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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6 Comments

Filed under Opinion

6 responses to “The Lessons I Learned From Hip-Hop

  1. I can appreciate this rhetoric about hip hop losing its significance in lieu of the “hip hop is dead” argument. An interesting observation to note is that if you take any of these points you have laid out, and made a claim that it came from a non-Black person or group, we would be able to openly see how damaging it is. Take the bitch/queen binary – it’s easy for us to be upset when Don Imus says “nappy headed hoes” (I know, a dated reference) but Nicki Minaj literally said the exact same thing and “we” rapped along with her. I’m curious as to why we continue to allow ourselves to damage ourselves.

    • Who rapped along? Not I. However, it’s easy to point out the problem. An alternative to the problem is difficult. We don’t see a problem with damaging ourselves, that’s why we do it. If we all act in accordance like Spelman college did, we can redefine contemporary hip-hop.

  2. Robyn

    Wow, I’m really happy I found this blog. I’ll have to read more of what you’ve got here later. You have a great perspective and some very interesting posts. Followed. :]

  3. King Kelvin II

    You are on the ball with the points that you make! The only ones holding us back is ourselves! I see kids these days who have the ideologies of soulja boy embedded into their personalities. 16-year-olds with tattoos all over their bodies, and pants hanging off of their asses. As sad as it is to say this, but this has indeed become a part of our culture. We are fighting a cold war against ourselves, for ourselves. The competition is getting tougher, as people from other countries pour into ours. They don’t come in degrading their women and their culture, and so they will be accepted. And as the financial gap between the upper class and the lower class (consisting of many of our people) expands, we will be replaced by those from other countries. The rest of the world sees blacks and sees ignorance and degradation. Why? Because that’s how “we” (Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, etc.) present ourselves to the rest of the world.

  4. This was really insightful!

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