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July 12, 2013 5:30 PM   Subscribe

99 Problems An illustrated guide to some of Jay-Z's "99 Problems" (YT, NSFW).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero (162 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Problem #100 - Inability to refer to women in respectful or even non-degrading terms.
posted by mediocre at 5:34 PM on July 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Problem 101: "not available on this platform"
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:39 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


He pretends to have more money than he does? But only by a little.

I like to pretend I have more money than Pitbull pretends to have. I'm not greedy.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:45 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Problem #100 - Inability to refer to women in respectful or even non-degrading terms.

Fun fact: in "99 Problems" the word "bitch" is never used to describe a woman. It is, however, used to describe a female K9.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:46 PM on July 12, 2013 [19 favorites]


To quote:
"So '99 Problems' is a good song to use to talk about the difference between the art of rap and the artlessness of some of its critics...And the hook itself--99 problems but a bitch ain't one--is a joke, a bait for lazy critics. At no point in the song am I talking about a girl."
(Although he does use it to refer to a man who is all talk but no action, which isn't entirely unproblematic.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:47 PM on July 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


102: limited availability of Picassos means he had to settle for a Basquiat.

103: worlds heaviest gold chain causes back pain if worn too long.

104: had to ground the Bombarier Challenger 850, while boarding a charter saw Diddy doing the jet dance

BTW 99 problems is inspired by an Ice T song, I ain't going to link it because It's better you guys don't hear it.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:52 PM on July 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


Problem #100 - Inability to refer to women in respectful or even non-degrading terms. Threadshitters
posted by kagredon at 5:53 PM on July 12, 2013 [27 favorites]


BTW 99 problems is inspired by an Ice T song, I ain't going to link it because It's better you guys don't hear it.

Please link it. Enlighten me! I won't complain, I'm literally asking for it.
posted by MoxieProxy at 5:55 PM on July 12, 2013


Yeah, Ice-T was decidedly not being clever when he wrote that chorus, let's say.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:56 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ice t - 99 Problems. Jay-Z did a neat job of sort of subverting the message of the original, which is objectionable to say the least.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:58 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


see also: this comment
posted by kagredon at 6:01 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah.. that is at best a huge reach, and more than likely an attempted retcon by the artist to saying the term is referring to a dog. The K9 line is there, but in no way is any attempt made to say that he is referring to the gender of the dog. And when "If you got girls problems.." is followed by "a bitch aint one", it is the worst kind of revisionist attempt to make it okay to attempt to say that the 1 + 1 of the above statement equals K9.

I was just making a flippant joke, and generally don't make a big deal of offensive terms in lyrics. But trying to say that it isn't what it is is.. reality denial.
posted by mediocre at 6:02 PM on July 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


Okay, thanks for that, and I would like to know, was the Ice t song first, and the Jay-Z one a response, or, how did that all play out? What's the connection here? Is there a rivalry between the two? Was there resentment? I'm assuming Jay-Z's was more popular (because I'd heard of it), so did Ice t feel he was plagiarized?

Yes, yes, I'm an old gay man who should know all this but doesn't, but I'm curious, so please, if you know, explain.
posted by MoxieProxy at 6:04 PM on July 12, 2013


The "girl problems" is, as has already been pointed out, a reference to an earlier song by a different person, and the symmetry of the song is lost if "bitch" isn't referring to the K9 line--because each verse plays off of a slightly different meaning of "bitch".

Anyway, this is all a derail, and I'd like to point out this trilogy of problems.
posted by kagredon at 6:06 PM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


And if I may link to other problems that may or may not have been experienced by Jay-Z, I'd like to start with this.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:10 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


This one is really funny! Wait we're talking about offensive rap lyrics? Sigh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ice T, that's the guy who plays a cop on TV, right?
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, thanks for that, and I would like to know, was the Ice t song first, and the Jay-Z one a response, or, how did that all play out?

The Ice-T song was first by ten years. Jay-Z's reference to it is basically an homage. Rap music as a whole is highly intertextual, which is yet another thing that makes it hard for people who don't have a lot of familiarity with the music to get what's really being said.
posted by chrchr at 6:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


mediocre: "I was just making a flippant joke"

Actually, it was more of a lazy joke based pretty clearly on not understanding the song, its context, or rap music in general, as others have already taken pains to explain. The only person "retconning" here is you...

I mean or did you actually know that whole verse about being stopped by the police while he was transporting cocaine across state lines is referring to an event that actually happened, the result being that he eluded arrest because the K9 unit was taking to long to arrive on scene and detaining him further would have resulted in the evidence being thrown out? The "bitch" in that line ONLY makes sense if it is referring to a drug sniffing dog.
posted by danny the boy at 6:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


Ice T, that's the guy who plays a cop on TV, right?

Yeah, the fact that the guy who made that song went on to be on TV every week as a police officer who works with kids is basically amazing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:12 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


What chrchr said.

The Ice T track was released in 1993. Jay-Z's version came out in 2003. Ice T was already a TV star at that point and hadn't really been relevant to rap in years IMO.

Brother Marquis, the dude who wrote the line and said it on the Ice T track sued both rappers though.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:13 PM on July 12, 2013


So what you are saying is that unless you have done homework on the background of the events that the artist was referring to then you have no means of properly reading the meaning of the lyrics.

Do not claim to know what I do, or do not know about ANYTHING.
posted by mediocre at 6:14 PM on July 12, 2013


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: "Yeah, the fact that the guy who made that song went on to be on TV every week as a police officer who works with kids is basically amazing."

c.f. Cube
posted by danny the boy at 6:14 PM on July 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Mediocre I'm sure you didn't mean to but you made this post all about the lyrics of a 9 year old song. This post is about a bunch of funny cartoons sort of involving that song. That's not very cool.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:16 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


dude it's okay to admit you were wrong
posted by kagredon at 6:16 PM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


And do not claim to know what I do, or do not know about ANYTHING.

Well...you're certainly clearing the issue up for us.
posted by yoink at 6:16 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do not claim to know what I do, or do not know about ANYTHING.

Seriously, people. Stop stating the obvious.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:17 PM on July 12, 2013


This is silly. The link is half funny. Jay-Z refers to women in every derogatory term imaginable so why is it even worth defending whether or not this particular song is about that. Even Chuck D had a song laced with calling a woman a derogatory name over and over. It is what it is.

But I'm not the biggest Jay-Z fan. But at some point it's a situation where you have to acknowledge the bad that goes along with the good, or the real. Probably popular music in general, but definitely rap, has major issues with how women are characterized and discussed. Not even a question.

Anyway 99 problems has always been a subpar song for me, first the Ice-T version (Mind over Matter or Lethal Weapon are 100 times better) and then the boring Jay-Z version.
posted by cashman at 6:19 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well I'm saying one is a litany of women being called "bitches", one is a litany of things that are called bitches that are not women. It's in partly a play and sort of an inversion on the earlier song.

Imma shut up about the lyrics and go back to feeling bad for Jay because of all his problems.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:19 PM on July 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


What bitch?
Crazy for this one, Rick!
posted by hal_c_on at 6:19 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


mediocre: "So what you are saying is that unless you have done homework on the background of the events that the artist was referring to then you have no means of properly reading the meaning of the lyrics. "

...YES?

