PDA

View Full Version : an article about the part (or the lack) of italians in hip hop.good read.


cap
05-23-2007, 09:29 AM
Hip-Hop has borrowed from Italian culture for years. Names such as Gotti and Capone have been used; movies such as Goodfellas and A Bronx Tale have been continuously referenced. It is these facts that make the lack of a prominent Italian rapper hard to believe. The fact is, Hip-Hop, is African-American music and like with anything dominated by one race, racial barriers will eventually be broken. Big Pun, who was Puerto Rican, took Hip-Hop music (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) by storm in 1998 with his debut album Capital Punishment. A later came The Slim Shady LP, from Eminem, the first credible and highly-successful White solo rapper, who has since gone on to become the best-selling Hip-Hop artist of all time. And while neither of these rappers were the first of their kind, both of these men will never be absent from a top ten list. Groups such as The Lordz of Brooklyn and House of Pain, whose members were all white, have made their impact on hip-hop music as well, the former sticking to a hardcore hip-hop formula while the latter produced one of the biggest hits rap music has ever seen in “Jump Around.” Members of House of Pain, Everlast and Danny Boy, still remain relevant today in Hip-Hop’s underground circuit, combining with fellow Caucasian rapper Ill Bill to form the group “La Coka Nostra.” It is all these factors that make me wonder what it is that keeps Italian rappers on the underground. When I spoke to Veteran Yonkers rapper Genovese, he thought the answer was clear, “I dealt wit problems in the game (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) when they found out I was Italian...I had a deal not go through cause the executives didn’t want to deal wit me because of my name.” However, Genovese had the lineage to the 1930s Mafia that Young Gotti, Tone Capone and Bathgate imitated. What’s in a name? Apparently, a lot more than we thought.

In the year 2000, Genovese went on to make music (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) history, but not for first week sales or a hit single. After eight months of promotion including tours and full-page advertisements in the largest trade publications next to artists of such star status as Nelly, his album was stopped just 27 days before its release. He was getting radio airplay and a video was shot for $150,000. Money was spent, why wouldn’t Universal at least drop the album to make some of their money back? According to Genovese, no answer ever was given, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know; I’ll probably never know. It could have been regular politics or it could be hate in the game, hate because I’m Italian.” Why would an artist in 2007 believe he is being blackballed due to culture? Could it be fear on the part of record executives? Organized crime did run rampant through the music industry for years. Is it prejudice? Racial tensions between African-Americans and Italians are no secret.

JoJo Pellegrino, a veteran Staten Island rapper, has faced similar industry woes to that of Genovese. JoJo was once signed to the largest management company in the business, Violator, headed up by industry heavyweight Chris Lightly. His buzz was heavy; he had tracks in heavy rotation, and a video on the table, when all of a sudden a stop was put to everything. He had done songs with superstars such as Busta Rhymes (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) and was affiliated with Wu-Tang lyricist Ghostface Killah. Despite later affiliations with several labels, nothing changed. It is now 2007 and he is still unsigned. Asked about the racial tensions within the game, Jojo pleads no Fifth, “I’ve seen the ignorance. To me, though, I could care less what color somebody is. I have Black friends. I have Italian friends. I love them all. Anything racist that happens is ridiculous and those people should be punished to the fullest. I can only hope nobody judges me on somebody else’s behavior because of my culture.” One could look closer though.

Organized crime has played a part in the music industry for years dating back to as early as the 1940s. The stereotype is a Jewish or Italian man with mafia connections who exploits artists, most of whom are minorities, and reaps the rewards from the artists’ hard labor, essentially leaving them poor and without royalties. While the actual exploits of the mafia in the music business (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) are unknown, their presence is a fact. Carlo Gambino considered one of the most powerful and intelligent mafia bosses ever owned his own record label based out of New Jersey. It is also fact that during the 1980s the mafia had dealings with powerhouse record label MCA. However, it is uncertain who gave the music business its ruthless reputation as Nino Gaggi, a respected and feared murderer with the Gambino crime family was once quoted describing the music business as a “dirty and rotten business,” to try and deter a younger relative from attempting to get involved in it. He instead brought him under his wing and taught him the ins and outs of the mob life.

