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A Wake Up Call
February 24, 2012 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Rap legend Too Short has made a career in rap documenting the business of prostitution. In the wake of criticism over a video interview on XXL in which he gave advice on committing sexual assault, he sat down with critic Dream Hampton for a frank discussion that he calls "a wake up call" (possible triggers).
posted by chrchr (77 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
[...] are going to bed with you, we are going to raise children with you, we are going to show up when you get killed by the police.
The fu.
posted by vivelame at 1:50 PM on February 24, 2012


The fu.

What is confusing? This side point is saying that these women that get treated poorly and looked down upon are the same ones that show up a community rallies and protests to support the victims of police brutality.

As far as too short - disgusting. His stuff was always disgusting, but some of the stuff I saw that he said (and I hadn't heard about this until now) went way over into dirty old man territory and I'm glad he has finally seen the light and resolved to change his ways.

When you're an old ass man and telling young boys to push up on and touch young girls in certain ways - just why are you even thinking about that, much less saying it?
posted by cashman at 2:06 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


That was an interesting interview. It made me think that clearly Too Short comes from an entirely different culture than I have experienced. But I know that's not entirely true.
posted by MrBobaFett at 2:10 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I drew some ire here when I suggested that a rap artist of might be more likely to be a rapist than some generic other guy.
posted by Xoebe at 2:13 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'll be curious to see whether or not he sticks to what he's saying in the Dream Hampton interview.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:17 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I drew some ire here when I suggested that a rap artist of might be more likely to be a rapist than some generic other guy.

Not all rappers are Too $hort?
posted by Hoopo at 2:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


I drew some ire here when I suggested that a rap artist of might be more likely to be a rapist than some generic other guy.

Understandable.


Sounds like he starts to get it riiiiight here...

I’m not going to lie to you…my eyes are opening just from reading the comments, the stuff that is coming from people. They say stuff like, “Does he get it?” I’m reading it and I am starting to get it.

Then he kinda loses it riiiiight there...

It may not be the biggest mistake in my life, but it was a major mistake, looking at the camera and saying those words.


Yeah, I don't know about his sincerity; good thing it's not my job to judge him.
posted by heyho at 2:23 PM on February 24, 2012


Xoebe: “I drew some ire here when I suggested that a rap artist of might be more likely to be a rapist than some generic other guy.”

They probably didn't catch that you must have been shooting for irony, seeing as how you've got an Arrested Development quote on your user page.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


They probably didn't catch that you must have been shooting for irony, seeing as how you've got an Arrested Development quote on your user page.

"I've made a huge mistake."
posted by entropone at 2:29 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The original interview was of course horribly misguided and wrong, but it's a good turn of events if it starts a dialogue within the community.
posted by desjardins at 3:09 PM on February 24, 2012


I drew some ire here when I suggested that a rap artist of might be more likely to be a rapist than some generic other guy.

... and rightfully so, since it is a perfectly unscientific assertion.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:20 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


man was that guy smoking crack?!
posted by Max Power at 3:20 PM on February 24, 2012


"This is what it is with Black feminists. We still love (brothers), we are not trying to throw y’all out. Don’t nobody love the Black man more than the Black woman. So its like we have been buying your (music) forever. Women are the number one topic in Hip Hop period and it’s usually to say 'f*ck you, ya'll ain't shit'. And yet we still buy your music, we still support this."

But why not kick it to the curb? I can't see choosing to listen to and support music with words of that kind. I can't see why so many people accept these repulsive attitudes. Sure, we all have faults, but some cross a line. And some words matter a lot because they reveal a lot. (E.G. referring to women generically as "bitches." WTF???)
posted by Listener at 3:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Listener: “But why not kick it to the curb? I can't see choosing to listen to and support music with words of that kind. I can't see why so many people accept these repulsive attitudes. Sure, we all have faults, but some cross a line. And some words matter a lot because they reveal a lot. (E.G. referring to women generically as ‘bitches.’ WTF???)”

I don't think it's really that simple. Hip hop does not mean sexism; and while dream hampton has no illusions about what a huge problem it is to the hip hop community, I don't think the fact that she embraces hip hop and makes it a part of herself means she's "accepting" the repulsive attitude of sexism.

It's really, really easy to look at someone obnoxious like Too $hort and believe that that's just what it is – that hip hop is simply nothing but disrespect and sexism and abuse. But it's not. Hip hop has a lot of really incredible and awesome things going for it. In saying that, I am not saying that the sexism should be accepted; on the contrary, I think the only way to fight it is to confront it directly and make it clear that it's not acceptable.

Also, dream hampton's point seems like a pretty good one when you take it in the generalized sense she seems to mean it. Sexism isn't just a problem in hip hop; it's a problem among men in general. We men are generally oblivious to sexism and unwilling to look in the mirror and dismantle the prejudice that our own privilege instills in us. It's tempting for us men to take that and take an easy way out – "oh, you feminists just hate men, y'all are just the lesbians of the bunch so chill out and leave us alone." As dream is pointing out, that is emphatically not the right response. Women have been putting up with our shit for years; it's not man-hate that makes women demand something better from this situation. We men need to take that in the spirit it's given and respect it for what it is. It means a lot, I think, that there are women out there like dream who are willing to say: 'look, love you men and all, and this is not us hating or tearing you down, but this shit will not fly, and is completely unacceptable in the society we want to build together.'

Sorry if I'm not expressing it very well – I'm sure she would say it better if she were here – but that's how it sounds to me.
posted by koeselitz at 3:53 PM on February 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


But why not kick it to the curb?

Black feminists are in a particularly tough position is all I can say.
posted by Edgewise at 3:55 PM on February 24, 2012


> Hip hop has a lot of really incredible and awesome things going for it.

That's nice, and I used to listen to Public Enemy, so I get that there are musical values there. However, had I heard any of the bitch/ho business in that, it would have ruined it for me. You can make the finest dinner in the world, but blend in some vomit or shit and I won't eat it. That's all I'm saying. It's unforgiveable.
posted by Listener at 4:05 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


A lot of people don't really listen to or understand the lyrics. Hip hop often has a great vibe to it; a great beat and hook that you can dance to or a laid back mellow song that's perfect for just hanging out with friends. Too $hort never really did it for me personally, his lyrics were especially hard to miss and being a white guy I was pretty conscious of how ridiculous I would look if Too Short was heard coming out of my car window. But in the end even I'm willing to deal with a few lyrics I disagree with if the beat is bangin.
posted by Hoopo at 4:26 PM on February 24, 2012


Listener: “You can make the finest dinner in the world, but blend in some vomit or shit and I won't eat it. That's all I'm saying. It's unforgiveable.”

I agree absolutely – it's total bullshit, and should not be tolerated. And I know what you mean. I think this is a common thing for a lot of us who love the music; just the other day I caught this song partway through a mix and loved it, only to go back and listen to the whole thing and find him dropping a "faggot" near the beginning. With disgust, I have to switch it off, because that bullshit ruins an otherwise really cool track. I can't listen to it after that.

I guess it's like – if I gave up this thing that I loved just because some assholes came in and tried to fuck it up, it would really suck. I would rather fight alongside other like-minded people to make the music better, to free it of this bullshit.

dream hampton is the real deal. She knew Biggie Smalls when he was just a dude in Brooklyn. She's been involved in hip hop for a lot of years. What she's doing in this interview, I have to say, is something I don't think I'd ever have the strength to do: confronting one of the worst misogynists in hip hop – really, a repeat offender on a grand scale – and calling him on his bullshit. I wouldn't have the patience for it. Still, I respect her for it, because it seems to me that she's fully aware that she's not doing this for him – she's doing this for everybody else who might read the interview or hear about what they say in it, and most of all for all the young women who have been affected by the bullshit of sexism in hip hop. I think that's a valiant effort.

But, er – again, I think I'd be with you on this. I wouldn't want to sit down within two hundred yards of an asshole like Too $hort. She's willing to, and I respect her for it, but I sure as hell wouldn't.
posted by koeselitz at 4:31 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's really, really easy to look at someone obnoxious like Too $hort and believe that that's just what it is – that hip hop is simply nothing but disrespect and sexism and abuse.

I agree with everything koeselitz says up there except for the part where he throws Too $hort under the bus. I get a little itchy when people say, "but not all rap is offensive! There is some of it that aligns with my white suburban sensibilities!" The reason that black feminists embrace rap music is that it is unique in giving a voice to urban youth. A lot of stuff in rap music is really unpleasant, and sometimes that is exactly why it's important.

The thing is is that the so-called "pimp culture" that Too $hort writes about and indeed endorses is a huge part of life in Oakland where he is from, and is generations old. He's talking about the way people around him live their lives, and it's definitely shocking and an incredibly harmful for women that people live their lives that way. They should definitely stop doing that. But that's well beyond Too $hort's control.

And I don't say this to defend what he did in that XXL interview. He shouldn't have done that, and it was irresponsible of XXL to put it on the web in the way they did it.

At the same time, I'm really excited about the prospect of Too $hort thinking about issues of gender equity and talking about that in his work, and I hope that that's the direction his work goes.
posted by chrchr at 4:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


chrchr: “I agree with everything koeselitz says up there except for the part where he throws Too $hort under the bus. I get a little itchy when people say, ‘but not all rap is offensive! There is some of it that aligns with my white suburban sensibilities!’ The reason that black feminists embrace rap music is that it is unique in giving a voice to urban youth. A lot of stuff in rap music is really unpleasant, and sometimes that is exactly why it's important.”

Yeah, I don't buy this. Misogyny is misogyny. Do you also think dream is wrong for calling it sexism in her interview because all that sexism is just "giving a voice to urban youth?" It wasn't necessary when Eazy-E spouted it, and it wasn't okay when Dre tried to push a woman down the stairs and kick her ribs in. Was that just them "giving a voice to urban youth?" No, that was bullshit misogyny, and it needs to stop.

You can say that I'm unhappy with stuff that doesn't align with my white suburban sensibilities – you could say it, but you'd be wrong. I love this music, all the way back to jazz, and I have the record collection to prove it (if that's necessary.) My perspective is that it seems pretty paternalistic to excuse bullshit from the mouths of rappers by saying they're just "urban" and that they're speaking for kids who just don't know any better. Bullshit. Rappers are smart. And out of respect for them I'm going to call them on their shit when they say something wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 4:44 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


He's talking about the way people around him live their lives...
I've heard this excuse many times WRT a lot of sociopathic hip-hop crap. It doesn't ring true. And I don't think these artists are that stupid, most of them know that they are glorifying shitty behavior. It's fairly obvious when you're criticizing something and when you're celebrating it. They don't care, they just want to sell records. It's grotesque...
posted by smidgen at 4:52 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Are black women supposed to boycott all sexist mass culture, or only the bit of it produced by black performers?
posted by wwwwwhatt at 4:58 PM on February 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


There is a direct line from Iceberg Slim to Too Short. It may be distasteful but it is indeed central to many people's experience.

If you guys really want your mind blown you should check out some "thug love" lit. like Wahida Clark. It is incredibly brutal.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:13 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


@koeselitz
I think it's great she called him on his shit and great this bit of dialogue occurred, and ideally much more to come. Still can't understand why she would "support" or seemingly purchase the product that is misogynistic as well. Putting your money where your mouth isn't seems counterproductive, as we all know actions speak louder than words, and money possibly even louder.

"A lot of people don't really listen to or understand the lyrics." More puzzlement for me. To me, the use of words is a cornerstone of civilization, and not listening to them when they are more or less in your own language is pretty dire. Those are not my people, and it makes me sad that people would be that way. Words matter a lot.
posted by Listener at 5:17 PM on February 24, 2012


koeselitz: Sexism isn't just a problem in hip hop; it's a problem among men in general. We men are generally oblivious to sexism and unwilling to look in the mirror and dismantle the prejudice that our own privilege instills in us.
I'm so tired of this view point. There is something patently insane about looking at a subculture that is violent, sociopathic, and misogynistic- be it rap or fratboy bro-dom- and declare the problem falls on the shoulders of all men.

I'm not doing these things, and koeselitz certainly isn't either. But the sad truth is your plea will not reach the ears of those who do, while bunch of perfectly decent people who weren't the problem at all will wear themselves out internalizing the stress and onus of thinking this is somehow their burden "as men".
posted by hincandenza at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2012


That's nice, and I used to listen to Public Enemy, so I get that there are musical values there. However, had I heard any of the bitch/ho business in that, it would have ruined it for me.

"I know she's a ho / So, I'm a go / Expose the funky bitch" - PE
posted by ndfine at 5:18 PM on February 24, 2012


ndfine: Glad I've never heard that. :) As I said, I *used to* listen to some PE, a few early ones.

"Are black women supposed to boycott all sexist mass culture, or only the bit of it produced by black performers?"

What do you think, since you bring it up?

I was just surprised a black feminist buys rap with misogynistic lyrics and attitudes. She can keep buying it; I will keep being puzzled. I will also keep rejecting most of the stupid-human culture that is out there, because that works for me.
posted by Listener at 5:27 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


And out of respect for them I'm going to call them on their shit when they say something wrong.

And I totally agree with that too. It has nothing to do with being smart or not smart. Lots of smart people carry around harmful ideas. Lots of smart people who have had plenty of opportunities to learn how harmful their behavior is are still sexist or racist or homophobic. I think this interview is an awesome example of a fruitful discussion that can result when a smart person is called out for being sexist. I want to see more stuff like this. By all means, call it out when people of whatever background are sexist. At the same time, man, artists are going to use whatever blunt tools they have to express themselves. At least until now, Too $hort's tools have included the belief that it is praiseworthy to exploit women for sex and money. How'd such a smart person wind up with that kind of mindset?

I totally didn't mean to call you out, koeselitz. I apologize if I gave that impression. I would love to see your record collection, but you don't need to prove your bona fides to me.
posted by chrchr at 5:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a Jew with an interest in 20th-century poetry, I'm used to admiring the work of people who have completely rancid politics. You just have to read things critically.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Listener: "I was just surprised a black feminist buys rap with misogynistic lyrics and attitudes. She can keep buying it; I will keep being puzzled. I will also keep rejecting most of the stupid-human culture that is out there, because that works for me."

That's a perfectly good question, I think. I imagine there are a couple of reasons. For one thing, I think there's a sense in which she's talking about black women generally, who do still buy a lot of this music even though I know the misogynistic part of it is corrosive to their souls. Also, dream actually knows these guys - she grew up around them and has been involved in hip hop for decades.

At the same time, maybe it would be worth it to actually boycott sexist music. I know I make it a point to try to avoid paying for stuff that has sexism and homophobia in it. That wouldn't be a new thing, either; there's a really good book out there called "Mad At Miles" by a woman who decided that black women should never buy Miles Davis albums because of the way he bragged about beating women in his autobiography.
posted by koeselitz at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: "... and being a white guy I was pretty conscious of how ridiculous I would look if Too Short was heard coming out of my car window. But in the end even I'm willing to deal with a few lyrics I disagree with if the beat is bangin."

Yeah, well - there ya go.

I do hope it starts discussion in the community. I googled so I could find the actual comments and it is disgusting. Whether his apology is sincere, I don't know. I can only hope he means it and he really is listening.

I love hip-hop, mostly the indie/abstract stuff. But even the most "conscious" hip-hop has had really horrible attitudes towards women and gay people. Witness Immortal Technique's homophobic lyrics or some of his anti-women lyrics... or the player attitude of otherwise solid rhymers like Souls of Mischief and Tribe Called Quest.

I do hope that there can be a movement amongst the broader Hip-Hop community so lyrics like "99 problems and a bitch ain't one" aren't considered acceptable, or even played by the President of the United States in his campaign in the primaries as a (not-so-subtle) dig at his female opponent.

That doesn't mean white dudes are somehow better than black dudes. I agree with
MrBobaFett: "That was an interesting interview. It made me think that clearly Too Short comes from an entirely different culture than I have experienced. But I know that's not entirely true."
At least I hope that's the concept... "Oh, look at that other culture..." when it's also our culture. The patriarchy.

Where did you get that anti-women attitude, son? I learned it from you "DAD", I learned it from you.

(I learned it from The Patriarchy)

I can't criticize the black community because I'm white, but I sure as hell can criticize the male community for being misogynists. I applaud rappers who will stand up against sexism. I hope more can learn to do so.

I'm glad that people are calling him out on it. I think he is honest in his statements that he's learning. He really doesn't say "I've learned my lesson" -- he says "I'm learning"... I think that shows that he's in the process. I don't think he's using some fancy PR (as my roomies argued he was). I think it does show an intent on his part that maybe he realizes that he has to learn... I hope so... or maybe I'm being naive, and in the back of his mind and in private convos hes's saying "those stupid bitches"... God I hope not.
posted by symbioid at 6:30 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


smidgen: I've heard this excuse many times WRT a lot of sociopathic hip-hop crap. It doesn't ring true. And I don't think these artists are that stupid, most of them know that they are glorifying shitty behavior...They don't care, they just want to sell records. It's grotesque...

hicandenza: I'm so tired of this view point. There is something patently insane about looking at a subculture that is violent, sociopathic, and misogynistic- be it rap or fratboy bro-dom- and declare the problem falls on the shoulders of all men.
Right, because rap culture exists in a bubble where the misogyny and violence are completed created from within, and not at all influenced by larger cultural contexts. Not to say that Too $hort shouldn't have been called on his shit -- he clearly needed to be, was, and it seems to have worked out beautifully.

bell hooks said it best:
The sexist, misogynist, patriarchal ways of thinking and behaving that are glorified in gangsta rap are a reflection of the prevailing values in our society, values created and sustained by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. As the crudest and most brutal expression of sexism, misogynistic attitudes tend to be portrayed by the dominant culture as an expression of male deviance. In reality they are part of a sexist continuum, necessary for the maintenance of patriarchal social order. While patriarchy and sexism continue to be the political and cultural norm in our society, feminist movement has created a climate where crude expressions of male domination are called into question, especially if they are made by men in power. It is useful to think of misogyny as a field that must be labored in and maintained both to sustain patriarchy but also to serve as an ideological anti-feminist backlash. And what better group to labor on this "plantation" than young black men.

Misogyny, gangsta rap, and The Piano

It's fairly obvious when you're criticizing something and when you're celebrating it.

The finest works of satire tend to blur that line in difficult ways.

When's the last time someone called out Mick Jagger for singing "Brown Sugar" or "Under My Thumb"?
posted by ndfine at 6:34 PM on February 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'm so tired of this view point. There is something patently insane about looking at a subculture that is violent, sociopathic, and misogynistic- be it rap or fratboy bro-dom- and declare the problem falls on the shoulders of all men.

I dunno about that. As a guy, sometimes I'm in situations where guys are being shitty, and I think it's my responsibility to not sit idly by, and to say, "No, that's fucked up, and I'm not going to high five you about it just cause you think we're bro-ing out."
posted by entropone at 6:45 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, somebody quoted bell hooks. You know what that means? That means this thread is now officially awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 6:47 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's important to note that Too Short has spent his entire adult life being wildly rewarded for the thing that he's now being called out on. Which doesn't absolve him of personal responsibilty, but it does make the indictment of greater society as a whole somewhat necessary. Too Short doesn't have the career that he's had just selling music to inner city poor kids. Jay-Z doesn't have more #1's than Elvis just selling records in the ghetto. Hip Hop has been pretty much the pop music and pop cultural default for almost 20 years. It's way too late to be mad at Too Short for selling shit sandwiches when so many people have been buying them for years.

It really does sound to me like he's sincere in his waking up to the issue. He's been around a while, and it's not like slick PR moves are going to put him back on top of the charts.

To me the important part of the story is that he was called out on it, and we have progressed as a society to a point where that callout actually found a mainstream avenue for discussion.
posted by billyfleetwood at 7:24 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was coming in to quote bell hooks and link that p.e. song (sophisticated bitch), and both got done. sweet.

Words clearly matter, and too short has abused whatever "reporter" cred he had, long ago. You can be a reporter for a few albums, but you're supposed to rise above it eventually, or have the consequences in the music.

Ice-T was great at having the violent, wrong-doing people die in his songs, or at least show the complexity in the lyrics. There were also times he just replicated on record what happens to this day in neighborhoods where crude guys get together and pop shit just to see who can say the most ridiculous shit, like you see on South Park. Cube, etc did it also. If these guys all stopped this instant, the larger culture would still be raining down this culture on you all day every day.

But anyway, just a separate point about hip hop, yes, words matter. I agree. Just an fyi though - if you want to understand how you can listen to some songs and the words not matter, check out some of the demo tracks kanye does where he is substituting the vocal patterns he has in mind, before he has actually thought up the lyrics. Some of those are so raw and well done that I actually have those on my ipod, because it ends up being like listening to rap in another language. There is a rhythm to the rapping and it is true poetry. It's awesome.

It's easy to say rap sucks if you don't know what you're doing when you look for it. Same for movies, music in general, houses, apartments, and pretty much anything if you just are disgusted by the occasional generic encounter. I can't stand beer and alcohol and think it is disgusting. But I also know that a lot of people like it and so I'm guessing it has some merit, and that people enjoy it, when they aren't out actually killing people with their cars after having consumed it.

Anyway, Too Short has a lot of good-doing to do. A lot.
posted by cashman at 7:25 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is kind of like this.
posted by 4ster at 7:56 PM on February 24, 2012


99 problems and a bitch ain't one

That song somewhat Subverts expectations about the use of the word bitch in rap. It isn't exactly super sophisticated with the "you thought I was talking about a woman ? I was talking about a drug sniffing dog. Who's the sexist now" but what can you expect, it is a pop song.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:41 PM on February 24, 2012


Say what???
posted by cashman at 9:02 PM on February 24, 2012


I'm so tired of this view point. There is something patently insane about looking at a subculture that is violent, sociopathic, and misogynistic- be it rap or fratboy bro-dom- and declare the problem falls on the shoulders of all men.
entropone: I dunno about that. As a guy, sometimes I'm in situations where guys are being shitty, and I think it's my responsibility to not sit idly by, and to say, "No, that's fucked up, and I'm not going to high five you about it just cause you think we're bro-ing out.
That wasn't my point at all, although you'll certainly get your MeFi high-fives for strawman. Obviously, if you see someone you know acting in a dickish way- and that can be anything from actual date rape, to casual misogyny, or even just bad driving etiquette- you can call them out on it to the appropriate degree. This is what mature, thoughtful, intelligent adults do. Acting locally is about all we can do, however.

