In the wake of Wednesday’s fatalities & multiple injuries outside an X/Tyler The Creator show at Austin’s Mohawk, longtime Austin music press fixture Michael Corcoran considers the matter of the accused 21 year old driver, Rashad Owens, and declares, “this can’t be about hip hop and race”. It’s an interesting angle given that while I’ve seen and heard all sorts of discussion about police protocol, crowd control, or the growth of SXSW and/or Austin, I’d yet to read any suggestion this was, y’know, about race and hip hop. Granted, I’ve not read everything online (and I’m doing everything possible to avoid reading unmoderated comments on local newspaper websites).
It’s been widely reported that Owens is an aspiring M.C. who’d been booked to appear at Club 1808 Wednesday night, though Corcoran finds no evidence of such and doesn’t seem pleased that “big media” are repeating this as though it were fact. “Neither the Facebook page nor the Twitter account of Owens or his “K.A.B. 254” rap du plume had any mention of shows at SXSW. A hip hop artist not hyping their shows on social media?!” OK, I’m not sure where we’re going here. Fair enough, charge Owens with murder, but is it really necessary to lambaste him for poor promotion, or perpetuate the stereotype that all rappers are social media pests?
“He’s loosely connected with the dirty south crew Strictly Mafioso,” writes Corcoran, “but there’s no evidence of him ever performing at more than a house party. He’s got a couple tracks on Soundcloud, but so does every high school ukulele player….It kinda makes me ill to see this ice-veined villain’s photo in the paper this morning with the headline ‘Suspect in crash a Killeen musician.’ He’s no more a musician than Troy Aikman is an actor.’”
If this tragedy is most assuredly NOT about hip hop, how is it relevant or even remotely helpful for Corcoran to argue an unknown schlub with tracks on Soundcloud is any more or less qualified to be an (unofficial) SXSW participant than any number of thousands of guitar-playing assholes? Why is Owens less of a musician than Bob Schneider? I mean, I know this isn’t the time to get into such considerations, but that’s precisely why it’s baffling Corcoran brought any of it up. I’m totally down with the argument that what happened late Wednesday night wasn’t about race or hip hop, but why does any of this have to be about music criticism and what Michael Corcoran does or doesn’t consider to be actual music?
Keep in mind, the assertion to not make the case about race is coming from is the same fella who used the auspices of the local daily to liken a black journalist to Al Sharpton or Eddie Murphy, despite looking and sounding like neither. This is the same scribe who derisively referred to a neighbor as “DJ Screw” for interrupting his Saturday afternoon television viewing (as opposed to, y’know, pioneering an art form).
I understand we all have our own way of processing grief, terror, anger, etc. But for fuck’s sake, don’t use the deaths of innocent people as an excuse to take shots at genres or cultures you’ve previously demonstrated you’re inclined to dislike.