Last week I attended a Hip Hop seminar by a Hip Hop scholar, James Peterson. I went on the last day of the seminar where they showed a short movie called Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. It is a 2006 documentary film written, produced, and directed by Byron Hurt. The documentary explores the issues of masculinity, violence, homophobia and sexism in hip hop music and culture, through interviews with artists, academics and fans.
Hip hop itself is a form of musical expression and artistic subculture that originated in African-American and Hispanic-American communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. The movie touched on a lot of subjects which are regularly discussed by the hip hop community. I will talk about two of the topics that stood out to me.
First of all, there was a long segment which talked about hip hop disrespecting women. There was a lot of emphasis on the video, Tip Drill by rapper Nelly. There were a lot of scantily dressed women in the video and a lot of guys who were purportedly having fun with these women. The main part that stood out was when Nelly swiped an ATM card in between one of the video vixen's butt crack. That move put a lot of ideas in to peoples heads. To some, it signified that women were cheap and he could pay to have access to whatever he wanted. Basically, the whole of the video seemed very disrespectful to women as a whole.
Check out the video below.
The second thing I picked up from the video, and from the seminar as a whole was the influence, hip hop music has on young people. James Peterson discussed the fact that the very evident disrespect for women in these music videos, and in hip hop songs was actually affecting young men. There is a high percentage of rape in the United States and every 40 seconds, a woman is sexually harassed. Again it pointed out that hip hop artists like 50 Cent whose music encourages a lot of violence actually influence the young crowd to be violent.
There is also a high percentage of homicide among the young black population. Also 50 Cent and some other rappers are allowed to sell albums with pictures of them carrying guns and other violent stuff, but Nas is not allowed to have a picture of his back with the large letter N because it makes references to slavery.
50's Album Cover
Nas's Album Cover
Also, activist and rapper, Chuck D of rap group Public Enemy was quoted as stating: "BET is the cancer of black manhood in the world, because they have one-dimensionalized and commodified us into being a one-trick image. We're [shown] throwing money at the camera and flashing jewelry at the camera that could give a town in Africa water for a year." The rapper also stated a link existed between the sales of hip-hop music to young white Americans, and the amount of pressure on black artists to create more of that content: sex and violence.
One thing James Peterson said that really stuck to me was the fact that the rapes that happen very often in the United States should hardly be blamed on the women, as people usually say, but on the men. His reason for making this comment was that women are free to wear whatever they want. Obviously there is a limit, but there are men who let certain messages in hip hop music and videos get them, to the point where they sexually abuse women regardless of what they are wearing.
The seminar as a whole got me thinking about the kind of music I listen to. It also opened my eyes to a lot of the evident, and not so evident messages that most hip hop artists convey in their music. I will not mention any more names apart from the ONE I said before, but there is a very high number of hip hop artists who make music that have very negative effects on the youths. James Peterson not only made us aware of this but encouraged us to listen to more music that would have good impact on our lives. He suggested a few artists like Nas, Dead Prez and a few upcoming artists. He also gave us the chance to take all (60 GB) of his music.
As for Nigerian music....(no comment)...I can only come up with three off the top of my head (M.I, Mode9, Sound Sultan)..If you know any other hip hop artists that fit into the category, please let me know. BTW Nas is back with a new song The Don....(look for it yourself...).
So next time you hear, Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass Ass....Stop... and think if the song is worth you listening to....or not...
*Some Info from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop