Tag Archives: hip hop

How Do We View Global Hip Hop Culture? [Series Introduction: On Cultural Appropriation]

by Latoya Peterson

Today, I got three text messages in rapid succession from my friend Hae.

“Check out the new MV from 2ne1 called Fire!”

“Song is addicting!”

“Street version is better than space version!”

I knew YouTube wouldn’t let me down, so I headed over there to see if someone posted an English translation:

2NE1 is just one group in a long line of Korean hip-hop (or hip-pop, according to some, but more on that later*) artists that I have enjoyed thanks to JYP Entertainment and YG Entertainment. While YG is credited with popularizing the hip-hop sound in Korea, both companies have received major success with their artists.

There’s the Wonder Girls:

And Big Bang:

Back when I first discovered Korean hip-hop, I was quite fond of showing my friends this video by 1TYM, called “Do You Know Me?”:

After watching the video, my friends had a range of reactions everything from “Who knew Koreans rolled hard?” to amazement to laughter. But some people weren’t quite as accepting, posing the question “Why do they have to take our stuff?” Continue reading

Asher Roth and the Politics of Race in Hip Hop

by Latoya Peterson

I am officially a hip hop curmudgeon. After a weekend spent in Houston listening to “Da Stanky Leg” and “the Halle Berry” on local radio, I am officially declaring myself one of those annoying ass old heads who is always waxing about the good old days. Notice here, I’m not talking about the “back when hip-hop was political” nostalgia – oh, no no. Party-hop, politics, whatever – I miss lyrics and lyricism. When a song had multiple verses and a chorus for me to memorize, not just some hollerin’ and foolishness. After listening to my homegirl V-sheezy explain why Lil’ Wayne may very well be the best rapper currently in the game (and she made a compelling case after explaining the current crop of voices on the mainstream airwaves), I retired to the Verve Remixed 4 and decided that I needed to embrace the fact that while I love hip-hop culture, I’m over rap. Just give me the production and let people who can really sing do their thing.

So it kind of goes with out saying that I had negative interest in listening to the latest flash in the pan, Asher Roth. Someone young, white, and privileged, rapping about being young, white, and privileged? Man, I could go watch that Smirnoff Tea Partay ad for that. At least that was intended to be comedy.

But apparently, Asher Roth has been busy.

In addition to inadvertently exposing some of the more interesting racial dynamics in hip-hop, he’s also been running his mouth about a few other things – like what African rappers need to be doing while he’s talking about how much he loves college or how he’s hanging with “Nappy Headed Hoes”. Here are some of the best bits from the Asher-pocalypse:

M. Dot, Model Minority – Asher Roth x Don Imus x Nappy Headed Ho’s

Apparently, Asher Roth was recently on the Rutgers campus and tweeted that he was hanging out with some “Nappy Headed Hoe’s.” He then tried to clean it up and recant by saying that “he was trying to make fun of Don Imus.” He apologized as well.

Recently my post, “Michael Baisden is a Misogynist Pig“, ran on Racialicious. The post is about the fact that Michael Baisden stated on his radio show that a wife “should just lay there and take it”, if her husband want’s to have sex and she doesn’t. One of the commenters, “Nina” who was open, honest and thoughtful in several her comments, said that she felt that Baisden was being hyperbolic. She writes,

    Perhaps because I think of him as being like Chris Rock, someone who exaggerates but often has a bit of wisdom at the core of the shit talking, what I hear is the kind of thing many men say when alone. And there is the risk that he goes to far OR that listeners will take it as gospel and not hear it as hyperbole. I hear it as hyperbole, my brother and friends hear it as hyperbole but that doesnt mean everyone does.

I responded saying,

    Let me ask you this, do you think Don Imus was being Hyperbolic when he called the Rutgers women’s team Nappy Headed Ho’s?

    If he wasn’t being hyperbolic and was being racist, why should Imus not be tolerated but Baisdens comments are hyperbolic?
    Often times, I have found that people hide behind the defense of laughter when in reality it constitutes hate speech.