Part of why people love hip hop is that the lyrics, in the really good stuff, have much more complex layers of meaning than your typical pop song. And lazy criticisms (not even talking about your comment anymore) which constitute the majority of hip-hop criticism in the media, miss it entirely and yet are basically appeals to artistic authority. It's insulting to people who actually enjoy the stuff.
posted by danny the boy at 6:20 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, I am not admitting I am wrong. I am saying that if you write a song with those lyrics in that order, and the only means of people understanding the meaning of them is to know extensive background in matters related and unrelated to the artist then you are putting forth something deliberately clouded enough to have an escape clause if they react negatively to so the Frat crowd can have a catch phrase for a bit.
posted by mediocre at 6:23 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


ANYWAY, thanks for posting this TPS. I'm really enjoying the illustrations, particularly of rick rubin and adventuretime jay
posted by danny the boy at 6:23 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The comics half reminded me of this Missy animated commercial, which reminds me of Bruce Lee. Which made me upset that more C64 games aren't available for the Wii. International Karate is on there though!
posted by cashman at 6:24 PM on July 12, 2013


This was linked before as an FPP, but if anyone reading this thread hasn't read "Jay-Z’s 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps" from the St. Louis University Law Journal, please do so. Even if you hate the song, you learn something about traffic stops and the Fourth Amendment so win-win.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:24 PM on July 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am saying that if you write a song with those lyrics in that order, and the only means of people understanding the meaning of them is to know extensive background

Like basically every literary tradition ever. Hip hop is not unique in this regard. Not knowing the context of the "conversation" the artist is having with other artists (alive and dead) - or even that a conversation is happening - means you're gonna miss stuff. It is not evidence that anyone is retconning anything.
posted by rtha at 6:29 PM on July 12, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's insulting to people who actually enjoy the stuff.

It's also insulting to hear strangers insist that you are not knowledgeable, knowledgeable enough, or a fan of hip hop because of a disagreement over two lines of a track. The first concert I ever attended was Public Enemy/Beastie Boys (Pauls Boutique tour), the first CD I ever owned was AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, and many more things I feel like an idiot for even having to point out because of makes me feel like I am saying "Some of my best friends are.." but when people try to call me out like I am ignorant about something that has been an essential part of my life since the age of 7 I start to get a bit reactive/defensive.
posted by mediocre at 6:32 PM on July 12, 2013


You could also just, you know, listen carefully to the song (I mean, even if you don't know that it's about a real event, the song pretty clearly explains the story) and realize that wordplay, reference and irony are things people use in music. Would it also shock you to find out that Don McLean does not literally believe that Satan caused Buddy Holly's plane to go down?
posted by kagredon at 6:35 PM on July 12, 2013


Then mediocre you played yourself (heh) by making that first comment and using the word "inability", and then later by saying it was a retcon attempt.
posted by cashman at 6:35 PM on July 12, 2013


Seriously, it's not even a matter of intertextuality. The lyrics spell it out pretty well.

The first verse is all about critics/media corps' ineffective complaints (bitching) that Jay doesn't act like they'd like.

The second verse is about a traffic stop where he narrowly avoids being the subject of a drug dog's (a bitch in the classical sense) sniff test.

The third verse doesn't even try to be subtle. "This was not a bitch in the sense of having a pussy, but a pussy having no goddamn sense, try and push me."
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:36 PM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ice T, that's the guy who plays a cop on TV, right?

And that's precisely why, notwithstanding his numerous problems, his working relationship with K-9 units remains productive.

Even Chuck D had a song laced with calling a woman a derogatory name over and over.

There's a five-letter word to describe her character: Noble.
posted by The World Famous at 6:37 PM on July 12, 2013


I have heard the song, a million and a half times since 2004. And another 200,000 or so when my friend couldn't stop listening to the Weezer/Jay-Z mashup album. The word play was never once apparent, it seemed that the chorus (as it were, there isn't really a chorus in the song, just a short refrain "If you got girl problems..") was autonomous of the rest. Without doing outside research, I don't know anyone who has ever come to the conclusion that the "bitch" in the refrain was in reference to a K9.
posted by mediocre at 6:39 PM on July 12, 2013


I have heard the song, a million and a half times since 2004.

"Do you fools listen to music or do you just skim through it?" -- Jay-Z [cite]
posted by chrchr at 6:40 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Without doing outside research, I don't know anyone who has ever came to the conclusion that the "bitch" in the refrain was in reference to a K9.

I've only ever heard the song all the way through once in my entire life and I came to that conclusion immediately on hearing the verse about getting pulled over by the police.
posted by The World Famous at 6:46 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


I listen to a fair amount of rap, I may be a huge nerd but I always read the lyrics. I always mishear shit. There is a current song I hear "I like being horny, I wish I was hornier" even after I read the lyrics.

Like Cashman says, Jay-Z has not always been spotless in this regard. And I believe his radio edit of Big Pimpin on his Vevo channel is a retcon, it is damn near a different song.

He did of course, apologize for those songs at some point.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:53 PM on July 12, 2013


He did of course, apologize for those songs at some point.

So one of the 99 problems is having to see those songs show up in itemized royalty statements a couple of times a year. That should really be in the illustrated guide.
posted by The World Famous at 7:17 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Got 99 problems but my riches ain't one.
posted by item at 7:30 PM on July 12, 2013


Just because one person hears a song ~1.7 million times does not mean they'll absorb the lyrics. What's patently obvious to almost everyone in this thread may elude one. Outliers exist.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:33 PM on July 12, 2013


Welcome to the Special Pleading Olympics. *popcorn*
posted by unSane at 7:33 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was looking for a word for a problem that isn't really a problmem. Maybe like a pyrrhic problem. But I couldn't find one

110: Critics pan your album, but samsung already bought a million copies so fuck the critics.
111: Your album isn't number 1, it is behind a guy on your label and your bro from the Def Jam office.

In conclusion, Jay-Z is a land of contradictions.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:35 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


#illuminatiworldproblems ?
posted by kagredon at 7:40 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait no, make that #firstnewworldorderproblems
posted by kagredon at 7:41 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Any week where ad hom, teakeattle, sweetkid or ... some other rap nerd can consecutively reference "Ether" multiple times is a good week.

Fuck Jay-Z!

(This post is great though... if you don't like rap music don't click the damn link.)
posted by raihan_ at 7:42 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


OK, yes absolutely the 'bitch' in the song refers to the K9. No dispute; it is 100% clear. Nevertheless: especially in hip hop, especially with all the expected intertextuality, layers of meaning, and multiple entendres, is it really so illegitimate to hear at least a sly wink at the more usual (derogatory) usage of the word 'bitch' in the refrain 'If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son; I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one'? And it may well be that the intention of that wink was also to undermine the usual misogynist usage; but that other layer of meaning is still there. I mean, otherwise, what's the point of using that term? The whole song is built on a sly joke that references the misogynist meaning of the word 'bitch'.

Honestly, the contention that the surface meaning (K9) is all that was ever meant to be there seems to fly in the face of the proposition that there is so much subtlety, nuance, and complexity in hip hop lyrics. (And this is not a criticism or condemnation of anything. Just sayin'.)
posted by fikri at 7:45 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, honestly, I think I agree with medium though? I mean, the song is playing a problematic game of "I'm not touching you I'm not touching you I'm not touching you."

And that doesn't mean it's a bad song or anything it's just that, like a lot of things, it's kinda problematic. As a treatise on feminism, it's really quite regressive.

Also it's not nice to use gendered pejoratives.
posted by chrchr at 7:47 PM on July 12, 2013


And that doesn't mean it's a bad song or anything it's just that, like a lot of things, it's kinda problematic. As a treatise on feminism, it's really quite regressive.

