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Macklemore and Baauer in terms of hip-hop

CONTEXTUAL TAKE OF THE DAY: “In addition to topping the Billboard Hot 100, ‘Thrift Shop’ has also topped the Billboard rap songs chart, despite limited play on hip-hop radio stations. This certainly has at least a little to do with Billboard’s ever-broadening definition of what constitutes a rap song; Psy’s K-pop novelty crossover, ‘Gangnam Style,’ also topped the rap songs chart recently. The weakening of this chart is just a symptom of what happens when decisions about nomenclature come from outside the genre. Macklemore’s success is a reminder that in 2013 it is possible to consume hip-hop while remaining at a far remove from the center of the genre or, in some cases, from black culture altogether. That’s not only because Macklemore is white…or because his audience is mainstream. It’s because on ‘Thrift Shop’ the rapping is merely a tool to advance ideas that are not connected to hip-hop to an audience that doesn’t mind receiving them under a veneer of hip-hop cool. This audience—hip-hop-aware but not hip-hop-exclusive—is huge, and its needs are being filled in several ways… Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’ isn’t a hip-hop song, but it is hip-hop-influenced… Baauer is at the forefront of trap, the lately emergent wing of dance music that takes its inspiration, and some of its samples, from the aggressive Southern hip-hop of the last few years. Also, the words in ‘Harlem Shake’ are sampled from the clever art-rap obscurities Plastic Little (whose rapper, Jayson Musson, is now better known for his art-world sendups as Hennessy Youngman) and from a remix by the D.J. duo Philadelphyinz.” —from Jon Caramanica’s N.Y. Times think piece about the two biggest singles of 2013. (2/20a)

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