On Friday DJ Khaled dropped the first single from his upcoming project, “Top Off” featuring Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Future. In my opinion the song is better than “Shining” which was the first single the collective did for Khaled’s last project, Grateful but it could’ve been better. It’s the first single so the features alone are there just so people will listen. The standout Rapper on the track is none other than Mrs. Carter herself. I know the Beyhive is always going to hype anything that the singer does but I was seeing cosigns from some real taste makers in the culture. I was surprised. It made me think okay so it’s alright for someone like Beyoncé, Rihanna, or Mary J. Blige to rap and possibly have their bars written but it’s not alright for someone like Lil Xan, Lil Yacthy, or Tekashi69 to rap. I’m just a little perplexed. Let’s forget about nationality for a minute and really look at this.
Whether Beyoncé wrote her rhymes or not is she appropriating the culture? You don’t have to be white to appropriate Black-American culture. Beyoncé has played with Rap music on her own projects so her rapping isn’t anything new but if she gets the green light from public opinion to do a full length Rap album, I don’t think I could support it. Don’t get your panties in a bunch because I don’t give passes to anybody who hasn’t paid their Hip Hop dues. Marrying one of the faces of the culture doesn’t give you the right to “rap when you feel like it.” I bet you all wouldn’t let Kim Kardashian-West even be on a skit for a Kanye project. Even though she and her family have a history of appropriating culture if her husband asked her to get on a song you think she wouldn’t? Even if Ye commissioned Jadakiss or Missy Elliott to write her rhymes; heck he can get Rhymefest or Cons to write bars for her!
R&B singers have been rapping since New Jack Swing and we’ve seen some of our favorites do it. Mary J. Blige’s alter ego is none other than Brook Lynn when she raps and she killed the Touch It remix alongside some of the best. Rihanna’s feature on N.E.R.D.’s “Lemon” was written by Pharrell and people were calling for an EP almost immediately. Princess Riri, please don’t. How can we cry out for pop singers to release a Rap album when we aren’t checking for the real emcees like Rah Digga, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, or even some of the new ladies like Leikeli47 or Dreezy? There is a plethora of great rappers that need that look. This is how we lost R&B; singers turnt rappers.
“I’ve made it up in my mind that I’mma change today. A rapper turned sanger.” – T-Pain (Rappa Ternt Sanga)