Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes

I was such a busy student last night!

I also managed to make it over to the video screening and panel discussion for the documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes (available for viewing here). The documentary delves into the topic of masculinity (some might say hyper-masculinity) in hip-hop, as well as how that masculinity manifests itself through misogyny and homophobia.

The panel, comprised of 6 USF students, did an excellent job discussing their love/hate relationship with hip-hop, and most of them mentioned alternatives to the mainstream artists. They also stressed that education is necessary in order for the massive hip-hop audience to transition from buying mainstream hip-hop to buying political (meaningful?) hip-hop.

The one aspect of the documentary, and indeed of society, that did not get discussed is the fact that misogynistic and homophobic messages are not limited to the hip-hop and rap genre. There is plenty of rock music that degrades women, and don't even get me started on pop princesses. However, whenever sexism is discussed in music, hip-hop/rap is the first genre brought up, and in fact is often the target of attacks on misogynistic music.

Is this a coincidence? Hell no! It is indeed tied to the racial categorization of hip-hop and rap. It is comfortable for white men (mostly white, and mostly men) in congress to point fingers at hip-hop and rap and call for censorship. It is a little harder for them to think about the music they grew up on (Led Zeppelin, anyone?) as overtly sexist. Hip-hop is touted as the most sexist of all music because it is convenient to find overly-sexualized lyrics in music connected to a racial group who are often categorized as overly sexualized.

So yes, please confront the misogyny and homophobia that exists in hip-hop music. But please also extend your critique to all worthy genres, instead of making sexism appear to be an issue only found in black music.

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