Absolutely. This is not a bitch in the sense of having a pussy, but a pussy having no goddamn sense is...I mean, it's not the most problematic use of "bitch" or "pussy", but it's definitely not an unproblematic or entirely subversive use of either of those. But, what raised my hackles (see what I did there?), and maybe a few other people's, is that people calling out "bitch" or other misogynist language gets waaaaay more prevalent in discussions about rap music than...well, discussions about almost anything else.
posted by kagredon at 8:06 PM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's only for a 3rd of the song that bitch refers to K9.

For another 3rd of the song, bitch refers to somebody who would let himself get pushed around, which is to say somebody who's not a real man. If he's less than a man, what is he do you suppose that would make calling him a bitch make sense? A woman (?) which it goes without saying is a terrible thing for somebody to be.

For the first 3rd of the song, I don't even understand what bitch is referring to. Seems out of place to me, except in reference to the chorus I suppose, which is clearly about a girl. But, maybe there's a nuanced use of the word I've never heard that makes it work.

The illustrations were cute. I wonder what happens when they get to 99. Just stop or is there a bigger payoff about a bitch not being one?
posted by willnot at 8:10 PM on July 12, 2013


The whole song riffs off bitch=woman even if it gets obliquely cute in the verses. There are 99 good things about this track but political correctness ain't one.
posted by unSane at 8:16 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]



The Ice-T song was first by ten years. Jay-Z's reference to it is basically an homage. Rap music as a whole is highly intertextual, which is yet another thing that makes it hard for people who don't have a lot of familiarity with the music to get what's really being said.


Intertextual? Jay-Z is a huge biter.
posted by milarepa at 8:18 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've got the Rap Patrol on the gat patrol
Foes that wanna make sure my casket's closed


Jake Hoyt: But I didn't. You did.
Alonzo Harris: A Los Angeles Police Department Narcotics officer was killed today serving a high-risk warrant in Echo Park. Gimme the bitch. LAPD spokesperson says the officer is survived... by his wife and infant child. Shit gets deeper. You get the picture?
Jake Hoyt: Yeah, I get it.
[Jake grabs gun from Alonzo, the crew points guns at Jake]


Sometimes the bitch is a gun.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah Jay-Z is a biter, and it's especially egregious when it comes to Biggie, but some would say it makes him a more sicker M.C.
posted by chrchr at 8:29 PM on July 12, 2013


This was cute, but the problems are kind of boring. If I wanted to read about illustrated, made-up problems, I'd peruse through Tragedy Series
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:32 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


And some would be wrong. Shit, he dissed and bit nas on the same album.
posted by milarepa at 8:33 PM on July 12, 2013


More specifically, the first verse is about his 2001 arrest on gun charges. even though people are still trying to kill him he says.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:34 PM on July 12, 2013


For the first 3rd of the song, I don't even understand what bitch is referring to. Seems out of place to me, except in reference to the chorus I suppose, which is clearly about a girl. But, maybe there's a nuanced use of the word I've never heard that makes it work.

Rap critics who say "He's 'money cash hoes'"
I'm from the hood, stupid, what kind of facts are those?


The first verse is using "bitch" in the sense of "complaint", and especially "trivial/nonsensical complaint". Which, again, is not without its problems, but is still very different from using "bitch" as a synonym to "woman."
posted by kagredon at 8:36 PM on July 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sigh. Just once, I would love to read a discussion without having to wade through rap lyrics vs misogyny 101 derails. It's like every person who knows nothing about rap only has this one thing to say about it, and they weirdly just can't let it go. People who listen to hip hop are generally well aware that it has problematic aspects.

I'm starting to think this type of derail borders on racism. It's not like hip hop is this unique women-hating monster amongst the larger feminist pop culture. Pop culture in general is ridiculously sexist. Movies are sexist as fuck. Nearly half of movies fail the Bechdel test, which isn't exactly a difficult to meet standard of equality. There is a huge discrepancy in TV between leading male and female characters, and the sorts of roles they're allowed to take on. Women in video games are regularly relegated to roles where they are nothing more than eye candy, plot devices, or otherwise transformed into objects. Sexism in music is hardly limited to rap. And yet, somehow whenever any of these other aspects of pop culture are discussed, nobody feels the need to jump in and point out how screwed up they are.

Look, we get it. Everybody is aware that rap lyrics have problematic aspects. Can we actually talk about the post now?
posted by zug at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2013 [37 favorites]


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish The second verse is about a traffic stop where he narrowly avoids being the subject of a drug dog's (a bitch in the classical sense) sniff test.

I thought he didn't avoid being the subject of a sniff test as the second-to-last line of that verse is:

Well, see how smart you are when the K9 comes
posted by mlis at 9:11 PM on July 12, 2013


Yeah, that's probably the most obscure part of the song. In the real-life incident that inspired the verse, the K9 was delayed and the cop had to let him go on his way, because he couldn't stretch out the traffic stop any farther. Thus, no problem.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:14 PM on July 12, 2013


Ah, ok, thanks.
posted by mlis at 9:15 PM on July 12, 2013


This was cute, but the problems are kind of boring. If I wanted to read about illustrated, made-up problems, I'd peruse through Tragedy Series

Part of the joke is that most of the "problems" are references to other Jay-Z songs. I mean, it would also be awesome if he decided to cover the Rolling Stones or even Neil Young, but since that hasn't happened yet....
posted by kagredon at 9:24 PM on July 12, 2013


I'm starting to think this type of derail borders on racism.

QFT, QFT.

All the Kanye threads in the last month. You would think that guy invented sexism.

My mom always says Under My Thumb is the most sexist song ever written. But I guess that's just allegory right?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:37 PM on July 12, 2013 [8 favorites]


Sigh. Just once, I would love to read a discussion without having to wade through rap lyrics vs misogyny 101 derails.

I agree with you, but to be fair, this song is pretty ripe for this. It's not like it's a lyric or two, it's associated with the title of the song, it's the refrain, and it's recontextualized from Ice-T's song which is pretty ridiculous itself and would be noteworthy for many artists but for Ice-T it somehow isn't even close to the worst things he's said on record about women.

Again, I agree with your stance, but this song really isn't the place to make this case. As discussed previously, it kind of depends on that triple entendre. (Don't even ask me how)
posted by cashman at 9:41 PM on July 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wish I could favorite you a few more times, zug, but I can't because you can only favorite things once on this site. Sorry.

I think there are some valid reasons for the widespread outrage about certain issues in rap music -- misogyny among them -- other than racism. I totally accept that racism is probably part of it. I don't mean to shoot that down in any way.

So, in addition to racism . . .

I think some of it is just unfamiliarity. Rock and pop music are misogynistic and problematic with regard to gender in a lot of completely well worn ways that basically everyone has just tuned out to and accepted as normal. Rap music is misogynistic and problematic in a lot of creative new ways that really stand out if you're not already used to them.

Relatedly, people who have no particular problem with porn will start at some of the frank and shameless depictions of sex and or lust in rap music and really I think the thing is that people just aren't used to hearing porn in their music. Euphemism is a favorite tool of pop music, but has never gained a lot of popularity in rap.

