Vanilla Ice and Eminem. Before the past few years, that pretty much sums up all the notable white rappers in the music word. Since then, there have been a few up and comers, but no one has reached the same echelon that Eminem reached; No need to go into how Vanilla Ice’s career turned out. Why is this? Why, in a country where something like three-quarters of the population is white, are only a handful of mainstream rappers white?

I would just like to state that I am white and not a racist, I have no anger towards any other race, in fact I voted for Obama (which you could argue is probable because almost all liberals voted for Obama, well then I guess we’re in a stalemate). Sure, I’m a product of white, suburban, upper middle-class America, but I’m very aware of the complex of white people and, not to make complete generalizations, how we think, at least deep down.

Now before you start saying that this is a useless paradigm, that race doesn’t matter, that all that matters is if a project is good or not, remember that America prides itself on being diverse, something that isn’t prevalent in mainstream rap and hip-hop. So I think it’s reasonable to try to figure why this is. That and the fact that no matter if we white people admit or not, we’re always looking for the next “white hope.” In basketball we’re looking for the next great scorer. We’re ready to anoint Jimmer Fredette the next great one, a dude that played no defense in college and was essentially a ballhog. Can’t wait for him to be the sixth man on some shitty team, scoring like 8 points a game on 8 shots while getting destroyed on defense. Sounds awesome. We’re always looking for the next (or only) great white running back in football; we’re looking to anoint Toby Gerhart, a guy backing up Adrian Peterson, or Peyton Hillis, a guy that has exactly one 1,000 yard rushing season. The fact that Hillis was voted as cover boy for Madden 12 over the likes of stars like Michael Vick just proves this “white hope theory.” What I’m trying to say is that we’re always looking for the next “great white something” because we long to be superior to everyone else. They had a White Rapper’s Show on VH1 for christsake, a contest with a finalist whose name was the same as a white abolitionist from Kansas known for his failed raid at Harper’s Ferry before the Civil War. A failed abolitionist, not even a successful one like say, I don’t know, Frederick Douglass. I find that very comical. I can’t say that I’ve heard any of Shamrock’s or John Brown’s music since then.

But wait, what about the Beastie Boys? They’re a white rap group and they’ve been successful in the mainstream. Well, yes, but they have always been put into that “alternative hip-hop” niche. And we still treat them as a joke, like they are some kind of parody of rap music. Don’t get me wrong, they make good music, but we would never put them in the same group as Tupac, Biggie, Wu-Tang or NWA in terms of appeal. They are that lovable group of typical white guys who had very limited lyricism.

I think we can all point to Eminem. Let’s face it; dude was one of the most successful rappers ever. And maybe that’s the problem; every white rapper has to be compared to Eminem. Asher Roth dropped some sick mixtapes before he was signed to a record label, and then he produced Asleep in the Bread Aisle. He was put into a box and was tailored to sound like Eminem, but more humble and more upbeat because how many dark, narcissist rappers can we have? Every white rapper is compared to Eminem, even if their style is nowhere near the same as him. This obviously isn’t fair, but it’s a common theme. For example, rapper X creates some music. We all compare him to Eminem because he’s white, not because of the type of music he puts out. When he releases his next album, he tries to mirror Eminem. Failure. We’re on to the next rapper in search of the next “white hope,” leaving Rapper X out to rot with no regard to what happens to him. Oh well, at least we tried. Rapper X was just a phony. At this rate, there is never going to be another white mainstream rapper because we do the impossible. Em’s style has often been copied but never duplicated.

So what do we do? I think we have to treat white artists today like we treated the Beastie Boys. Fuck comparisons and just embrace them for their own style. I think things are different now, many white kids nowadays grew up around rap and hip-hop, they know what they like and what kind of style they want to use. Guys like Mac Miller, Sam Adams, and Chris Webby have all been on the up and up with their own styles (which I will admit are all very college music-based). Maybe this is the break through, no more Eminem comparisons; maybe finally we should bury the paradigm and just let artists be known for their music, not the color of their skin. Then, rap and hip-hop music could thank us and become more diverse at the same time. It’s a win-win.