Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rap: Feminist Propaganda?

Sadly, misogyny and hip-hop seem to go hand-in-hand. The rampant woman-hating on so many hip-hop songs is even harder to swallow than the rampant glorification of violence; at least when guys rap about capping a fool, it doesn’t necessarily have to be taken literally. More often it’s just bravado and bluff, an exaggerated show of strength. When you say “a bitch is a bitch, however, you can’t really read that any other way.

In fact, it was the bullshit sexism of NWA’s “She Swallowed It” and 2 Live Crew’s entire catalogue that turned me off on rap for a long time in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was ridiculous enough that my white-ass friends who lived in a white-ass community with no black people anywhere would be so into wanna-be gang-bangers talking about life in Compton; It was even worse when they tried to adopt the Two $hort/Eazy-E Mack persona. “Just Don’t Bite It?” Shit, we were a bunch of dorky 14-year-olds who would have been lucky to get a girl within arm’s distance of our johnsons, much less their mouth.

Sexism has ruined or spoiled many a hip-hop song and album. Dr Dre’s
“The Chronic” would be a masterpiece, but it’s just too goddamn hateful. “Bitches Ain’t Shit”???? What the hell is that? Jay—Z’s “99-Problems” – killer beat, brilliant lyrics, except for that whole “but a bitch ain’t one.” Bitch? Dude, you’re dating Beyonce! If I was dating Beyonce, I’d be writing songs called “Oh My god, I’m Dating Beyonce”, and “I’m Only Leaving Bed To Shower and Eat” and “My Girlfriend’s Voice (Is Almost As Nice As Her Ass)”. And if Beyonce really is a bitch, either break up or learn to deal with her assholicness. Jeez.

Ice Cube? A lot of brilliance, a lot of assholeness For every “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” there is a “Cave Bitch” or “Giving Up the Nappy Dugout”. At least with Ice Cube, you know he is just trying to fuck with people and piss them off. I’m pretty sure that Snoop really doesn’t love them hoes.

One of the worst offenders was Tupac, who would alternately sing sappy love ballads to his momma and scathing tirades against women. Worse still he would try and justify it by saying there was a difference between bitches and women, ala Jay-Z’s execrable (yet funky) “Bitches and Sisters”. (you know, the one with gems like “Bitches give up the ass/Sisters give up the ass/Sisters do it slow/Bitches do it fast”).

Which leads us to another rap cliché – the scandalous, money-grubbing female who’s only out for your money. I have absolutely no doubt that such women do exist, or that they are more common in the hip-hop scene than at, say, the alt-country scene. But see, if you rap about how much money you have, if you go out sporting six figures of jewelry, if you are driving a fancy car and drinking crystal in the club, you gotta figure that you aren’t exactly going to attract the down-to-earth, girl next door. A rapper complaining about attracting shallow, greedy women is a little bit like someone complaining that there are too many yuppies at the Matrix in the Marina, or that there aren’t enough chicanos hanging out at the Beauty Bar in the Mission. You reap what you sow, nyamean?

The misogyny in rap music bothers me for two reasons: One, I happen to like females, and I don’t really like anyone saying mean things about my friends or relatives. Two, it seems to me that if you are really such a manly man, you shouldn’t have to spend so much time dissing other people. If Snoop truly was a mack and truly was sure of himself and all that, he wouldn’t need to spend so much time expounding on how worthless females were. Get over it, shit. And anyways, if you hate ladies so much, does that mean you just want to hang out with your homies? A bunch of stoned, strapped dudes playing Halo? You go and do that - I’m gonna go have dinner with a lady friend.

I dunno...maybe hip-hop will get over its mysogyny, or it will become the exception and not the rule. Until then, I’ll just keep on trying to disassociate the words with the music, and pretend to myself that it’s ok to listen to guys saying bitch like it didn’t mean anything.

(It should be noted that the author does not assume that other forms of popular music created by boys who are “young, dumb, and full of cum” are paragons of feminism and understanding. Anyone looking for a nuanced, intelligent examination of the relationship between the sexes in popular music is stupid. Still, “Girls, Girls, Girls” is a pretty fly song, and I’ve always been partial to GnR’s “It’s So Easy”).


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