I've had discussions in real life and on metafilter where someone is just outraged about a lyric where a rapper says, for example, that they're going to drink some beer and go home and have sex with their sex partner. That's a just an awesome part of everyday life for a lot of people and I don't see why we shouldn't celebrate it and even brag about it if anyone's willing to listen.
posted by chrchr at 9:42 PM on July 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ummm, the pictures are purty.
posted by dry white toast at 10:01 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you think mediocre doesn't know anything about rap, you're just wrong. And may have sore genitalia.
posted by dobie at 10:33 PM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


[A couple of comments deleted. Cut the racist, sexist asides completely.]
posted by taz at 10:37 PM on July 12, 2013


I don't think anyone really claimed to know or even really care how much mediocre knows about rap in general, it's mainly his insistence on sticking to a very narrow interpretation of this one specific song, and getting upset at the idea that there might be very many people with other interpretations, that people were reacting to.

And I have no idea what my genitalia has to do with that.
posted by kagredon at 10:54 PM on July 12, 2013


raihan_: "Any week where ad hom, teakeattle, sweetkid or ... some other rap nerd can consecutively reference "Ether" multiple times is a good week.

Fuck Jay-Z !

(This post is great though... if you don't like rap music don't click the damn link.)
"

Sad thing. I am like the ANTI rap nerd. Not that I don't like rap (unfortunately, the REALLY old school stuff), but I mainly listen to rocka/psychobilly and house/dance. Once again, Samizdata proves himself whiter than Wonderbread (even IF I had James Brown dancing (minus the splits) down to a science back in the days when I had knees).
posted by Samizdata at 11:03 PM on July 12, 2013


samizdata, welcome to the ether club.

it isn't a solely-rap-nerd club, either.

for reference, my most listened to record this year is the very great black metal/shoegaze hybrid "Sunbather" by SF-based band Deafheaven and i just came off a tour featuring (mostly likely) some of your favorite hip-hop acts.

(and, yes, i have plenty of stories.)

(people talking about "old hip-hop was better"... this was the tour that proved you right and chances are high that you missed it. :( )
posted by raihan_ at 11:33 PM on July 12, 2013


I just registered to MCHG with my girlfriend. Jay z is one of the only rappers she can tolerate (besides Danny Brown and Wu Tang) and she just started chanting "uh, tom ford, uh, Tom ford" and says she won't stop until I play RZA.

Like Water
posted by Ad hominem at 12:10 AM on July 13, 2013


danny the boy: "I mean or did you actually know that whole verse about..."

I feel like literally everyone in the entire world knows what that whole verse is about. Literally everyone. Why? Because we get pretentious lectures about it every single damned time the song gets mentioned. 'Oh, oh, did you know it's really about a dog?' Yeah, I heard it in the song, and also every one of the billion times someone has made this pedantic point.

As though "bitches" weren't a derisive word for women, and as though it doesn't retain that meaning in the song. You can't tell me Jay-Z is such an idiot that he simply forgot that the word usually refers to women, and that he was innocently and unknowingly referring purely to a female dog. The attempted witticism is no witticism if stripped of its alternate referrent. And I've never believed the theory about it being an attempt to "subvert" the Ice-T song. An homage it clearly is, but it's really just a simple joke based on the fact that "bitch" is a word with two meanings. There's nothing incredibly intelligent going on besides good marketing. The fact remains: it's no feminist song, and in fact it only hurts the cause by making the lame joke.

And that good marketing will probably keep people hammering on about it this way for ages and ages hence.
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


ad hom: i'm constantly impressed by your gf stories. you should play her that james blake jawn with rza on it. hah!
posted by raihan_ at 12:28 AM on July 13, 2013


zug: "Sigh. Just once, I would love to read a discussion without having to wade through rap lyrics vs misogyny 101 derails. It's like every person who knows nothing about rap only has this one thing to say about it, and they weirdly just can't let it go. People who listen to hip hop are generally well aware that it has problematic aspects."

This is an unfair and frankly ridiculous characterization, I think. For one thing, as has been pointed out, mediocre is no neophyte. For another, well - I used to love hip hop, still do in many ways, but I sure as hell can't listen to much of it anymore without cringing. There are more of us than you seem to think - people who really want to like it but often can't. And we aren't racist or uninformed for feeling that way.

You say people who listen to it understand the problematic aspects; I find that rather unlikely without some strong qualifications about what people you mean (it's a pretty broad and broadly popular music) but even if it's true, why do the listeners understand so clearly what the (relatively intelligent) artists don't seem to grok?

I mean: it's pretty flatly clear to me that Jay-Z's "99 Problems" is misogynist. The direct referent is never a woman, but that meaning is always in evidence, particularly when the word's applied to a man. The fact Jay-Z himself doesn't get that is pretty problematic. The fact that he uses it as a pun about a dog doesn't mean anything at all in this context.

Also: the main link here is pretty awesome and hilarious.
posted by koeselitz at 12:34 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're tired of people complaining about mysogyny? Same here. Especially since women no longer have to worry about men violating their human rights anymore. That did happen, right, or did I dream that
posted by Brocktoon at 12:58 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


that was a cute, very funny link - thanks!
posted by Umami Dearest at 1:04 AM on July 13, 2013


I just want to let people know that Reggie Watts wasn't literally talking about stacking fucks and shits, but was actually making a statement about the ridiculous use and overuse of specific themes and language that is pervasive in rap music.
posted by Rocket Surgeon at 1:12 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you kidding me with this? Of course bitch in this song means woman. The fact that it also means dog/whiner is why the lyrics are "clever".

Not a ho in the sense of having a pussy? Because normally whore refers to a woman, any woman. Equating whining, weakness, annoyance, problems with "bitches" is misogyny in action. See, he's not taking about actual bitches, just men who behave like bitches!

No, seriously, just because he made a K9 joke the entire context of the word bitch as women experience it disappears? Really? Must be nice to live in your world.
posted by lydhre at 5:24 AM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hip hop is frequently problematic when it comes to women. Nearly 100% of pop culture is problematic when it comes to women, but I don't see a lot of people coming in to threads that are incidentally about the Rolling Stones and dropping glib one liners about how Mick Jagger can't refer to women in respectful terms. That's not to say sexism in hip hop shouldn't be discussed, but it does seem very weird to me that nearly every discussion about hip hop seems to get derailed into a discussion of sexism. Comic books and video games have huge systematic problems with sexism, and we have a lot of discussions about the sexism aspect specifically or incidentally, but there's also plenty of threads that are about other aspects of comic books and video games, and people don't seem to feel compelled to derail those.
posted by kagredon at 5:28 AM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I love hip hop. I listen to 99 problems (the mashup with Radiohead version) regularly. I am a woman who vaguely considers herself to be a feminist.

The idea that 'bitches' is free of a nod to women doesn't have much evidence to support it. And yes, I know about the k-9 theory and J-Z's addressing this on Fresh Air and all that.

You can love rap and acknowledge its unfortunate tendencies: here, the furthering of the notion that referring to women as bitches is legit

Hemmingway didn't know how to write women characters, in my opinion, and in the opinion of like 80% of the women in various lit classes I've been in, as well as some critics.

Here's what I don't like: the idea that our artists need to be without flaws in terms of dealing with gender issues in order for them to be valuable.

Here's what I don't like more: We do backbends trying to say our artists don't have gender issues when they clearly do.

Not fair to art; not fair to women
posted by angrycat at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


also: based on previous threads, mediocre, cashman, and koeslitz know what they are talking about in terms of hip hop, so some respect maybe?
posted by angrycat at 5:45 AM on July 13, 2013


You can love rap and acknowledge its unfortunate tendencies: here, the furthering of the notion that referring to women as bitches is legit

You can indeed do that.

You can do it in every single thread about hiphop that's ever posted to Metafilter, and fill up the whole thread arguing about it, or you can take it as read and move on and talk about the issue that the OP was actually raising.

