Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and misogyny in hip-hop.
As a younger, tween version of myself, I used to sing along and shake my booty to songs like "Money, Cash, Hoes."
Somewhere along the way, my pesky conscience intervened and left me with an acute case of cognitive dissonance. How could I love this music, when it clearly did not love me back? The more I was bombarded with images of half naked black women who seemed to serve no other purpose than being half naked, the harder it was to remain a fan. Even my favorite female artist complained about "thirsty bitches" that were "comin' for their spot."
What was a girl to do? I prayed to the Internet gods in hopes that the modern day doctor, google.com, would cure my ailment.
Thankfully, I stumbled upon "Hip Hop vs. America," a program originally aired on BET in 2007. The program assembled popular artists, video girls, and, what I like to call, "black America pundits," to discuss that state of hip-hop. After hearing Nelly and T.I. defend their money-making misogyny, I thought to myself: "Aha! That's exactly what I need, a rationalization!" I debated with myself, using some of those explanations to see if they would stick. The conversation went a little something like this:
They're not talking about ALL black women; they're talking about real hoes
It's not the existence of real bitches and hoes that I'm protesting, it's the frequency in which they're referenced. Hoes, tricks, and, bitches, are so common in mainstream rap songs that they have become synonymous with "black women." Also, many times a "bitch" in a rap song is not called so in a context in which she is acting "bitchy." She could simply be walking down the street or decline an offer to dance at a party because she's "bougie" (I'm looking at you Kanye).
Hmm, let's see. Rapper + degradation of black women (and men) + suburban white kids' dollars = big payday. But what's the real cost? The way I see it, corporate slaves+ debasing lyrics + divided community = little chance for collective economic advancement.
Don't hate the player, hate the game
It's true, America has always been a patriarchal society and its music will reflect that. But, why is hip-hop the only genre in which misogyny is so rampant? And since when did these rappers become so powerless that they allow record executives to dictate what lyrics will sell instead of taking creative control of their own music? Truth is, everyone—the rappers and the people who support their music--made the choice to succumb to the mighty dollar in spite of whatever damage the lyrics, imagery, and over all message of their music may do to black women.
In the end, my conscience prevailed, particularly in the context of our times. The media has been hostile towards black women as of late, including the infamous study that labeled us "least attractive," the late night specials on our marital statuses (or lack thereof) , and the ads claiming that out wombs are "dangerous."
My only hope is that hip-hop music will, at least, return to being a genre in which a variety of images for black women are appreciated. Until then, I am sticking to a short-term solution for misogynistic hip-hop—stop playing it, stop singing along, stop dancing, and, most importantly, stop paying for my own degradation.
Photo Source: lamontc.com