    Can’t sprinkle sugar on shit and call it ice cream.

Having just wrote these comments on Wednesday, you can imagine my surprise at seeing Asher Roth say the same thing,
on Twitter, on Thursday.

Why should Asher Roth be singled out when Black men call us hoes all the time?

I am not saying that Asher should not be criticized for what he has done but we need to keep it even and acknowledge that many Black rappers and Black men, and for that matter Black women, refer to Black women, reflexively, as “hoes.”

Harry Allen, Media Assassin – Fight the White Rap History Rewrite

[F]rom a certain angle, there’s just a shade of difference between white people rapping and white people telling nigger jokes. (I know that this framework, though immediately clear to a certain number of Black people, if only on a gut level, isn’t obvious to others, and is completely offensive to many white people. I elaborate on it, more, in two other works: (1) “White People and Hip-Hop,” which I recorded with both Racialicious‘ Carmen Van Kerckhove and writer Jason Tanz (Other People’s Property) for Van Kerckhove’s “Addicted to Race” podcast, and (2) “The Unbearable Whiteness of Emceeing: What The Eminence of Eminem Says About Race,” which I wrote for The Source. Continue reading

Quoted: Andreana Clay on Queer Women of Color and Hip Hop Masculinity

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

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A variety of clubs cater to queer women of color in the San Francisco Bay area. Some are wall-to-wall women of color – Black, Latina, Asian and most play hip-hop music non-stop. In each club, there are all different kinds of women. For instance, there might be women over forty with long ‘locks, Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and Teva sandals in one corner of the room and younger, Butch, women wearing crisp, indigo-colored Levi’s with thick black belts, large belt buckles and perfectly gelled hair in another. There are also femme women in tight jeans or skirts, heels, and short T-shirts, some cut around the collar so that they slide down their shoulders. In every club I that I’ve been to, there is always a clearly designated dance floor, which is usually packed tight with sweaty bodies. Some clubs have elevated dance floors or stages with one or two go-go dancers dressed in hot pants and knee-high boots. Below them are women lined up with dollars. In the background, hip-hop music fills the room with beats and voices, sometimes the only male presence in the room. What type of male, and ultimately what type of masculinity depends on the club.

On Gay Pride weekend this year, I went out to several of these clubs. Two in particular stuck out in my mind because of their similarities and differences in relationship to queer sexuality and black masculinity. For instance, at one of the clubs I went to, the deejay played songs that characterize more of the nigga, or thug image in hip-hop- 2Pac, Biggie Smalls, the Game, and 50 Cent. At the second club, the music had much more of a playa or sexualized tone – the Ying Yang twins, David Banner, and Khia. While there are two different types of masculinity being played at each club, in a room full of women of color, the lyrics fall to the background as the performances take center stage. For instance, nigga masculinity in the first club is reflected in a particular style, stance, or code. It is more about an individual identity, one that each person can take on. Women throw up hand gestures as they dance, make eye contact with one another and mouth the words to the lyrics. Some women even had on T-shirts with the ultimate “nigga 4 life,” 2Pac. The tone set at this club is also about community. The mood isn’t so much about sex or domination sexually, but rather, a stance about who someone is or declares herself to be: being down, being able to take what comes in life, being loyal to this group, this identity, and this community.

In the second club, the playa image was much more prevalent. If you wanted someone to help you get your groove on, this was the place to be. Women would grind their bodies into one another, and move one another’s bodies around to the direction of the lyrics. Queer sexuality was much more on display, as a woman, you wanted to be looked at, have somebody notice you, and maybe take you home. For instance, at one point, I noticed two women on the stage, dancing with one another. One of the women, in baggy jeans and a baseball jersey picked up the wman she was dancing with who was wearing a short, silver skirt and tank top. She then lifted her up onto the bars surrounding the stage and then put her face into the woman’s skirt under the musical direction of “work that clit, cum girl.” I had to sit down. Continue reading

The Curse of Being a Black Artist

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

I think I have fallen in love with Camus (a dead white Algerian philosopher who argues that the death penalty is premeditated murder) and Anthony Hamilton simultaneously.

