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November 04, 2009



Great article. Only two problems: M.I.A. considers herself a rapper & Estelle actually released three rap albums before releasing her American debut on which she also raps.


A lot of blame for this confusion can be laid at the feet of industry publicists, agents, managers and promoters for blurring the lines between new genres (which urban radio stations themselves set up and capitalized on in the first place).

The rappification (for lack of a better term) of seemingly unrelated urban musical styles has been going on for decades. Forget the NY Post - blame the Harvard MBA grads in the recording industry who successfully marketed the rap culture to a generation of white kids who didn't (and weren't supposed to) know any better.

Also, I'm willing to bet that a lot of artists are themselves unhappy with the "R&B" label they get saddled with. It seems like there's a forced soft/hard adult/youth dichotomy at work here that's so pernicious. It's like black music is being decocted down to two flavors - R&B or Rap. Sadly, a lot of people now think that's all urban artists have to offer.

And just as the industry fused "rhythm" and "blues" into a meaningless umbrella term, don't be surprised if you start hearing people refer to black musicians in the future as "RBR" arists. (That would be Rhythm, Blues & Rap, and damn the distinctions and subtleties, because after all, the important denominator is their skin color, right?)


I think the worst part about this is that it led me to the comments on the Post article.

"Wow, riahana or however you spell her name is ghetto trash, Mariah is a true talent and true diva and deserves to act like one. RIRI deserves to be treated like a hood rat."

That's just one.

Ricky Retardo

Belle: i got what you were saying without the retraction. i work with plenty of black people who are not familiar with the rappers and r&b singers of today. sure they're 50+ years old and listen to mostly gospel and oldies but i can drop names like j holiday and amerie and get blank stares from alot of people outside of that demography.


I'm going to agree with the M.I.A.-is-a-rapper idea: She's at least putting together couplets, just more melodically than most.

Also: Ne-Yo did rap, once, sort of. And it was awesome.

"My middle name is More Bread/And my last name is Than Your Bread."


GO, RICH! i was just thinking about this the other day.

not only is this blatantly racist, it is limiting to performers who write new, interesting material that is changing the sound of pop music as a whole and who can't get their points across to a greater listening audience because they are pigeon-holed by people who don't listen and only look.

also, i like that details like this are as important to you as they are to me. some might not think it's a big deal, but it is. because it is the spreading of lies.

thanks, rich. scorpio power.


I can't tell the difference between R&B singers and rappers anymore


Ugh, this makes my head hurt. I've seen Gospel singers labeled as rappers, too. It's unbelievable.


I've been complaining about this since Jodeci came on the scene! It seems to MSM that every Black man in the public eye is a rapper, and up until recently, every rapper is a gangsta rapper.

I'm so glad that you wrote about this!

@ belle: Is there any reason why writers can't do their research? If you don't know for certain than an artist is a rapper, why attach that label to him?


Carson Daly said Mike Posner was a rapper and he's white. But I think that's the only nonblack person to be referred called a rapper

kevin k

to be fair, ne-yo *did* kind of kill his "a milli" freestyle



seriously, shit like this has irked me for ages...i feel like contacting 'The Post' in particular and airing their asses out, for this and soo much more. ugh.

Mr. Reality Check

While most of you are obviously incredibly busy pointing out who's being mislabeled because of the color of their skin, may I remind you that none of that stuff matters. None.

If you get your panties in a bunch because someone called 6 R&B singers "rappers" you really need to get your priorities straight in life.

I wouldn't be surprised if they deliberately used the word "rappers" to get the feeble minded all up in arms and get their minds away from the real problems in the world. But now I'm just talking crazy... Back to the REAL issue... Don't call a R&B singer a rapper!!!! Fix that and everything else will just fall into place!


Isn't there a nation of young, unemployed, pop-culture savvy graduates who would shit themselves for the opportunity to write even the most basic copy for an organization half as reputable as Getty?

YES!!! Where can I sign up?


M.I.A. isn't even black... Nevertheless, your point still stands.


this is why i heart you, rich.


this is a great article, a lotta laughs at people's ignorance, wow, i didnt think it was this bad but it is


"While most of you are obviously incredibly busy pointing out who's being mislabeled because of the color of their skin, may I remind you that none of that stuff matters. None.

If you get your panties in a bunch because someone called 6 R&B singers "rappers" you really need to get your priorities straight in life."

You only read this blog for the ANTM posts don'cha?


I can understand a few of these mistakes: T-Pain used to rap, no? And now he just...autotunes? And M.I.A...you could make a case for her being a rapper. I can only think of Sisqo in terms of the Thong Song, and that was kind of (c)rappy. But Usher! R. Kelly! Ne-Yo! Those are just shameful.


Awesome post Rich.


I love it when I'm not alone in noticing this bullshit. Makes me feel like I'm not the paranoid black chick I think I am.


this was an amazing, AMAZING post. i wish i had read this before this weeks FiveStarFriday (http://www.fivestarfriday.com/)came out today. i'm nominating this for next week, no doubt.


Haha, another great one from you sir. I can't tell you how annoyed it makes me to see that shit too; I'm so hellbent on getting everything right in print that the idea of referring to an artist that is CLEARLY a singer because all they do is SING makes me wanna choke koala bears.

ps. i would never choke one, people.


I think we can be respectful both to the article and to Belle's comment. I loled at her comment - it's a bit of pithy observational humour. I don't think it's a dig at the article.


Great post, Rich.

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