Last week, the Internet went nuts over the discovery of Chet Haze, Tom Hanks’ son and, apparently, a frat boy rapper supreme. Chet’s newly released “White and Purple (Northwestern Remix),” a version of Wiz Khalifa’s ubiquitous “Black and Yellow,” is a college-themed ode to Northwestern University, where he’s currently a student and minor campus celebrity. The song (and presumably being the progeny of Tom Hanks) has catapulted him to some degree of Internet fame.
But for all the attention Chet’s gotten over the past few days, let’s not forget that frat boy rap has existed as a hip hop subgenre for years. At its most obvious, frat boy rap came in the form of Asher Roth, the Morrisville, Pennsylvania MC whose 2008 song “I Love College” landed him a top 20 spot on the Billboard charts, a spot on XXL’s coveted yearly Top 10 Freshmen list, and nationwide tours with Blink-182, Kid Cudi, and B.o.B. (Confession: I once saw him perform at a tiny, dingy Toronto club.)
Still, his career, and frat boy rap as a whole, has not been without controversy. Issues of race and identity are very much at the core of hip hop music and culture. And so it’s no surprise that the topic of cultural ownership comes up frequently in discussions about white rappers. But while other white rappers frequently and publicly acknowledge their admiration for rap as a black art form, Roth and other frat boy rappers have tended to treat hip hop in the way of most kids growing up in what they are taught is a post-racial America: as something that belongs to them. Or so the accusation goes.
That’s a conversation for another day, though. Today, in honor of Chet Haze, let’s celebrate frat boy rap by rolling our eyes at a bunch of his peers.
The man of the hour, Chet Haze, is apparently such a newbie to hip hop that he hasn’t learned the first, and most important, rule of the genre: no biting. Chet’s song “White and Purple (Northwestern Remix)”, in which he raps about girls, his frat bros, and, of course, drinking, is apparently a rip-off of one Mo Greene’s track of the same name. Too bad for Mo Greene, his dad was not Forrest Gump.