David Brooks vs. gangsta rap.

Pop, jazz, and classical.
Nov. 10 2005 6:45 PM

David Brooks, Playa Hater

The New YorkTimes columnist grapples with "gangsta rap."

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Now, there's nothing wrong with Brooks using Dalrymple's translation, or even relying on his ideas. But isn't Brooks implying some broader knowledge of the topic at hand? Look again at his citation: "Most of the lyrics can't be reprinted in this newspaper, but you can get a sense of them from, say, a snippet from a song from Bitter Ministry." That "say" suggests that Brooks has any number of examples at his fingertips. The truth is, it's probably one of only two French rap lyrics he's ever heard—or, rather, read. The other he cites is the invective of "Mr. R," who, needless to say, the French know as Monsieur R. And lo and behold, a quick Google search turns up "France's Homegrown Gangstas," from the Sept. 28, 2005, issue of the Weekly Standard (where Brooks is an editor), which features the exact same English translation of lyrics from Monsieur R's "Fransse."

The crime here isn't just laziness. It's tackiness and gall. Did Brooks bother to notice that the rappers whose songs he cites in his piece about "the future of Islam" aren't Muslim at all, but two black Frenchmen and one black Belgian? There's a word for this kind of stuff. "Mr. R," I suspect, would call it teubé.

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Correction, Nov. 18, 2005: The original version of this article misspelled the Brazilian music genre baile funk as "baille" funk; the album "Pourquoi Tant de Haine" as "Pourqoui Tant de Haine"; and the rapper Stomy Bugsy as "Stormy Bugsy." These errors have been fixed.

Jody Rosen is a Slate contributor.

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