You’re probably sick and tired of hearing and seeing the name Imus already, but Bakari Kitwana’s “The Style, But Not The Substance” makes out some points about the misuse of hip-hop slang:
The result is what cultural critic Greg Tate addressed in his 2005 book, “Everything but the Burden.” That is, far too many American consumers of black popular culture don’t take the time to decode the complexity of black life that produces a 50 Cent, a Jay-Z or a Russell Simmons, multi-millionaires all, who peddle rap music riddled with the language of the street.
He also nailed the part where Imus pointed the figure at hip-hop:
Imus – and his defenders who claim they learned this language from hip-hop – are only partly correct, even as they are wholly dishonest. They would do themselves and the country a service by owning up to at least three facts. 1) Imus took liberty with a culture that he didn’t fully understand, and when he got called on it, rather than coming clean, he pointed the finger at hip-hop to take the weight. 2) Clearly those far more powerful than rappers are complicit in bringing pimp and ho talk to the American mainstream. 3) If indeed Imus is a hip-hop fan, innocently consuming its language and aesthetics, that doesn’t remove him from the responsibility to understand hip-hop cultural and political roots in all their complexity.