For Italians and Blacks, racial tensions go back to the days of Prohibition. Harlem neighborhoods were divided by invisible East/West line, separating the two cultures. The line not only separated everyday individuals, it also served as a way for the gangsters of the era to stay out of each other’s hair. On one side was legendary number runner, Bumpy Johnson, on the Italian side was Dutch Shultz, and while he ran the neighborhood, his chain of command went all the way up to Charles “Lucky” Luciano.

Although African-Americans and Italians were in the same illicit businesses, they still remained segregated; nightclubs were either “White” or “Black,” a paradox of Harlem dating back to the earliest days. Over the years, number-running turned to heroin dealing led by Leroy “Nicky Barnes,” a Black Harlem drug dealer who was connected to the Italian mob. Barnes’ shared heroin game made way for Black dominance a decade later. AZ, Rich Porter, and Alpo Martinez controlled Harlem’s ‘80s streets. These three young men would go on to set the status quo for Hip-Hop fashion and lifestyle as. Whether these three young men knew it or not, they also had kept organized crime in Harlem to the African American culture.

During the 1970s, many neighborhoods in Brooklyn suffered from severe racial tensions between African-Americans and Italians. In many high schools, Black students had to be escorted to classes. Ironically, most problems between these two races have taken place within the same few neighborhoods. However, 1989 was the year, which truly exposed the worst of racist feelings, which Blacks and Italians cam harbor towards each other. The day was August 23, and Yusef Hawkins was standing on a street in Bensonhurst. He, and a few friends were in the neighborhood inquiring about a used vehicle, which they were interested in purchasing. While Yusef stood innocently waiting for his friends, he was attacked by a large group of teenagers, most wielding baseball bats. He was beaten and shot to death. The reason why Hawkins was murdered so brutally was because it was suspected that he was dating a girl from the neighborhood, which he was not. Subsequently, Spike Lee (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#) dedicated his movie Jungle Fever to Hawkins. This incident was a case of a few degenerate and disturbed individuals following up on an idea, which seems to have been given credibility by the media and other outlets.

With Hawkins’ and several other murders transpiring in the five boroughs, Spike Lee’s topical film Do The Right Thing spoke to New Yorkers. The movie depicted a riot in the making, set in the Bedford Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, based on the actions of Italian and African-Americans. Both Jungle Fever and Do The Right Thing portrayed Italian-Americans in a terrible light, making them all look like violent, ignorant, thugs. In Goodfellas and many other mob films, African Americans have been portrayed as drug abusing, lazy, and incompetent. What’s that saying? An eye for an eye? Or are these films revealing looks at fundamentalist opinions for one another?

The year is 2007 and Hip-Hop has seen it all, or so we keep saying. We have a White British female MC in Lady Sovereign and one of our favorite hardcore rappers has become president of the most important record labels Hip-Hop music has ever seen. Why an Italian rapper hasn’t made it to the forefront is anybody’s guess. Racism still runs rampant, Hip-Hop is still a bridge between cultures, and rap has become a form of expression for millions. While tensions will always run high, I don’t think this is the time to keep any artist out of the game. Hip-Hop needs all the talent it can get, in any color.

Hip-Hop has become a melting pot. Young rap fans in China, Africa, Italy, Germany, and so on, who don’t speak a word of English, can recite American rap lyrics with precision. But let’s bring it closer to home, to the streets of Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx where Italians and African-Americans co-exist on a daily basis. The truth is, Black kids love Goodfellas, and Italian kids love Jay-Z (http://www.allhiphop.com/editorial/?ID=367#). Urban clothing lines such as Sean John and Roc-A-Wear have become universal attire. It seems as if the similarities between these two cultures are growing more and more everyday. We are all standing on a common ground so let us act as such. There is too much at stake.

J.M. Puglionisi can be contacted at JONMPNYC@AOL.COM

ps :

i got this from allhiphop.com

UNCLE RUCKUS
05-23-2007, 10:48 AM
theyve tried like JoJo Pelligrino but that shit is gimmicky and I´d rather hear Ghostface go on about raviolis and lasagna than some average wop from the block

cap
05-23-2007, 12:17 PM
i havent heard jojo's shit,but i agree being italian shouldn't be a gimmick.
but its just odd that they're millions and millions italians in the states,and the mob culture has always been referenced,yet there arent any outspoken italian mc's over there.
well aside from vinnie paz.

whitey
05-23-2007, 12:34 PM
italians though havent really outrightly embraced hip hop culture if you know what im saying.

i mean theres dudes like you and me, cap, who like hip hop and what not but overall its not cool to be hip hop for dudes in the mob.

Scribbles
05-23-2007, 12:36 PM
Okay I ain't read the entire article but I'm pretty damn sure there are an assload of Italians in the Hip Hop industry. They're usually involved in the Administrative and Production side of things....

chiba
05-23-2007, 01:08 PM
i thought italians were racist
where i was from italains would always dress with tight clothes and listen to dance music
and would always make fun of the way black ppl dressed
if anything they would act somewhat racist
makin fun of black ppl

and wheneer an italin would dress hip hopish
he would ge some serious cut eye from black ppl and other italians would all him a wigger

unless they find an italian guy that raps like canibus or eminem
i dont see any italian mc being taken serious by italians or black ppl
especially if hes gimmikey

peace

RAMESH
05-23-2007, 01:22 PM
the only italian i ever met was cap & his alright i also heard that there was an italian wu affiliate but i can't remember his name aparently he got a cd out
those italians from ghostdog seemed to enjoy hip hop

Scribbles
05-23-2007, 01:40 PM
i thought italians were racist
where i was from italains would always dress with tight clothes and listen to dance music
and would always make fun of the way black ppl dressed
if anything they would act somewhat racist
makin fun of black ppl

and wheneer an italin would dress hip hopish
he would ge some serious cut eye from black ppl and other italians would all him a wigger

unless they find an italian guy that raps like canibus or eminem
i dont see any italian mc being taken serious by italians or black ppl
especially if hes gimmikey

peace

LOL Reminds me of Eddie Murphy's Raw standup act...

But yeah dude, that was a long time ago....

I mean there's still some racial tensions but not to that extent. Every clique's got a white guy and vice versa....

Tetsuo
05-23-2007, 04:53 PM
I don't see the problem with there being an Italian MC, but it'd be embarrassing if his whole image depended upon Italian stereotypes. This is shameful:

http://i142.photobucket.com/albums/r97/ob4cl84/picserve.jpg

This is our Ms. Peachez.

Kenny Powers
05-23-2007, 06:38 PM
I always thought guidos listen to techno

http://img356.imageshack.us/img356/3361/guido033pl.jpg

THE W
05-23-2007, 07:49 PM
so who's stopping them? if italians want to rap then get in the game.

maestro wooz
05-23-2007, 08:55 PM
wigz is italian, vinnie paz is italian....

i think this article is trying to make something out of nothing

ps. im pure bred sicilian

UNCLE RUCKUS
05-23-2007, 10:32 PM
wigz is italian, vinnie paz is italian....

i think this article is trying to make something out of nothing

ps. im pure bred sicilian

youre not a jew?

maestro wooz
05-24-2007, 01:17 AM
no, it's all hate filled slander

chiba
05-25-2007, 12:19 AM
theres nothing wrong with an italian mc
as long as he respects the 4 elemets of hip hop
in other words if he came out with good lyrics and beat
and a video that pays hommage to graff breakin djin mcing
then i dont think anybody would care if hes italian

but if he comes out with like a forza italia jersey and all this mafia and stereotypical crap then alot of ppl wont tak him seriously, he would be seen as a sucka mc


u know i saw n italian rap group and in the music vid they were bligged out but they didnt dress with baggy clothes or anything
they were in some mansion , nic cars in fron, and think i saw some italian flags and italian girls i bathingsuits parading around a pool
i think they were canadian tho
it was an ok song but the video wasnt respected b pp and alot of italians were embarassed
lol i havnt seen tha video ever again
i think i saw it like 4 times man the black ppl would clown dem hard ahahah
ill try to find it
i know it was 2 mcs and they had like some stereotypical name like frankie or luigi lol

i heard john cena is italain and hes a pretty ok mc
i thought he was irish

a guy told me that there was a black player on the italian national soccer team named ferrari
i found that to be cool

RAMESH
05-25-2007, 06:10 AM
i think he must come out with an italian style give us some of that italian culture

Wu-tang Fan
07-15-2007, 05:49 PM
In the first post I saw that there was a racial barrier or something... But the question is, even if White Italians do not feel comfortable doing hip-hop, why do we hear nothing from the hundreds of thousands of black Italians? Also, in other countries there are no such feelings about "racial barriers".

