Neither rapper is a conventional hip-hop star, and each deal with that fact in different ways
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"What's the point of rap if you can't be yourself?"
As Drake says, "jealousy is just love and hate at the same time," and with the gaudy sales estimates of his new album, Take Care, jealousy is in the air. Haters lament Drake's brand of sing-along pop/hip-hop fusion. Lovers revel in Drake's wordplay, appreciate his self-examination, and nod their heads to the seductive beats on his new record. Several rungs below him on the hip-hop ladder, upstart Childish Gambino (aka comedian Donald Glover, who plays Troy on NBC's Community) has his own collection of supporters and detractors. Glover's Camp is prickly and captivating, driven by hipster-hip-hop sensibilities. Standing at different stations of success, neither Drake nor Glover embodies the stereotypes of rap music superstardom or expectations of black authenticity. Their strategies for negotiating these expectations are different, yet eerily similar, and vital for understanding connections between racism and sexism.
In hip-hop, pressure to "keep it real" is largely driven by the encroachment of the music business on the mythically pure music of the urban poor. This idea of artistic authenticity is racially encoded, as corporate investment laid the path for massive white audience consumption of black performance. "Real" blackness in commercial rap often requires hyper-masculine claims to dangerous ghetto experience, sexual power, and conspicuous consumption. Critics argue that commercial rap is nothing more than actors performing racist stereotypes of black male deviance in a soulless attempt to cash in. The key point here is that "racial" authenticity is not merely racial—it depends on a particular version of dominating manhood for its cultural and commercial appeal.