Since the beginning of the nation, white Americans have suffered from a deep inner uncertainty as to who they really are. One of the ways that has been used to simplify the answer has been to seize upon the presence of black Americans and use them as a marker, a symbol of limits, a metaphor for the ‘outsider.’ Many whites could look at the social position of blacks and feel that color formed an easy and reliable gauge for determining to what extent one was or was not American.
-Ralph Ellison, What America Would Be Like without Blacks
As the descendents of immigrants themselves, how can they determine who is an American… or better yet, how can they define who isn’t an American?
Melissa Sexton - on Jay-Z and the Gatsby soundtrack
Seriously, what is Watch the Throne if not a modern day homage to The Great Gatsby? I am sure that all [okay, most - I think I can safely hypothesize that it’s 99.9%] of the criticisms of this soundtrack reveal a scant, embarrassing knowledge of hip-hop and completely deny its cultural influence, but I’d also argue that they reveal a thin, superficial reading of The Great Gatsby. The novel, as this article astutely points out, is more than an earnest rejection of the American Dream. To assume that critique is only relevant when absorbed as a period piece is to completely dismantle it, to strip it of its importance. All art, including Luhrmann’s (best) films, and hip-hop, and classic literature, all provide a cultural critique that remains timeless - when you put it against any backdrop, it still resonates.
The Great Gatsby describes a timeless struggle against the American Dream and the pain that comes from aspiring to the unattainable, while glorifying the spoils of the resulting lifestyle and the strength it takes for men to live within the confines of an unforgiving society. That’s, like, exactly what hip-hop does. Haters.(via carry-onbaggage)