Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday that isn't a national holiday, Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.
This Week's Panel: Bun B, Lil Flip, D-Risha, Renzo, Kyle Hubbard, Doughbeezy, Brad Gilmore
Not Invited: Kanye West's affinity for corpses
This Week's Prompt: Kanye's "Monster" video was banned by MTV, apparently because some activists said it portrayed women in a negative light - not all that surprising for a rap video - and its use of sexy corpses implicitly glamorized the brutalization of women (still not that surprising). So, the question is this: Will there ever be a way to have mainstream hip-hop that does not deaden morals towards women?
Bun B: Well yes, but no one buys or supports that music on radio, video, shows or concerts more than women. Not girls... women.
Rap Round Table: So then there's really no reason to aim for that? Monetarily, we'd guess not. But is there some type of intellectual high ground we should all try to ascend to anyway, despite the fact that it might not be necessary?
BB: Of course, but the objectification of women is not just in hip-hop. It's a societal issue. Hip-hop is just an easier target.
RRT: Bingo. So it's an extension (actualization) of a larger, more fundamental issue, which essentially makes it indistinguishable then?
BB: To me, it's about authenticity. The problem is the fake pimps, ballers and thugs in hip-hop/rap that blow up and misrepresent us.
Lil Flip: In life, you meet great women and some are trash. So if a rap song addresses trash, a great woman shouldn't be offended by it. But in my new [music], I spend more time uplifting or people to handle life like grownups. I'm not a role model, I just a play a model's role.
D-Risha: Okay, you have a two-part answer to this. I'ma keep it to the point.
First of all, as many aspiring rappers that pop up on a daily basis, there are aspiring models who don't have what it takes but want the attention/fame and would jump at the chance without a thought of being exploited.
Secondly, sex is big business for hip-hop and it's too lucrative for it. In my opinion, the moment it will slow down is when the women who buy the records stop and the publicist/manager of said artist wakes up for themselves.
Renzo: Hip-hop music has little to do with why women are objectified. Women are objectified in music because they are objectified in real life. Hip-hop is a very small corner of the big picture. There are plenty of hip-hop songs that give props to women, so it's not necessarily a one-sided coin on this issue.
See Ghetto Twinz, Lil Boosie, Webbie, LL Cool J, Talib Kweli, Common, etc. Either way, women are the more sexier sex, so they deserved to be admired. I'm sure any person with good taste would agree.
Kyle Hubbard: I think mainstream hip-hop can exist without the act of devaluing women. That's not to say it does a great job of it right now, but it's not impossible. To be completely fair, however, I have to say this trend is not exclusive to the world of hip-hop, so fixing the problem in one area is not going to fix the problem out right.
The root of the problem lays many generations back. Women have never really been treated all the way fair, even before hip-hop. Since the baby stages of media, women have been cast in a much more unflattering light than men. Hip-hop can easily fix itself in this department, but the change is not going to start within.
Hip-hop has always served as an artistic expression of the world it lives in. The music is a by-product of how society moves, it's not the other way around. The world was not hammered into the shape it's in by hip-hop. All the music serves to do is to tell society's story.
Doughbeezy: Mainstream, no. At the end of the day, people are investing their time and money to sell, and sex sells. I'm willing to bet that [there's] more to that story.
Brad Gilmore: Here's the thing, there are still a lot of mainstream rappers who use woman as objects and not showing them in a positive light. But then again it's hip-hop, it's a genre of bragging about everything you have, and if you have women, then you brag about them.
But as far as the Kanye video goes, I think it's a very visually pleasing video; then again, so is every Kanye video. I will admit that I was a little thrown off by the way that the women in the "Monster" video were portrayed, but I stopped for a second to remember that this is Kanye West!
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I wouldn't expect him to make a video where he would just have video hoes shaking their ass in the background. He consistently challenges the idea of what hip-hop music is and what it can be. I don't think MTV should ban this video for being "too visually graphic." They still play the "3 AM" music video by Eminem, and that one is a tad on the weird side as well. MTV is just looking for excuses to play less music videos and more Jersey Shore.
To wrap this up, there are many music videos that praise the beauty of women and that show them in a positive light. The media needs to stop looking at the negative aspects of hip-hop, and start praising the positive ones.