Billie Eilish's comments on hip-hop genre shouldn't be too concerning


Within the context of musicians and their relationship with society, musicians share an unparalleled responsibility to comment and report on other musicians and genres. The key factor in an artist’s success is not only performance and songwriting, but also their opinions on other genres and matters pertaining not to their music alone. 

The fact that most people forget, is that musicians are not experts at everything. They are not expected to know everything, and since they are public figures, they can easily be misrepresented in their words and thoughts on subjects they are not knowledgeable about. 

Such is the case of 17-year-old Billie Eilish, a five-time Grammy Award winner for her album “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?,” when she was asked on her opinion on rap music. 

Much can be said about her apparent privilege in the music industry: She is an industry darling among Billboard executives and people in the music industry, her brother Finneas O'Connell is a talented record producer and instrumentalist whose input was essential on her debut album, her sense of fashion is a blend of '90s hip-hop heads and unusual '70s metal chains and punk prints, she performed at the Academy Awards and her style of bedroom pop and median age of her fans are all factors we need to take into consideration. 

Knowing all this, it’s essential to understand that she should not be expected to be a rap connoisseur nor empathize with the struggle and racial tension constantly expressed in rap music. Her statement qualifying the current rap scene as liars who are consistently posturing can be seen as ironic, as she directly borrows from rap in her style and attitude. 

It’s also important to reinforce that bedroom pop itself takes posturing to a certain extent in its colorful metaphors and deliberate relatability to its youthful demographic. 

Asking for her opinion on such a topic should be seen as unprofessional, as it was purposefully trying to get a rise out of people so that certain communities can comment on the issue and generate more publicity for the artist. 

Situations such as these also allow other artists to interject their own two cents on the issue while simultaneously promoting their music. Green Day, the rock band whose album “American Idiot” defined a generation of alternative fans and laid a foundation for future alternative-rock outfits, promoted their album “Father of All Motherf*ckers” by stating that it has “No features. No Swedish songwriters. No Trap Beats. 100% Pure Uncut Rock.” 

While the band was stating this to reinforce the fact that it has remained true to its roots, this also showcases its ignorance toward different genres of music by using its distaste to increase its record sales and create a stark divide among fans. 

Fans of Green Day who also enjoy trap music may feel alienated by this advertisement, believing that an artist they enjoy is dissing another genre that they like. The irony in a band like Green Day dissing trap music is that rock music has a well-documented history of misogyny.

The additional effect of comparing two unrelated genres is that it unintentionally is harmful toward communities of color who enjoy trap or alternative rock. Black people are stereotypically depicted to enjoy rap and trap music, and to witness it outwardly dissed also negatively reflects the communities who consume it consistently. 

I do agree with Eilish’s statements that rappers tend to fabricate their stories and that authenticity is not the focus for fans who are frequent consumers of their music. 

Yet, I do not agree that we should look to people outside of the genre and ask for their opinions to hope that it matches your own. 

Artists need to be more careful in stating their feelings toward other genres of music, as it can easily be misrepresented and showcase a side of themselves that they may not necessarily want to show.


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