Wednesday, June 27, 2007

borrowed theme

Carol Borges, blogging at KnoxViews, has an interesting piece about the possible racism in damning the violence and misogyny in hip hop music when "white" music has many references to similar actions and attitudes. She listed a few songs to make her point. I hadn't really considered the issue this way before. Though not much of a hip hop fan over all, I do listen to a few groups and tend to steer away from a lot of gangsta rap as well as the more overtly sexual groups. For me it's more some quality I see in the groups I do enjoy versus the content of their songs.

Celebrating the misogyny as well as the bling culture that so much of hip hop seems to have devolved into is more damaging I feel. To some extent, the more violent music, at least at one time, could have been argued to open a window onto the reality of life for too many people, but at some point even that rings a little hollow when you wonder why so many artists can get rich at the expense of the suffering and yet the gangs still continue to hurt people and make neighborhoods unlivable. What good is the money when all the community sees is gaudy diamond encrusted watches and necklaces? Of course there I seem to hold black artists somehow responsible. If we are to suggest this, then why not also suggest that country artists are responsible for rural communities?

I grew up in Atlanta, in south Dekalb County. We attended church and school in an area that would have been considered white at the time, though south Dekalb is and was decidedly not. On some level I've always had an interest in issues of race and equality. It seems like it's always questions and never enough answers.

1 comment:

Michele said...

Long-freaking-winded. Again.

Any rational arguement nowadays seems to be ended by the first person to call "racist". That just doesn't work for me.

Of course movies and music through the ages have told stories rife with violence and misogyny. We could go all the way back to Homer's Odyssey and find violence, but that's because it makes for interesting and realistic storytelling. Life is not all rainbows and butterflies after all.

There is no other musical style that is as dedicated to glorifying violence and misogyny as gangsta rap, except perhaps the unadulterated hate music by skinhead groups. Gangsta rap glorifies straight up hate too, but it enjoys a much wider and accepting audience.

The gangsta rappers are actually gangsters, and believe in doing and encouraging what they rap about. It's not satire, and it fuels the violence on the street and celebrates it.

I think the Marilyn Manson comparison in the knoxviews blog was faulty. Plenty of people were troubled by him, just as people are troubled by gangsta rap, it's just that no one could call "racism" when folks were offended by Manson.