Yes, We Understand

Celebrity interviews have long bugged us. And no wonder: So many actors and musicians have the mistaken impression that they’re deep intellectuals that one wishes Noam Chomsky would take up a singing career just to invade their turf. (Doesn’t the “Defeat American Crusader and Zionist Imperialism Blues” sound catchy?)

For those of you who think celebrity chats are harmless fun, we offer the following two words: Tom Cruise. Put them in your unhinged L. Ron Hubbard pipe and smoke ’em.

But surely some celeb chitchat is particularly noxious. This, dear reader, brings us to the theme of today’s humble “post”: Interviews with the princes of malapropisms and inarticulateness known as rappers.

As anyone in these here United States of America well knows, the media love to glorify these characters as street-corner prophets–no matter how violent and misogynistic their lyrics, someone always defends them on the grounds that they are simply “keeping it real,” as if this were truly a good defense.

In fact, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have long tired of the public acclimation offered to rappers’ pathological palaver. We think critics such as Stanley Crouch are correct to heap scorn on the adulation of this pernicious garbage.

Of course, interviews with rappers are usually mind-blowingly awful. If we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” were in Congress, we’d sponsor a “No Interviews with Rappers Makes America Great Bill,” which would surely pass with flying colors, despite its rather clunky NIRWRMAGB non-acronym.

Now, to be sure, conversations with rappers are not the only targets of our scorn. Certainly chats with victorious racecar drivers are equally otiose. After all, the winner always says the same darn thing: “Well, the car was running good.” Oh, if we could only ban that post-vehicular commonplace!

Yet one particular–and seemingly omnipresent–verbal tick in the limited oratorical arsenal of rappers particularly offends. We refer to the stock use of the phrase “You know what I mean?”

The manic recourse to this little question must strike anyone suitably unfortunate to take in an interview with a rapper. (Hey: Interview with a Rapper–that sounds like a really bad Hollywood flick.)

Of course, the phrase is not really offered as a question, and is not articulated as such. Rather, it appears sprinkled in rappers’ speech with great regularity, as if delivered as one word: “kno-wha-tiy-mean.”

To add insult to injury, it is always mind-bogglingly easy to “know what they mean.” The rapper employing this phrase is not discussing the finer points of particle physics. Nor is he elaborating on the rhythmic subtleties in Duke Ellington pieces. On the contrary: He is usually talking about some aspect of “keeping it real.”

So, we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have a simple message for our rapper pals: Yes, we know what you mean. In fact, we know exactly what you mean. Please stop asking us.

(Note: The crack young staff normally “weblog” over at “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” where they are discovering that they think they feel for Chaka Khan, love her, and want to rock her. In fact, that’s all they want to do.)

You gotta know when to hold 'em...
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