Kurt Cobain declares white men can’t rap in unearthed recording
Kurt Cobain made no apologies for his hot take on white-washed rap.
In a recently unearthed 1991 radio interview with University of Western Ontario student Robert Lorusso, the grunge icon detailed his struggle to embrace what he considered to be a “misogynist” genre.
“I’m really not that much of a fan. I totally respect and love it because it’s one of the only original forms of music that’s been introduced,” Cobain says, “but the white man doing rap is just like watching a white man dance. We can’t dance, we can’t rap.”
Cobain’s cultural commentary doubled down on remarks he made to Billboard earlier that year: “The white man ripped off the black man long enough. They should leave rap music to the African-Americans.”
The 9-and-a-half-minute audio clip — which Lorusso dubs a “trash fire” his friends urged him to release — was recorded as Nirvana prepared to launch a North American promotional tour for the band’s major label breakthrough album, “Nevermind.”
The “Smells Like Teen Spirit” singer-songwriter and his bandmates, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, parted ways with indie label Sub Pop in 1990 to sign with industry behemoth Geffen, but Lorusso “got a vague sense that he wasn’t really enjoying their success.”
Still, the Generation X legend was “remarkably patient and kind” with the admittedly unprepared student journalist.
“I was so enamored with and envious of his talent and success,” Lorusso writes. “… When I reflected on this experience, I realized that success doesn’t mean a goddamn thing if your world is falling apart.”
Although Cobain’s relationship with rap music was conflicted during his truncated lifetime, he no doubt made an impact on generations of artists.
Since his suicide in 1994, he’s been a hip-hop mainstay, Genius.com reports. “Teen Spirit” was sampled by Jay-Z and Lupe Fiasco, and Cobain’s name is dropped on tracks by Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Kid Cudi.
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