As evidenced by the outrage surrounding RNC chairman Michael Steele’s call for the Republican Party to get a hip-hop makeover earlier this year, whenever said music genre is uttered by politicians, non-troversies soon follow. It’s all quiet on the RNC hip-hop front as of now, but the WSJ’s Lee Rosenbaum seems to be stirring up a little hip-hop meets politics ruckus in a recent interview with National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman (via Gawker). Here’s the exchange in question:
There are new forms of music … and the NEA should be there. We should be reflecting the reality in our world these days, whether it’s hip-hop, or whatever. There’s a lot going on that the NEA traditionally has no comprehension about.”
Do you think that hip-hop would be an appropriate area for NEA to fund?
Absolutely. And mural painting and graffiti are art. There are popular aspects of all the arts that I think shouldn’t be ignored.
So there’s the “Obama wants to give 50 Cent taxpayer dollars” angle that Rosenbaum wants to feed to notorious rap bashers like Bill O’Reilly. But why stop there? Is it appropriate for the NEA to fund horrorcore, Black Metal, or Rammstein (NSFW, obvs)?
I know this is hard for a business and finance newspaper like the WSJ to understand, but pigeonholing music genres is a slippery slope. A debate about the appropriate use of NEA funds is important, but to single out hip-hop once again isn’t going to help the arts or the economy.