All Articles Tagged "misogynist music"
Junior year of high school I refused to buy “Doggystyle,” the revolutionary Snoop Dogg album that set my school abuzz. It was an informal boycott based on the album’s ethos and subject matter – a seemingly nonstop celebration of decadence, violence and promiscuity. My stance lasted for about a month. Then I caved and bought the CD, listened to it faithfully for the rest of the year and kept it in regular rotation thereafter. Musically, it was near-perfect, and even if I disagreed with what Snoop was saying, I couldn’t bring myself to dislike the way he was saying it.
And so we come to my central dilemma with hip-hop, a complicated love/hate relationship that finds me scolding myself for enjoying music – on the surface, at least – that often clashes with my personal values.
Case in point: Last year, I bought the ringtone to Waka Flocka Flame’s “No Hands” against my own better judgment. The song concentrates exclusively on watching a stripper remove her panties — sans hands. At one point in the song, he even talks about running a train on a female.
But there’s that monstrous, gargantuan beat from Drumma Boy, and that captivating chorus from Roscoe Dash that turns women into sex objects but manages to entrance a self-respecting woman who should know better. I would be appalled by the excitement I feel when this song comes on in the club if I wasn’t so busy dancing. It’s only afterwards that I’m left feeling guilty and ashamed, like I just ate a carton of ice cream while watching “Jersey Shore” reruns.
It’s a similar situation with Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” Although the entirety of the song deals with females bending over and shaking their asses while Lil Jon and his posse of Eastside Boyz spew vulgarities and implore women to drop it to the floor, I essentially become a woman possessed when I hear this in the club; I’m liable to burn off my entire daily caloric intake before the song is over.
And then there’s Weezy. I appreciate Lil Wayne’s wordplay, but I often feel the need to shower after listening to his songs, which typically involve lewd descriptions of random sexual relations with some female, somewhere. “Now jump up on that d— and do a full split” Weezy instructs on “She Will.” Thanks, but she won’t be doing that anytime soon.
In spite of myself, I love Young Jeezy’s “I Luv It,” a song that revolves around drug dealing and its so-called financial rewards. I also love Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin.” I don’t want to ever not love it. I don’t want to overthink it to the point that I can’t enjoy the song. But at what point do I draw the line, say enough is enough, and decide not to sing along while rappers call us b—–s and h—s, glorify destructive lifestyles and turn the very real social ill of pimping into a punchline?
Am I supposed to excuse, for example, Clipse’s morally bankrupt tales of cocaine-slinging because they’re lyrically brilliant, and because I personally understand the conditions that leave black men feeling like drug dealing is their only escape from poverty?
Hip-hop is my favorite genre of music. Always has been, and probably always will be. While R&B from the late ‘60s and ‘70s spoke to the promise of a post-Civil Rights culture enjoying new freedoms, hip-hop was the outgrowth of broken promises, of crack-infested inner cities realizing that while old forms of oppression had fallen away, new ones had taken their place, and they often came from within: the pimp, the pusher, the player, seemingly inescapable cycles of violence and poverty.
I have defended hip-hop early and often, spouting its virtues to relatives who only know hip-hop as a Nelly song, or jazz music professors who deem it universally “aggressive” and don’t understand that rap music is, in fact, a direct outgrowth of jazz, and aggressive content is only one aspect of a much larger, more nuanced picture. I’ve spent hours explaining, educating and making and listening to suggestions of those who think hip-hop is comprised entirely of promiscuous criminals and weed-smoking thugs.
But I’m tired of having to defend hip-hop. Tired of having to serve as a rap-to-real world translator for people who simply don’t understand the culture and see only its top layer. Tired of realizing that more and more, mainstream hip-hop is becoming that one-dimensional portrait of a black criminal or a self-absorbed hedonist, a misogynistic caricature that record companies and radio stations seem all too happy to depict and rappers seem all too willing to embody in exchange for a paycheck.
I love what hip-hop stands for in its essence: freedom, self-expression, the will to fight and overcome oppression. It emerged as the culture of the forgotten and the disenfranchised, the voice of a people that previously had none. It is the purest form of urban journalism: Chuck D of Public Enemy once called it the Black CNN.
I love hip-hop’s rhythm and its cadence, its wit and its charm, its anger and its defiance, its boldness and its swagger. I will continue to blast “Doggystyle” from my car speakers as I glide down the highway and rap gleefully along with every word. I just wish I didn’t have to temporarily stash my values on a shelf in the process.
Ladies, do you have a love/hate relationship with hip-hop? Let us know in the comments.
Lauren Carter is a writer, blogger and hip-hop head from Boston. Follow her on Twitter @ByLaurenCarter.
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