Cole Alexander

Cole Alexander, guitarist for Atlanta garage-rock mainstays the Black Lips, recently took part in “Hate Song,” an A.V. Club interview series in which various prominent types talk about songs that they can’t stand. As Pitchfork points out, in his interview, Alexander revealed himself to be a hater of Lorde’s 2013 smash “Royals,” a song I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone express straight-up hatred for before. Here’s Alexander’s reasoning:

In the lyric she says she’s “Never seen diamonds in the flesh / I’ve cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies / And I’m not proud of my address in the torn-up town / No postcode envy.” Most of the people that are rapping about Maybachs and diamonds come from really “torn-up towns.” I’m going on assumptions, but I feel like a lot of these guys are from Compton or these fucking ghettos like Memphis, and their parts of town are way more torn up than hers. That’s a mere assumption from seeing her in interviews and stuff, but I feel like they come from worse parts and they aspire to get Maybachs and diamonds because they come from ratchet-ass ’hoods where they have no hope. I think it’s a bit righteous of her.

Alexander also has some not-so-nice things to say about Drake:

I grew up in a decent suburb in Atlanta, but I do think sometimes in hip-hop, you can hear it in his voice. He didn’t have that pain in his voice, but it’s a subtle nuance. I’m sure he has some struggles in his life like everyone does, but I just don’t like Drake. He seems kind of fake to me.

I like my rappers more ghetto and ratchet sounding. Personally, I like more melodramatic, ignorant rap where they’re talking about violence and anger and it’s just evil. I don’t like when it’s too conscious, I don’t like it when it’s too smart. To me, it’s just like a gangster movie. In a gangster movie, you don’t want to see polite guys; you want to see them do horrible shit. It’s a movie, it’s entertainment, and, at the end of the day, music is entertainment. It might reflect what has happened, but a lot of times it’s an art form of telling stories.

And he objects to Macklemore, on the baffling grounds that he should not be using the word “honky” so lightly:

There’s that one line where they’re like, “That’s a cold-ass honky.” I really don’t like that line. First of all, it’s a racist word. I feel like white people, when someone says something racist against them, they’re not very offended. They’ve never had to deal with racism so it’s almost a kind of white guilt, or a subtle kind of action.

My problem isn’t the fact that he says “honky,” though. It’s that he puts “honky” in a black person’s mouth and they actually say it instead of him. He put a racist term into a black person’s mouth and had it thrown back at him to satiate his white guilt. That’s the way I look at it.

As a fan of a ton of ignorant rap music, I feel like I need to point something out here. When Alexander says that he likes rap to be “ratchet” and “evil,” this is not a defensible position; he’s pretty much fetishizing what he claims to like. And in the same interview, he mentions that his band had a chance to tour with Ke$ha and that they considered it, even though Ke$ha and the Lips are “opposite.” But they’re not opposite at all! They both sensationalize the shit out of drunk-party-kid images, and they’d probably make a lot of sense together. You can read the whole thing here.

Comments (58)
  1. it’s good to know that a guy who drinks pee on stage keeps it real

    • The Black Lip’s Cole Alexander can’t help coming off as a self-righteous douchebag, but I see his point.

      Lorde’s music and persona reminds me of a repackaged Lana del Rey or Amy Winehouse. Lorde is not from the United States and probably does not know much about race relations stateside. How long can she sustain her career singing from the perspective of a 17 year old naive expat from New Zealand? Sooner or later critics won’t buy the act anymore and she’ll have to wise up.

      Drake makes millions of dollars by exploiting the low-self esteem and volatile egos of his female fanbase. If you listen to his voice he is a softer rapper. I admit to enjoying his music.

      Macklemore is okay. All three of these musicians are okay, but they’re in the entertainment industry to get rich.

      • Sorry for the multiple posts I don’t know how to edit my comment.

        I understand where’s he’s coming from about preferring almost ‘evil’ gothic , tripped out hip-hop. A lot of times I just want to listen to most, dumbed down, repetitive music as possible, like trap music. You can always always turn the bass up more or bang it out a little more.

      • Aaron Cunningham  |   Posted on Mar 26th, 2014 +3

        What connection do Lana del Rey, Amy Winehouse, and Lorde have to each other musically?

        And how are their personas in any way similar? I’m not sure what Lana del Rey’s persona is supposed to be (goofy-seductive? goofductive?), but Amy Winehouse’s seemed to be hard-living old soul repackaging the classics. I’m not sure how to go about aligning either one of those with “17 year old naive expat from New Zealand.”

