FROM BRUCE KROHMER’S tirade, I can’t tell whether he’s a dupe of Bob Dole or Wynton Marsalis (The Mail, 7/21). Either way, pointing out semantic errors by reviewers does nothing to support his dismissal of hiphop as “morally bankrupt.” It is like saying Jack Johnson couldn’t fight because some sportswriter described his straight left as an uppercut.
I would love to take up the debate on the “value” of hiphop, but Krohmer offers no evidence to refute. So although I hate to stoop to Krohmeresque nitpicking, it is all I have to go on. Two of his tidy itemized points deserve it. It is appropriate to speak of “bebop riffs of the fifties”: It may have been “hard,” but bop is what Max and Brownie played.
Next, reviewers of hiphop are right to adopt the lingo of rappers, as this reveals their ability to judge the music on its own terms. Big Daddy Krohmer hisself uses slang associated with jazz (itself a slang word): “bebop” and “cool.” How is that more legitimate than “phat” (Music, 7/7)? Language, like music, constantly evolves. K. Master Bruce ought to peep LeRoi Jones’ Blues People, which discusses the relationship between the patterns of African-American language (and culture) and their musical styles.
I do agree with Krohmer that a little knowledge is dangerous: Most who sneer at hiphop don’t know a damn thing about it. Anyway, I’m outta here. I’m going to spin a little Tribe Called Quest jamming with Ron Carter. Or maybe something by Olu Dara’s son Nas.
Beat Sugar, Arlington, Va.