What I resent is the implication koeselitz was making that because a subset of people have a particularly vocal, violent form of misogyny in their art, that it somehow falls to people who aren't involved in making, consuming, paying for, or supporting that art to somehow "take responsibility"... simply because they are quite frankly better, kinder, more decent people who happen to share some tangential trait like race, gender, age, nationality, or whatever.

And what it ultimately reminds me of is the sucker's game that exists in this world for any people of conscience or intelligence, where somehow just knowing there's a problem instills some sort of moral requirement to own fixing it. Which... no. Done with that, thank you. I'm not the parental guardian of lovers of misogynistic hip-hop lovers, or rapists and murderers, or banksters, or underinformed apathetic voters, or anti-environment conservatives who'll be howling for "someone" to fix the problem when global climate change really comes home to roost, or anyone who fucked some shit up that had nothing to do with me. I can watch the world in a slow motion car crash, but I don't suddenly "own" hitting the brakes any more than someone else.

I'm tired of the idea that you can make millions selling rap albums to suburban teenagers with a misogynistic bent, parading around in chrome-plated SUVs with women dripping off your anti-woman arms... or that you can buy into a culture that actually hurts your race or gender... but somehow it's hincandenza's problem that society is misogynistic or racist? Why, just because I'm aware that dumb people acted dumbly and/or continue to do so, I have some moral and ethical onus on me now to "save them" or "intercede"?

That's as fair as asking taxpayers to bail out firms like Goldman Sachs, when they got none of the benefit, and now shoulder all the risk and burden.
posted by hincandenza at 9:03 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


And this is why I hate rap music. Which is a shame, actually, as I think it can be creative, playful, politically astute, and just plain fun. But I instantly switch channels on the radio if rap comes on, because I don't want to listen to this crap, and I sure don't want any kids I'm with listening to it.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:08 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I resent is the implication koeselitz was making that because a subset of people have a particularly vocal, violent form of misogyny in their art, that it somehow falls to people who aren't involved in making, consuming, paying for, or supporting that art to somehow "take responsibility"...

The whole point of saying responsibility falls on "men in general" means he's not singling you out specifically. The exact opposite actually. If Too Short dies tomorrow, Misogyny doesn't die with him. We have to be able to talk about these things in terms of society as a whole. It's aways easy to take the easy route of pointing a finger over there somewhwere. It's that guy. It's that music that I don't listen to.

That's not good enough. When someone says Men in general need to take a long hard look at themselves it simply acknowledges that this shit is all around us. From Hip Hop to Paper Towel Commercials. If you put the whole of society on notice then we're all beholden to examine what part we play. If you look at yourself and come up clean, that's great. Have a cookie, put your feet up. Maybe share some of your enlightenment with the rest of us. I have had as much of an education as anyone I know. I grew up with 3 sisters and a hardcore feminist mother, and these topics were regular conversation around the house as long as I can remember. And I fuck up all the time. Not because my intent is bad, or because I lack awareness. I am a human being in a flawed system that's seemingly impossible to escape at times. And I know enough not to try and be perfect, and I learn new things every day. I don't think that's too much to ask of anyone.
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:49 PM on February 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Right, but the only people with that introspection, billyfleetwood, are the people who least need it- it's like Dunning-Kruger effect applied to bigotry.

The most misogynistic people aren't even taking one second to ponder their thoughts and actions. Which is the "sucker's game" I alluded to; you, koeselitz, even hated-old horrible hincandenza, are still streets ahead of the average man out there, despite the truth that we slip up every now and then. Asking us to be even more vigilant... sure, we obviously want to be better, but it seems to focus entirely on the wrong problem and wrong people.

It really is the Metafilter problem writ small: we wear ourselves out and work ourselves into a frenzied lather overanalyzing that plate of beans... while most people "out there" don't even how to work the can opener. I think frankly most every guy who reads Metafilter is doing pretty a-okay in the scheme of things, and maybe that could be pointed out more often. We aren't the problem or the solution.
posted by hincandenza at 10:08 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


hincandenza: "What I resent is the implication koeselitz was making that because a subset of people have a particularly vocal, violent form of misogyny in their art, that it somehow falls to people who aren't involved in making, consuming, paying for, or supporting that art to somehow 'take responsibility'... simply because they are quite frankly better, kinder, more decent people who happen to share some tangential trait like race, gender, age, nationality, or whatever."

You are confusing duty with guilt. They are not the same thing. Human beings aren't born with guilt, but we are born with certain duties and responsibilities. Some of these rights and responsibilities may seem unfair to us because of how arbitrary they are; for example, because I was born a while male two decades before the close of the twentieth century, I have certain responsibilities to black people as a whole, to women, to homosexuals, and to all of society because of the way my kind have treated those groups in the past.

I know that duty and responsibility are words that we as a society are wary and even afraid of, and I even appreciate the philosophy behind that wariness. We Americans tend to cling to this libertarian ideal that we owe nothing ot society except to live and let live, that is, to make sure that in exercising our rights we do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same. But as charming and cozy and morally freeing as we may find that belief, it is incorrect.