What does this have to do with being an artist? Everything, simply because over the last few days I have been apart of a few conversations on the tension between art and commerce.

Two days ago, on Twitter, Indieplanet and I were having a discussion about art, commerce, Joe Budden/Vlad flap up.

indieplanet @mdotwrites Its a bigger issue of basic ethics.
Too many blogs/video sites decide at some point to exchange
ethics for page views. 10:06 AM Jan 11th from web in reply to
mdotwrites

indieplanet @mdotwrites Re: Budden/Vlad – What are your
thoughts on the whole situation. I think its a bigger picture that
video sites should consider. 11:51 PM Jan 10th from web
in reply to mdotwrites

indieplanet @mdotwrites Shouldnt it be possible to make a
contribution AND get paid?? It is possible (not common)
to change the game & have morals 12:17 PM Jan 11th from web
in reply to mdotwrites

@indieplanet Its like running with the Dope man. Sooner or
later, someone is going to test you, and you are going to have
to choose. 12:23 PM Jan 11th from web in reply to indieplanet

Yesterday, Dart Adam’s sent me a link to an essay of his which outlined, amongst many things, how the The Telecommunication’s Act spearheaded mergers and acquisitions in radio and how these changes impacted hip hop.

To cap it off, yesterday, Brooklyn Bodega posted a Facebook note asking “Does Money Ruin it All?” He wrote,

the other day one of our family posted a comment that he was no fan of ‘Notorious’ because too many people had profited from its production. He cited Memebrs of Junior Mafia, Puff and I assume he also had a problem with Ms. Wallace as she looks to have been in charge and arguably received the largest check.

So the question is does the presence of money make it impossible to produce a work of pure artistic integrity?

The responses ranged from, “as long as the Wallace family is compensated then it is all good” to “making money is practical for everyone including artists”, and finally “this is a less of an issue of the evils of capitalism and rather a question of authenticity.”

Many of the comments reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of capitalism and both how it has historically impacted art and how it impacts hip hop and Black artists specifically. Because capital is productive property, there will always be a move to exploit the the property to obtain the most returns. Continue reading

Racialicious Responds to “The End of White America”

A Racialicious Roundtable

Whether you describe it as the dawning of a post-racial age or just the end of white America, we’re approaching a profound demographic tipping point. According to an August 2008 report by the U.S. Census Bureau, those groups currently categorized as racial minorities—blacks and Hispanics, East Asians and South Asians—will account for a majority of the U.S. population by the year 2042. Among Americans under the age of 18, this shift is projected to take place in 2023, which means that every child born in the United States from here on out will belong to the first post-white generation.

endofwhiteamerica

“I think white people feel like they’re under siege right now—like it’s not okay to be white right now, especially if you’re a white male,” laughs Bill Imada, of the IW Group…“There’s a lot of fear and a lot of resentment,” Newman-Carrasco observes, describing the flak she caught after writing an article for a trade publication on the need for more-diverse hiring practices. “I got a response from a friend—he’s, like, a 60-something white male, and he’s been involved with multicultural recruiting,” she recalls. “And he said, ‘I really feel like the hunted. It’s a hard time to be a white man in America right now, because I feel like I’m being lumped in with all white males in America, and I’ve tried to do stuff, but it’s a tough time.’”

“I always tell the white men in the room, ‘We need you,’” Imada says. “We cannot talk about diversity and inclusion and engagement without you at the table. It’s okay to be white!”

“But people are stressed out about it. ‘We used to be in control! We’re losing control!’”

