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Kurt Cobain says white people can’t dance or rap in unearthed interview

Show me the lie

A new archive interview with Kurt Cobain has surfaced online. First noticed by Genius, the nine-and-a-half-minute clip from 1991 features then-student Roberto Lorusso conversing with the late musician as the band prepared to play in Toronto, kicking off their North American tour for Nevermind.

Cobain candidly discusses how much the band made from their recent record deal (substantially less than had been reported), his growing boredom with interviews, and revisits comments about rap he made to Billboard the same year. “The white man ripped off the black man long enough,” he said. “They should leave rap music to the African-Americans.”

“Was I drunk at that time?” he muses in response to being re-read the quote, before saying he struggles to listen to rap because of how “misogynist” it is – Cobain, after all, was tight with Washington’s riot grrl protagonists, including Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna. He goes on: “I’m really not that much of a fan, I totally respect and love it because it’s one of the only original forms of music that’s been introduced, but the white man doing rap is just like watching a white man dance. We can’t dance, we can’t rap.”

The interview – which Lorusso says is objectively “terrible” and a “trash fire” that his friends have been bugging him to post – was recorded on September 20, 1991, a few days before the release of Nevermind. The previous year, Nirvana had left indie label Sub Pop and signed to Geffen, a major (“It’s happened, and there’s nothing we can do about it, so there’s no sense of analysing it” Cobain says, adding that the band has not been put under pressure to change their sound). Despite being on the cusp of mainstream success – “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was recently released, and would soon become an anthem – the frontman sounds unmistakably jaded.

“As we spoke I got a vague sense that he wasn’t really enjoying their success,” writes Lorusso. “I was so enamoured with and envious of his talent and success I just couldn’t understand how he could have been so indifferent to it… When I reflected on this experience, I realised that success doesn’t mean a goddamn thing if your world is falling apart… It still bums me out.”

Listen to the full interview below.