Wynton Marsalis — a Pulitzer Prize- and Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter who's been in the public consciousness for over three decades — had a few critical things to say about the black community he's a part of, including that rap and hip-hop music are "more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee."
Marsalis, appearing on a Tuesday podcast by Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, also said racism today isn't so much about what the media has highlighted — particularly President Donald Trump’s election — but “how we’ve lost our grip on our morality in the black community … using pornography and profanity and addressing ourselves in the lowest, most disrespectful form."
"I'm not a party liner," he added.
Of rap and hip-hop, Marsalis had the following to say:
You can’t have a pipeline of filth be your default position, and it’s free. Now the nation is entertained by that. It’s not free. Just like the toll the minstrel show took on black folks and on white folks. Now all this n***** this, bitch that, ho that — it’s just a fact at this point.
For me, it was not a default position in the ’80s. Now that it is the default position, how you like me now? You like what it’s yielding? Something is wrong with you, you need your head examined if you like this. It’s almost like adults left the room or something.
Capehart then noted that Marsalis has repeatedly said he absolutely does not like rap and hip-hop. Marsalis' reply?
I do not like it. And it doesn’t matter that I don’t like it. And I recognize that. But I’m from the Civil Rights movement. I was called a n*****. And I’m not talking about in my neighborhood, which of course that went on. I’m talking about, just for me ... I don’t like the fact of drums going away. I don’t mind the computers. They’re fine. But they can’t replace the people … There’s a movement now to drag public music education down into that? Pssh! It’s almost comical to me […]
My words are not that powerful. I started saying in 1985 'I don’t think we should have a music talking about n**** and bitches and hoes.' It had no impact. I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it. To me, that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee […]
I feel that that’s much more of a racial issue than taking Robert E. Lee’s statue down. There’s more n***** in that than there is in Robert E. Lee’s statue.
Here’s the podcast. (Content warning: Racial slurs):
Marsalis on Thursday posted a lengthy Facebook statement about what his words on the podcast — and Marsalis didn't back down; in fact, he doubled down. Here are some highlights:
A number of (NOT ALL) hip hop musicians have gone on record saying that the marketplace and the industry encourages them to make their material more commercial by adding violent and profanity laced, materialistic and over-the-top stereotypical images and concepts to their work. They too know that this mythology reinforces destructive behavior at home and influences the world’s view of the Afro American in a decidedly negative direction. If you love black people how can you love this? Hmmmm…..Because someone will pay to go on a safari (and watch you) doesn’t mean they admire the hippos. [...]
So far as the pornographic products and the minstrel show ghetto routines that are very popular, I can only say: THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN. We want to consume these products and want them for our kids. It is people’s right to choose this, as it is mine to express my thoughts and perhaps dissuade some from the specific products to which I refer. I accept the will of the people as what it is, but don’t change my opinion of the products I’m talking about. [...]
At 56, I’m pretty sure I will not be alive when our country and the world (of all races and persuasions) no longer accepts being entertained by the pathology of Black Americans and others who choose to publicly humiliate themselves for the appetites of those who don’t share the same ongoing history and challenges. Over the years, I have come to accept this, but that doesn’t mean I have to like and endorse it. So I don’t.