Dead sinners must be wearing snorkels and long johns because low and behold, I agree with Stanley Crouch! Crouch, who has a penchant for attacking fellow Blacks with an almost Uncle Ruckus-like fervor, has recently criticized superstar Kanye West for going on record as saying he’s not a reader of books!
Of all the criticisms that hip hop fans are forced to allow about our stars- that they’re idiots, that they spend too much money on jewelry and cars, that they glorify violence and misogyny, that they’re leading our youth down a path of destruction- we check immediately the clowns that try to tell us that they’re all illiterate.
Almost every single top tier MC has littered his lyrics with book or literary references. Who can forget Ice Cube’s “Unlike Iceberg Slim and all of them be/claimin’ P.I.M.P.” nod to the great Black writer Iceberg Slim? Or Tupac claiming Donald Goines to be his “father figure?” Jay-Z references “The Coldest Winter Ever”, “Monster” and a “Tree Grows in Brooklyn” on his “Blueprint 2” release. All the top figures in the rap game referenced Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power”. The best example of rap literary referencing though has to be Common’s breath-stopping “If rap was Harlem/I’d be James Baldwin”.
And the reality is, for the average person, there’s gonna be at least one part of each day, every day, when you’re caught or stuck with nothing to do. Information then becomes like money. Reading is like adding more money to your pocket and not reading is like just counting the money that’s already in your pocket.
But Kanye is too much of a product of his own peer group: a peer group that seemingly thinks that only idiots read because smart people know everything there is to know already.
You know what that makes me then. Well, us, actually.