You say this white girl is ruinin hip hop
i say damn right and take a lick of the ring pop
KP: eee! I can rap!The tagline for my first article in The New Inquiry was "the rise of swag and the increasing irrelevance of haters," and I've spent a not inconsiderable amount of text talking about swag rap since. The hater side of the equation, however, I've sort of ignored; primarily, probably, because I arrived at that side of the argument through two artists, Cher Lloyd and Kanye West, neither of whom have done anything to capture my attention since.
ee! ee! I can rap!
I'm not mean but your wack
mean, mean but your wack
RR: When it comes to hateful words I've got skin like a rhinocerous
The flippant name I gave to the analysis I was trying to perform, "
The more I think about the way in which "rap" is more and more synonymous with "swag rap," the more the problem with what I called Post-Kanye seems to be looming, for me. My initial blog post on the topic was my positing that Nicki Minaj provided a possibility for an authentic moving-through the im passe to which Kanye had brought rap (more accurately: which Kanye typifies). This seems, in retrospect, simultaneously utopian and wildly under-imaginative; I am, honestly, way more excited about what is happening to rap now than I would have been had Nicki acheived some sort of stylistic hegemony, as much as I love her.
So I am going to go ahead and try to press forward with this analysis, despite the parts of it that arent, maybe, the best things I've ever written; and I think the first place to push at this would be in that unexamined spot that I chose as this post's title.
There are two relevant lines of inquiry, it seems to me, at work in the question can haters have haters? The first is whether the hater is an individual player or a structural position. If the answer is individual, then the answer would be yes; individuals can hate individuals who hate, very easily. If it is structural, then the answer is much more complicated.
Before we get to that, though, the second line. This is just an identification of the half-serious paradox that the question identifies: if, as is often claimed, haters are essentially those who criticize the successful (or technically accomplished, or a couple other things) because of (and thereby contributing to) their own lack of the same, then how could a hater have, themselves, someone to play hater for them in turn? The dismissive response to haters is always a moralistic one; the hater only seeks to demotivate because they are unproductive, lazy, shiftless. To position yourself as even lowlier than that scum, especially intentionally, has to be unthinkable. If the artist is a laborer, the haters are the illegal immigrants. Post-Kanye was only ever a way of saying that nowadays, the rapper recognizes himself as an entrepreneur; haters are no longer even a delusional threat, but a cheap labor force.
To feed this point back into the first line, the problem with claiming haters as concrete individuals is a little clearer. Even beyond the simple usage fact that we are told to stop being haters, which is to say, stop occupying the pre-existing space of "hater," what we understand as a hater is pretty simply not a whole person; it is not even a castrated person. A hater is a set of qualities which do not extend beyond the moment of their utterance. They reach, certainly, into the past to find their justification, but they hold no predictive weight whatsoever. To utterly run this metaphor into the ground, because I fucking can; a Hater is an individual interpolated by an abstraction in a way that precludes them from participation in it. For the illegal immigrant, this abstraction is law, or nation; for the hater, rap.
So, given this belaboured equivalency, the question again. An illegal can't "have" an illegal, at least not in any way that makes sense here. The only possible way to interpret this would necessarily require a redefinition of the category of illegal alien (such that somehow there could be such a thing as a recognized nation of illegal immigrants) or the law (such that it could ne administered by a sovereign body that was an element of another nation without being citizens thereof). This is all, of course, wildly out of the scope of the original question I've proposed to frame this post. Fuck it.
I suppose the point that I've sort of gotten to is that I find the idea that the hater is an individual to be a very, very tenuous one (especially given that rap has no formal apparatus (state violence in the form of police & courts) by which to force individuals into punishment for occupying its abstraction). "Calling out" haters is pretty fucking useless, and the only real strategy (a la Kanye) is to employ them. Which, again, goes to show that all of the important analogies to haters render the paradox of the question that much more obvious.
I'm sort of convinced, despite my argument this far, that the answer to the titular question is Yes. Not that I know exactly why, or what this would mean, or who might exemplify it. I do have the intuition that Kitty Pryde points the way forward, picking up in a weird way right where Uffie left off. Kitty is more interested in self-deprecation than loudly proclaiming her non-productivity like Uffie, which is kind of a shame, but calling herself things like "the rap game pest" and claiming that "this little white girl's ruining hip hop" seem, to me, to make it pretty clear that if she isn't a hater, she's seriously fucking close.
When I was convinced that Nicki's "way out" of the Post-Kanye paradigm lied in her ability to simultaneously incorporate Kanye's critique of haters (by incorporating them into his wealth-producing engine) while still allowing them the capacity to be legitimately wounding, and thus proper antagonists, the possibility that the haters themselves might simply recognize their new economic felicity and use it to demand their share never occurred to me.
I'm speaking in terms here that don't do justice to my argument; referring to haters as they is wrong, if anything I've said up to this point isn't total bullshit. What I'm talking about isn't a revolutionary seizing of power; what I'm talking about is one generic function superceding another. That this would in turn force some sort of structural reorganization isn't necessary, but is certainly possible; and that it would provide a moment in which the internal priorities of the genre would shift is almost certain. What I'm trying to arrive at, I suppose, is some way of saying that the question at the top of this stupid, meandering blog post is necessary in orienting a way forward.