Unapologetic: Chris Brown Deconstructs Masculinity Through Rihanna Subjectivity

A generation – or rather culture – of men are growing up with very skewed, chauvinistic,  and hegemonic perceptions of masculinity (and this post is not saying the onus is on Chris Brown).  The trend of degrading women while exalting them has a paradoxical effect.  Is it possible that Rihanna and Chris Brown are both victims? Yes.

Black masculinity must be juxtaposed against white masculinity to fully understand its context and evolution. The tension between white and Black masculinity is attributed to the notion that white masculinity prevails and Black masculinity is powerless.  Hypermasculinity, subjectivity, and objectivity prevent the essence of masculinity from progressing.  Whether it’s conscious or not, we support and glorify figures that promote contradictory ideals that are detrimental to any hope of a brighter future. We have to demand more from our artists. We can’t do that if we isolate them from their craft.  Art imitates life.  We deserve better and must not be complacent in mediocrity.

Rihanna is a victim.  She is a victim of domestic violence.  She is a victim of the subversive ideals threatening notions of gender roles, feminism, masculinity, and identity.  She is a victim of the exploitation, the romanticism, the reality, and the desensitization of domestic violence.  She is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. She is a victim of her fans.

Chris Brown is a victim. Shocker. He is a victim of the culture that turns a blind eye to domestic violence. He is a victim of the complexity, double standards, and hypocritical critics of manhood. He is a victim of the instability, complexity, and misnomer of manhood.  The relationship between Chris Brown and Rihanna is equivalent to the relationship between hip-hop and its fans.  The relationship is warm yet hostile, liberating yet binding, underground yet proverbial.

All-in-all, Hip-hop has never been a space to foster healthy male intimacy.  It’s often homoerotic, misogynistic, violent, homophobic, xenophobic, etc.  Once the fan-base changes, the content changes.

The End.

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The Lessons I Learned From Hip-Hop

I’ll rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome – Tyler the Creator

I am not a hip-hop aficionado but this has to be said…

Hip Hop has lost it’s significance. Social context has been dumbed down and depleted to a narrative that is only about the bitch/queen binary, homophobia, money, and violence. This critique is as old as time, once described as “Black noise”, but now the trajectory has veered so far left that it is unrecognizable. When Nas released Daughters, it was rather nostalgic. For that brief moment, I thought the essence of hip-hop and responsibility rappers once held would return swiftly. Then, 2 Chainz trended for a week straight. With that said, rappers are professors and this is what they taught me or rather this is what messages somehow crept into my subconscious.

1. The Bitch/Queen binary has plagued hip-hop discourse since women began accepting this reality.

Overly simplifying women sexuality/roles is very problematic to impressionable minds that take Hip-Hop to be gospel. Women are either bitches or Queens. They are either unappreciated or placed on a pedestal. Hip-Hop taught me to define, idolize, glorify, and hypersexualize women sexuality and distort gender roles. We aren’t the only ones complicating sexuality. Mainstream wise, nobody complicates feminism more than Nicki Minaj. Feminist Joan Morgan said, “In between the beats, booty shaking, and hedonistic abandon, I have to wonder if there isn’t something inherently unfeminist in supporting a music that repeatedly reduces me to tits and ass and encourages pimping on the regular.” That is an ironic dilemma that can be often confused with hypocritical. Speaking of hypocritical notions sexuality…

2. Homophobia/Xenophobia is the blueprint to a successful mixtape or album.

As confused, problematic, and misguided Lil’ B might be, he came out with an album entitled I’m Gay. After receiving death threats he added a parenthetical notation of (I’m Happy). There is a formula to fit within this genre so stepping outside of that is inherently dangerous and considered “inauthentic”. Who gives us the right to disenfranchise and isolate any other minority group? Just a few years ago, we were being persecuted. Insecurity, religion, and peer pressure plays a huge role in homophobia/xenophobia, especially as it relates to the Black community. We fear the unknown. Supposedly, homophobia (gay marriage) threatens the Black family, something we’ve been fighting to keep sacred after a dark past of separation and abandonment.

3. Be ignorant and be proud of that!

In 2008, Soulja Boy thanked slave masters because without them he would not have all his ice and tattoos. Looking at hip-hop without the proper historical context can have you as ignorant as Soulja Boy. At some point, rappers have an obligation to their constituents. Our ancestors did not get murdered, raped, castrated, separated, beaten, burned, and lynched for us to thank their oppressors for tattoos and ice. These are the same figures that are mentoring the youth. Hip-Hop taught me that there is a crisis of the black intellectual. The solution of this crisis depend on the speed with which we accept and/or reject these standards (the way Spelman College protested the arrival of Nelly on their campus). Take a listen to this reworking of Niggaz in Paris by Mos Def: Poorest in Paris.

These cats drink champagne and toast to death and pain like slaves on a ship talking about who got the flyest chain – Talib Kweli

4. Prison is the black man’s university.

Prison is a badge of honor. It is romanticized, idolized, glamorized, and fetishized. Ignore how systems are in place to perpetuate the disenfranchisement of black and brown bodies as it relates to the prison industrial complex. Lil Wayne constantly brags about this, “prison in February and I aint in no rush”. Tupac uses prison as a FORM of death, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6”. He knows the horrors of prison all too well and told the Black youth that prison is not somewhere they want to be.

5. It’s just music.

It’s never just X, Y, and Z. That’s a common misconception because you can’t disconnect these messages from reality. Their messages become reality because the power music has in society. Hip hop is not supposed to be here to destroy us. It was once described as the Black man’s CNN and we have the power to get back there.

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The Gospel of Tim Tebow: The Politics of Allegorical [mis]Interpretations

This past weekend, the Broncos defeated the Steelers in overtime by what has been deemed a miracle pass to Demaryius Thomas. Many thanked God while others “Tebowed” in excitement.  Never before has football and religion collided in such an interesting and controversial form.  Can you even have a Tim Tebow conversation without mocking discussing religion? Can “Tebowing” and “praying” be used interchangeably under the guise of sincerity? Critics accuse Tebow of making a mockery of Christianity while football fanatics embrace it. The league is  full of outlandish football celebrations, felons, drug users/dealers, etc; a few seconds giving thanks to God after a touchdown doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  The politics and contradictions of religion has always been a subject of great critique when it justified violence and non-egalitarian ideals and misinterpretations of biblical principles.  Tebow is not exempt from that same criticism.  Divine intervention is almost expected when the Broncos play and so is the mockery that follows his humble celebrations.

Tebow has been compared to Jesus Christ on many occasions,  to, both, suggest that he is a religious allegory and to rationalize his faith.  This comparison was closely analyzed by the Huffington Post after he completed 10 passes.  He average 31.6 yards when he passed to Thomas, who was born on Christmas Day.  In the final quarter, the rating was 31.6 being the most watched wild-card game since 1988.  Additionally, the only interception Ben Roethlisberger threw on Sunday was on 3rd and 16.

During one game, Bill Mahr tweeted, “Wow, Jesus just ***** Tim Tebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is Tebowing, saying to Hitler, ‘Hey, Buffalo’s killing them.’”  Other commentators say Tebow should leave “Jesus talk” to preachers and evangelists.  Tim Tebow has not suggested that his opponents don’t have a chance because Jesus is a Bronco’s fan.  He simply thanks Jesus for his accomplishments.  Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Marx, and Kant dwell on the possible consequences of  exploiting orthodox religious praxis.  In other words, there are consequences to “man-made” gods and the exploitation of such.  Using their rhetoric, we should deconstruct these allegorical ideals that aim to paint Tebow as something other than what he is: an NFL quarterback.

This isn’t the first time an athlete’s religion has come into the spotlight and analyzed from every point.  So, why is Christianity so offensive now?  Is it religious insensitivity because many fans are Islamic, Buddhist, Judaic, Rastafarian, Atheist, etc.?  Does his religion matter and could “Tebowing” be considered blasphemous?!

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Should (Un)Conscious Rappers Stay In Their Lane?

When I ask this question, it is not my intent to pose some philosophical or rhetorical conundrum.  When debating conscious rap vs. unconscious rap, notables such as Common, Mos Def, Lupe, and Public Enemy reign in this debate.  It wasn’t until recently, that my boy told me Lil B could be considered conscious because of his song, I Got Aids.  The same guy that raps Wonton Soup, B*tch Mob Anthem, and Bill Bellamy?  Conscious rap?! After my visceral reaction, I listened to the song and began to question if rappers should stay in their lane.

