links for 2007-05-04

Taalam Acey: There’s a market for ni$$as

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do you think of this spoken word piece? It’s an excerpt from the documentary What Black Men Think.

I love so many of the points he makes in this video, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that it’s only white people who are supporting these images in hip hop. Blacks, Latinos, Asian-Americans — all of us, really, play a role. As Saul Williams pointed out, even Oprah has been known to boogie down to some 50 Cent:

Like the rest of the world, I watched footage on AOL of you dancing mindlessly to 50 Cent on your fiftieth birthday as he proclaimed, “I got the ex/if you’re into taking drugs/ I’m into having sex/ I ain’t into making love” and you looked like you were having a great time. No judgment. I like that song too.

(Hat tip to SOULcrates via Oh Word.)

links for 2007-05-03

Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I’m excited to announce that New Demographic’s seminar, Racialicious! When Race and Pop Culture Collide, is now available in both audio seminar and e-book formats!

DESCRIPTION
From the neo-minstrelsy of Flavor of Love to the racial segregation on Survivor, from the race-swapping families on Black.White. to the fascination with interracial sex, from Gwen Stefani’s use of Harajuku girls as mute human props to Angelina Jolie’s obsession with international adoption, from Michael Richards’ lynching tirade to Rosie O’Donnell’s “ching chong” remarks, race and pop culture are colliding more now than ever before.

What does pop culture reveal about our attitudes toward race and racism? Does pop culture’s treatment of race help or harm discussions about race? As consumers of pop culture, what kinds of stereotypes and assumptions should we look out for?

AUDIO SEMINAR

Format: MP3 file that you can download, keep and play as many times as you like
Length:
42 minutes
Fee:
$29.99

E-BOOK

Format: Adobe Acrobat PDF file that you can either print out or read on the screen. You can also download the file and keep it forever.
Length:
14 pages
Fee:
$39.99

Please note:

  • Within 24 hours of the time you place your order, you will receive an email with a link to the MP3 (audio seminar) or PDF (e-book), which you can download and keep forever.
  • If you’d like to pay by credit card instead of PayPal, click one of the buttons above. When you get to the PayPal page, look in the lower left-hand corner where it says “Don’t have a PayPal account? No problem, continue checkout” and click the “Continue” button there.

links for 2007-05-02

Hear Me Out: Hip-hop and Gender Criticism

by guest contributor dnA, originally published at Too Sense

I used to hate hip-hop… yup, because the women degraded
But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it
A hypocrite I stated, though I only recited half
Omittin the word “bitch,” cursin I wouldn’t say it
Me and dog couldn’t relate, til a bitch I dated
Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike
But I learnt it from a song I heard and sorta liked

-Lupe Fiasco, Hurt Me Soul

This was a long time ago.One of the unique things about Hip-hop is its ability to respond directly to criticism, which has been completely omitted in the ongoing mainstream media assault on Hip-hop culture and music. The root of Hip-hop’s mainstream popularity is its ability to provide to white men, access to a fiction of black masculinity that reinforces their own perceptions of what a man is supposed to be. This in itself is informed by thousands of years of Western Civilization, and is present in all aspects of American culture.

However, unlike other mediums of artistic expression, something which is rarely acknowledged is that rappers regularly adress the problem of misogyny in Hip-hop. Lupe’s verse above is to me, a powerfully simple explanation for the way certain ideas about gender are spread, he simply heard it from a song he sort of liked. But his admission of hypocrisy stands in stark contrast to the rest of American popular entertainment; when was the last time you heard anyone from a major television or film company admit that their product was sexist or misogynist, or in someway perpetuated harmful stereotypes about women?

That said, there is a strong reactionary sentiment among Hip-hop heads. Byron Crawford may be the single most popular Hip-hop columnist on the web, but there is little question that he absolutely hates women. He also apparently hates Muslims, and I will try to stay focused and not adress the absurd right wing talking points he clings to in this column on Lupe. More relevant to this post is that Lupe’s admission that Hip-hop’s depiction of women is harmful, and his criticism of mainstream Hip-hop’s excessive materialism tags him, in Crawford’s eyes, as a “suicide bomber”:

Does Lupe Fiasco consider himself the equivalent of a suicide bomber sent to rid the rap world of a few infidels (metaphorically speaking at least)? When you think about it, his album does seem filled with that kind of rhetoric. He speaks of the images of champagne and bling bling so often projected in hip-hop the same way that Islamic fascists speak of American culture in general and, in particular, the “MTV culture” that they view as such a threat to Muslim youth.

And his claim that he once hated hip-hop because of the way women were treated (presumably before he became a gat-toting crack slinger?) seems ripe for further inspection beyond declaring his views “refreshing.” Muslims, after all, aren’t exactly known for being progressive when it comes to that sort of thing. Does he find that the depiction of women in rap lyrics is especially harsh vis a vis other genres of music or is the thought of a woman in revealing attire alone enough to set him off?

Crawford is regularly clowned by his readers but the sheer number of people who read his column means that on some level, people are absorbing his watered down Limbaugh talking points. (When I say Limbaugh, I’m not speculating; Crawford refers to Louis Farrakhan as “Calypso Louis”, which is a term of Limbaugh’s invention).

But if Crawford wasn’t so bent on hating women for what may be a lifetime of rejection or the result of anger stemming from repressed homosexual tendencies, I won’t speculate further, (again, read the man’s column, he is unable to refer to gay people without using the phrase “teh ghey” and feared that if Imus were fired for referring to women as hoes that god forbid, people might actually stop doing that) he would realize that there is an ongoing discourse about the representation of women in Hip-hop. No one can argue that Jay-Z has been selling more albums for longer than anyone else still rapping, and he certainly took personally accusations of misogyny on Blueprint 2: Continue reading

links for 2007-05-01