Larry Elder

Gotta give it to Democratic presidential contender John Kerry. He knows how to keep it real. In an MTV interview, the host asked, "Well, are there any trends out there in music, or even in popular culture in general that have piqued your interest?"

Kerry said, "Oh, sure. I follow and I'm interested. . . . I'm fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there's a lot of poetry in it. There's a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it, and I think you'd better listen to it pretty carefully, 'cause it's important."

He dutifully noted that some of it goes too far, you know, like calling for the killing of cops. But, aside from that, Kerry said, "I'm still listening because I know that it's a reflection of the street and it's a reflection of life . . . "

"A reflection of life"?

Take rapper "Ice Cube," one of the founders of the angry rap group Niggaz with Attitude (N.W.A.). Of Cube's "reflection of life," a recent Los Angeles Times profile on him says, " . . . Cube, who graduated from Taft High School in Woodland Hills (where he was bused daily) and attended architecture classes at the Phoenix Institute of Technology in Arizona for a year, came from a loving, working-class home and stayed clear of gangbanging. His mom and dad worked in maintenance and gardening respectively at UCLA." Now he lives in the mean streets of the upper-class Los Angeles suburb of Encino, with his wife of 13 years and their four children. Oh.

Remember Sister Souljah, the rapper criticized by then-1992 presidential candidate Bill Clinton?
After the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Souljah said in a Washington Post story, "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people? . . . So if you're a gang member and you would normally be killing somebody, why not kill a white person?" Yeah, I guess this is "important" -- especially if you work as a cop.

Someone tell Kerry that the overwhelming purchasers of street "social energy" music consist of white kids, comfortably keeping it real in the suburbs. And as for reflecting life, take a look at some of the rap/hip-hop videos. The jewelry-draped performers often bounce around with barely-dressed, jiggling women. The rappers rap about having sex, getting high or doing drugs -- often with a backdrop of a spacious mansion, equipped with swimming pool and Jacuzzi.

Larry Elder

Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit