Sunday, September 26, 2010

Breaking the Mold

     One of my favorite rap albums, Eastern Philosophy by Apathy, is also easily one of the most underrated projects at its time of release. In 2006, a time when Lil Jon was snapping his fingers and Dem Franchize Boyz were leaning and rocking with it, Connecticut native Apathy released his debut album which showcased lyrical talent and fluid delivery unlike many of his mainstream peers. Despite not garnering high sales results compared to mainstream artists, Eastern Philosophy breaks through stereotypes on two fronts. Apathy's lyrical potency first combats a stereotype that perceives white rappers as "corny" or "gimmicky" (see: Vanilla Ice, Marky Mark). On a more radical platform, however, Apathy dispels social stereotypes concerning his birthplace, Connecticut.
     In class last week, we discussed how stereotypes belittle and undercut a certain classification of people. Many stereotypes about people from Connecticut revolve around wealth and arrogance, due to the fact that Connecticut has the highest Per Capita Personal Income of all 50 states ( Throughout his album, Apathy uses his lyrics to display a much harsher and different lifestyle compared to how media stereotype and generalize about life and people in Connecticut.
     The idea of combating stereotypes and generalizations hits very close to me because, as like Apathy, I come from a place that media have their own stereotypes about. Many people generalize Martha's Vineyard as simply a vacation spot for President Obama and rich, preppy college kids. What most people fail to realize is that the year-round residents are the ones that keep the island running in the summer, at a large cost to themselves. The cost of living on Martha's Vineyard is almost the highest in the state, while workers and residents earn some of the lowest wages. There are problems with poverty and substance abuse, but the media only see the Vineyard as a vacation destination for social elites. The article linked here from President Obama's first visit to the island only begins to scratch the surface of life on the Vineyard ( The way Apathy crafts his lyrics on Eastern Philosophy  to combat stereotypes about his hometown and state allows me to relate to him on a higher level because of my own experiences with media generalizations and stereotypes.


  1. You bring up a great point about stereotypes relating to certain geographic areas. Even in the most wealthy counties in the country, there are still impoverished areas with high crime rates and very poor living conditions. Similarly, people judge Babson students as typically wealthy and snobby, but that is obviously just another gross generalization that cannot be applied to all students.

  2. Kendall, great blog. I think that it is really cool that you can relate to this artist on a higher level because you have lived through some of the same circumstances. Your point about Martha's Vineyard is also very accurate. My uncle actually lives in Edgartown year round and is the captain of the Steamship Authority, so I am sort of familiar with some of the struggles you are talking about for natives in the non-summer months. Stereotypes and generalizations at times are acceptable, but for the most part they are very inaccurate such as the way you just mentioned.

  3. Great job linking our discussion on stereotypes with a particular rap artist. YOur personal experience is very convincing.

    But your post also raise an important issue that dominate the study of rap--what counts as authentic rap and what doesn't? Is there any criteria to judge authenticity in rap? Even better, it connects us to an important point raised in the Media/Society book---Is it possible for widely circulating mass media texts (e.g. rap) to be oppostional or counterhegemonic? (p. 182, 183) Does the commercializing of this song corrupts its original message, or not?

    Overall, great job.