D.L. Chandler's frequent thoughts on the world of hip hop and beyond

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Debate, Divide & Decide: Picking Sides in the Hip Hop Sex War

I imagine that when writer Stanley Crouch has exhausted all of his usual fare, he attacks Hip Hop music as a means to make a juicy read. It’s becoming a tired, tepid shtick yet he keeps going to the well with it. He’s correct that women need not buy into the misogyny present in much of today’s bigger radio hits but his condemnation is too far-sweeping and does nothing to address the many positive alternative images and messages available. See, these critiques of Hip Hop music and culture would not be so maddening if the writers and critics took care to paint the broadest strokes possible. Instead, we have these narrow-seeming men and women who come across as not only crotchety, but ill informed.

With the impending Feminism and Hip Hop conference coming up in April to be held in Chicago, there exists this heavy air that we’re preparing ourselves for a war that doesn’t need to be fought. This warlock hunt that Essence is launching has a good idea but it is such a bumbling approach as I fear it will never be taken seriously. They will struggle for legitimacy by culling opinions and detractions from people they truly feel have a handle on the taste and pulse of the culture – and it’s a false sense of assuredness in that because they never go outside what’s in front of them on cable and radio.

I would urge these champions of Hip Hop’s sexist reversal to recognize that there are writers, artists and vocal leaders who have a more centrist view of what they perceive Hip Hop the culture to be. People like the great writer Jeff Chang – who gets mentioned in this pretty thorough critique of the so-called Hip Hop generation by Phillip Martin. The betterment of the music starts by truly understanding it – and that’s precisely my main issue with the Crouches and McWhorters of the world (I totally hate when writers do that but I’m being lazy this week). If they took the exhaustive road of researching other sides first before they donned the cloak of disdain, I'd be fine with their single-minded comments.

I’m interested in just 3 things: the improvement of overall Hip Hop quality regarding both the music and the culture, less of a corporate greediness in the industry and an open forum between varying sides of the music as to increase and promote awareness on all levels. Right now, we’re doing a lot of chest thumping and finger pointing. There aren’t really any healthy discussions – just these campaigns with burning torches and angry mobs ready to tear down the tower in which Hip Hop as the Frankenstein monster rests. We have this air of contention that’s heavier than the actual issue at hand so nothing gets done if that persists.

There was a conversation I had the pleasure of overhearing recently on the train between an older Black gentleman and his White, and equal in age, counterpart. They were discussing what they felt was the problem with young people today. The White gentleman stated that he felt the problem all started when, as he comically put it, “the rap hippity stuff” started to become the benchmark for what’s cool in this country. The Black gentleman followed up by saying that the music began to form the tastes and held the rapt attention of the global youth thus insuring an almost absolute global influence. In the end, nobody knew it’d be this big and we’re still trying to contain it with misunderstanding’s fumbling hand. When are we going to get this thing right?


Post a Comment

<< Home