I was always on the Rolling Stones side of the Beatles vs. Stones debate… until today. Speaking with the U.K.’s Daily Mirror, Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood thinks it’s “bloody ridiculous” that Kanye West is headlining Glastonbury and to be honest, it came off “bloody racist.” Talking in response to a recent online petition, that gathered thousands of signatures to remove Kanye from Glastonbury’s lineup, Wood said “It’s bloody ridiculous that Kanye is the headline act this year. It pisses me off so I try not to think about it too much.” Wood
supported tried to support his comments by saying:
“Glastonbury is the home of rock music and, look, Kanye isn’t rock. He’s a great entertainer and he knows how to captivate an audience with all his swearing, but when it comes to what that festival is about, it’s the wrong choice. People who go there for rock music are starting to get very angry about all these rappers and R&B singers taking over”.
To many, this may not sound even a little bit racist. To some, you may be thinking “wow, another guy making something about racist when it has nothing to do with race.” You may be right… but I don’t think so. Also I am not saying that “Ronnie Wood is a racist”, I am saying that his comments, though not overtly racist, were racist. While being upset with Kanye’s upcoming headlining performance isn’t automatically racist (just automatically stupid), it is the words that Wood used and the argument he is trying to make. First off, Kanye is not known for swearing. A lot of people were upset with Kanye for his BRIT Awards performance, for his use of the n-word, but the ‘Jesus Walks’ rapper is not especially vulgar. And to suggest that Rock n’ Roll is straight edged and clean in its language is absurd. People swear, and so do musicians though the songs they make (whether it is rap or rock), but Kanye is not a poster boy of vulgarity by any means, so get over it Wood. To assume that because someone is a rapper, that they must swear all the time, is definitely walking the line for some very subtle racism.
Next, Wood talks about how people are getting “very angry” because of “all these rappers and R&B singers taking over.” Whenever you say the words “all these” and then insert a description that covers primarily one race of people, it is almost always going to come off racist. It almost sounds like Wood is talking about a music festival version of white flight and gentrification. Of course not all rappers and R&B singers are black, but African Americans do dominate those genres (and this isn’t even debatable). Why doesn’t Wood have a problem with the other non-Rock genres performing at Glastonbury (because they definitely do)? Why just the genres dominated by black artists? We have no idea. The festival’s co-founder Emily Eavis, even emphasized the history of Glastonbury’s non-rock performers and headliners.
Instead of saying “all these rappers and R&B singers”, Wood might as well just said “all these blacks”. It would be like if someone wanted to make hateful comments about women, but because they didn’t want to seem directly sexist, they call out “all these people that are able to bear children.” Although we shouldn’t be surprised that someone from a genre that has a history of ripping off black musicians is not supporting black gengres that are “taking over” music. Or maybe he is just upset that Paul McCartney got the call from Kanye and not him?