ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes surprising

By Jeff Weiss Who can really say who the first white rapper was? But certainly the Beastie Boys were the first to shoot to fame -- and fundamentally alter the genre -- with 1986's "Licensed to Ill," in which hip-hop was forced to confront questions of race, audience and inflatable phalluses. In the wake of those original frat-rappers, music labels throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s sporadically attempted to cash in on melanin-light lyricists, with House of Pain, Vanilla Ice and Marky Mark earning equal parts success and scorn, and only the interracial 3rd Bass achieving modest critical respectability. Bertrand Buay / Agence France-Presse / For The Times
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