Tag Archives: music-videos

What Sarah Palin Taught Me About Beyonce

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

I am working on a paper titled, “How Beyonce and Capitalism Undermined R&B’s Ability to Normalize Black Love.”

The title may change to Beyonce Incorporated, as that is more focused and more appropriate for academia.

My professor wants me to l shift my focus to the media’s investment in what I have called the Beyonce Beauty Aesthetic – light skinned, size 4/6, curvy, blond hair.

But I am not interested in just talking about the media, I am interested in how Beyonce is a tool for maintaining US hegemony and the ways in which she normalizes really fucked up, patriarchal, Black heterosexual relationships.

I am fascinated by a light skinned, middle class Black woman from the Houston suburbs who sings about needing a soldier, who she could upgrade, so that he can put a ring on it, and if he likes her he can put her in his video phone.

Conversely, why is a woman worth tens of millions of dollars singing about needing a baller? Continue reading

Bell Hooks on hip hop

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

This clip is from a 1996 video, bell hooks on Video: Cultural Criticism & Transformation, and in this segment, bell hooks discusses hip hop in the context of patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism. It’s fascinating stuff. Thanks very much to Chris for the tip!

Shop Boyz “Party Like a Rock Star”: mocking metal? or celebrating it?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

What do you think of this video?

Oh Word
sees it as payback for all the years of white people making fun of hip hop:

imagine my joy when I saw a bunch of perfectly ignant crunk kids accidentally pissing on the whole concept of mainstream punk-metal. By being just as clueless and careless as the average comedy writer or rock band dealing in rap signifiers (SAT word alert) they’ve turned the tables on a 25 years worth of bad jokes by white people. Or to put it simply, Fred Durst and his ilk had no clue about rap and now it’s payback time. Half the K-rok crowd will laugh with it and half will be pissed but at least the playing field will be a little more even next time someone wants to pull out a whiteboy-goes-ghetto joke.

Or is this a sincere homage to metal? As Latoya recently pointed out, “a modified rock-punk look” is becoming popular among black and Latino kids. Is this just a natural extension of that?

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

Michael Eric Dyson rocks!

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I just had to throw a quote from him up here on Racialicious. This is his take on the blame hip hop direction that the Don Imus media circus has taken, from Salon’s Audiofile blog:

So the big point really isn’t to score rap for its vicious sexism — if that were the case the mainstream white media would have been on the bandwagon a long time ago. It is to partially exonerate a racist and bigoted representative of its own ranks, in part to exonerate all those other white journalists who either appeared on his show or stood by in silence while he had his way with whatever vulnerable group he chose to attack that day. The white media has to scapegoat rap now to cleanse its hands of the blood — and to wipe clean its conscience — of the suffering of citizens, like black women, it never cared enough to oppose before Imus put his foot in his mouth. Black women are a footnote — and an afterthought — to the controversy.

Thus, all the hand-wringing and feigned horror over how young black males could ever speak about their women in such hateful tones is the delayed reaction of the partially guilty — not through active discourses of assault as with Imus, but through the passive indifference to the plight of women they didn’t care enough about either to learn their condition or to cry out over it on their airwaves. As we’ve seen in the last week, when white media elites are so inclined, they can use the airwaves to tell stories of black life with far more time and resources in one week than they’re used to spending in a year. If black women matter, they can’t just matter when white men mess up.

It is typical of a media that ignores black life that it also ignores the outrage black folk have felt about rappers spitting invective toward its women since the early ’90s. And it’s equally apparent that the white media has no interest in the fierce debate raging within hip-hop about its future and soul. Hundreds of “conscious” rappers who extol the virtues of black female identity — and who indict the materialism and misogyny of rap — can’t get a word in edgewise on white or black media outlets, from radio to television. There’s a blackout of conscience-driven, racially astute, politically motivated rap that contains progressive gender messages, in large part because such rap also contains poignant and prophetic indictments of white supremacy and social injustice, themes that even ostensibly liberal white media is not ready to hear, air or acknowledge. So it closes the mouths of such progressive artists, with the consequence that the women-hating harangues of hip-hop artists drown out the considerable complexity of conscious artists. It does so with the complicity of the very media machine that now wants to point fingers at only half the equation — the rap artists who pour acid on the heads of black women — while failing to self-critically indict its very participation in this unseemly affair. That is utter and naked hypocrisy.

Oprah’s town hall meetings on misogyny in hip hop

by guest contributor Nina

Over two days this week, Oprah dedicated her show to a Town Hall Meeting to address misogyny in hip-hop. All this as a result of Don Imus’ “nappy headed ho” comment, and his trite excuse that black women are called these names by their own men. I was interested to see how Oprah would handle this matter since she has long come under fire for not having hip-hop artists on her show and she has said that she does not appreciate the degradation of women in hip-hop music.

The first show aired on Monday and was entitled “Now What?” It consisted of panel of black men and women, including a former CBS executive, two journalists, two author/magazine editors, activist Al Sharpton and the artist, India Arie. The second show on Tuesday entitled “The Hip-Hop Community Responds” was made up of a much smaller panel, Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis of the Hip-Hop Action Network, record executive Kevin Liles, and the rapper Common. There were no women on this second panel and there certainly were no female artists whose careers are built on their overt sexuality (L’il Kim, Foxy Brown, Khia etc.). Nor were there any of the female video performers who so willingly prance around in thongs and bikini tops pouring Cristal down their bodies while shaking their “bump, bump, bumps.” Female students from Spelman College attended both shows by satellite from their campus.

[Note from Carmen: Oprah has actually had Karinne "Superhead" Steffans on the show before to talk about the objectification of women, believe it or not.]

All the panelists (except the Spelman students) seemed to talk in circles around the issues and used far too many metaphors (Dr. Robin Smith’s “you feed someone garbage, eventually it starts to taste good”) to address the issue of female degradation in the hip-hop world. The world of which they spoke was of course mainstream hip-hop-rap videos you see on MTV/BET (both owned by Viacom) or songs you hear on commercial radio stations (many owned by ClearChannel). But there were some strong comments. Diane Weathers, former editor of Essence magazine called for Snoop Dogg to lose his contract due not only to his lyrics and videos but his side hustle as a pornographer.

Stanley Crouch called the hip-hop music world a minstrel show and said he would not allow these “clowns” to relinquish their responsibility due to the poverty and crime that they came up in. Panelists on the second show continued with the metaphors. Common stated that hip-hop, at only 30 years old, was just a child that needed tending to by its parents. Common has certainly evolved into a conscious artist since his first few albums contained plenty of bitches and hos and one song in particular where he talked about shooting a homosexual. Russell Simmons insisted that he mentored many artists during his reign at DefJam and while he would not censor what a poet wanted to say since it was a reflection of their own experiences, he was constantly guiding artists to learn more and be more and perhaps present themselves in a different way. The Spelman girls got very frustrated, particularly with the second show’s panel. One woman stated that rap music informs the way the world feels about black women and that there was a lack of accountability from the panelists. The women demanded that the problem be acknowledged and that steps be taken towards a solution. They even offered to work with the panelists towards that solution. Continue reading

Rise of the Culture Vultures

by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson

“Toya is more Asian than Asian people!”

My Chinese-Canadian coworker laughs. I, on the other hand, am chastened. I quickly make an excuse, and withdraw from the conversation.

Now, to some people in my circle, my coworker’s off-the-cuff accolade would have been something to be proud of. Otaku (or anime/manga fans to the uninitiated) live for compliments like those. We pepper our speech with common Japanese phrases, bend our minds around the playing of Go, memorize major Japanese holidays and customs, and refer to each other using the proper honorifics.

However, to me, the mad lust for some Otaku to approximate Japanese culture seems like just another way to fetishize another culture. My friends who have been into anime and manga longer than I have regale me with tales of Asian fetishes and white people who claim to be “eggs” – white on the outside, but yellow on the inside. My friend Hae, who is Korean, is viewed with abject lust by the younger boys at the ‘Con. She remembers the early 90s, before anime became mainstream, and she was followed around by freaky boys who wanted to take her picture or stroke her hair. (And for those in the know, Hae is not a cosplayer. She was simply an Asian girl walking in a land of Asiaphillia.)

That being the case, I have watched the evolution of Gwen Stefani with quite a bit of interest. As a teen rebelling from a hip-hop saturated reality, I was ushered into the world of alternative rock by No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom.” The pink haired, bindi sporting rock siren embodied a complete and total escape from bland suburban girlhood and her fashion sense was an interesting mix of Jamaican, Southeast Asian, and So-Cal culture. A decade passes and Gwen reinvents herself again, cavorting around in Alice and Wonderland get-ups and cooing about Harajuku style on multiple tracks. Completely co-opting Harajuku fashion, Gwen remade herself as the Great Gaijin Guru – importing Asian fashion and style, manifested in the pimping of the four Japanese girls who tour with her as a flesh and blood underscore to her credibility.

At first, the shout-out to Japanese style was cool – finally, we little Otaku had a voice. Fruits style was suddenly cool in America. And while I was underwhelmed at her fashion choices – as an onee-kei girl to the core, Harajuku fashion just wasn’t my thing – overall, I was pleased that someone so prominent on the world’s stage gave props to yet another cool aspect of our increasingly global culture.

However, after reading her interview in Bust Magazine’s “Love Issue” – which included yet another rehash of “Margaret Cho needs to stop talking shit and do the research!” – I started to wonder: how many of us anime-loving Otaku are actually appropriating Asian culture? We greedily accost people from Japan, asking to practice our elementary Japanese, eat sushi, ramen, and Pocky by the pound and consume everything we can find about Japanese culture. Are we “respecting the culture” as Gwen asserts, or are we trying to force our beliefs about Japanese culture onto Japanese reality? Continue reading