Jazz legend Wynton Marsalis is backtracking after asserting the use of "n***a" in hip-hop is "more damaging than a statue of [Confederate General] Robert E. Lee" in a recent Washington Post podcast interview.
The virtuoso trumpet player and composer came under fire for a slew of incendiary remarks he made about rap music. He explained himself via a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday, May 23, stating he isn't an expert on any genre but he stands by his comments because of the negative lyrics mentioned in most songs.
"A number of (NOT ALL) hip-hop musicians have gone on record saying that the marketplace and the industry encourages [sic] them to make their material more commercial by adding violent and profanity-laced, materialistic and over-the-top stereotypical images and concepts to their work," he wrote.
"They too know that this mythology reinforces destructive behavior at home and influences the world’s view of the Afro American in a decidedly negative direction," he continued. "If you love black people how can you love this? Hmmmm…..Because someone will pay to go on a safari (and watch you) doesn’t mean they admire the hippos."
The Post's Jonathan Capehart asked Marsalis what it was like performing in a time of racial unrest and division, and the trumpeter turned his critique on black people.
He said that racism had less to do with Charlottesville and Trump and more on “how we’ve lost our grip on our morality in the black community… using pornography and profanity and addressing ourselves in the lowest, most disrespectful form.”
As the interview continued, he did not relent. Marsalis claimed rap was to blame. In his eyes, the art form is a minstrel show that was put on for free.
"You can’t have a pipeline of filth be your default position, and it’s free," he said. "Now, the nation is entertained by that. It’s not free."
"Just like the toll the minstrel show took on black folks and on white folks," Marsalis added. "Now all this 'nigga' this, 'bitch' that, 'ho' that, it’s just a fact at this point … To me, that’s more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee…There's more niggers in that [music] than there is in Robert E. Lee's statue," he said.
This isn't the first time he has hammered the genre for its lyrics. He reminded Capehart that he has been saying this since 1985 during the early days of rap and hip-hop.
However, that did not stop the impending backlash.
you know about that saying "he doth protest too much"? yup…. https://t.co/1y75RS9z1z
— T'Questlove (@questlove) May 22, 2018
Remember Miles Davis wouldn’t play on the stage with Wynton Marsalis
— de bleck penta (@fivefifths) May 22, 2018
Hey Wynton Marsalis: go fuck yourself https://t.co/wCeLEtnKrH
— Shuri Dirty Computer Prescod-Weinstein????????♀️ ???????? (@IBJIYONGI) May 22, 2018
This idea that black folks can't interpret cultural expression as something other than a self-damaging mythology is dumb. Opinion | Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis says rap and hip-hop are ‘more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee’ https://t.co/lC1iITE9L8
— Rebecca Shuri She Ready Carroll (@rebel19) May 22, 2018
Not only did he say that Rap is more damaging than the racist statues of Robert E. Lee but he also said, he'd gladly play his trumpet to celebrate trump, if asked. Wynton Marsalis can kick hot rocks with open toed shoes!
— That Preacha (@thatpreacha) May 22, 2018
Marsalis provided further clarity of his comments on Facebook with a 220-word statement, saying we live in the "sound bite era." Yet, many of the points repeat some of the same sentiments from the interview.
What do you think of the trumpeter's comments?