The bigger hip-hop becomes, the more there will be people from all cultures and lifestyles looking to get in on the culture. That said, respect for the progenitors is always the most important thing. The cultural appropriation discussion is prevalent in hip-hop because there have been several prominent white rappers who come across as inauthentic or don’t fully respect the tenets of hip-hop. The Beastie Boys are one of the most beloved groups of hip-hop’s original golden era. They succeeded because they weren’t trying to be “the white Run DMC” or “white Rakims,” they were just being themselves.
It wasn’t always the case though. Mike D recently spoke with Vulture and had some things to say about being true to yourself. He recalls an instance where the crew was “so f*ckin stupid” in their quest to make their name:
After we started working with Russell Simmons as our manager, one of the first hip-hop shows we played was at this club called Encore in Queens — Jamaica, Queens, I believe. We were so f*cking stupid. We were like, “Oh, we have a real gig. We’re going to rent a limousine to get us there and get us back. We’re going to go out.” We’d take all the money we were going get, all $125 or whatever it was, and hire that limousine. So we got the limo and because Run-D.M.C. was wearing Adidas suits at the time, we wore matching Puma suits — that’s where it was at. We were opening for Kurtis Blow, I think, so it was a big deal. So we get there and we, this bunch of white kids from Manhattan dressed in Puma suits, step out of the limo. The first comment we heard was, “Who the f*ck are you guys, Menudo?”
Mike D says, “we realized we looked like f*cking clowns and we felt like f*cking clowns.” The instance taught the crew that they “had to learn to be ourselves, and we made it work culturally and were accepted as rappers because were able to be ourselves and not anybody else.” That’s some food for thought.