“Yeezy Taught Me”: Some Thoughts on My Complicated Relationship with Hip Hop

January 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

We both know that I not so secretly LOVE Kanye West. I’ve been promoting his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, like I’m singing on one of the tracks. Lol. I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me talk about it and most of them probably purchased it just to shut me up (it didn’t work). I love the album. I have so much respect for Kanye. BUT, in spite of all of that, I have a confession to make…

Sometimes, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to feel about his lyrics, you know, being a woman and all. In other words, even though I may try, I can’t ignore the blatant misogyny spread through his verses, and it’s very annoying because I truly appreciate his artistry.

Up until this point I’ve avoided commenting extensively or writing a review on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy precisely for this reason. The first time I listened to the album the whole way through, I couldn’t help but cringe at how sexism was just inherent, entrenched in the lyricism—it was just always there, mocking me. When I got to the end of the album, I was so impressed and surprised with the honest vulnerability and raw emotion exhibited in “Blame Game” just to be completely disappointed by Chris Rock’s offensive two and a half minute postlude, where he repeatedly asks a woman (post sexual encounter) in just about every offensive way possible where she’s learned her “techniques,” to which she responds (over and over and over again…it’s painful) “Yeezy taught me.” * BIG FREAKING SIGH * Seriously though, I was so disappointed.

After listening to the entire album for the first time, I was very conflicted. The arrangements and production were amazing, but I couldn’t ignore that so many of the lyrics were damaging to my person, as a woman, as a sexual being, as a fan. The blatant disrespect for women in so much of the album is at times overbearing. It’s just not affirming at all, but I was still compelled to keep it in rotation on my Ipod, because it just sounds so damn nice. And let’s be real, it’s not just Kanye, this is a symptom of Hip Hop pretty generally.

To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Hip Hop. Part of the reason for that is because I didn’t grow up listening to it, but a bigger part of it is because I often feel as if I can’t relate to it. The genre is still overwhelmingly male dominated and with men always telling the story mine is usually pushed to the margins i.e. in male fantasies and imaginations, which too often translates to sexism, homophobia, and violence. And it’s even more annoying when the so-called “conscious” artists do it too. Smdh. I understand that it’s not all bad, but rather than sifting through it, I often just find myself ignoring it all together, and instead following only a few select artists. Kanye (lucky man) has made my list of “a few select artists,” and so I fast forward through the last three minutes of “Blame Game,” and roll my eyes at the way the words “bitch” and “pussy” are thrown around as colloquial parts of speech. I’ve learned how to ignore the sexism, but at the same I recognize that I’ve also learned how to internalize it. “Yeezy taught me.” And it’s a problem. SIGH.

Kanye’s new video for “Monster” inspired me to finally say something and put my complicated love/hate relationship with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on blast. The video was just too much to handle. The imagery is highly reminiscent of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and there are several particularly jarring scenes—Kanye in the bed with two dead bodies, dead women hanging from the ceiling, the entire scene during Jay-Z’s verse, Kanye holding a severed head….Gaaah. It’s just too damn much. You have been warned (may be slightly NSFW).

 

 I know, right?! It’s ridic. So to echo (kinda) this post on postbourgie.com, what the hell is a conflicted feminist (sorta) and music lover to do (except let out another big freaking *SIGH*)?

Sex, Lies and….Teenagers

July 26th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

Oh Amber,

So deep. I spent a good chunk of time reading the conversation swirling around Crunktastic’s post and was reminded just how deep it really is. We’re broken – whether objectified or “friend”ified, our notions of gender and each other are broken. We may start to figure out one piece of the puzzle and suddenly we notice the big gaping hole that we didn’t know was there.

I’ve been thinking about youth and gender. Recently, I have consistently been confronted with many teenagers’ screwed up ideas of gender, sex and relationships.

So many boys talk about girls as objects for their pleasure, and they are so unaware of the falseness of this idea that they will do so with women (me) present. They claim to respect women, but they’re operating with an inaccurate definition. A definition taught to them by peers, music, movies and tv shows, and left unchecked by parents and society.

So many girls rely on boys’ attention for self-esteem. Nothing breaks my heart more than to see girls fall into this trap. They’re self-worth has been mutilated – what happened to slapping that boy who dared to touch your ass – like he just thought he could?

Both end up hurt. The boys as much as the girls. Neither know anything about relationships. Did you ever see “When Harry Met Sally?” Harry tells Sally that men and women can never be friends because the “sex part always gets in the way.” Well, when your hormones are raging, your self-esteem is shot, and your concept of “womanhood” and “manhood” is skewed, then sex most definitely gets in the way.

Sometimes I think we focus so much on preventing STDs and teenage pregnancies that we pass over all the other issues related to teenage sex (and why many are having sex) – self-worth, the worth of others, the value of relationships and what they actually look like. Don’t get me wrong, sex ed is important, but so is their emotional and social health.

And yes, media has a lot to do with it. And home. They get these images somewhere and if they aren’t taught how to filter, they buy into what’s being sold. And it hurts them.

And left to themselves, they will grow to be adults who know nothing about relationships.






** I should note that I speak very generally (“they”) but obviously, like any other group of people, teenagers have varying experiences. In this instance, however, I wanted to go general rather than specific.

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