Given how badly Metafilter has always done hiphop, I'm surprised it hasn't joined posts about Israel/Palestine and circumcision on the moderators list of things that cause 99 Problems (of which the word 'bitch' is just one.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:25 AM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


So that would be a free pass, then?
posted by unSane at 6:43 AM on July 13, 2013


You really can't take this type of critisisim without getting annoyed and throwing a tantrum? It's depressing to read about Malala's speech only to find people defending and justifying mysogyny two or three posts later. The song title refers to how a "bitch" is not a "problem", so if talking about how fucked up that is annoys you a bit, I can't say I'm very sorry about that.
posted by Brocktoon at 6:46 AM on July 13, 2013


Mostly I just would like to be able to talk about gender issues in rap without being called racist.
posted by angrycat at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


So that would be a free pass, then?

No, a free pass is only given to dead white male artists.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:42 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Casual racists never want be called out.

There is a distinct sexual component to american racism (black man as sexual predator) that might explain why people only get angry if black artists display gender insensitivity.
posted by patrick54 at 8:48 AM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Hey, remember Meredith Brooks?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2013


Mostly I just would like to be able to talk about gender issues in rap without being called racist.

How about making a post centering on that, rather than a derail in every thread featuring a black artist?
posted by hal_c_on at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's hard to argue that gender issues are necessarily a derail in a thread that is at least tangentially about "99 Problems". The song deliberately invites this controversy.
posted by chrchr at 9:16 AM on July 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Only get angry at black artists? What metafilter have you been reading?

Sexism gets called out regularly and we are regularly told that we should complain about alllllll sexism everywhere and not just that particular issue in question. Which, yeah, goalposts.

Also, are black women allowed to complain about sexism in rap music, per chance? Or are we erasing them from the conversation entirely?
posted by lydhre at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a distinct sexual component to american racism (black man as sexual predator) that might explain why people only get angry if black artists display gender insensitivity.

That might explain angrycat's comments, but it probably doesn't.

How about making a post centering on that, rather than a derail in every thread featuring a black artist?

You derailed the thread by choosing to plant your "it's not misogyny" flag in response to the initial criticism. You could have conceded that yes, Jay-Z has issues with women, and how much that sucks, and wouldn't it be great if he could use his influence to marginalize the rap game Chris Browns, whatever, and then moved on to discussion of the illustrations. But that's not what happened.
posted by Brocktoon at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, are black women allowed to complain about sexism in rap music, per chance? Or are we erasing them from the conversation entirely?

Interesting, because no one really talks about the fact that Santigold has a song called "Look at These Hoes" or that Nicki Minaj has a song called "Stupid Hoe" though it was mildly controversial that Beyonce was singing that bitches should bow down to her. I mean, they talk about it, but never in the same way as when a man does it.

Is it like the classic n-word debate, that it's okay for some groups to use certain words but not others?
posted by girlmightlive at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2013


[Ok gang, this is getting pretty meta, in terms of who caused a derail how. Maybe we can take it that the sexism issue here has been acknowledged, positions on both sides stated, and we can return to the post itself ?]
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The cartoons in the tumblr are problematic because women are only depicted as violent murderers or scantily clad umbrella holders.
posted by chrchr at 10:31 AM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


The cartoons in the tumblr are problematic because women are only depicted as violent murderers or scantily clad umbrella holders.

Not Blue Ivy! [NOT CUB-IST]

I was going to comment on how this one sort of makes Jay-Z look like Psy. Then I GISed and realized that with sunglasses on both of them, Jay-Z kind of does look like Psy.
posted by kagredon at 10:42 AM on July 13, 2013


koeselitz: "I feel like literally everyone in the entire world knows what that whole verse is about. Literally everyone."

mediocre: "I have heard the song, a million and a half times since 2004. And another 200,000 or so when my friend couldn't stop listening to the Weezer/Jay-Z mashup album. The word play was never once apparent, it seemed that the chorus (as it were, there isn't really a chorus in the song, just a short refrain "If you got girl problems..") was autonomous of the rest. Without doing outside research, I don't know anyone who has ever come to the conclusion that the "bitch" in the refrain was in reference to a K9."


It's clear you're tired of this discussion koeselitz, and so am I, but it seems there is considerable disagreement about what the lyrics mean, as evidenced by... this thread?

I don't think anyone here has actually claimed that this song, and much of hip hop doesn't have problematic aspects when it comes to women (and many other things). But the very first comment in this thread, by someone I'm told who apparently knows hip hop, is that the use of the word 'bitch' in this song refers to women, which at several levels of reading, is incorrect.

Very first comment. We don't get the derail we want, we get the derail we deserve.
posted by danny the boy at 11:09 AM on July 13, 2013


Hey. I'm not opposed to talking about sexism in rap at all.

I just gotta wonder why rap threads, not rock threads, always get derailed.

It isn't the talking about it I think is racist, I think the derailing is motivated by unconscious racism for some people. Not all people, not all the time, but sometimes.

I believe for some reason they don't think of rappers as artists, the same way the Rolling Stones are. And don't extend the same courtesy.

Once it's derailed, that's it, everyone jumps in. Totally understandable.

Sort of a limiting factor of Metafilter that we have to wait for a sexism in rap link. And none of us can write it and post it either. Just have to wait for one to come along.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:32 PM on July 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


and whhaaaaaaat am I thiiiiiiinking nooooooooooow magical telepathic man
posted by angrycat at 1:22 PM on July 13, 2013


'Girls Girls Girls' is another Jay-Z song.
posted by box at 1:33 PM on July 13, 2013


Yes, "Girls, Girls, Girls" mixes misogyny and racism with fantastic groove and hooks featuring all time legends Biz Markie, Slick Rick, and Q-Tip. I love that song, but I prefer the remix from the end of the album. The original is Just Blaze, and the remix is a Kanye West production. "Isn't this great? My flight leaves at eight. Her flight lands at nine. My game just rewind."
posted by chrchr at 1:45 PM on July 13, 2013


Just by way of comparison, Girls, Girls, Girls is also a Motley Crue song
posted by chrchr at 1:48 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


or like how the decemberists album was specifically called out for "100% less raping"
posted by raihan_ at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2013


(I am very sympathetic to Ad hom's argument, by the way, and it is definitely my perception that a much larger proportion of hip-hop threads turn into discussions about sexism than pop/rock/etc. ones do.)

Jay's also the guy who recorded 'Big Pimpin,' 'Venus Vs. Mars,' and 'Bitches & Sisters'--he's a little all over the place on this subject, and, if we take him at his word (never mind the poem, I mean the WSJ interview), his feelings have changed at least a little over the years.
posted by box at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's definitely some talk about sex on "Venus vs. Mars", and it's all from a male perspective, granted, but I don't see how there's misogyny there. Jay-Z is definitely no kind of feminist icon, and the system that produces all these songs where men sexualize women is definitely sexist as hell. I'm open to correction on this point since there may well be something I'm missing, but I'm personally not a fan of labeling men talking about having sex with women as sexist. As I alluded to above, I think part of the perceived issue there is that pop music hasn't traditionally been a forum for frank talk about sex, but rap music is definitely a genre that favors frank talk of a sexual nature. That's not bad!

The problem that I see is not that man are talking about sex. It's that there are systematic barriers in rap that prevent women from having an equal role in speech.
posted by chrchr at 2:34 PM on July 13, 2013


It's that there are systematic barriers in rap that prevent women from having an equal role in speech.

I don't understand this comment. Are you saying that there exist barriers for women in rap that do NOT exist in rock?
posted by hal_c_on at 2:42 PM on July 13, 2013


As I alluded to above, I think part of the perceived issue there is that pop music hasn't traditionally been a forum for frank talk about sex, but rap music is definitely a genre that favors frank talk of a sexual nature. That's not bad!

Indeed!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:01 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that there exist barriers for women in rap that do NOT exist in rock?

Man, I haven't even thought about the barriers for women in rock, so I guess I'm explicitly not saying that. I'm just saying there are barriers to rap. How do they compare to those in rock?

I don't know, let me take a crack at it real quick. There's a tradition of women in rock that's fairly strong, it seems to me, going back to the Brill Building where many of the songwriters were women, to the Phil Spector and Motown era, when many of the performers were women, and there have always been awesome female performers and songwriters in every era and style of music.

Rap seems to suffer from tokenism with regard to female participation. Sha La Rock, Roxanne Shanté, the Real Roxanne, Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, Monie Love, Sweet Tee, MC Lyte, Salt 'n Pepa, the Lady Rage, Eve, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Lil Mama, Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj. I'm sure I'm missing some, but you gotta admit, that's not a long list, and some of those artists struggled to get released and promoted for reasons that can't have had anything to do with their talent.
posted by chrchr at 3:14 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why oh why did I get cappuccino, why oh why did I get cappuccino.

There aren't a lot of famous ones but there are a whole shitload of female mc mixtape floating around.

Ones that have some mainstream buzz.

Azealia Banks,Iggy Azalea, Hip-Hop feminist Big Rik Locc

I gotta say, I think they take more shit than male rappers. Azealia Banks is like a controversy machine despite the fact that the shit she says on twitter is pretty tepid compared to shit other rappers tweet.

She entreated A$AP Rocky to come out of the closet as a diss and it was like the biggest thing ever, doesn't Tyler call 10 people gay before breakfast on twitter?

Obviously homophobia in rap is very real as well. Frank Ocean is only one man.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:32 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Michie Mee, Bahamadia, Rah Digga and Jean Grae--to be fair, though, none of whom were ever super-popular. And Lauryn Hill, who was hu-u-uge.
posted by box at 3:39 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


How did we forget Kitty.

And the whole "white girl mob"

lil Debbie, Kreayashawn , and V Nasty.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:40 PM on July 13, 2013


Yep, I was trying to remember Jean Grae, she is a New York rapper.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:41 PM on July 13, 2013


Yolandi.

I wish I could just edit my previous posts.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:45 PM on July 13, 2013


Yeah I was kickin' myself for missing Lauryn Hill. Plus I linked to the wrong Sweet Tee song.

And I love Kitty. Her writing is so weird and embarrassing. More stuff like that. Some of these Angel Haze tracks are killing me too.

But I was restricting my list to big time major label artists. That there are a lot of talented woman rappers toiling in the underground kinda proves my point, doesn't it?
posted by chrchr at 3:48 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


But I was restricting my list to big time major label artists. That there are a lot of talented woman rappers toiling in the underground kinda proves my point, doesn't it?

Very true, we could probably pull up women YouTube rappers all day that don't get the same buzz lil b or riff raff does.

None of them get features either. Everyone guy riff raff on a track, even Almighty So, nobody has lil Debbie on a track.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:55 PM on July 13, 2013


I guess what I don't understand is what has Jay-Z done for the people who are constantly defending his blatant misogyny? Is he paying you off with his lesser Basquiats or something?
posted by item at 4:02 PM on July 13, 2013


We just like his music.
posted by chrchr at 4:03 PM on July 13, 2013


So I understand defending his flow or his beats or production or whatever, then, but the misogyny?
posted by item at 4:05 PM on July 13, 2013


I don't think I see a lot of people here trying to defend his misogyny. I think everyone agrees that "99 Problems" is problematic, but maybe not in quite the way it appears on first listen. And I've written a couple of things here defending male artists who talk explicitly about sex, but what I'm saying is that i don't think that's necessarily misogynistic. Where do you see people in this thread defending misogyny?
posted by chrchr at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, the reason people don't drop into Rolling Stones or other rock threads and complain about the misogyny (even though I can pretty much guaranfuckingtee that a fpp about Under My Thumb would get its share of comments questioning its lyrical content) is because Jay Z is at the top of the charts at the moment and the Stones are a traveling oldies circus where the music hardly matters any more, at least from a modern perspective.
posted by item at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2013


There's plenty of defense of Jay Z's use of the word 'bitch' in this thread. Don't be obtuse - that's my job.
posted by item at 4:12 PM on July 13, 2013


Oh, well I think the refrain in this thread is that he's not using the word "bitch" to refer to women, which doesn't make it problem-free by any means.
posted by chrchr at 4:18 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know what you want.

In general, yeah he has issues with women. In his book, he asks himself about Big Pimpin "what kind of animal would write that"

In 99 problems, I think he's playing a "hahaha you are the real sexist" game to derail critics by having one song people can point to and say "idiot, you misinterpreted this one song, you don't know shit".

That is how Internet debates go right?

Be that as it may we were talking about a specific song, referenced by the FPP. The link wasn't a referendum on his artistic merit or his value as a human being. So it makes sense to focus on one song.

I said this like 20 times before. Do I wish him and Kanye would not use the word bitch? Sure,other rappers manage to do it.

However,I think they are artists, they are telling us not only about ourselves but society. jay-z does not emit misogyny, he reflects the profound sexism already present in society.

I think by ignoring artists like Jay z because they use words we don't like, we are simply turning a blind eye.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:28 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


jay-z does not emit misogyny, he reflects the profound sexism already present in society.

It's totally possible he is doing both, I think. It wouldn't be unusual.
posted by rtha at 4:33 PM on July 13, 2013


I have no interest in participating in the social injustice Olympics, but Jay-Z is a pure mirror that reflects our souls in the exact same way that politicians and bankers and reality TV producers are pure mirrors that reflect our souls.
posted by leopard at 4:35 PM on July 13, 2013


It's totally possible he is doing both, I think. It wouldn't be unusual

I don't know how we measure that unless we listen to his music.

Big Pimpin was a huge huge hit I don't think the sentiments are that far outside the mainstream. This wasn't some underground mixtape.

Remember that strange pimp obsession America seemed to have for a while? Pimp and ho parties, countless documentaries. 50 cent had a hit pimp song. Big Pimpin was simply part of the Zeitgeist of the time.

I'm not saying he's a pure reflection of our souls. I'm saying we are all products of the same society. Jay-z didn't come from somewhere out there to spread evil. Saying he doesn't reflect society is the essence of othering no?
posted by Ad hominem at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


so we should just shut up about it then because what is the point because any artistic creation is sort of the original sin of the society?

To reiterate about Hemmingway: I adore his work. All of it. But he had trouble writing women. It is a flaw in his work.

So if in a Hemmingway seminar, in the event that somebody pointed that out at the top of the hour (about his one-note women characters), I would be like yeah good point although not the most earth shattering new point to ever be made. If somebody got on the table and started making accusations of the first speaker being a hater of white men, maybe the first speaker thought she was not a hater of white men but really she was because I CAN SEE INTO YOUR SECRET HEART I'd be like, dude, go calm down so we can discuss this issue without this I can see through your eyes into your brain and I know what motivates you theme.
posted by angrycat at 4:52 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone is a product of the society they live in! "No man is an island." But no one in the recent Orson Scott Card thread wrote about how he is a product of our society. In the political threads, no one stops and writes about how their political opponents are just products of our society. I don't think I've ever seen anyone write that Lloyd Blankfein or Charles Koch is just a product of our society. Or Michael Bay for that matter. The people you're arguing with in this comment thread are products of our society too, but you still feel compelled to say that they're wrong about stuff. Saying that Jay-Z is a product of our society is basically a fancy way of saying that you're a big Jay-Z fan and you don't want to hold the problematic elements of his music against him. Which is fine and all, but give me a break.
posted by leopard at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I see your point angycat. I just wonder why it seems so disproportionate. It is like there was a Kanye class, and Jay-z class, and a LL Cool may class and there were picket signs outside each one.