We owe so many debts, first and foremost to the society that bore us, raised us, and granted us the opportunities we enjoy. We owe a debt to those who labored in lowly positions in order to give us places of privilege that we may not even notice are places of privilege. And we owe a debt to those wronged by our forefathers, though we do not share in any of the guilt.

I learned this from William Faulkner - that we humans can find meaning and purpose in the duties that are ours. It is pleasing and comforting in the moment to pretend that injustices that happened in the oast have nothing to do with us and therefore don't require our effort or sacrifice to be set right; but this is wrong because we are all of us connected, and because the past is alive in us whether we choose to admit it or not.

Duty is not the same thing as guilt. Your hypothetical situation in which good men quiver in fear is not the situation I believe is right. What I believe is right is that good and decent men recognize the duties and responsibilities which are incumbent upon them because they are men.

These things aren't as simple as you're trying to make them. The past matters, the sexism women have endured matters, the homophobia that gay people have endured matters. You seem to think it's just an annoying burden, but for me it's an incredibly powerful source of meaning. We exist in some sense to right these wrongs.
posted by koeselitz at 11:46 PM on February 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I mean: it is absolutely unfair to read this thread as though it's a guilt trip. I understand that you're one of those people who reads every single discussion about "political correctness" as though it's intended to tear people down and make them feel bad about something or other. But you're misreading this discussion if that's what you see here. No one here has even barely hinted that the men of Metafilter are all evil homophobic sexist jerks; in good faith we all presume that's not true.

This is actually a pretty significant problem to be overcome. Lots of people have difficulty not taking this stuff personally and seeing it as an indictment of their character. I'm right there with you on trying to make sure that doesn't happen, but first you have to trust that it isn't what we're trying to do here.
posted by koeselitz at 11:59 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to make one last tiny attempt to argue that even offensive rap lyrics are important and that fans of rap shouldn't have to apologize for it, or say that we don't really listen to the words, or that we only like the enriching, uplifting kind. Rap music doesn't owe anybody satisfying morality tales, or even any socially redeeming content. It doesn't have to be political propaganda. That's not something we ask of any other art form. Rap music can stand on its own as music. Mefi favorite Jay Smooth discusses this elegantly in his Sound of Young America interview at about 6:10.

Now here's why I think that it's necessary that the lyrics are offensive. If you look at the state of employment for African Americans, the state of education, the rate of violence and imprisonment, I think you get a pretty clear idea of why rap music features violence, materialism and misogyny as major themes. Seriously, given the conditions that black people in America live in, what do you think rap music should be about? "Oooh, baby I love you so much"? The vague ennui so popular with the Pitchfork set? I mean, I suppose if you were a poor black kid, you'd steer clear of all that nihilism and rap about the triumph of the worker or something, right?

As a society, we've doomed an entire swath of our population to a life of violent and desperate struggle to escape poverty, and when they master the tools of popular music and use them to tell their stories, we condemn them for using dirty language.
posted by chrchr at 1:23 AM on February 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


And this is why I hate rap music. Which is a shame, actually, as I think it can be creative, playful, politically astute, and just plain fun. But I instantly switch channels on the radio if rap comes on, because I don't want to listen to this crap, and I sure don't want any kids I'm with listening to it.

How many misogynistic rock songs would there have to be before rock, as a genre, is considered equally guilty?
posted by dubold at 1:59 AM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


When's the last time someone called out Mick Jagger for singing "Brown Sugar" or "Under My Thumb"?

Often. A whole lot, actually.
posted by Hoopo at 2:59 AM on February 25, 2012


If you look at the state of employment for African Americans, the state of education, the rate of violence and imprisonment, I think you get a pretty clear idea of why rap music features violence, materialism and misogyny as major themes.

Violence, materialism and misogyny? Are we talking about rap music or the Republican primaries?
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:33 AM on February 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Our whole culture, top to bottom, through every household and business and city, is built on a material foundation that valorises macho individualist striving, the infinite accumulation of money, and the subjugation of women. This music, like Hollywood, is big, expensive business; those who invest in it want to sell it to the demographic with the most disposable income. That is not inner-city kids. It relatively wealthy, mainly white teenagers and young adults who, for horrific reasons, imagine themselves as being working-class black men when they need to overtly fantasise about success in these fields.

Criticising black men for the way they appear in mainstream rap is like watching Hollywood blockbusters and complaining that white women's culture is too concerned with wearing bikinis and getting kidnapped by aliens.
posted by wwwwwhatt at 6:57 AM on February 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


That's nice, and I used to listen to Public Enemy, so I get that there are musical values there. However, had I heard any of the bitch/ho business in that, it would have ruined it for me. You can make the finest dinner in the world, but blend in some vomit or shit and I won't eat it. That's all I'm saying. It's unforgiveable.

Seriously? PE had a music video about assassinating politicians with fucking car bombs
posted by p3on at 10:36 AM on February 25, 2012


> we condemn them for using dirty language

No, not at all. I use bad language. I just don't use it to abuse my partner or men in general.

> PE had a music video about assassinating politicians with fucking car bombs

So? I didn't watch music videos. I think it was an anti-semitic word that put me off PE, on one of the first 3 albums. I could be wrong, though. Long time ago. Dredging up more bad shit from the best of early rap just tells me I'm not missing anything by avoiding it like the plague. Well done, all.
posted by Listener at 11:01 AM on February 25, 2012


That's kind of ridiculous, Listener. The sheer amount of seminal, creative, interesting and important music you would have to write off by your standards as not worthwhile is staggering. You must have the most insular and boring music collection. Honestly, avoiding all "early hip hop like the plague" because of Professor Griff and "Sophisticated Bitch" is pretty ignorant.
posted by Hoopo at 12:43 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


No matter how many apologies there are, how many 'artists' are humiliated, or how much people try to show just how negative this is, it will be a long time before this kind of crap is NOT seen as desirable, or even as a male trump card in rap culture.
posted by hellslinger at 3:40 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> The sheer amount of seminal, creative, interesting and important music you would have to write off by your standards as not worthwhile is staggering. You must have the most insular and boring music collection.

That's okay. It's not important to me. There is world music as well as jazz and classical, and I'd trade all of rap for Elvis Costello's catalogue, in a microheartbeat. Anything larded with injustice turns me off, I don't care how "good" or "important" it is. I think a culture and lifestyle without that is far more interesting and important than any stupid music collection. But, hey, different strokes.
posted by Listener at 3:49 PM on February 25, 2012


Elvis "blind, ignorant nigger" Costello?

This isn't a gotcha, because he was very drunk, apologized soon after, was apparently only about trying to piss Stephen Stills off, and Ray Charles forgave him, and Costello had the good grace to be embarrassed. We all make mistakes, and Costello is a lot more then one drunken comment in an argument. But can you really dismiss all of PE and all early hip hop?
posted by Snyder at 4:31 PM on February 25, 2012


Sorry, that was a bit rude. Just saying that no music collection is as important as other values.

I never said I dismiss early hiphop. I just don't listen to rap, period. I have been an angry person, and I don't need to listen to PE's anger. I don't want to encounter any gangsta attitudes visually or otherwise because criminality sickens me. The woman-as-hot-meat thing bothers me. There's too much shit and not enough sandwich for me to bother with any rap. Anyway, I could find the EXACT same rhythms in other music, if I wanted.

Yeah, I don't think you could find anything really offensive about Costello. Some dark stories in his songs, but that is it.
posted by Listener at 5:47 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So? I didn't watch music videos. I think it was an anti-semitic word that put me off PE, on one of the first 3 albums. I could be wrong, though. Long time ago. Dredging up more bad shit from the best of early rap just tells me I'm not missing anything by avoiding it like the plague. Well done, all.

ahahaha ok cool, I'm sure you never noticed any militancy or advocation of violence/direct action in PE lyrics.
posted by p3on at 10:20 PM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find any kind of harsh, abrasive music, or at the other end, anything too syrupy sweet unbearable. If I know the language, stupid or mean lyrics can wake me out of a sound sleep.
My neighborhood is awash in gangsta rap, narco corrientes and really stupid country music, not even decent examples of these genres. By the way decent examples of all three exist.
Doing rap advising boys how to commit digital and maybe later piv rape is irresponsible and disgusting. Those boys will end up in jail. Aren't enough young Black males in the jails and prisons?
While we are talking race, the editor where this all got published is a WHITE looking female.
Makes you wonder what's up with that?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:16 AM on February 26, 2012


Rap legend Too Short Stupid

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 4:50 AM on February 26, 2012


> I'm sure you never noticed any militancy or advocation of violence/direct action in PE lyrics

What is your point?
posted by Listener at 8:58 AM on February 26, 2012


Snyder: "But can you really dismiss all of PE and all early hip hop?"

This is getting pretty out of hand. All early hip hop? All early hip hop? PE weren't even really early, and moreover early hip hop is less offensive than hip hop from any other era. I defy you to find one misogynist or homophobic thing on Criminal Minded, not to mention Roxanne Shante's records or most of the other classics of the period.

In fact, this needs to be an askme question at this point.
posted by koeselitz at 1:12 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Criminal Minded is great, but doesn't pass this test. "Super Ho", "The P Is Free" and KRS's famous line about Roxanne Shanté DQ it.>
posted by chrchr at 2:27 PM on February 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really don't want to jump on Listener. If music isn't important to you, I get how easy it would be to dismiss some categorization of it for fear of encountering something offensive. People dismiss all of television, even though there are some incredible things to be seen and learned from. For me, the bad parts of rap are like commercials on television shows. The content of the show might not be possible without satisfying the needs of those who give out the money, but I can mentally try to block out those messages. The Daily Show is still good, even though commercials are there. You could learn a lot from television, and you could learn a lot from rap. If it's not worth it to you, that's your choice. You can always change your mind later.

Anyway, I could find the EXACT same rhythms in other music, if I wanted.

I'm not really sure that's a criticism of rap, because as KRS-1 says, for a good chunk of time, rap was about having a voice. A lot of the communities rappers spoke for didn't have much of a voice, so they took the popular culture and recontextualized it with their own messages. Much of it was meta from the start. Some song titles bring to mind a certain sample, so that I can see a song title and before I hear a single instant of the song, have thoughts about what the sample will sound like, what the song will be examining, and if it will be a straightforward analysis, a meta-analysis, or a recontextualization. If there was ever a genre for Metafilter, I think rap is it.

Anyway, anti-eponysterical!
posted by cashman at 3:20 PM on February 26, 2012


I am also loathe to tell anyone what kind of music they should or should not listen to. I love Elvis Costello, and yeah, a person could be pretty satisfied listening to his catalog for the rest of their years. However, Elvis Costello is not going to be able to tell you anything about the African American experience.
posted by chrchr at 4:19 PM on February 26, 2012


What is your point?

that hearing a casual misogynist slur apparently bothers you more than spurring people to commit terrorist acts
posted by p3on at 4:42 PM on February 26, 2012


That's a really stupid point. Are you saying it shouldn't bother her at all? Or that PE is evil? Or what?

If you really think casual listeners are really aware of the more extreme elements of PE's music, I question whether you really know anything about them.
posted by koeselitz at 6:01 PM on February 26, 2012


>All early hip hop? All early hip hop? PE weren't even really early, and moreover early hip hop is less offensive than hip hop from any other era.

You know what, I never mentioned anything about dismissing early hiphop. Hoopo attributed that to me, wrongly. I only brought up PE as an example that I recognize there is musicality in rap.

>casual misogynist slur

Not sure which one you are referring to, but this thread was about a guy who did more than utter such a thing. I don't recall any advocacy of violence in PE, but then again even without looking up the tunes on the CDs in the closet, I have to say that violent political action is rare in my world and attacks on women by "friends" and people who say they love them are dead common. I am repelled by what I have seen happen to many women. It may be "casual" to some (!), but I see it as a deeply entrenched endemic problem.

Actually, I love music, played it regularly for a couple of decades or so. I care about it a lot. I still think other values are more important. I did used to play in a gamelan group - so it's not like I'm totally insulated from other cultures. So, commercial music on the radio isn't the centre of music for me and dismissing rap works well. And the African American experience? Well, I'm Canadian in a context without many (if any) African Americans around and just not deeply interested anyway. Nor am I obligated to be.
posted by Listener at 9:57 PM on February 26, 2012


cashman, it's not a FEAR of encountering something offensive. It's a desire for happiness and avoidance of unnecessary guaranteed ugliness. I am not a milquetoast, despite the impression that seems to have developed here. I'm studying environmental science - I see something offensive every time I open a textbook or read the news. That's the reality, and I have enough drama. Thanks for giving a reasonable example of why someone might listen, though -- for purposes of analysis and understanding social issues. (Not something I would ever be good at, as people are a mystery to me, and not a fun mystery, like geology or chemistry.)
posted by Listener at 10:15 PM on February 26, 2012


Listener: “You know what, I never mentioned anything about dismissing early hiphop. Hoopo attributed that to me, wrongly. I only brought up PE as an example that I recognize there is musicality in rap.”

Sorry, I really was only responding to Snyder there, who was the one who brought up the "all early hip hop" thing.
posted by koeselitz at 10:33 PM on February 26, 2012


This is getting pretty out of hand. All early hip hop? All early hip hop? PE weren't even really early, and moreover early hip hop is less offensive than hip hop from any other era. I defy you to find one misogynist or homophobic thing on Criminal Minded, not to mention Roxanne Shante's records or most of the other classics of the period.

Woah, back off. I never said any of what you're trying to attribute to me, talking about anythings relative offensiveness or accusing any hip hop, early or otherwise of being misogynistic or homophobic. I was just asking Listener a question, and they answered it very fairly. I didn't bring up the early hip hop thing, that was Hoopo who seemed to be referencing something Listener said.
posted by Snyder at 11:38 PM on February 26, 2012


Okay, total misapprehension on my part. Sorry. We can move on.

Listener: “And the African American experience? Well, I'm Canadian in a context without many (if any) African Americans around and just not deeply interested anyway. Nor am I obligated to be.”

Absolutely, you are not obligated. I think the thing is – you wondered why anybody would even make the effort to get into a genre of music which sometimes features pretty rank sexism prominently. Well, that's the answer. It's a pretty important cultural touchstone, like jazz was and is for a lot of us; I'm a jazz piano player myself, so that's where I'm coming at this from. You seem bewildered that anybody could possibly care about this music, and there's been a lot of stuff in this thread about how inescapable sexism is in hip hop, but – well, look, first of all I don't think that's necessarily true, and second of all there's a lot of extremely important stuff being dealt with in hip hop, stuff that does not get dealt with elsewhere.

I guess what's frustrating about this thread is we're kind of at a dead end. You don't see much intrinsic value in hip hop, which is totally fine; I guess in the end you'll just have to accept that a lot of us do.
posted by koeselitz at 11:47 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what, I never mentioned anything about dismissing early hiphop. Hoopo attributed that to me, wrongly.

I didn't wrongly attribute anything to you, you said this:

Dredging up more bad shit from the best of early rap just tells me I'm not missing anything by avoiding it like the plague.

That's dismissing "the best of early rap" out of hand

I defy you to find one misogynist or homophobic thing on Criminal Minded

The P is Free? Even The Bridge Is Over has "Shan and Marley Marl acting like they're gay". There's actually a fair bit.

Just saying that no music collection is as important as other values.

And I'm saying that's kind of BS. Having a PE or BDP record doesn't compromise your values. I'm not sure why owning a record by these guys means I endorse everything or anything they say. It means I like the music.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2012


There's a market for it.
posted by falameufilho at 6:13 PM on February 28, 2012


Not sure which one you are referring to, but this thread was about a guy who did more than utter such a thing. I don't recall any advocacy of violence in PE, but then again even without looking up the tunes on the CDs in the closet, I have to say that violent political action is rare in my world and attacks on women by "friends" and people who say they love them are dead common.

PE was *constantly* referring to violent political action to the point that they're practically defined by it in popular memory, this is a bullshit copout and you're grasping for straws to defend yourself.
posted by p3on at 11:24 PM on March 15, 2012


PE was *constantly* referring to violent political action to the point that they're practically defined by it in popular memory, this is a bullshit copout and you're grasping for straws to defend yourself.

I don't know if I agree, but I've just loaded p.e.'s catalog up, from Yo to Apocalypse 91, to relisten and see.

You know, for SCIENCE!
posted by cashman at 10:09 AM on March 16, 2012


I might be blinded off the funk, and I'm only at she watch channel zero, but I'm not seeing it. Chuck D. definitely has his moments, but It's probably in the single digits over their entire catalog. But I mean, if there were no instances, that would actually be more surprising. They are called Public Enemy.
posted by cashman at 9:04 AM on March 19, 2012


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