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Was Jack White correct when he claimed that hip-hop is the new punk rock?


While Jack White’s musical DNA is rooted in the blues, he’s open to new ideas and travelling outside of his comfort zone. Hip-hop is an area of music that the guitarist has increasingly found himself exploring in recent years, and he even claimed it “is the new punk rock”.

By no means is White the first person to draw the comparison between the two genres, and he won’t be the last either. After all, they both sent shockwaves across the musical landscape. However, hip-hop has managed to stay and develop over the decades, whereas punk crashed and burned after just a few short years.

Although there are many differences between the two genres, they are both fuelled by anarchy and a burning desire to refuse the shackling nature of standard rules. Both punk rock and hip-hop tapped into the psyche of disgruntled youth while simultaneously frightening their elders.

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In 2018, White spoke to Clash and revealed that he has been listening to a lot of Ye, Nicki Minaj, A Tribe Called Quest, as well as “’80s and ’90s hip-hop specifically”.

The former White Stripes frontman elaborated: “In a lot of ways, it is the new punk rock. They’re doing the dangerous things – whether it’s Trippie Redd or Tekashi69; these are a very punk, dangerous side of music. If you listen to Nicki Minaj’s ‘Only.’ I mean, some of those lyrics are like, ‘Holy shit!’ I, as an adult, listening to that by myself, am shocked at some of the words that I’m hearing.”

White continued: “But it’s brilliant! It’s brilliant to be able to say that, to be able to say whatever you want. I couldn’t get away with saying half of those things that Nicki Minaj says in that song. It’s just brilliant to see how far things have gone in that sense, and how cool it is for people to talk about these moments and say, ‘Wow, check this out.'”

He went on to add how guitar music wasn’t stimulating him like rap, and White said he was crying out for a “brand new band to come out and be like, ‘I can’t wait to hear that next song…’ That’s that moment that we don’t get enough of nowadays”.

Although it has recently become more extreme, the former White Stripes leader’s infatuation with hip-hop isn’t new. In 2014, White spoke about his disappointment after a potential collaboration with Kanye West fell through the net. He also claimed that seeing Ye in Nashville “might have been the greatest show I’ve seen in my life”. He added: “It was more punk, more in-your-face than anything I’ve seen”.

Although the wait continues for Jack White to fully immerse himself into the hip-hop world, there’s no doubt about his respect for the genre. For the music industry to be healthy, it needs an element of chaos, and right now, that’s coming from rappers.

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