Tag Archives: rap

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

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

Wasted youth?

by Jen Chau
Aw hell. At first I thought it was cool that there was actually a category that involved rap lyrics on Jeopardy, but notice Alex Trebek’s comment to the woman who keeps getting the correct answers.

Wasted youth?! Gee, tell us how you really feel, Alex?! :| I think someone needs to call Trebek on his corrolation of listening to rap/knowing rap with *waste*. Wasted time? Wasted childhood? No surprise that he is making this connection. Disturbing that this kind of comment typically (probably) goes unnoticed and unchecked.

Even with his negative remark, it still seems like he is having too much fun reciting those lyrics… ;) By the way, why is an older white man rapping the most hysterical thing ever? Does anyone remember a video that was being passed around a little while ago of this guy doing really good impressions of famous hip hop celebrities? Everyone who sent it my way would comment on the hilarity of it. I guess it was really just awe that such a person (read: older white man) would be interested in hip hop enough to actually spend time listening to it and perfecting his performance of it. I guess you would never see Alex Trebek doing that. What a waste of time! (YES! I love YouTube. I can’t believe I found it.)

Check out another Trebek questionable moment.

(Thanks to my little bro at TheThink, where I saw this originally).