My Conflicting Love of SuperJam and Hip-Hop
On Friday I got to live out my teenage dream of attending Super- Jam. While carefully planning my outfit and scanning rap videos on YouTube for new dance moves I wasn’t surprised that some people seemed bemused by my enthusi asm. I have frequently been asked to explain my love of hip-hop both as a feminist and as an advocate against violence.
I just really love hip-hop. I grew up on 102 Jamz and remember trying to get my hands on uncensored albums by Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Fugees, Lil’ Kim and DMX in middle school. I never mastered the ability to hide a CD’s parental advisory sticker from the cashier.
For a kid growing up in the 1990s, loving hip-hop is not unusual. Even for a Scotch-Irish suburban-breed former sorority girl like me, rap music and culture has infiltrated my life at every level. I can’t say that I remember 1993, the illustrious golden year of hip-hop, but the aftermath of albums by Dr. Dre, Tupac and Wu-Tang Clan helped to reshape the popular music landscape.
For the better part of my teenage years it seemed that my peers and I would be part of the hip-hop nation forever.
At some point I guess others started losing their zeal for the sounds of spitting verses over drum and bass, because people started asking me to explain why I was still hooked.
If I wanted to deflect the question I could shrug and say, “I just like the beat,” but everyone knows that’s naÃ¯ve.
The problem is that hip-hop isn’t meant to be defended. Whether the song is a flirty 50 Cent party jam or a verse by Black Star aggressively condemning institutionalized racism, rap music speaks for itself.
The lyrics are intentional, which is also problematic, because some of my favorite songs are blatantly offensive. During SuperJam in Greensboro the DJ repeated Dr. Dre’s famous line, “Bitches ain’t s**t but hoes and tricks,” to a crowd of thousands of voices eager to sing right along. Half of these voices came from females.
Why would intelligent women enjoy listening to music that not only objectifies them with every other verse, but also often glorifies violence against them? There surely can’t be a beat good enough to make someone sing along to selfdegradation.
Misogyny isn’t limited to rap and hip-hop, but the particular strain of domineering testosterone that makes feminists cringe when listening to hair metal anthems is isolated, injected with steroids and amplified into megalomania when it comes to rap.
It’s this exaggeration that allows