Friday, July 29, 2016


Earlier in 2016, Denzel Curry went on record as a gook. A rapper from the Bay is now calling himself Yid. And while he may be Black Hebrew Israelite or a member of the Stoudemire sect, he has yet to cover Judaic matters in his work. Until further notice, I have to assume that Yid is not a yid.

Before we charge this young man with the crime of cultural appropriation, let's go beyond the moniker. "Keep It On Me" revisits the early '00s trend of vaguely Asiatic production, commonly associated with visionary jocks of the guzheng like Timbaland and Ja Rule. What might have been dismissed as cultural appropriation in another context was celebrated for expanding the possibilities of rap music. And it did. Culture runs on appropriation; people only care when the appropriation is executed poorly. In this case, "Keep It On Me" is so catchy it would have even the students of Oberlin dabbing muskily around the compost heap.

We talkin yins 'n' yangs in this transcultural mash-up: Yee with the lilting rap-sanging, Yid sounding like he's rapping through a bullhorn into a cheap computer microphone. As Richard Gere once said, Form is emptiness, emptiness is form. You can't have the sweet without the sour, the Yid without the Yee. It's a combination so winning I only wish they'd gone full yellowface like Jin in the "Learn Chinese" video instead of blowing their budget on a pricey Lil Blood cameo. Somewhere in the ether, Bruce Lee is sippin Heem and nodding in approval.

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