Johnny America


Ask Jer­maine Dupri: Ques­tion From A White Boy


Photograph of Jermain Dubpri

Do you have ques­tions re­gard­ing the na­ture of ballin’? Jer­maine Dupri is here to an­swer them…

Dear Jer­maine,

I’m at a loss here, fin­gers crossed that you can help me. I’m torn be­tween two dis­parate im­puls­es: the wish to “rep­re­sent” my love of black peo­ple mu­sic and cul­ture, and my wish not to “front” and look like I’m try­ing to be some­thing I’m not. I grew up wear­ing La­coste and rid­ing hors­es, but i have the soul of a thug and i know you have that too. what should i do?

Much Re­spect,

Whitey McWhite

Dear Whitey,

I find your let­ter in­trigu­ing. It would seem that this heart­felt de­sire to rep­re­sent a cul­ture, of which you are not a part, stems from the same place as the rest of sub­ur­ban Amer­i­ca. The key here, Whitey, is marketing.

What you don’t re­al­ize is that you have been mar­ket­ed too from a very ear­ly age to be­lieve that the ur­ban hip hop cul­ture is in­her­ent­ly cool. This I am aware of see­ing as I was among the pi­o­neers of this move­ment. One need on­ly ob­serve the pro­found im­pact Kris Kross (an act I mas­ter­mind­ed) had on sub­ur­ban Amer­i­ca to gain an un­der­stand­ing of the pow­er a well mar­ket­ed prod­uct has.

What I find in­ter­est­ing is that the ur­ban ideas rep­re­sent­ed by such mar­ket­ing are in di­rect op­po­si­tion to the val­ue sys­tems of sub­ur­ban Amer­i­ca, and for that rea­son rep­re­sents a form of counter-cul­ture, al­beit one that bears no ide­o­log­i­cal im­pact on the young peo­ple it is mar­ket­ed towards.

I sug­gest you stop seek­ing iden­ti­ty in a cul­ture you can nev­er un­der­stand and re­turn to your coun­try club. That is where I be chill­in’, shit, I got the fuck up out the hood.


Filed under Ask Jermaine Dupri on December 4th, 2003

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