I am not accusing you of anything at all BTW. I can't know your heart but you can't know every other commenters heart either.

But no one in the recent Orson Scott Card thread wrote about how he is a product of our society

I actually considered that. I actually thought "I defend Kanye West an awful lot, why not OSC"

Obviously OSC is also a product of our society.

I thought, perhaps this is a rationalization, that Kanye West has issues, he acknowledges these issues and works thought them partially in his music. He isn't out there trying to stop women from voting. If it turned out he was pro-life and giving money to pro-life organizations,I would probably be with you heaping shit on the guy and would regret giving him money the same way I regret buying OSC books.

OSC on the other hand, is not just a dude with issues.

Like I said, maybe it is a rationalization. But I guess I dislike people who work against equal rights, the basic tenet of America, more than I dislike a guy who has issues with women.


This ain't the Ad hominem takes on all comers thread so I am going to depart the field.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2013


I am so bored with this derail but I feel I should point out: Ladies is pimps too
posted by kagredon at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2013


I agree with you 1000%, angrycat. It's just that we have the "this is misogyny" talk in damn near every damn seminar and it tends to dominate the entire lecture and we never get to have a real discussion of the artistry.

Man, and I'm kinda mad about your invoking reverse racism. Jay-Z is a member of a minority group from a disadvantaged background and Hemingway is not, and I respect you and I know that you get the difference.

Rap is one of the few forums that allows young African Americans to talk about their lives and reach a mass audience in a relatively unmediated way. It is troubling to me personally, as someone who gets a lot out of this music, that in this one place where young black men can speak that they're vilified for their problematic views. I think everyone would benefit a great deal if they were listened to and engaged with and treated with the respect that artists in other fields are.
posted by chrchr at 5:16 PM on July 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


If, forty-five minutes into the Hemingway seminar, the person leading the thing was like, 'So, we've touched upon some interesting stuff here--let's steer the discussion specifically toward the use of themes of social class in A Moveable Feast,' and then the first person jumped up and said, 'The thing about social class in A Moveable Feast is, Hemingway wrote some one-note women characters?'

Even if you agree that Hemingway wrote some one-note women characters, even if you think it's his biggest flaw, you might still roll your eyes like 'Oh, geez, here we go again.'
posted by box at 5:23 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


anyway I am glad that so many people who were mysteriously absent in the 10-odd misogyny threads I've read over the past month have committed to what is obviously the most important issue that faces women: the use of the word "bitch" in a decade-old pop song
posted by kagredon at 5:25 PM on July 13, 2013


I'm not saying he's a pure reflection of our souls. I'm saying we are all products of the same society. Jay-z didn't come from somewhere out there to spread evil. Saying he doesn't reflect society is the essence of othering no?

But I didn't say he doesn't reflect society. I am saying that it's possible that that is not all he is doing.
posted by rtha at 5:38 PM on July 13, 2013


Man, and I'm kinda mad about your invoking reverse racism. Jay-Z is a member of a minority group from a disadvantaged background and Hemingway is not, and I respect you and I know that you get the difference.

I don't know what reverse racism is -- unless you mean the hater of white men thing, and unless I can use that in a counterfactual the implication seems to be that only white men can getting get criticized about gender issues. I mean, I'm not saying that you are arguing that last, but that is a seeming logical extension of your objection. All I know is that both J-Z and Hemmingway had problems that relate to women, and that in any lit seminar where Hemmingway is discussed that comes up. I am aware that there is a difference between how white people have been treated and how black men have been treated over time, yes.

anyway I am glad that so many people who were mysteriously absent in the 10-odd misogyny threads I've read over the past month have committed to what is obviously the most important issue that faces women: the use of the word "bitch" in a decade-old pop song

Well, it's true I stay away from those threads for the very reason that they can be hard, and got involved in this one because I was sort of gob-smacked about people flinging claims of racism for an argument that ok may have been uttered before but is fully supported of the text of the song, and as the text of the song is part of the FPP, not a shit-flinging derail in the way that I understand them.

Honestly, I would think that a metatalk post might be good to drain this particular wound, but I have said my piece more than enough and need to lurk for a while or step away completely, so I am not a good metatalk post starter at the mo'. (also I am a coward)
posted by angrycat at 5:39 PM on July 13, 2013


kagredon: “anyway I am glad that so many people who were mysteriously absent in the 10-odd misogyny threads I've read over the past month have committed to what is obviously the most important issue that faces women: the use of the word 'bitch' in a decade-old pop song”

Someone made what was intended as a harmless joke in the first comment of this thread, and then everybody either (a) threw up their hands in frustration or (b) quickly pointed out that it's not referring directly (only indirectly) to women in the song - as though that made it okay. Yeah, maybe mediocre should have known that there's a lot of "why the hell can't we just talk about hip hop" sentiment here, and that it's a touchy thing.

But honestly, last month the hip hop / misogyny thread was about Kanye, and I was the one objecting in the strongest terms to a person who called Kanye West a "song and dance hoe," apparently objecting to his misogyny by way of a ludicrously misogynist (and racist) trope. As I said there, using phrases like that, even ironically, is not okay. For that, I was accused of loving misogyny and of idolizing a misogynist.

So it's not so black and white as people seem to want to make it. Honestly, I wouldn't care about it in this thread if I hadn't gotten called a racist. Maybe I need to pull back and stop worrying about little things like people saying mean things about me on a web site. Probably that's what I'll do.
posted by koeselitz at 5:54 PM on July 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm absolutely in favor of rappers and people of all races and backgrounds and genders being called out for sexism and misogyny. I guess what I want is for that not to be the end of the conversation, as you described in your example of the Hemingway seminar. "99 Problems" is sexist. *Obviously* it's sexist. Now what else do you have to say about it?
posted by chrchr at 5:55 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


But honestly, last month the hip hop / misogyny thread was about Kanye, and I was the one objecting in the strongest terms to a person who called Kanye West a "song and dance hoe," apparently objecting to his misogyny by way of a ludicrously misogynist (and racist) trope

That thread was nuts. That was even stranger than the dude who said some black kids came near him so he called the cops, cuz he was just straight up racist.

That started me down a WTF is up with metafilter spiral. Maybe I am refighting that thread a bit since then. That was like the "he was dead all along" moment for me.

Apologies to all the non racists I been calling racist the past month or so.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:01 PM on July 13, 2013


Apologies to all the non racists I been calling racist the past month or so.

See the problem I keep seeing is the "same shit, different username". I DO remember that thread, ad hominem. I don't understand how someone can start out saying "I don't like kanye", then end up saying "he uses the sacred beat to be a misogynist", and then at the end, say "he is just a song and dance hoe". All the while, the fpp being about artists making a political statement through their works.

When I asked about women in rock, I didn't ask about why its easier for stevie nicks than it is for azalea banks. thats almost damn near pop anyways. what im talking about is:

women:rap::women:heavy metal (or to a degree, real punk rock).

