Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"It's not my area"

The above is the kind of thing a smart academic says when someone asks him/her to hold forth on something on which the expertise is lacking. It's what Ferenc Szasz, a professor of history at the University of New Mexico who specializes in American and Scottish culture, should have said about hip-hop, instead of the following:

Examples of flyting, a kind of verbal dueling in which opponents would trade rhyming (and often obscene) insults with each other, date at least as far back as the 16th century; Mr. Szasz said Scottish slaveowners brought the practice to America, where it later evolved into hip-hop.
Now, I'm the last person to underestimate the glorious gumbo of colliding cultures that gave rise to American popular entertainments, but to root hip-hop in flyting, ignoring any apparent awareness of Jamaican toasting, dub poetry, and studio production, and their impact in the South Bronx, is to betray just how much you're "out of your area."

4 comments:

Seeker said...

That's seems a little like saying bald eagles are a direct decendent of the orca because they both feed on fish.

Dharmonia said...

And then there were the poetic cutting-contests between the 13th century trouveres at the puys in France...

Humans are nuts.

Terminal Degree said...

In other words, he's claiming that whites were responsible for a predominantly black performance genre?

I nominate this guy for the Modern Jackass award.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/Radio_Episode.aspx?sched=1251

CJS said...

Yeah. He kind of stepped in it.