Alex Beam has more beef than 50 Cent. The Boston Globe columnist is a longtime enemy of all bloggers, prone to channeling his insecurities through blind swipes at faceless basement dwellers. And while he's always been a crotchety curmudgeon, Beam has only gotten worse since he was banished to the G section; a famously lazy Luddite, he's basically Boston Herald writer Joe Fitzgerald without the veteran fetish. So it's only natural that these days Beam is at odds with Twitter, hip-hop, soccer, and other space-age phenomena that he doesn't care to research or understand.
To the surprise of my colleagues, I'm hardly outraged by Beam's ridiculous piece in today's paper: “Meet the rap-ademics”. Nonetheless, a work of such remarkable ignorance should not go unnoticed, as his columns often do. In just a few hundred words, Beam attempts to discredit hip-hop and the academics who over-interpret urban music. And while there's a solid point there – few things suck more than professors who describe Tupac rhymes as “didactic” – Beam arrives at his conclusions for the wrong reasons. Furthermore, what begins as an assault on highbrow masturbation oddly devolves into an accusatory swipe at hip-hop as defined by his cliche characterization.
Everything that Beam writes about rap music echoes what was once said of jazz, rock, and every other genre that dented the establishment more than many would have liked. As do his infantile tactics; he cherry-picks vapid lyrics to prove that celebrated rappers are in fact idiots, and writes with a condescending arrogance that white men rarely display in the company of black folks. Beam is no racist, but he certainly resents the most and least educated segments of the African-American population. Perhaps he might appreciate the thousands of working class hip-hop artists who are not only college-educated, but who are also, I would guess, more enlightened than any performer who Beam plays on his phonograph after supper each night.
There's no telling why Beam chose to roll his blanket statements in my lane today. Maybe he blew too many loads over the new Nicki Minaj video, and was repenting for his sins. Or maybe he was just mailing it in – that's always an option. Whatever the catalyst, it caused Beam to not just blast the primary objects of his erection, Jay-Z and Cornel West, but also to spite other gifted writers, including Doom and Pharoahe Monch, whose music he hasn't likely heard. And that's precisely homeboy's problem: entering a hip-hop battle isn't like being a hacktacular columnist. It's a hard knock life; if you don't do your homework, you're likely to get served.