How Is Hip Hop A Negative Influence On Society?
This article will discuss how is hip hop negative influence on society. This article is a part of a series that seeks to create a dialogue around the state of hip hop and what our future can look like.
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The early hip hop sound featured crackling boom-bap and true storytelling lyrics fueled by civil unrest's backdrop. The juxtaposition of artists of different races, ethnicities, and backgrounds allowed for some diversity that has been absent in the genre's roots.
The nature of hip hop used to allow for a platform to give voice to the voiceless, whether it be for individuals of color, sex workers, or communities affected by social injustice. With this concept came the rise of a resistance movement, especially with groups like NWA.
While NWA and other politically inspired groups helped empower voices in the hood, they often had a political voice against dominant groups that denied them a voice, such as whites and the wealthy. Hip hop's heavy political message and struggle often masked that of many of the artists.
Also, the nature of the industry itself has remained cishet, white, and classist. The underground is comprised of primary artists of color, LGBT individuals, and feminists, who are often overlooked and marginalized within the industry.
In fact, several of the most iconic rappers and groups have often been rapped over by rap music producers (with a few notable exceptions) in similar styles.
Well, now, the industry is transitioning, and that means a lot of changes. In the past, there have been few if any rappers who have rapped about issues beyond homophobia, misogyny, drug abuse, and crime.
Recently, Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" became one of the most popular songs of the year and a great example of this shift. The lyrics are clear about the direction that society has been heading in and the fact that if artists don't write their own music, many people will continue to receive the message of violence, misogyny, and fear.
M.I.A.'s recent music video "Bad Girls" and YG's song "Who Do You Love" have provided new examples of feminist rap. These artists are often met with scorn from their peers.
They get criticized for lyrics that speak about things that the media portrays as taboo. However, they often get criticized for not being women.
The frequent misconstrue of the term "feminist" in rap culture often leads to a portrayal of feminism as a radical, hateful, and off-putting concept.
For instance, when Ice-T raps "big goth, she got vagina issues" on the 1999 song "7-11," this is not only a misogynistic, homophobic slur, but it also suggests that female rappers are supposed to cater to the male gaze. Even when female rappers break this double standard and achieve respectability, many of their messages have been changed to fit a more feminine persona.
By the same token, misogyny is often celebrated. Jay Z, Ice Cube, and Wiz Khalifa, for example, all have strong relationships with women, but it is rarely seen in their lyrics. This creates a harmful double standard where female rappers cannot show strength and control, which instead gets praised by other women.
This also causes artists to misrepresent themselves as people of color or as members of a marginalized group. While this idea might not be explicitly mentioned in a song's lyrics, it is still prevalent within the music.
In his song "No Hope," Nas makes it a point to talk about his African heritage and the fact that he is black, but he rarely shows the same love for the black woman and other women of color that he speaks of on "Ether." When Nas shows romantic love, it often comes with the caveat that he is black, implying that a non-black woman will never be pleased.
M.I.A. has spoken out about the same themes. Her song "Bad Girls" has strong feminist themes, but at the same time, she is sure to demonstrate her sympathy for the people who have been oppressed or dominated.
"Bad Girls" also uses political satire to portray M.I.A. as a sort of revolutionary figure, and it functions as her manifesto. In an interview with Frontline, she said, "If you can't accept the fact that you can be Black and proud and powerful and confident in a man's world, then, you know, you're not for me," she said.
An artistic expression is a powerful tool that artists can use to advocate for change in society. Yet, artists have to be responsible for their own work.
The main responsibility that artists have to use their craft for social change is authentic and genuine. Artists who are currently popular do not have to write their songs about love and romance, and doing so would not create any new kind of music.
If these artists want to promote feminist and political messages, they need to continue to perform these themes honestly and without hiding behind frivolous, manipulative lyrics. Using this strategy, artists could shift the dominant narrative in the music industry and empower women, people of color, and all other minorities.
Ultimately, creating positive change and justice in the music industry requires more than just individual music videos.
It also requires a conscious effort to disrupt what mainstream media portrays as appropriate to promote. M.I.A. is trying to shake things up and create a new generation of artists who are willing to use their art to speak out against the negative things in society.
By doing so, she is revolutionizing how feminism and diversity are portrayed in popular culture, and she is succeeding.