Thursday, February 28, 2008

Do We Unconsciously Patronize Degrading Rap Lyrics?

Today many rap protagonists argue that since the explosion of hip hop in the 1980s, the rap game has changed tremendously. With the transformation of how "old school" songs covered topics such as politics and empowerment to now discussing more materialistic things such as money, cars and women, rap legends like Jay-Z and Nas say that the power of rap music has died and will never be the same.

One of the most common and chief complaints of today's rap lyrics is the constant degrading it gives to women, primarily those of the African-American race. In the heat of racial comments made last year in reference to the Rutgers womens' basketball team by white, radio talk show host Don Imus, many activists began to question even further whether these degrading lyrics are partly to blame for the black culture's insensitivity and disrespect to its women.

As an African-American woman, I strongly believe rap and hip hop artists help to create and sustain a tarnished image of the general black woman; however, I also know there are ways to combat it, and most importantly, such behavior is only proved more acceptable and valid when tolerated by those in which it degrades.

For example, in the lyrics of rap artists The Game and Kanye West's song, Wouldn't Get Far, women are called "bitches" and "hoes," and those referred to as "video vixens" are even more degraded. The song goes on to further to explain that these women will do WHATEVER it takes to get to the top by saying, "She a video vixen, but behind closed doors she do whatever it take to get to the Grammy Awards," which is followed by a faint laugh by The Game himself.

Upon hearing these lyrics, I was sure (or rather hopeful) there would be some type of uproar by black women across the nation and a boycott that left the artists in search of "props" for their video, but much to my dismay, the video contained several sistas' unconsciously (or in some cases, consciously) owning up to the lyrics that degraded them so heavily. In addition, I saw blacks, both male and female alike, bump the song proudly in their cars, homes and wherever else there was a stereo.

Networks such as Black Entertainment Television (BET) promote the showing of videos by black, male R&B and rap artists, who often feature nothing but the fairer-skinned sistas' and those who are not even sistas' at all in their videos where the "main girl," "wifey figure" or "wholesome woman of interest" is portrayed in a positive light. Seldom do we see these roles portrayed by women who have clear African features. Instead, these types of sistas' can be found in the lead roles as "vixens" of videos whose lyrics call for "rockin' yo hips," "booty shakin'," "pop, lock and droppin' it" and let's not forget the infamous "tip drill." In my opinion, this exhibits the internalized racism among blacks in the industry.

While I have nothing against women who choose to be in videos, (We all make our money some way and that is how they choose to make theirs.) I do hope thes women learn to choose their gigs circumspectly, being careful not to be disrespected in the process of making a few hundred dollars. Whether they realize it or not, videos serve as visuals for songs, and by offering to be in the video, they become the women in the songs; moreover, patrons of the lyrics.

As a black woman, it angered me to hear of the words, "nappy-headed hoes" uttered from Don Imus' mouth as a mockery to another group of black women; however, it angers me even more to hear the exact or worse words come from the mouths of rap artists in songs, and to see "us" find it acceptable.

Because the statement came from a white man, many blacks were in an uproar and wanted immediate action taken, but my stance is the same...despite whom or where the words came from, they should have the same effect. Neither should be tolerated.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Def Jam Artist "Rocko" Makes Stop At ASU

(Rocko and I)

"You just do you, umma do me...umma do me...umma do me..."

While many of you have already bumped the beats of these lyrics in your stereo, for those of you who have not, meet Atlanta native and Def Jam Island Records artist Rodney Hill, better known by his alias, Rocko. His hit single, "Umma Do Me," has topped Billboard charts as well as videocountdowns like BET's 106th and Park and his album, Self Made, is scheduled to hit stores March 18th.

On a stop during his Self Made promo tour in Montgomery, Ala., Rocko took out a few minutes to answer some questions about his music during an autograph signing at Alabama State University.

Me: How would you describe your music?
Rocko: "If I had to, I would say it's astronaut music 'cause it's out of space."

Me: Was there any particular reason why you wanted to be a rapper?
Rocko: "Well, at first I was cash motivated until I started writing music and realized how much people liked what I was doing. So, it went from being all about the cash to being about the craft."

Me: Growing up, who are some of the artists who inspired you?
Rocko: "When I was younger, I used to listen to west coast artists like NWA, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, but when I got a little older, I became interested in southern artists like 8Ball and MJG and the Geto Boys."

Me: Your album drops on March 18th, so do you have any collaborations people can look forward to?
Rocko: "I really wanted to keep it all me, but I do have two R&B singles with Lloyd and Monica. I also have a mixtape called Swag Season and it features some rap artists like T.I., Geezy and Rick Ross."

Me: In your opinion, why should people buy your album?
Rocko: "It's quality music and because I'm the new kid, the new voice of the south."

Me: Do you consider your music rap music that people can dance to?
Rocko: "No, I don't do novelty records. All my music is real, real music."

Me: Last question, what do you think about people who say that hip hop is dead?
Rocko: "It's up to them because I'm gonna keep doing what I do. I don't classify my music as hip hop, but instead I call it swag music, so maybe hip hop is dead."

Click the link below to visit Rocko's Official Website:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"He may not be the coolest, but I swear he is the cutest..."

OK, I guess now would be a fine time to admit my undying love for crush on lyricist Lupe Fiasco. Isn't he the cutest thing? Anyways, I'm sittin' here listening to some of his music right now (as usual) and it's some good stuff. Lupe rocks! Peace.

P.S.- I ain't a groupie or nothing, (or at least I don't think so) but the man has skills. :-)


Saturday, February 16, 2008

ASU's Theater Students Shine in A Raisin in the Sun

(photograph by Keia) (photograph by Keia)
(photograph by Keia)

Hey guys, these are photos from a play my roommate, Courtney, and I went to see tonight. The play, A Raisin in the Sun, was written by American playwright, Lorraine Hansberry, and performed at the illustrious Alabama State University, which is the fabulous university we attend. :-) The play was performed by students in our university's department of theater arts in the Leila Barlow Theatre. Good job!

P.S.- Some of you may be familiar with the play, while others may not be, sooooo there are a few related topics I may be posting soon so stay tuned!


Pied Piper Still Not Finished Blowing Pipe?

Throughout the past six years, many members of the Black community have had the back of singer, songwriter, child molester, and producer Robert Sylvester Kelly (a.k.a. R. Kelly or the "Pied Piper") despite several allegations and charges of child molestation and pornography. But, when is it safe for members of that community to stop and question when is it enough?

Recent news (yes people, he's at it again) of the R&B crooner has surfaced over a relationship gone sour between he and long-time affiliates George and Regina Daniels because of Kelly's relationship with their daughter, Maxine. George is a Chi-town-based music industry veteran and Regina is Kelly's former publicist, who admitted in November 2007 that she was resigning because a "line had been crossed."

During an interview with Los Angeles radio station KJLH, George spilled the beans on the situation.

"He crossed the line with my daughter," Daniels said. In addition, Daniels said Kelly initially lied when confronted about the relationship.

Although the daughter, Maxine, was 21 years old and a student at Northern Illinois University at the time of the alleged relationship, George said his daughter was "vulnerable" and Kelly still took advantage of her.

The Daniels claim they discovered the relationship between Kelly and their daughter through rumors and finally verification from her.

Spokespeople from Kelly have addressed the rumors and referred to it as "moral outrage," stating that the Daniels knew about and encouraged the relationship between Kelly and their adult daughter.

OK, now maybe the brotha wasn't wrong because Maxine was 21 at the time, BUT why won't the man just play his cards right and have relations with more mature women? He's already up to his neck with charges and...(sighing and rolling my eyes) I guess some people will never learn...