        I’m also not entirely sure how a 17 year old naive expat from New Zealand would go about faking a persona that is “17 year old naive expat from New Zealand.” What is there to not buy? What part of that is an act? She’s young. She’s probably naive. She’s from New Zealand. She makes music about the things that she likes, the things she does with her friends, and the things that she’s been through. And all of it sounds like music made by someone who is pretty young. If people are gonna “not buy it” it’ll have to be because she stops making good music or people stop liking it. I’ve got twenty years on her and I love “Pure Heroine” precisely because it seems to capture her perspective in an authentic, naive way that reminds me of authentic, naive 17 year olds I’ve met and the authentic, naive 17 year old I once was…

  2. So in other words:

    “Lorde sucks cause she makes assumptions. But the assumptions I make clearly discredit hers so yeah”

    “I like ignorant rap. Drake is not ignorant enough”

    “Macklemore sucks though cause he kinda has an ignorant line in his rap song. I don’t like that. Plus, it’s racist to use pitched down vocals because pitched down vocals can only mean a black man’s voice. How ignorant of ryan lewis”


  3. 8 years ago when the Black Lips were starting fires on stage and waving their smooth-balled dongs around, it was reckless punk fun, but now they’re older and it just sounds like some of that Patrick Carney rock star douchiness rubbed off on them when they worked with him in the studio with their so-so new album.

  4. Some opinions are really just better left unsaid.

  5. jesus christ. how idiotic can you get? his statements have turned my brain into goo

  6. wait, honky is racist?

    Thanks for letting me know I should get offended about something. I had no idea. Next up, someone will call me a cracker and I’ll have to get mad about that too?

  7. I like the Black Lips well enough, but for him to even consider himself in the same league worthy to comment artistically on Top 40 pop/rap (music content-wise, not popularity) is the height of indie rock pretension. Apples and oranges.

    Stay tuned next week to hear Sun Kil Moon’s take on Skrillex.

  8. I feel like the principle in Billy Madison right now. I’m astounded by how ignorant his comments are, especially regarding Drake. Who is he to tell the hip-hop community who should and shouldn’t make rap music, and what constitutes as valid rap music? I could care less that he only appreciates hip-hop that perpetuates horrible and demeaning stereotypes against the African-American community.

    • Well he’s not telling anyone what to do. He literally says “I just don’t like Drake.” Nowhere in there did he say “Drake need to rap about ______ more” or “Drake isn’t a real rapper because he doesn’t talk about ______”

      That said, his sentiment is still incredibly problematic /racist.

  9. What a complete fucking tool. Holy shit.

  10. I don’t think some of the points he expressed re: Macklemore and Lorde are necessarily wrong, just inelegantly expressed. How he stated his views just made him look fucking ignant tho.

  11. He is way off on his thoughts about Drake and Hip-Hop, but he is pretty spot on when he is discussing Lorde. The comments on hip-hop/rap are just so bad that I’m not even going to talk about them. But I’ll join in on the Lorde hate.

    I really don’t know why people enjoy her. Maybe I’m missing something? I gave the album a shot but its pretty forgettable. She’s really pretentious sounding as well for a just being a teenager.

    It is music for the Tumblr generation, straight from the minimalistic album artwork, to the quasi-deep relatable lyrics, to the production. Sometimes I think Lana Del Ray is more “real” or genuine than Lorde and that’s saying something.

    • Lorde’s succeeds is fed by Chris Deville’s whole monogenre hypothesis. To your average pop fans, her music sounds smart, and to your more descriminatory “indie” listeners, her music and image isn’t as offensive as your regular pop star. She’s been spotted both palling around with Taylor Swift and tweeting Perfect Pussy lyrics. I think there’s maybe two or three pretty good singles on her debut, and the rest sounds the same, but that’s exactly the reason why she’s where she’s at today: She’s “pretty good” from all angles.

    • Except for that Drake is awful. He’s pretty spot on there, even if he’s right for the wrong reasons

    • Aaron Cunningham  |   Posted on Mar 26th, 2014 +2

      His comments about Lorde were just as empty and ignorant as his comments about everything else (besides Drake being whack). Maybe you just don’t like her because you just don’t like her. I mean, I don’t know how many teenagers you’ve met recently but statements like “She’s really pretentious sounding as well for a just being a teenager” make me think the number is pretty low. “Self-absorbed teenager writes self-absorbed songs about things teens like and do.” Thanks, 50s headline writer. Tell us more about the scourge of that demonic rock’n'roll!

