Wynton Marsalis clarifies his remarks comparing rap to Confederate-era statues

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 27: Musician Wynton Marsalis performs onstage during the Northside Center for Child Development 70th Anniversary Spring Gala at Cipriani 42nd Street on April 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew Toth/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS – Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis has released a statement clarifying his remarks to a Washington Post reporter about the relative dangers of rap and hip hop music and Confederate-era statues to the black community.

In an interview with Jonathan Capehart for Capehart’s podcast “Cape Up,” Marsalis said derogatory and misogynistic rap music lyrics, coupled with the repeated use of racial slurs by popular rappers, does more damage than a statue of Robert E. Lee.

“I did not say ALL of anything was anything,” Marsalis wrote in a lengthy post to his public Facebook account. “And that goes for a lot more than hip hop, jazz or anything else that may be trending in the next few hours.”

Marsalis said he views the Confederate-era statues as connected to past actions, while the issues he has with rap and hip hop music are much more contemporary.

“The big difference is that the Civil War was waged and definitively decided,” he wrote. “The cultural war is ongoing and fortunately or unfortunately depending on your vantage point some of the most popular aspects of hip hop (THOUGH DEFINITELY NOT ALL) is providing much needed capital via the marketplace to both sides of that war and as such will continue it’s reign as the soundtrack for American popular culture. Until it doesn’t.”

Robert E. Lee doesn’t enjoy the same kind of mainstream success as rappers do, Marsalis wrote.

“The irony of the situation is mind boggling because, I’m sure that many people who have called for the removal of Lee (and other Confederate monuments as racist symbols that have helped to perpetuate age old stereotypes) are also defending some of the most popular and most promoted products (THOUGH CLEARLY NOT ALL OF ) an art form that is doing the exact same thing-except now, the perpetuation of negative imagery and stereotypes are self-inflicted for a paycheck,” he said.

Marsalis’ main point of contention to the blowback from his podcast comments seems to be the idea that he has major problems with all rap, and, by extension, the majority of black expression in America today.

“There are, by the nature of how we are endowed, many many creative people in the world,” Marsalis wrote. “To dismiss an entire form would indicate ignorance and refusal to accept fact. To question the mainstreaming of explicit adult content should not be considered irrational, prejudiced, close minded or high minded. It is a normal question that anyone with kids or who is just concerned about the general cultural atmosphere is forced to ask.”

Read the entire statement here: