By Margaret Brinson, Managing Editor
Seven references to women as prostitutes. Ten specific times women are portrayed as just sex objects. Twenty-seven times, the word “woman” is replaced with profanity when describing the female object of a song.
All of this can be found within the Top 25 singles charted on iTunes this month. Nearly 50 times within the 13 hip-hop songs that made the list, women are described in such a way that labels them as worthless, brainless bodies — a sub-genre of humanity.
Throughout the rise of hip-hop and rap, big names such as Bill Cosby and Gladys Knight have come out against its controversial content: a constant slew of racist remarks coupled with the demeaning of women, cheapening of sex and promotion of the gangster lifestyle of drugs and violence as a means to overcome impoverished pasts. But in the midst of their struggle to overcome, these artists are bringing down — and keeping down — the perception of women nationwide. Injustice cannot be defeated with more injustice.
Then again, that is not the message being sent by consumers across the country, who are buying into the genre more than any other on the popular charts. Hip-hop competes with every other style of music, from pop to country to contemporary Christian, and takes up nearly half of the Top 100 chart.
In Drake’s “The Motto,” a Top 25 song featuring fellow hip-hop artist Lil’ Wayne, these lyrics are dropped in the middle of an anthem about the musicians’ sexual and economic prowess: “She know(s) even if I’m (sleeping) with her I don’t really need her.”
“Rack City,” a Top 10 charted track by Tyga, accounts for 24 — more than half — of the previously mentioned offenses alone, including a derogatory sexual reference to a grandmother.
How did Americans promote, all the way to No. 8, a song that degrades half of the population? Moreover, how is this happening today, in this age of political correctness to the highest degree? Why, when so many words and phrases are becoming taboo, are we embracing songs that overtly insult so much of society?
On Feb. 12, acclaimed artist Chris Brown performed at the Grammys after taking a two-year hiatus. The hip-hop and R&B star was scheduled to perform at the ceremony in 2009, until his then-girlfriend Rihanna checked into a hospital the night before, suffering wounds and a bout of bruises he would later confess to having caused. Neither artist would perform that weekend.
When it was announced that Brown was to perform on the show this year, executive producer Ken Ehrlich was quoted as saying, “If you’ll note, (Brown) has not been on the Grammys for the past few years, and it may have taken us a while to kind of get over the fact that we were the victim of what happened.”
That Grammy executives are under the impression they were the victims of a crime of domestic abuse against a young woman is hard enough to believe. Harder still is the fact that before Ehrlich’s disgusting statement, hardly any backlash had come against the Grammys for their choice, or, for that matter, against Brown in the two years since he confessed to beating his girlfriend. Celebrities kept quiet, Brown c o n t i n u e d p r o d u c i n g music that made millions and people still supported him.
The small voice of protest that did arise during the Grammys this year was not enough to compete with Brown’s praise. At the end of the night, he was awarded a Grammy for best R&B album of the year and responded with triumph.
“Hate all u want becuz I got a Grammy now,” Brown tweeted soon after. “That’s the ultimate (expletive)! I’m back so watch my back as I walk away from all this negativity.”
Thank you, Chris Brown, for proving my point: Voting this guy Best Artist or buying his music says you support what it stands for, whether it is singing about women like they are good for nothing or showing them with your fists.
I am not calling for stricter regulations from the Federal Communications Commission. Freedom of speech is too great a right to trifle with, and it would not have to be if insulting speech were not being endorsed by Americans.
Instead, our culture should call for something higher than what we are being fed by popular music today. A true artist could respond with a track that says something more than sexist and simple lyrics. I believe hip-hop could be a high art, and with such an obviously eager audience, the genre could be used as a platform for a message that matters.