Billie Eilish is getting dragged.
In her Vogue debut, Eilish dove into the details of her rise to stardom and struggle with mental health. Recently turning 18, she looked back on everything from her family to her inspirations and the music that has influenced her unique style. The interview quickly made waves following its Monday release, but it was Eilish’s comments regarding the authenticity of rap that really caught people’s attention.
Eilish noted that “just because the story isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be important.” Much of Eilish’s music hinges upon storytelling, yet she told Vogue that there is a difference between her unique sound and the music some other musicians are releasing. “There’s a difference between lying in a song and writing a story. There are tons of songs where people are just lying,” she said. “There’s a lot of that in rap right now, from people that I know who rap. It’s like, ‘I got my AK-47, and I’m fuckin’…’ and I’m like, what? You don’t have a gun. ‘And all my bitches…’ I’m like, which bitches? That’s posturing, and that’s not what I’m doing.”
Eilish’s comparison, and in particular her apparent assertion that modern rap music is rarely authentic, immediately drew criticism from fans of rap and hip-hop. “Billie Eilish is a cornball for targeting rap as a genre of lying as if that isn’t applicable to pop or alt rock or country,” one person noted. “People ALWAYS do this to rap music, single it out as the main genre with any given issue they have. Ridiculous.”
Complex SUCKS. also billie eilish is a cornball for targeting rap as a genre of lying as if that isn't applicable to pop or alt rock or country. People ALWAYS do this to rap music, single it out as the main genre with any given issue they have. Ridiculous. https://t.co/TU6N6Dx58t
— chasé from the Q (@ArchdukeRedcat) February 4, 2020
This just in: Billie Eilish has the same dumb opinions about rap music as your boomer dad https://t.co/rLv3K9vUlT
— Chad🍞 (@CharleyOnAir) February 4, 2020
Many people criticized Eilish for appearing to take influence from rap and hip-hop, only to turn around and blast it as inauthentic. “There’s an issue with profiting off/copying the same culture you’re insulting,” one commenter said.
“yes I will use rap trends, aesthetics and production to make a name for myself. afford it any respect as an art form whatsoever? lol!” – billie eilish https://t.co/VebEfMHIfE
— jon? (@jonmosphere) February 4, 2020
Just the other day I was commenting how white people insert themselves into cultures that aren't their own and act like they own it and just look at Billie Eilish. Just another "rap has no meaning" elitist shit artist. Join Post Malone in the cornball category
— hifumi togo simp (@hshra13) February 4, 2020
there’s an issue with profiting off/copying the same culture you’re insulting. do you see people saying “no most rap is better than Billie Eilish” because i don’t, everyone i see is responding to what she said…
— Angel (@DeenSpirit) February 5, 2020
The most common criticism Eilish’s comments received, however, regarded her target. People were quick to point out that any genre of music—from country to pop and even rock—engages in its fair share of “lying.” They felt that Eilish targeted rap for the same reason everyone targets rap: Its origins and audience. Hip-hop was, as noted by Refinery29, “born from the creativity of Black people in the Bronx in the 1970s.” The style has changed and evolved over the years into what we see today, which stretches across genres and often finds a home—at least for a verse or two—in other musical works.
Fans of rap and hip-hop pointed this out online and dragged Eilish for her simplification of the issue. “The first and only genre of music white artists demonize is rap,” one commenter wrote. “Billie Eilish could of said that country music as well. Shit most of the criticisms rap receives can also be applied to country music, but it rarely ever is and we all know why.”
Billie Eilish delivered the stale old half cooked take "indie" artists have been pushing about rap since the 80's.
— Bussa studio (@Bussarebel) February 4, 2020
Hey @billieeilish I don’t expect you to know this, but the people who created the “violence and crime” critique of rap music were all virulent racists. Hit me up if you wanna talk about why rap music is deeply important in the diaspora and happy #BlackHistoryMonth
— Tori Williams Douglass (@ToriGlass) February 4, 2020
Despite the wave of criticism, there were—of course—plenty of people in Eilish’s corner. Fans of the 18-year-old musician flocked to her defense and blasted her critics for going after a statement they saw as true. “People getting mad at Billie Eilish when she’s right. There’s so much lying done in hip-hop and rap music it’s crazy,” one commenter said. “Your faves ain’t out there doing all the shit they claim to do, you dumbasses just fall for it.”
Billie Eilish (correctly) observed that most artists she knows who rap about murder and treating women poorly don’t actually live like that, and *SHE* is receiving backlash. Why? Cuz she’s white? So how dare she push back on the toxic stereotypes of black kids we all love
— Nait Jones ⚡️⚡️⚡️ (@NaithanJones) February 4, 2020
Billie Eilish is speaking the truth about rap music. I fully agree.
— Ces Hurrache (@Thatoneonlycs) February 4, 2020
Eilish is far from the first artist to receive heat for their comments regarding rap. In mid-2017, Miley Cyrus sparked debate with her own classification of modern rap. She noted similar issues with the genre and blamed them for her move away from the hip-hop scene. “That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little,” Cyrus said. “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’—I am so not that.”
Cyrus’ comments received similar pushback to Eilish’s, particularly considering the heavy influence hip-hop played in some of Cyrus’ recent work.
Miley Cyrus back to trashing hip-hop again like Nicki didn't gather her on national television for trying it.
— Craig Bro Dude (@CraigSJ) May 4, 2017
If Cyrus and Eilish’s comments make anything clear, it’s that artists should pause before speaking on a musical genre not their own. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, but that doesn’t protect you from getting dragged for it.
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