?) still have a career.

Of course Kid Rock is now a kinda-country singer. Which is the point.

Why are all the white rappers like Everlast and Kid Rock, forced into branching out into other genres while Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Jay Z will be able to stay relevant doing the exact same shit well into their old age? It’s because white rappers are novelties. To prove my point let’s take a look at the more notable white rappers through the history of rap music.

The first part of this white rapper story is one big paragraph: The first and one of the best are The Beastie Boys, but they were a punk band that Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons molded into a novelty. It’s only by the saving graces of their talent that they are not washed up has-beens. But they really are not nearly as good at rapping as they are at just making awesome songs. Then comes 3rd Bass, not very good and where are they now? Vanilla Ice is the epitome, the very reason I am even writing this. He came along in 1990 and set the gold standard for white rapper absurdity. Even though he became a joke within months he started a revolution. For the next 20 years we have seen countless white rappers thrown out into the public to make money and fools of themselves. Ever heard of The Young Black Teenagers? All white, and terrible! N2Deep, I am pretty sure one of them was white, and with lyrics like “I said honkey straight going donkey” – they owe us an explanation and an apology. Throw in Insane Clown Posse and countless others and the 90’s were pretty bad for white rappers.

Then, in 1999, Eminem came along, and changed everything.

Just kidding. He really only changed things for himself. He didn’t start a revolution, charging forward with a flag white rappers that have been carrying since. Rather, he became the exception that proves the rule. Eminem is an anomaly, and even though he is one of the best rappers ever, he is still a novelty. That’s how terrible it is for white rappers. Just about the only really good one to ever come along is still a novelty, because he is so good. Hilarious! As far as I am concerned there is only one good white rapper that isn’t a novelty. The UK’s very own Mike Skinner, aka The Streets. His first couple albums Original Pirate Material and A Grand Don't Come for Free are some of best albums of the last 10 years. If you have heard them I am sure you agree and if not acquire them NOW!

I am not advocating any sort of racism here, but if you are white, and not from England, just stop trying to be a rapper. Yes, I am talking to you Bubba Sparxxx and Paul Wall. You might as well just skip right ahead to the inevitable country/blues band and save everybody the embarrassment.

Thu., Dec. 9, 7 p.m., 2010