Is Wiz Khalifa as "raunchy" as a Star Tribune writer says?
Star Tribune published two stories Tuesday detailing the Minnesota State Fair's latest Grandstand additions, but one would've been plenty. A couple hours after the paper's prominent music critic Chris Riemenschneider noted that Soundset veterans Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller would be the first rap performers to hit the Fair since Vanilla Ice in '91, we got another piece from a guy who doesn't frequent the "Variety" section. For good reason.
Daytime breaking news reporter Paul Walsh's "Raunchy rappers to close out the State Fair for 2012" manages to pack a whole lot of off-base cultural commentary into a measly 144 words. Hip-hop fans and anyone getting paid to report for a living should be insulted that this was deemed worthy for publication.
Since Walsh's story came after Riemenschneider's, it's possible that he saw the photograph of Wiz Khalifa accompanying it and started hatching some pretty broad assumptions for a lead sentence. "The State Fair will wrap up 2012 with rap, and all the language that comes with the genre," Walsh writes in the story, which has since been taken down, but we have screen-capped below:
All of the language? Although this statement does not specifically bring the supposed raunchy (defined as lewd or obscene) nature of these rappers into question, did Walsh obtain a pre-approved set list from both Khalifa and Mac Miller and spend hours dipping into their lyrics to make sure that every expression, every slang term, and every word that could be deemed "rap" would be a part of the performance? Incidentally, I saw him perform last year, and it went off without a whole lot of raunch.
Mac Miller at Soundset 2011.
Photo by Denis Jeong Plaster
Since there's no specific reference to any of the lyrics that "are at times downright raunchy" or any song titles in Walsh's story, it's hard to believe that he did any substantial research on either rapper. If one were to describe the artistry and personal character of Wiz Khalifa, the association would most likely be to his proclivity for smoking copious amounts of marijuana (and two arrests for possession in the past couple weeks more than confirm that fact), and a song like "Ink My Whole Body" affirms his commitment to obtaining lots of tattoos. Both he and his Pittsburgh contemporary Mac Miller drop their fair share of f-bombs, but their subject matter is overwhelmingly focused on working hard and partying even harder. It may not be G-rated, but it's not lewd.
Singling out these guys as raunchy on a State Fair bill that also includes Motley Crue drummer -- and sex tape alum -- Tommy Lee, or the lascivious tongue-wagging of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons is absurd. Journey guitarist Neal Schon's recent, and highly public cuckolding of Real Housewives of D.C. alum Michaele Salahi doesn't make him the most wholesome performer either. (Also, calling '80s R&B star Anita Baker a "bluesy songstress in the same article is pushing it a bit too.)
Finally, are Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller any raunchier than Paul Walsh's recent stories? Lately, his recent bylines have covered topics like a guy who stabbed a woman in the liver, a guy who mauled a bear with his car, Delmon Young's drunken brawl that reportedly involved anti-Semitic language, and a highly inappropriate relationship between basketball coach and player in Blaine. Read more here, and here's what Walsh had to say on Twitter about this story.
Raunchy rappers coming to the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Now be there you #&h(!#$-in' fools! startribune.com/local/15065353...
-- Paul Walsh (@walshpj) May 8, 2012
Sigh. The swearing is only implied, but the needless condescension is in full effect.
One piece of Riemenschneider's monumentally stronger story about these lineup additions worth mentioning:
Fair entertainment director Renee Pearson said the fair has not been avoiding hip-hop acts, but rather it has sometimes been the other way around. "There's a stigma in the industry that state fairs are only about classic-rock and country acts," she said.
Or perhaps a stigma that they'll get mishandled by ethnocentric reporting in the local media before they've even performed a single note.
Wiz Khalifa with Mac Miller. 6:30 p.m., Monday, September 3 at the Minnesota State Fair. Tickets cost $29-$39. Click here.
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