Ring the alarm: the paper of record is treating rappers separately and unequally! In a surprisingly fresh piece of analysis, the Columbia Journalism Review unearths the NYT's sneaky tendency to "birth-name" rappers more than other musicians. (They also coin the term "birth-name," which I like, although for the sake of hip hop consistency they should say "government-name"). That means, for example, that RZA gets second-referenced as "Robert Diggs," but Marilyn Manson gets to keep his stage name throughout Times stories. That is so foul! Government names are nerdy. Plus, culture editor Sam Sifton gives a nonsense nilla explanation for the discrepancy:
Sam Sifton, the Times's culture editor, says that while such decisions are handled on a case-by-case basis, rap artists often get special treatment. "There's a big difference between [Houston rapper] Bun B and Tony Bennett," Sifton says, referring to Bernard Freeman and Anthony Dominick Benedetto, respectively. "Tony Bennett took a stage name, which I think is a little different from taking an alias. Someone like Jay-Z can be Mr. Carter, certainly, or he can just be Jay-Z, but he's never going to be Mr. Z."
There is absolutely no difference between Bun B and Tony Bennett that should affect how their names are treated in the paper. Not only does this highlight the faux-formal idiocy of the Times style guide, it provides a good opportunity to repeat Method Man's greatest truth ever: "Dig it/ F a rap critic/ They talk about it while I live it."
No equality of birth-naming, no peace!