Chuck D once identified Hip Hop as the “Black CNN”.  He didn’t mean that we should get our news from Lupe but rather rappers should politicize art given the circumstances that birthed this genre.  Hip-hop isn’t meant to be apolitical.  Drake raps, “floating in and out of consciousness,” which could be interpreted as a double entendre.  The literal meaning is very different than it’s metaphorical.  You can exhibit this double consciousness by speaking out against injustice one moment and perpetuating low socioeconomic stereotypes the next.  This makes up the contradictory sphere which cultural, racial, political, economic, and social rhetoric can be explored.

uh, and we aint get exploited

White man aint feard it so he did not destroy it

We aint work for free, see they had to employ it

Built it up together so we equally appointed

First 400 years, see we actually enjoyed it

Constitution written by W.E.B. Du Bois

Were no reconstructions, civil war got avoided

Lupe embodies the epitome of a conscious rapper and still “dumbs it down” for his constituents. His wordplay emphasizes the need to learn our history to further our agenda, and simultaneously entertaining our urge for the “perfect verse over a tight beat”.

When rappers get out of their lane, they begin singing careers and try to politicize a “tip drill” song.  That’s an hyperbole but my point remains that it’s confusing and the narratives aren’t clearly defined when conflicting ideals come into contact.  Hip-hop should not be an environment that you have to choose life over death, apolitical songs over political rhetoric, or injustice over justice.  Choose your lane and stick to it.  Professor Tricia Rose describes Rap music as “a black cultural expression that prioritizes black voices from the margins of urban America.”

For all the hip hop heads that feel comparing Lil B to Lupe is blasphemous, I agree.  At the same time, I don’t intend to marginalize Lil B’s content but conscious rap may not be his forte. Truth be told, rapping may not be his forte.  

My question still stands: should (un)conscious rappers stay in their lane? Does this lane alter a rapper’s creative freedom?

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1991 Video of Barack Obama’s “Black History Minute”

An old video popped up of Barack Obama doing a “Black History Minute” back in 1991. He is about 30 years old.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYLfjG4C width=”480″ height=”390″]

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Ambitious Girls: Black Women Consciousness and Subjectivity

Let me begin by loudly declaring: I’m a huge Wale fan.  Additionally, I love Black women.

I admire a Black woman’s resiliency.  Black women, collectively, made incredible strides to overcome notions of objectivity, misogyny, sexism, and derogatory ideologies.   There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman with true ambition, aspiration, and goals.  With that said, the meaning of “Ambition” has forever changed, thanks to Wale.  The etymology of this word is not rooted in a lyric or culture.  I say this because, women born after 1993 will use the new definition of ambition: a female support of Wale.

Female Wale fans have become complacent with being labeled “ambitious” and a “bitch” simultaneously.  It’s a new era in gender and racial identity leading to this complacency.  Let’s explore this phenomenon “ambition”.  Wale has successfully compromised his artistic integrity while insulting his fanbase through the guise of female empowerment, while seamlessly introducing the double entendre of “ambition”.  The most interesting discourse I’ve had regarding contemporary gender politics is women reinforcing stereotypes while struggling with self-definition.

“Ambitious Girls” accept the destructive identity of false accomplishments and false individuality.  I say it’s destructive and false because true ambition is shown and doesn’t need validation.  Black women identity has been shaped by oppressive discourse and the reality of being a minority of a minority.  Mary Helen Washington said Black women who struggle to “forge an identity larger than the one society would force upon them . . . are aware and conscious, and that very consciousness is potent.”

Wale introduced his fanbase to a slight feeling of empowerment with “ambition” then blurred the lines between accomplishment and oppressive rhetoric with the introduction of “Illest Bitch Alive”.  But, Wale is smart.  He understands that his fans will say “he aint talkin’ bout me”.  Who else is he talking about?

It’s easy to say everything that is wrong with an artist.  Before I’m labeled a hater, I’ve been a Wale fan since “Hate is the New Love” and “Paint a Picture”.  I’ve been a fan of Black women since my conception.  It’s all good to be an ambitious woman but you would be hard pressed to find an #ambitiousgirl that was an #ambitious girl pre-wale hype. Think about it.

For now, you’re the illest bitch alive, realest bitch around. 

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Herman Cain Denies Latest Accuser [VIDEO]

Herman Cain on Tuesday vehemently denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said he had no memory of the first accuser to publicly describe claimed misconduct by the Republican presidential hopeful.

“They simply didn’t happen. They simply did not happen,” Cain insisted of the accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior, and at least one incident of alleged sexual groping, when he was head of the National Restaurant Association from 1996 to 1999.

At a news conference he held to respond to the latest accusation, made Monday by a Chicago woman who once worked at the restaurant group, Cain described her as a “troubled” woman put up to making false allegations by forces trying to derail his presidential bid.

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