What Jay-Z and Glenn Beck Have in Common

Rap and right-wing talk radio are more similar than you might think
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 20, 2009 2:00 PM CDT
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2008 file photo, rapper Jay-Z performs at the grand reopening of the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, file)
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(Newser) – After listening to hours of Michael Savage, Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Levin on the radio while driving the Nebraska countryside, a peculiar thought occurred to David Segal: conservative talk-show hosts are surprisingly similar to gangsta rappers, he writes for the New York Times. Consider the parallels:

  • Huge egos. Both groups praise themselves relentlessly—both Jay-Z and Rush Limbaugh have referred to themselves as “living legends.”
  • Denouncing haters. Despite their enormous popularity, both rappers and talk-show firebrands commonly portray themselves as underdogs, beset by critics.

  • Feuds. Just as 50 Cent and Ja Rule, or Jay-Z and Nas have their spats, so do Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh—O’Reilly has called Limbaugh a “right-wing liar.”
  • Verbal skills. Talk-show hosts free-associate on topics for hours, using the same precision wordplay required for free-style rapping.
  • Politics. Rappers and rightwing radio hosts are unabashed, die-hard capitalists, and both claim to represent a demographic which has been ignored. Recently, critics have questioned whether radio hosts' rhetoric might inspire violence—a charge rappers should find very familiar.