      The production on “Pure Heroine” is fantastic. She does some really interesting things vocally. And her lyrics are either deep or not, relatable or not, but neither that nor the “minimalistic album artwork” has any connection to whether or not the album is “real” in any way. She’s not genuine because you don’t like her album? She’s not genuine because the artwork is minimal? She’s not genuine because her generation uses Tumbler? That’s a set of insults that doesn’t even approach cohering into actual observations or criticism.

  12. It’s like he transcribed my Stereogum comments. Go Cole.

  13. Ke$sha meant to dial “Lips, Flaming” but accidentally dialed “Lips, Black”

  14. “I like my rappers more ghetto and ratchet sounding” and yet pissed off that someone used the term “honky.” How does he not realize that “honky” is the white equivalent of “ghetto” except devoid of the historicity.

  15. The reason I, as a white person, do not get offended when a black person calls me honky is not because I have white guilt. It’s because I have a level of self awareness to understand that “honky” was never a word used to enslave and degrade my race and carries virtually no power in society and never has.

  16. at least hate on macklemore cos he makes crappy music if u rly have to hate at all

    don’t try and justify it with some holier than thou pretensions tho…

    his comments on Drake just reek of ignorance and his comments on Royals haven’t been said a billion times before or anything…

    • ” his comments on Royals haven’t been said a billion times before or anything” – although Tom Breihan has strangely not heard this.

  17. He sounds kind of tool-ish. Doesn’t like “conscious rap”, what a douche? So black guys from the ghetto are just supposed to act like loony tunes caricatures of themselves? Just be drug-selling, drug taking gangsters? Not try to rise above it?

    We have come such a long way – in the wrong direction – from the days of Native Tongues movemement, KRS-One, and Chuck D. It’s a shame that this is the perception of hip hop now.

  18. I’ve never listened to a Black Lips song—at least not while I was in a cognizant state of mind. Regardless, this guy seems like so many burned-out, pseudo-activist floaters that I see around my neck of the woods. Even if he had valid points to express, it’s like gnomes in his brain are just dicking around instead of working at the articulation machines.

    Even still, Lorde is mostly whack (though relatively harmless) for a variety of reasons. One of which being a more intelligible, more informed version of what Cole was trying to say.

  19. I pulled an underscore and angry tweeted a famous person because he called Memphis a “fucking ghetto”. It felt pretty good.

  20. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Putting aside the fact that I am a Drake fanboy, his comments on Drake and hip hop in general are unbelievably ignorant.

      Let me get this straight, unless rappers are from the “ghetto” they are fake? Why is it ok for a white rock guitarist to be from the suburbs and not a rapper? It sounds like he is more comfortable with the idea of black people who are poor, ignorant, and live far away from the neighborhood he grew up in. I’d bet anything the suburb he grew up in was whiter than 2 % milk.

      Also the part where he bitches about the term honky makes him sound like Michelle Bachman complaining about gay people bullying her.

      • He’s not fake cause he came from a silver spoon, he’s fake because he suggests the opposite in his music. Will Smith wasnt fake when he said he was “Getting Jiggy With it” but Drake is flat out lying when he says “Started from the bottom”.

        And Alexander’s not complaining about the existence of the word honky, but Macklemore’s treatment of it. He calls the term racist but says most white people haven’t experienced racism.
        If Macklemore had said like “yea im a honky but im cold though”, the reaction would be seen for what it is, a bizarre tryhard ploy. Hes not the first white rapper its not a big deal. When he has it down pitched and made to distinctly sound like an african american though, hes suggesting thats what black people would say about him. And there is something messed up about that.

        But on the real Alexander and the Black Lips are likely not in touch with modern values. Read some interviews, particularly the one from lead singer Jared Swilley about his fight with Wavves, the contents loaded with sexist and homophobic language. There’s a particular idiom about a rebel soldier that makes you think the guys got a really antiquated outlook on things.

        In this instance Alexander is fully in the right, but I suspect a little probing could reveal some flat out offensive beliefs. I won’t back him up then

        • Read what he said again, your point about Drake is totally valid. That isn’t what he said though. Plus look at the entire next paragraph when he talks about the kind of rap that he likes.

          The Honky thing on it’s own I might not have much of a problem with but after reading his thoughts on rap it just makes him sound like an even bigger douche.

          • Yea its terribly put, shouldnt have said he doesnt like “smart” rap music. “Smart” music is a really subjective term. Tons of really vividly savage dirty south stuff I’d call clever. Alexander and I probably like the same rap music but I wouldn’t want someone to call it stupid. His likening of all rap music to gangster movies is kinda accurate though, at least in the public eye. Since Tupac and Biggie, the industry is only interested in a rapper who fashions himself some sort of gangster. Maybe Drake wouldn’t be such a punk if he tried to the buck that trend.

