Reports of Vampire Weekend's culture-jacking preppy privilege are greatly exaggerated. Lead singer Ezra Koenig is sick of people taking potshots at his band. "They're attacking a version of us that doesn't actually exist," Koenig recently told The Guardian. He didn't go to New York's prestigious Columbia University because his family is wealthy. Quite the contrary: "My dad grew up in a working-class Jewish neighbourhood, and I got a scholarship from my dad's union to go to college. I went there to get an education, not as an extension of privilege." He also took the band's "whiteness" to task, reminding everyone that "the two main writers in the band are Jewish and Persian, which is a pretty broad definition of 'whiteness.'" Koenig's harshest words were for critics, who, he points out, mostly share his Caucasian, college-educated background. "They don't often get the chance to be activists," Koenig said of his detractors, "so when they see us come along, it provides them with a brilliantly simple opportunity to be activists: 'This is an outrage! These people are exploitative!'"
Vampire Weekend's preppy, cardiganed demeanor can be a turn off. Everyone hates preppies. It doesn't help their Ivy League image that they spent their first videos and singles frolicking on yachts and bitching about comma usage, or that the first single from their new album rhymes "horchata" with "balaclava," or that they coined the term "Upper West Side Soweto" to describe their sprightly Afro-punk sound. But we should all know by now how futile it is to make presumptions about musicians as people based on their music and appearance. If these guys are rich snobs, then Lady Gaga is an alien. Vampire Weekend's sophmore album, Contra, is out Jan. 12 on XL. [The Guardian]
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