Is it any easier for women to be seen as "4 real" in heavy metal? i don't think so. So saying "rap is misogynist because its hard for women to break through in this male-oriented field" is rather disingenuous. Its almost akin to saying "black women have a hard time breaking into the field of engineering because of the sexism of black males".

The honest truth would be: "Women have a hard time breaking into the field of engineering because of the sexism of males". males of ALL races.

Quit making it a race issue. If you are going to go off about "this artist is sexist", and "i have been told to point out all instances", why not talk about it in a david foster wallace thread. Didn't that guy call women "audience pussy"? Why do we not discuss how disrespectful he is to women? Why don't we take little blurbs he has written, take it out of context and say that he's totally misogynist?

I think a huge problem on metafilter is:

sexist white guys: oh, they're just all "art imitates life".
sexist black guys: SCOURGE OF THE PLANET. "life imitates their SEXIST art"

there is a huge disconnect here, and im wondering why that is so. the only difference here is race.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:57 PM on July 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I honestly don't agree that rock music gets a pass on sexism here. But I guess this is getting a bit meta as a conversation. Maybe it would be good to take it to Metatalk.
posted by koeselitz at 9:21 PM on July 13, 2013


Just to get this out of the way: were I asserting that I love the ouevre of a sexist literary figurehead, I think I'd spell his name correctly.

The illustrations were cute and the "problems" desultory and pop-culty enough to make me think listicles naturally find a home on the Internet. It reminds me of the proliferation of congeries in 18th century British Literature as a generic convention to unite disparate items encountered through mercantile, colonial, and imperial seafaring.

Except in the Internet Age, unordered lists are passed over for numbered lists which imposes an arbitrary and for that reason subjective/authoritative/personalized order on the items enumerated.

Which brings me to my last point. The FPP'ed tumblr would be better in chronological rather than reverse-chronological order because the page is endless. Repeat visitors could have a scroll-to-bottom button. Or, if the target audience is repeat visitors, then providing a "Start" button to go to the first post might be helpful.

I got 99 problems but being a project manager for a clever tumblog ain't one.
posted by mistersquid at 11:34 PM on July 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Several others have made this point, but it's worth making again and maybe trying to clarify a little what I was saying before.

A lot of rap music is decidedly sexist, and it's sometimes worth pointing that out for discussion. But the thing is, why is it appropriate to turn every rap FPP into a discussion of sexism regardless of the FPP topic? Why does this only seem to happen to rap threads when many other sexist artists, topics, and genres get a pass?

When this happens over and over and over again for only rap and not for, say, movies or comics or TV shows, I can't help but start wondering what the deal is. Why are we punishing black men's shitty views over the shitty views of the rest of hollywood, TV, and music?

Mad Men is one of the most misogynistic shitty TV shows in a long time, and it seems to be spawning others of its ilk. So why is there nary a mention of sexism in this FPP from a few days ago? The Grand Theft Auto series basically reduces women to prostitutes and eye candy. So how did this GTA V thread get 111 comments with nary a mention of its sexist aspects?

If you can come up with an answer that isn't "it sure seems like racism", I'd love to hear it.
posted by zug at 12:29 PM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


zug: "But the thing is, why is it appropriate to turn every rap FPP into a discussion of sexism regardless of the FPP topic?"

But that's not what happened here. What happened here is that someone made a joke, and the joke got taken way too seriously and he got piled on. If anything, it's probably on mediocre in the sense that maybe people need to accept that that's not something it's good to joke about right out of the gate. This thread is full of people who were immediately exasperated with mediocre, and while I appreciate that that's probably a feeling people have that's been growing over past threads, it seems like this isn't simply a case of the metafilter anti-sexism brigade descending.

However: this is still fairly meta, and I'm actually coming to the conclusion that maybe it'd be good to talk about this in Metatalk. The thing is that the whole issue hangs on your sense that every single hip hop thread descends into a discussion about sexism, to a greater degree than with other topics. I'm not entirely sure I agree that that is true, as I said above; but this is really not the place for me to argue that. It wouldn't be bad to talk about it as a community and discuss the implications of what you're saying. If I weren't about to drive for five hours I'd probably make the post myself, honestly.
posted by koeselitz at 12:57 PM on July 14, 2013


Apologies to all the non racists I been calling racist the past month or so.

That was more about myself. I went on a tear and called metafilter itself the most covertly racist site on the internet. It was rightfully deleted.

I know there is a disconnect on metafilter. I see thread after thread there people call the neighborhood where Jay-Z and I (I lived a block away from him in my late teens) lived called various things from sketchy to outright warzones where law has simply broken down (that was the dude who carried an illegal gun in New York thread).

They act as these neighborhoods are hives of crime, threatening to spread evil thought out the city.

One of the things about being a white kid growing up in minority neighborhoods in Brooklyn is we get to see the disparity first hand. When I was in junior high and I fucked up, I was always given a "don't ruin your future" talk. Everyone else was given the zero tolerance ticket out the door. I did well on a test and I got a pat on the back. A black kid did well on a test and people tried to figure out how he cheated.

It is always odd when I tell people who didn't grow up in the inner city that many of my neighbors didn't even have phones in the 80s, if they wanted to talk to you they can to your house. People never believe me.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:45 PM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Check this out Crown live

He takes the 5kg cubans off before his first verse. Wonder if he has a safe on stage or just leaves a couple hundred grand chain laying around.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 PM on July 14, 2013


Damn, nvm. Actually he doesn't. Just can't see it most of the time.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:49 PM on July 14, 2013


Why would be use a real one as a concert prop?
posted by The World Famous at 10:50 PM on July 14, 2013


Very good point. I'd have a couple fakes. Actually I wouldn't buy a $250k chain to begin with unless I really did have Warren Buffet money.

Same chain at so so def. Jeezy's chains added together may have him beat though.

Poor Fat Joe up on stage with them with no chains. They could have donated those to pay his taxes and keep him out of jail. He just got 4 months for tax evasion.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:28 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Once again trying to make fetch happen here...

I think one of the reasons why I enjoy listening to Spanish and Portugese rap so much is because there's room for women in the genre. I'm not saying it's a magical land where there's no problematic material -- there are some gross sexist dudes, and artists like Tego Calderon and Calle 13 have some songs that could be seen as questionable. (Hell, Calle 13's first single had the word "pussy" in the title.). At the same time, though, artists like La Mala and Ana Tijoux are given the same accord as meatheads like Omega.

Take this with a grain of salt. I'm coming to this from a little outside the culture, as a white woman from New England. Based on the promos I get and the blogs I follow, though, this is a conclusion I've come to, and I may be wrong...
posted by pxe2000 at 5:13 AM on July 15, 2013


I have a friend who does an electro-bossa-nova kind of thing, and he says he always sings the songs in the original portuguese, because when you translate them, they're often crudely sexist.
posted by unSane at 5:33 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, unSane...the bossa nova movement is pretty interesting, because you have some artists writing about social justice (Caetano Veloso, Os Mutantes)...and a lot of cringeworthy "classic sexist" lyrical content.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:45 AM on July 15, 2013


Just to get this out of the way: were I asserting that I love the ouevre of a sexist literary figurehead, I think I'd spell his name correctly.

That's nice.
posted by angrycat at 6:55 AM on July 15, 2013


Joao Gilberto - Desafinado
Caetano Veloso - Tropicália
os mutantes - A Minha Menina
Gilberto Gil - Aquele Abraço

Pusha T - Pain
posted by Ad hominem at 12:09 PM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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