Hip-Hop Culture

Hip-hop is born in post-industrial New York and came out of the neglected minority youth of the city. It is a major part of black American culture. It is a form of communication in that through music it expressed the black community.

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It expressed the struggles and accomplishments that they went through. It expressed resistance against society, but not about social order. It is used to stand up for injustice and humanity. In 1988, N.W.A released Fuck tha Police, a protest song, to show their attitude toward police brutality. The lyrics of the song protested police brutality and racial profiling and it criticized the local police force. Although hip-hop artists used music as a form of communication, they also presented women as props and objects through different media. Although there are hip-hop artists of both genders, the hip-hop industry is male-dominated. Therefore, the marketing strategies for each gender vary when it comes to music production and the content of the lyrics. In hip-hop, males are considered to be aggressive, dominant, and flattened whereas females are submissive, hypersexual, and silenced. Male tend to play on their masculinity. Their marketing strategies are based on their ability to get women. The lyrics are centered around instructing women to perform sexual behaviors and this leads to the objectification of women. The media is using the female bodies to promote the rap culture. White America sexualize, devalue, and objectify the bodies of black women. It is very common for black women to be oversexualized and to be used as props in music videos. They are used as inanimate objects for visual experience whether it is through their clothing or their action. The objectification of women is shown in a music video Tip Drill or E.I. (reinvention) released by Nelly in 2000.

When a woman is referred to as Tip Drill it means that she has a breathtaking body but an average-looking face. The lyrics of the song included, You lookin’ good in them shorts, but they look better on the flo’, Toot that ass up mama, put that dip in ya back, It must be ya ass cause it ain’t yo’ face, and I need a freak that will not choke. The lyrics of the song themselves objectify and degrade women. However, the music video takes the trope of misogyny to a whole different level. In the music video, women, mainly African American are surrounded by male artists. Women are seen barely clothed whereas men are fully clothed. Money is thrown over the females’ bodies. The camera is focused on the female’s genitalia. Nelly swipes a credit card between a female’s behind while looking mischievously into the camera. Women are performing sexual behaviors and sexual activities. This suggests that money drive females sexual performance and that they are strippers or prostitutes. In the music video, most of the women are black. This is a stereotype of how the mass media depicts the black female body. The media see the black female body as exotic, untamed, sexual objects. Women’s bodies are seen as disposable sources of sexual pleasure and income. Although the hip-hop culture is mainly dominated by males, misogynistic lyrics and unpleasant music videos lead to females being disrespected and shamed on. Cheryl Keyes grouped hip-hop femininities into four major categories: the queen mother, fly girl, sista with attitude, and lesbian. These categories identify the number of experiences that women brought to the hip-hop culture. Imani Perry mentioned on how black women’s roles as badasses show resistance in hip-hop.

When women are badasses, they find their voice. It becomes a strategy for expressing feminism. Perry stated that badass black women offer a more complicated narrative in that their narrative shows their rage and frustration on how it is like to be in a male-dominated black community. They are usually racially oppressed, sexually abused, robbed of gender roles, and overburdened by community responsibility. Perry builds upon Keyes’s idea that a sista with attitude conveys that rage is a privilege that is reserved for both genders. Through their lyrics, they are able to show their assertiveness, attitude, and independence just like that of black men rappers. In hip-hop, anger is considered a valid dimension for females. They are looked upon as victims in that they are mistreated. Through hip-hop, they can voice their frustration and rage. With this in mind, Regina N. Bradley grouped hip-hop masculinities into four main categories. The philosopher kings are performers who promote the world and their position around them. They are viewed as touchstones of the hip-hop culture and portals to experiences lodged in hip-hop that may not translate to a white audience. The playas and pimps expressed hypermasculinity and hypersexuality through the commercial hip-hop culture. They are highly visible, heterosexual, misogynistic, and the crux of hip-hop’s Black cool pose. They see hip-hop as male-dominated and at the expense of women. Dope boys and trap stars identity’ are associated with the drug culture. They are nihilistic, violent, and quick-witted disclosures about their knowledge of the drug game. Hustlers are characterized by their ability to think and respond quickly and effectively. They have strong desire and determination to succeed. Their narratives focused on their struggle as well as their path to success. They are recognized as powerful and important figures in hip-hop.

Tricia Rose divided sexism in hip-hop into two groups. The first group is those who do not speak about the prevention of discrimination when it comes to black women. They do not offer support of feminist agendas. They focus on protecting America from hip-hop and deviant black people. This group’s main concern is respect, however, not in the sense of women’s rights or the nature of the male-dominated culture. For them, the disrespect some black men shown to black women is a sign of insubordinate black masculinity. The second group is those who challenge misogyny against black women and perceive hip-hop as having a harmful and destructive effect. They are concerned about the influence of commercial hip-hop on black women and how they are viewed as sexual objects which may affect the black communities. Rose said that. the emphasis on the degradation of women has roots in white conservatism, it also has solid roots in black religious and patriarchal conservative values. Mainstream masculinity continues to treated women as if they are less valuable than men. Women are less powerful socially, economically, and politically. Males tried to control, label, and exploit women’s sexuality. Images and lyrics from commercial hip-hop treated black women with disrespect and disregard. Males used women as props that boost their egos. They treated women’s bodies as sexual objects. In 2005, 50 Cent released Candy Shop. Throughout the music video, there is a clear representation of male dominance and wealth. At the beginning of the video, 50 Cent drives into a mansion in a Ferrari.

When he enters the mansion, women are dressed very sexually, revealing, and provocatively. There are only one male and a numerous number of females. Near the end of the video, 50 Cent picks up his order from a drive-thru window and tells the female worker to keep the remaining of the change. This portrays that males make the money and have more control of power whereas females are working at a job that paid minimum wage. 50 Cent has enough money and does not need the change. Since the change is unnecessary, he is telling the female worker to keep the change. In the music video, women are viewed as sexual objects in the way they are dressed. Men can control and play around with women. Women are viewed as sources of sexual pleasure and income. On the other hand, the representation of women in hip-hop is completely the opposite. Women are encouraged to dress and dance in a sexual way. They are used as decoration in music videos. Men look at women sexual body parts with their sexual longing gaze. This does not apply to the females in the music videos but also to female hip-hop artists. In many music videos, the number of women always outnumbered the number of men. Women are dressed in a sexual manner by wearing short and tight dresses as well as bikini and swimsuits. These outfits centered around their sexual bodies. Women’s behaviors and actions meet the men’s wants and desires. Many of the women’s behaviors and actions show that they are objects to men and that they are used for their pleasure.

White America portrays males and females differently in the hip-hop culture. In a male-dominated community, men are viewed as aggressive, dominant, and flattened. Women are considered submissive, hypersexual, and silenced. White America and mass media devalue and demean women in the hip-hop culture. Women are dressed in a sexual way to perform sexual behaviors and actions around men. Thus, they are looked upon as sexual objects and props to men. They are objectified. They are used as sexual pleasure and entertainment for men. They are not being respected as women.

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