Will Adams: We’ve heard this story before: a child (or seven) makes some perfectly innocuous music as an after-school project. A certain song somehow grabs the attention of someone outside of his or her immediate family and friends, and gains national attention. This time it’s different. Now everyone’s laughing with the children, and the same people who loved to hate “Friday” can now hate to love “Hot Cheetos and Takis.” But something is still wrong. I almost feel bad giving a low score, because it has nothing to do with the kids. They’re clearly having fun, attacking each word with impressive gusto. The production’s standard, nothing less, nothing more. The problem is with the responses. For old folks, it’s a talking point for the icky state of grown-up rap, a snob appeal for something better than the garbage that’s all over the radio. For the Pitchfork crowd, it’s the confirmation bias of any rap that isn’t Kanye as some intellectual void that has no musical value. For ironists, it’s the “summer’s final truly great jam” which is totally funny because it’s SO ridiculous, you guys. These responses cover a spectrum of grossness, too, as they highlight to varying degrees the populace’s trivialization of an important aspect of black culture, something that shouldn’t be taken seriously, “yo.” And all of this for a group of children rapping about Cheetos. Come on. Novelty is novelty.
[Read and comment on The Singles Jukebox ]
Reblogging my own blurb because I’d like to elucidate, specifically what angered me about the articles I linked (if you want more on my overall point and why I gave this a low score, Katherine St. Asaph’s fantastic blurb nails it). As I said, not all of these are flat-out racist, but they show a disrespect of rap that is still gross to me.
The Rolling Stone blurb was linked mostly to show the infuriating irony with which so many declared this a “summer jam.” It’s perfectly feasible to consider HC&T a jam, but when you so easily reveal what you actually think of it – “Inspirational verse: ‘Snacks on snacks on snacks.’” – you’ve exposed yourself as in it for the LOLs.
This insane article is informative but also ridiculous. It’s exactly the sort of thing that “Friday” essay on The Awl was parodying; intricate analysis of novelty.
The NPR story was the worst, yo. Namely, the following excerpt:
On Hot Cheetos and eight albums that Beats and Rhymes has produced since 2006, the kids have rapped and rhymed about bullying, violence and drugs (all “anti” messages, of course).
What a strange ordering of words! Is it supposed to be surprising that the bullying, violence, and drug raps are all anti? Are there people who are reading this having their worst prejudices about rap being confirmed, then being relieved because these little black kids aren’t doing what the grown-up rappers are doing? The rest of the story has a distancing tone,
yo, as if HC&T comes from faraway universe, and the only appropriate response is gawking (Gawking, too, perhaps).
But what do I know? I really don’t like Cheetos (much less the Hot variety), and I’ve never eaten Takis before.
The thing I think was missing from your commentary, and Katherine’s too — all due respect to you both — is that it only engaged with the song as an object to be contextualized rather than an object to be enjoyed (or disliked). Katherine gets close, comparing it to “Laffy Taffy” or “Chicken Noodle Soup,” but ends up critiquing it as being “for the benefit of … those whose rap collections consist of Donald Glover and The Lonely Island.”
When, really, this fits squarely into a tradition of beats-and-rhymes “real” rap about trivial subjects by people who aren’t really that much older than these kids: “Top Billin’,” or, “You’re a Jerk” or, as I alluded to, “Jump.” The rappers here are conversant in hip-hop tropes and are assuming their listeners are too. Who cares what NPR says?