Olive Oil Goombah
07-15-2007, 07:43 PM
In the first post I saw that there was a racial barrier or something... But the question is, even if White Italians do not feel comfortable doing hip-hop, why do we hear nothing from the hundreds of thousands of black Italians? Also, in other countries there are no such feelings about "racial barriers".

Clarify what you mean by white and black Italians?

With the whole issue of Italians vs. Blacks.....its the same as Italians versus Irish or Italians versus Jews. These are neighborhood beefs dating from the days of early immigrations. This is what happens when you experiment with different groups of people with different cultures and languages living only a few blocks from eachother.

I'm an Italian-American from Cleveland, and I'm down in Little Italy every other weekend, my families got a social club down there. The Mafia thing really isn't a stereotype for most of us. Nowadays, its not as big as it used to be, but in my fathers and grandfathers day, everyone knew those guys. My grandfather knew all the made guys, my pops used to work for a mob guy, but decided against it. A guy I work with now, his father was a hitman for the Cleveland Mafia, and he used to have to dig holes for him. No joke.
You can liken it to sellin dope in a black hood. Its a career choice you can choose, but not everyone wants that life.
The whole Italian-American vs. Black-American rivalry is what it is. On the whole, its like stay out of our neighborhood and we'll stay out of yours. If and Italian kid is doing hip hop, he better bring the Italian shit, cuz if the blacks are doing it and faking it, then we should do it cuz we're the real deal.

Everything aside tho, I think there are plenty of Italian Mc's out there....not alot of white men make it in hip hop period because hip hop is all about an image, just like any other music genre of the time.

Wu-tang Fan
07-15-2007, 10:36 PM
Sorry I thought we were talking about Italy as a country.

Olive Oil Goombah
07-16-2007, 03:46 AM
Sorry I thought we were talking about Italy as a country.

No its cool. I know what you are talking about...the lighter northern Italians and the darker southern Italians.

lips
07-16-2007, 10:30 AM
let me speak on this. i'm a sicilian mc from bensonhurst brooklyn. my group 67 mob is 3 sicilians and 1 irish guy. my hood has been known in the past as a rascist place, but things change. most of those people don't live here anymore. my entire generation grew up on hip-hop culture. every ginny i know can bust prodigy's shook ones verse without a problem. it's in our blood. i live hip-hop everyday. it's my career choice. it's how i plan to eat and survive. noone is going to take that from me. you have no idea how many italian mc's there are. a boatload. but, to clear something up, we have been shown love everywhere we ever went to perform. we bussed 40 people to see us perform at ps 154 in harlem and it was nothing but love. i don't think there is anything to hold you back if you are an italian mc. it's about being true to yourself. it's not about being italian, or asian, or any race. it's about being an mc. that's what really matters.

Olive Oil Goombah
07-16-2007, 08:31 PM
let me speak on this. i'm a sicilian mc from bensonhurst brooklyn. my group 67 mob is 3 sicilians and 1 irish guy. my hood has been known in the past as a rascist place, but things change. most of those people don't live here anymore. my entire generation grew up on hip-hop culture. every ginny i know can bust prodigy's shook ones verse without a problem. it's in our blood. i live hip-hop everyday. it's my career choice. it's how i plan to eat and survive. noone is going to take that from me. you have no idea how many italian mc's there are. a boatload. but, to clear something up, we have been shown love everywhere we ever went to perform. we bussed 40 people to see us perform at ps 154 in harlem and it was nothing but love. i don't think there is anything to hold you back if you are an italian mc. it's about being true to yourself. it's not about being italian, or asian, or any race. it's about being an mc. that's what really matters.

I agree 100%...People are taking one incident in Bensonhurt and making it out to be everday life. Alot of people get murdered in NYC and all over america for stuff like this. It happens. Some get more press than others. I don't think black people in hip hop are holding people back at all, let alone Italians.

I heard the reason JJP aint signed is cuz his mob backers didn't want him signing with Jay-Z. Story was they didnt want a (insert word) running JoJo's career. If that is indeed the case, that only hurt jojo, and you can see why the music industry was so ruthless when it was mob controlled.