Jazz Legend: Scorches Rap Culture, Says Worse for Blacks Than Confed. Statues


A Grammy Award-winning musician who helped lead the drive to remove a confederate statue from New Orleans blasted rap music as being more harmful to the black culture than anything a confederate statue represents.

Wynton Marsalis told the “Cape Up” podcast with Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post that rap music is having as bad of an impact on African Americans as the minstrel shows that once ridiculed blacks.

“You can’t have a pipeline of filth be your default position,” Marsalis said of the predominance of rap in pop culture. “It’s just like the toll the minstrel show took on black folks and on white folks. Now, all this ‘n—-  this,’ ‘bitch that,’ ‘ho that,’ that’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.”

Marsalis said he’s been warning people about the negative impact rap music would have on the black culture for a number of years.

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“I started saying in 1985 I don’t think we should have a music talking about n—-s and bitches and hoes. It had no impact,” Marsalis said. “I’ve said it. I’ve repeated it. I still repeat it. To me, that’s more damaging (to the culture) than a statue of Robert E. Lee.”

Marsalis, 56, encouraged his long-time friend, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, to take down the monument to the Confederate leader at celebration of New Orleans’ 300th anniversary.

“He fought for the enslavement of a people against our national army fighting for their freedom; killed more Americans than any opposing general in history; made no attempt to defend or protect this city; and even more absurdly, he never even set foot in Louisiana,” Marsalis wrote in a 2015 Op-Ed in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “In the heart of the most progressive and creative cultural city in America, why should we continue to commemorate this legacy?”

Do you agree that rap music paints a negative image of black culture?

According to, the rap/hip-hop genre was the second largest for total music album consumption last year with 17.5 percent of the market, second only to the rock genre, which had 22.2 percent.

But Marsalis, who is the artistic director of the Jazz at Lincoln Center program in New York, said it’s not just the lyrics of rap that trouble him. The style of the music itself also bothers him.

“I do not like [rap]. And it doesn’t matter that I don’t like it, and I recognize that,” Marsalis said. “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, 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.”

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Marsalis was also asked about rap superstar Kanye West’s recent comments suggesting slavery was a choice for some blacks. Marsalis said you have to remember West is always marketing himself.

“I would not give seriousness to what he [Kanye] said, in that way, OK?” Marsalis said. “This guy is making products. He’s making him some money, got probably a product coming out that he’s selling. He’s saying stuff. People talking about him. They’re going to buy his product. It’s not like Martin Luther King said it, a person who knows or is conscious of a certain thing.”

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Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. A native of Milwaukee, he currently resides in Phoenix.
Scott Kelnhofer is a writer for The Western Journal and Conservative Tribune. He has more than 20 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. A native of Milwaukee, he has resided in Phoenix since 2012.
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