3 Questions: Jus Rhyme

Categories: 3 Questions
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Jus Rhyme, 27, was the first contestant to mention "white supremacy" on Ego Trip's The (White) Rapper Show, a satirical reality program in which 10 aspiring (white) MCs from around the country compete for $100,000 while living together in the South Bronx. A native of Austin, Minnesota, the real-life Jeb Middlebrook has yet to embarrass himself too badly on national TV, though he maintains the onscreen persona of an earnest camp counselor amid "challenges" from hip-hop legends such as Prince Paul, Sadat X, and (white) host MC Serch. After a stint with AmeriCorps in San Diego, Jus spent a few years in the Twin Cities attending college and rapping under the name Privilege as part of the activist Hip-Hop Co-Op. He's now studying for his Ph.D. in L.A. and can be reached via www.myspace.com/ar15hiphop.

City Pages: Did Minneapolis hip hop teach you anything about race?

Jus Rhyme: Hip-hop shows were the one place where I saw people from different racial backgrounds coming together and having a good time. And because race is talked about, mostly with performers of color, it really prompted me to think about, okay, where am I in all this? Being willing to be wrong was a big thing for me. Saying things that weren't appropriate, just because I didn't know any better, and being checked.

CP: The show is about racism, yet you seem like the only guy bringing up the subject.

JR: White folks rarely talk about race in public places, but we're in the Bronx, we're rappers, we're living in a predominantly black community. To not talk about race, I felt, would be ridiculous.

CP: So is that John Brown guy for real?

JR: Yeah, I think so. What you see is what we got. From the moment that our eyes opened, there was a camera on us. One thing that didn't make the cut was me and John Brown would stay up late at night and have these long discussions about what it meant to be white in hip hop. The cameras were there, but I think people would be bored.

Ego Trip's The (White) Rapper Show airs Mondays at 9:00 p.m. on VH1.

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