J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Notes from Underground - #2
Blaming Hip-Hop...Again

Take a listen to this discussion from Morning Edition on NPR this morning. The Imus discussion has been done to death at this point, but this discussion immediately turns to the topic of 'rap' music, which caught my ears. I've heard this argument made already by several people in the mainstream media: the 'rappers' can say it, so why is Don Imus taking the heat?

Let's start with the irritating use of the all-encompassing phrases 'rappers' and 'rap music.' I'm sure, as with other genres of music (metal, goth) and even at one point the term 'rock and roll,' that 'rap' is a term that gets thrown around a lot in a generic fashion - as if commercial hip-hop represents the genre as a whole. It doesn't and not all commercial rappers would use the phrase 'nappy-headed hos' to refer to black women. While the problems of misogyny in hip-hop are legion, none of the people spouting the 'rappers do it' defense have bothered to cite a precise example, let alone one that matches Imus' words. As a fan of hip-hop, and a fan of hip-hop who does not typically put up with or support music that is degrading to women, homosexuals or any other group of people just for who they are born, I am just a little mussed by the collective use of 'rappers' as the big scary beast in our society. What then? Can Imus defend himself by just saying he was quoting 'rappers?' Can he take 'rappers' to court for his lost salary the way numerous families took metal bands to court when their children committed suicide or killed someone through the "influence of metal lyrics?"

The commercial face of something is often the one that is taken to task on a regular basis. And for good reason - to the public at large, why should they even be aware of socially conscious groups in hip-hop that fly below the radar? If Top 40 radio isn't finding a place for it, they're not picking up music magazines/reading music websites that give time to underground/independent artists. So 'rappers' it is. When "Candy Shop" can move records, why worry about objectification?

Finally, why, nearly 30 years into the hip-hop age, is 'rap' still the big scary beast to so many people? Hip-hop is as common as any other genre of music, if not more so, and yet people still fear it, its words and images. When and how will this change? And are we staring down the barrel of a debate about Big Music capitalizing on the baser elements in hip-hop, and selling white consumers a safe, at-home way to 'slum' culturally?

This has been another edition of things I wish I'd been able to articulate when I met Chuck D.

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1 Comments:

  • At 9:43 PM, April 15, 2007, Blogger Indiefan21 said…

    I agree, I'm tired of people blaming any kind of music for the ills of society. Music is a reaction, not a cause. Check out some real artists who believe this too at
    www.GOIRECORDS.com , specifically Loyal Enemy.

     

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