Billie Eilish is facing some harsh backlash online after she seemed to criticize rap lyrics as often being full of lies.
The 18-year-old singer appeared on the latest cover of Vogue, with an in-depth interview about the darkness and “anti-pop” world of her music and image. At one point, she talks about how many of her songs are stories crafted from a fictional point of view, and from there, the conversation turns to criticism over lying in music vs. just telling a story.
“Just because the story isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be important,” Eilish says. “There’s a difference between lying in a song and writing a story. There are tons of songs where people are just lying.”
She continues: “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.”
People immediately came out in defense of rap, calling Eilish’s take outdated and inaccurate.
“This just in: Billie Eilish has the same dumb opinions about rap music as your boomer dad,” one user joked.
This just in: Billie Eilish has the same dumb opinions about rap music as your boomer dad https://t.co/rLv3K9vUlT
— Chad (spicey) Pepper🌶 (@CharleyOnAir) February 4, 2020
anyone that agrees with billie eilish on what she said about rap/hip hop pls stay away from me. you are the feds
— wt/trae young stan acct (@imvrysickntired) February 4, 2020
i’m sorry billie eilish was born literally 3 years ago tf does she know about rap
— Sandy (@sndgms) February 4, 2020
Billie Eilish time traveled from 1999 with a “rap is crap without the c” sticker
— Yakuza boss rewatching doraemon (@Hegelbon) February 4, 2020
BREAKING: Billie Eilish repeats tired talking points about rap and hip-hop that have been around since the 90s
— Jose G. 🇲🇽 (@marty_freudman) February 4, 2020
However, others were quick to defend her, pointing out the context of the quote.
Eilish appeared to be specifically referring to rappers that she knows personally, and in the same paragraph had referred to Tyler, the Creator as one of her inspirations when it comes to crafting stories while songwriting.
I’m reading Billie Eilish’s Vogue interview. She is quoted as saying,
“There are tons of songs where people are just lying. There’s a lot of that in rap right now, from people that I know who rap.”
It appears Billie is talking about rappers she personally knows.
— Fck_Yaya (@FckYaya) February 5, 2020
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
Well said. I woke up today and read what #BillieEilish said and I shrugged. I couldn’t understand why it was even news. It is a fact that many rappers are “posturing”. That’s a BIG part of the commercial appeal of #rap. But it doesn’t mean that’s all rap is. Don’t feel insulted. https://t.co/W41ScdFJQ2
— AM🖤DI (@KeloidKrown) February 5, 2020
Most of y’all in the comments don’t even know how to read and have the nerve to not understand that she’s right. Jay-Z said the exact same thing and none of y’all want to speak on that shit because he’s a successful black artist in the rap industry. Keep that same energy. pic.twitter.com/IN5deM8L1X
— billie eilish 💎(fan account!)🤦♀️DUH (@Billieisbae69) February 5, 2020
But much of the frustration with Eilish’s comments is steeped in the fact that rap has historically so often faced criticism by white people who don’t actually understand it.
(Also the “hip hop is about authenticity but then they/Afrocan American performers don’t or can’t have the guns/drugs/women they rap about” ish
Which purposefully pretends that all hip hop is aggressive and misogynistic unless it comes from a Genre Gentrifier.) #StitchProcesses
— stitch🌱 she/they (@stichomancery) February 5, 2020
The first and only genre of music white artists demonize is rap. 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 ans we all know why.
— 🇻🇮Fast and Furious stan acct🇬🇩 (@JohniFlash) February 4, 2020
Miley Cyrus did something similar, fed off rap culture then threw it under a bus and returned back to country music. It’s predictable at this point.
— Ferrari Elite Sheppard (@stopbeingfamous) February 5, 2020
And, while Eilish may have been speaking only about rappers she personally knows, her comments just don’t apply to the genre as a whole, especially right now.
“What’s weird about this is Billie Eilish is so young that she’s *only* lived through a period in which rap talks seriously about mental health, just as she does, and grapples with God meaningfully, and resurrected protest music from Katy Perry and others,” tweeted journalist Seth Mandel.
What’s weird about this is Billie Eilish is so young that she’s *only* lived through a period in which rap talks seriously about mental health, just as she does, and grapples with God meaningfully, and resurrected protest music from Katy Perry and others. (Thank you Kendrick.) https://t.co/7FayCec6nI
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) February 5, 2020
Rapper Talib Kweli summed the whole thing up nicely.
“Billie Eilish needs better friends,” he wrote.
Billie Eilish needs better friends. She could’ve used this opportunity and her platform to celebrate the vast amount of hiphop that does not do this. I have a feeling she is unaware of it tho, so instead she perpetuated long standing stereotypes about hiphop culture. https://t.co/0IRJf9YQYD
— Talib Kweli Greene (@TalibKweli) February 5, 2020