So this roundtable has been a long time coming. In mid-January the team started to take a look at Hua Hsu’s Atlantic Monthly article “The End of White America?” And we had a lot of pissed off things to say. And yes it did take us more than a few weeks to corral all our righteous indignation together. But we hope you’ll think it was worth the wait.

On the Cover

Andrea: This is the impression I got from the cover and the article: screamingly alarmist. The half-face of Obama juxtaposed with heavy-block sans serif capital letters that can be seen half a long Barnes & Noble check-out line away. As if to say this single man–a bi-racial man who self-identifies as Black–is single-handedly ruining white people, whiteness, and, most importantly, white privilege. It seems to play off the fear-mongering miscegenation fantasies of yore: the “receding” of the “white” phenotype, that “beiging” of America that Hsu refers to in the piece. Then, before anyone gets any ideas about the writer’s race, in smaller red letters, is the scribe’s name. Sorta like, “Ha! You can’t accuse The Atlantic of being racist ’cause the name can’t be ‘read’ as white.” Doesn’t matter, IMO. The zero-sum game that is US racism is visually in full effect.

Actually, The Atlantic cover reminds me of another cover from a magazine about twenty years ago, when “coloredness”–coded as “identity politics” and “political correctness” back then–was also “threatening to tear the country apart.” From Time magazine, April 9, 1990:

timemag1990

Just some visual perspective on these kinds of articles. Continue reading

Quoted: Michael Steele – “GOP Needs a Hip-Hop Makeover”

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

I thought the insanity would end after the election. But oh-no! I was wrong!

”There was underlying concerns we had become too regionalized and the party needed to reach beyond our comfort” zones, he said, citing defeats in such states as Virginia and North Carolina. “We need messengers to really capture that region – young, Hispanic, black, a cross section … We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

But, he elaborated with a laugh, “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”

This is a direct quote, people.

“I am not afraid of being held accountable for my leadership,” [Steele] said. “The idea I am somehow going to handicap myself before I begin is nuts. I am not going to buy into this mind-set among a few people who probably have never run anything but their mouths.”

Under Mr. Steele’s helm, the “old” may seem inappropriate in the Grand Old Party’s affectionate nickname. He said he is putting a new public relations team into place to update the party’s image.

“It will be avant garde, technically,” he said. “It will come to table with things that will surprise everyone – off the hook.”

Does that mean cutting-edge?

“I don’t do ‘cutting-edge,’ “ he said. “That’s what Democrats are doing. We’re going beyond cutting-edge.”

Continue reading

Tricia Rose on The Hip-Hop Wars, Race, and Culture – Part 2

by Latoya Peterson

(Continued from Part 1)

LP: [We should] think some more about this formula, because it seems to me that with every year that passes, the formula gets whittled down into the need to find the next hit. Catchy hooks, lyrics, whatever – they just want a hit. And it appears that some of these [truths about life and culture] are becoming diluted. So before, the hits came because in some ways, we can relate to this pain, and relate to this anguish. But the people who are in charge of these [networks] are making decisions about what gets played but they don’t hear those things. Instead, the only hear violence, they only hear anger, they only hear rage and they decide to promote that. Is that a pattern you saw in your research?

TR: Yes. It shares the history of transition into the “mainstream” market. Just as the dances and dance steps and styles of singing that minstrelsy was based on was something quite different than what minstrelsy turned into, right? So there were origins of minstrelsy [rooted] in black cultural expression, but minstrelsy became a grotesque exaggeration that was basically seen through dominant eyes. So black women, in hip-hop, become, you know, big booty bitches and hos, gold diggers, divas, sex kittens, whatever else you want them to be because dominate society perceives black women that way. They’re baby mammas, they’re basically male appendages who are also hypersexual and sexually irresponsible. These are all part of dominant stereotypes! Now does that mean that sexually explicit material is bad? No! But it means that sexually explicit material that is destructive and self destroying is problematic! So this is directly related to the process underway. And also our normalization, our comfort with it. The fact that their isn’t much public critique inside the community for this kind of problem.

