Friday, September 02, 2005

The Mainstream Hip Hop Battle, Or, How Can I Justify Blasting Anti-Woman, Slur-Filled, Greed-Based Music?

One of the undeniably great songs of this past summer has been "Gold Digger" by Kanye West. It samples an interesting source (Jamie Foxx singing Ray Charles), it has a great beat and it is catchy as shit. However, in the first 20 sections of the song, i have a problem with it - the "n" word (which i won't use here, but y'all know what i mean). Now, i understand that Kanye West saying that word and me, fat white guy, saying it are totally different things. However, it is a word that i feel does NOT make a positive difference being put in that song. The point of the song is that woman is using a man for his money - the guy's race has no place in the song ('cept for a white girl {not WHITE CHICKS, sorry Vin} joke at the end). We all know gold diggers both white (Anna Nicole Smith) and black (Lil' Kim) and let's not kid outselves here, it is not like Kanye is making his records for just black people or just white people. That track was produced by Jon Brion, who is a very white dude, and this white dude heard the song without having to go undercover to Compton. So why does West have to throw in this slur?

And i wish i could say that on the entire LATE REGISTRATION album (which i love by the way) that was the only slur. But 'dyke' and 'ho' are thrown around like the football at Christopher Walken's house in WEDDING CRASHERS. For music that has broken down so many boundaries (Wesley Clarke, in his presidential bid, was known for saying things like "Now i may not know much about rap music, but i do know that Outkast wants me to shake it like a polaroid picture!" or the fact that TIME magazine recently had the aforementioned Mr. West on the cover), rap is still pretty much a straight black man's club, in terms of what is discussed in the lyrics. I would assume that if you polled all people who write/produce rap music, they have the highest Democratic voting allegiance of any musical genre, yet their lyrics are the least liberal and accepting of any style of music. How many girls who call themselves feminisits dance at the club to lyrics that pretty much knock women down to being fuck holes and worthless baggage. Heavy Metal, Rock, and Pop Music have all succeeded in bringing gay artists into their genres and accepting them for who they are (Judas Priest's Rob Halford, Husker Du's Grant Hart and Bob Mould, George Michael, Elton John and the Indigo Girls just to name a few), but could imagine rap music (or country music for that matter) embracing an openly gay emcee? I can name more than a few times in some pretty popular rap tracks that gays have been openly bashed - could you imagine Hot 97 playing a song where a man sang about another man, even if he didn't really specify gender - if there was an openly gay rapper, any 'love' song he wrote would be burried deeper than Jimmy Hoffa.

Now, not all hip hop is like this, it really tends to be only the mainstream stuff that goes into this bashing. I've never heard Mos Def come out and call someone a 'fag' on record, and i probably never will. Now, Mos Def does not sell even one fraction of Jay Z's records, yet the Jigga man takes a misogynistic approach towards women CONSTANTLY in his records. Even in the song about how he loves his woman, "99 Problems" he still calls her a BITCH. Does this mean that the mainstream culture wants bashing of women and gays and to keep racial slurs alive? Well, look at who our president is...

So how do i, a liberal guy who considers himself both a feminist and someone who believes in total equality of all based on color and sexual orientation, justify blasting Kanye, or the Black Album (Jay Z, not Metallica) with those type of lyrics? I don't know - can anybody help me with this?

And don't even get me started on how someone with such good intentions to write songs about his FAITH (i'm still talking to you, Mr. "Jesus Walks") get away with this? I have a headache.

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And my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who has been effected by Hurricane Katrina. Please, if you can afford to, donate some time or money to helping people in our own country. For everyone who went to a LIVE 8 concert, or watched them on TV, look around and realize that we can't just be supportive and sympathetic to people overseas.