Kurt Cobain Explains Why White People Shouldn’t Rap In Newly Released Interview
The Nirvana frontman shared his thoughts on race and hip-hop during a radio interview in 1991.
Kurt Cobain was no expert on the nuances of hip-hop culture, but he didn't mind speaking on the topic. In a newly-unearthed interview conducted four days before the release of Nirvana’s groundbreaking Nevermind LP, the late rocker expressed his feelings about rap music and white rappers.
Roberto Lorusso, a physics teacher in London, Ontario, posted his 1991 interview with Cobain online, earlier in the month. On Monday, Lorusso spoke to Canada’s CTV about his talk with Cobain, confessing that he didn't know much about Nirvana at the time of his interview. Unbeknownst to Cobain, the band was on the edge of stardom mainstream. The Seattle native opened up to Lorusso about the financial ins and outs of the music industry, and his apprehension over signing with a major label.
Towards the end of the interview, Lorusso asked Cobain about his comments in M.E.A.T. magazine, where he called white rappers offensive. “The white man ripped off the black man for long enough,” Cobain told the publication.
Lorusso, who at the time was a 21-year-old budding musician and student host at Western University’s campus radio station, read the quote back to Cobain before asking his thoughts on Consolidated, a white activist music band that included hip-hop elements in their music.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Cobain replied of his earlier comments. “Was I drunk at that time? I’m a fan of rap music, but most of it is so misogynist that I can’t even deal with it.”
“I’m really not that much of a fan,” he admitted a second later. “I totally respect and love it because it’s one of the only original forms of music that’s been introduced, but the white man doing rap is just like watching a white man dance. We can’t dance, we can’t rap.”
Four days later, Nirvana debuted Nevermind. The album went on to sell 10 million copies in the U.S., fueled by the lead single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Cobain died from suicide four years after the album’s release.
Listen to the full 1991 interview below (scroll to the 7:59 mark to hear Cobain talk rap).
READ MORE: Hear The ‘Mixtape' Kurt Cobain Made In 1988