    • Regarding the Lorde thing, I am legit curious how much someone from New Zealand understands American race relations, and how much we expect them to understand. Not that the point about the race/class issues of this are wrong by any means, but I’m not under the impression that many Americans know much about the concept of white (or male, straight, cisgendered, etc) privilege, so I’m curious how reasonable it is to expect someone from another country to understand it… much less a teenager. Hell, I live in the US, I’m almost twice her age, and try to be pretty mindful of that sort of thing, and those points totally flew by me until I ran across an article about it. For me, it was initially more of a statement about the capitalist desire and images that our entertainment industry projects. But who knows! Maybe people in New Zealand understand our history and race relations better than I would expect.
      …maybe the tl;dr summary of this is: Has she talked about this in interviews by now, and does anyone know what she has to say?

      • As a Kiwi, I honestly don’t think Lorde was making any comment on race relations. I thought she was getting at extravagance in general; it didn’t read to me as getting at “hip-hop”.

        “Gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom
        Bloodstains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room
        Crystal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece
        Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash”

        That reads to me as more a comment on pop (Ke$ha, Katy Perry, etc.) than hip-hop.

      • Hey, also a NZer. I learnt about Black Civil Rights in school but that only goes til the 70s and the assumption made is ‘oh everything just worked out after that’. lol.

    • “…naive to think she can preach about materialism to people who come from an impoverished background, when she comes from New Zealand.”

      “If you don’t know about the world, New Zealand is a wealthy place, the same kind of poverty does not exist there.”

      Said by a person who doesn’t live in New Zealand. Ironic?

    • Though some New Zealanders do live in very poor conditions Lorde is absolutely not one of them. She is from Devonport, people make day trips to Devenport because it is so nice. The music’s nice on ‘Pure Heroine’ but it’s hard not to cringe and gnash my teeth whenever I hear her sing about her ‘torn up town’.

  21. Okay on one hand there’s nothing much more “fake” than a guy from nice suburbs of ATL repeatedly using the term “ratchet.” His take on Lorde is fairly ridiculous and a flimsy apologism for the mindless greed and materialism of supposedly poor rappers who tumble onto mounds of money then blow it all on rims and gold fixtures and giant self-portraits. Ditto for the spiel about Macklemore” He’s definitely onto something as regards the “white guilt” trip but the aspect of making the black guy say something “racist” is a mound of bullshit. I don’t Macklemore wrote Birdman’s line “Making money like a Cracker, bitch” from Y.U. Mad. Finally he has a perfectly valid point about Drake. He obviously has a transparently phony veneer, as if he wasn’t a Nickelodeon kid before he became this toughass rapper from the wilds of…suburban Canada. That said, I’m a little stunned by the hyper-sensitivity of anyone in the Black Lips, but the observations are interesting.

  22. Well, he got three things correct: Lorde, Drake & Macklemore all completely suck.

    Try to keep in mind that he isn’t a collegiate twenty year old with endless time to perfectly articulate what he wants to say to a crowd of blog readers. He’s going off the top of his head. The term “honky” doesn’t offend me personally, but you have your head directly up your own asshole if you don’t understand its racial implication, especially in that particular song. And I’d still rather hang out with him than any of you numbskulls.

    • Just a dopey indy poser’s take to say that Lorde and Macklemore “completely suck” simply because their very indy records miraculously became hugely popular.

    • Sadly he does have time to make incredibly mediocre records, talk ridiculous crap, and probably hang out with you.

  23. I dont particularly like Lorde, but this pretty dumb…sorry, I mean ratchet

  24. Dude Like a pasty Tyler the croater.

  25. I’m mad that I just read all of this utter nonsense.

  26. Um, it’s “Kesha” now, not “Ke$ha”. Please fix.

  27. Is there anything dumber than an alleged “artist” who doesn’t like a song because he doesn’t believe its lyrics are a literal biographical representation of the singer’s life?

    I wonder what this guy thinks of Moby Dick. “Call me Ishmael? Yeah right, dude. It says ‘Herman Melville’ right on the cover. I’m not buying it.”

  28. Wow. I now know more about the opinions of some dude in Black Lips than I do of their music, which I’ve never heard. Why did I read this? OWWWOOOOOOOOOOO!

  29. I don’t know who this guy is, and I really don’t care what he thinks. Now I just feel duped for having clicked on the link.

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