I like it. Does it have problems on the whole? Yeah. Go find me a genre that’s remotely close to as popular as rap music is that doesn’t have any problems.
Okay. Here’s the deal. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Nope. Do I agree with a lot of what goes on? Absolutely. It’s complicated. There are issues of misogyny and the general idea that women are pokemon, trading cards, and other collectible doodads on which you (as a man) measure your personal success. The interesting thing is how so many of our more popular rappers seem to completely understand complex theories of societal racism and have heavily examined them and the impact they have on black life in america, yet how few of those same ones look at societal sexism in anything near the same light. Same with homophobia for that matter.
That said, rap music is still about time and place and a social consciousness. It confronts social issues (whether positively or negatively) way more than pretty much any other genre of music. So many songs are just one person spilling out their feelings in a long dialogue with the listener. This means you get all the fucked up shit that goes through people’s minds. All the good and bad that goes with it, all the internalized struggles, and most importantly, you get to see growth in thought process. There’s a good song by Big K.R.I.T. that talks about pimping and misogyny and how get got to be where he is and the use of the words ‘bitch’ and ‘ho’ and how he knows it’s bad but that’s the world he’s in and all of the everyday stuff that comes with being in that world. It’s something you don’t get to see in a lot of music.
Know why the misogyny and homophobia is hit on so hard? Because the rest of it is too positive and critical for white folks to handle. Listen to stuff like Killer Mike’s “Reagan” or “Pressure.” Those tracks bring absolute heat and knowledge about police brutality, private prisons, the birth of the welfare queen myth and a bunch of other societal racism problems. There’s songs about how the drug game is an easier path to take than going to college. One of those things requires money and privilege you never had and can’t get, the other require you just to be fast, smart, and strong. One of those leads to a $25k a year job and the other has the potential to lead to big money and big cars. When you’re likely to end up in jail for whistling at a white woman or looking a white man in the eye why not sell drugs?
The rappers with the problems I’ve stated above don’t make up all rap music. In fact, they make up less and less of it. They’re the most popular ones, but that has less to do with rap music and more to do the people who promote rap music, the record labels, the radio stations, and a bunch of people outside the creation of rap music.
Ask yourself what’s worse; A man writing a song that has issues of misogyny all by himself and producing that song unilaterally, or a team of producers and an entire band doing a song about misogyny and how awesome it is? Not that either is good, but I find it odd when society stands on the roof tops and decries rap music while lauding Nickelback for some unknown reason. There is so much misogyny is mainstream pop and rock music that goes ignored in favor of trying to destroy an art form dominated by black people.
Here’s the secret. Even in the misogyny laden rap tracks, there’s more uplifting verses about black women and how awesome they are than you’ll ever get anywhere else. There’s this weird culture around it, but a lot of these dudes seem to love black women. Not just as sex objects, but as pillars of the community, mothers, sisters, daughters, role models, freedom fighters, drug runners, business people, drivers, snipers, organizers, and a bunch of other roles. Once you survive being denigrated for the first thirty years of your life you become a GOD. I am actually going to examine that and write about it later.
The other secret, once you leave traditional record labels the entire thing flips upside down. There’s an entire world of non problematic rap music. Shit is great. But white people don’t want to listen to it. White people are far more comfortable with Lil Wayne. It fits their image of black masculinity and black people in general a lot better. There’s also a lot of black women rappers out there too. There are even queer people of color doing rap music. It’s fucking WILD.
Basically, I say a bunch of that to say this.
Lay off. When you get ready to criticize the entire genre of rap music think about how many times you’ve criticized every other genre of popular music. Think about why you hear so much about the misogyny in rap music and not in other types of music. Think about how little you hear about the positives of rap music. Think about the number of white people directly profiting off the things you hate so much and how instead of going after them you’re going after black people who would be doing a large number of things if they weren’t told by life and society that this is how you can get out of your bad situation. Booty Butt Cheeks sells records. Think about why that is.
Once you’ve done all that, shut up. Cause I don’t want to hear it.
And to whoever said that the Beastie Boys made you feel like rap music loved you back? FUCK YOU. Seriously. You’re acting in racist ignorant buffoonery. Black people made plenty of awesome rap music before they showed up. Black people made plenty of anti sexism songs. In fact, a great many of those black people were women. Those black women whom made it possible for the beastie boys to sell records. But you didn’t feel loved until some white frat boys showed up acting like regular old white ass holes. Gotcha.