If you study the blues, or if you study any other black music, this is one of the things that happens. These forces are at play every single time. So this idea that music should be a revenue stream is fundamentally destructive.

Until we change the racial structures and gendered structures of society, then the larger dominant fantasies are going to rule the dominant marketplace. And that’s going to be problematic. It will be profitable, but it will be really problematic.

LP:
I recently attended an exhibit put on by the National Portrait Gallery here in Washington D.C. called “Recognize,” and you know, it’s kind of a history of hip-hop through portraiture and other forms of artistic expression. One of the things they mentioned in the introduction to the exhibit is that hip-hop has become part of the dominant youth culture around the globe. In almost every other country in the world, their youth scene involves a heavy element of hip-hop culture, and each country has put their own unique spin on the genre.

So I know, a lot of times in the United States – and in particular in your book – you focus on how things are seen through a black and white lens. That’s how our country started and it has been the defining conflict for us here. But did you think about hip-hop as a global culture when writing? How did it spread so much and why does it resonate with so many different types of people around the globe?

Continue reading

Tricia Rose on The Hip-Hop Wars, Race, and Culture – Part 1

by Latoya Peterson

In the Noir Issue of Bitch Magazine, I interviewed Tricia Rose about her new book The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip-Hop.

My interview assignment was 2,000 words. The transcribed interview came back as 6,000.

This is the overflow.

Latoya Peterson: You’ve had other works published, including Black Noise, which was a very influential book discussing music and culture and how that plays out in the black community. So why do you choose to work with music to explore both black culture and youth culture?

Tricia Rose: The category of youth culture to me tends to be racialized youth culture. From my vantage point, when you’re looking at African-American history and cultural expression, music is of extraordinary importance to that history. It is disproportionately rich and complex and dynamic and influential and innovative. And I say “disproportionately” to say that not everyone has such a rich, modern musical legacy. Some ethnic and racial and religious and national groups have literary or dance or film legacies, but when it comes to music in the modern world, people of African descent in the Diaspora in particular have an enormous contribution….if you are thinking twentieth century alone there are not too many American musics that have not been directly influenced or are in fact constituted as an African American tradition. Jazz, blues, rhythm and blues, gospel, hip-hop, even dance music – techno and the like.

It’s just an incredibly rich tradition. It also has a profound connection to a history of culture in oral traditions of social commentary. [...] In African American music and culture, you find not just good music, but music that plays a role in commenting on and creating critical consciousness about one’s social world.

LP: In your book, you write, “gangsta rap music is a post-industrial black culture industry with job openings and a chance for upward mobility. This is a fascinating way to frame the discussion because so much of hip-hop has become about the business side of it. Some have argued that it has come to step in for the industrial [labor market] void we have. So, instead of having progressive job growth in inner cities, other industries have come and filled in that gap of losing jobs to off-shorting, like the hip-hop industry or underground industries like the drug game. Can you comment more on the idea of rap music being an industry and providing people with upward mobility?

TR: Beginning in the twentieth century, when industrialization begins to flourish, you develop industrialized music cultures, in that you develop products, right? Music became something you could buy and sell. And once that happens, the record industry begins to take hold, and then [music] begins to be an industry for artists that was not the case before. [...] For post-industrial, isolated, urban black youth, rap music, and to a lesser extent athletics, have become an alternative form of upward mobility, a way to get of the hood. What makes rap music problematic in this way is that it is not just an industry that creates opportunity, but a form of opportunity creation that is also a trap.

It creates a trap for it’s followers because of the icons it celebrates. So rap as a “way out” has become attached to the tail of a street economy, that “gangster” rap has been defined by. So it’s not just rap music and the industry that’s a problem, but the fact that what we are selling is profitable. And what is profitable, what makes it an industry, is its constant sale of pimps, hos, gangsters, hustlers, drug dealers, criminals. It’s a grab bag of what we would call in the old days the red light district – it’s that underground economy. Continue reading