Women as Object in Contemporary Hip Hop

Published: 2021-07-31 11:40:08
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Category: Music

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Rap music has its roots in protest and still functions as protest platform today. Rap songs most often protest society and the “system.” In the case of African American rappers, these protests often involve an objection to inherent racism in society, gender inequalities unequal opportunities for African Americans, and prejudices that they face in a supposedly equal country. Rap music performed by people of other races call attention to social injustices that affect their lives, as well. For example, female rappers of all races will often speak about gender inequality. Rap music is built upon similar protest platforms; poetry and music. It is an incredibly useful medium to spread a message quickly, and its captivating sound gives it the potential to attract a large audience. The contemporary hip-hop industry is regarded as highly misogynistic. It is quite degrading on women and sometimes depicts acts of sexual and physical violence against women. Some hip hop music videos aired in the BET and MTV music channels have been criticized for showing Black female bodies as faceless and nameless sexual objects whenever the lyrics have little concerning women or sexuality. However, the recent times have seen many female artists come up, many of whom strive to address the extreme social inequality that underlies the society today.
Outstanding among such female artists is Angel Haze whose music is large carries important social message. Her original name is Reykeea Wilson. She is gay but describes her identity as pansexual. She is also of a mixed race and taught herself the Tsalagi, that is a language of her Native American family predecessors Featuring in Macklemore’s single, ‘Same Love’, Angel Haze set the record straight on his intents and feelings regarding gender issues in the music industry. He muscles herself up to represent the LGBTQ community’s voice in this song that won at the 2013 VMAs the Best Video with a Social Message award. In place of the gay/straight alliance verses of Macklemore, she decided to rap about her own personal experiences. In this song, she begins noting that her mother knew that she was not straight at age thirteen. She described her predicament of being locked out of the world as her mother preferred seeing a part of her die rather than her thriving. This led her to realize that being driven by one’s choice is an optical illusion, now she understands that there is not always confusion. Her settling on this particular beat of Same Love is quite significant in spreading her message on the need to respect and accept the LGBTQ community. When it won at the VMAs, the song received plenty of resentment, notably from the NYC rapper, Take Lelf, who picked up a ‘beef’ with Macklemore for having received massive praise for being an LGBTQ voice. Haze used this song to ask the society one particular question, Besides the rap world, can a pansexual artist be accepted at the music scene? Will the orientation of the artist be misinterpreted for bisexuality? And why does sexual orientation even matter? She answers by rapping, I am whoever I am when I am it (Manders, par 4).
Angel Haze has not only been focused on gender issues only. She has developed quite a voice in criticizing the extreme racism that is inherent in American society. In her bullish, self-released album dubbed Back to the Woods, Haze is quoted rapping, I’ve got my middle finger up to white America for trying to whitewash my blackness (Cragg, par 1). The rapper is clearly one of the most outspoken hip-hop voices. Haze particularly tailed Cleaning Out my Closet track to tackle the sexual abuse she endured as a child between age seven and ten. She exposes everything to the listener: from graphic details to what happened to her body to the trauma and fury running through her. She notes that at the end redemption is attained, but after one is left reeling physically. The 20-year-old rapper notes that there are people who go through such ill experiences every day, but people turn a blind eye. The victims themselves are often too scared to narrate their ordeal. Cleaning Out my Closet bares a brutal catharsis that lies in barred honesty evident in her work. If the most basic and essential maxim of hip-hop is to keep it real, then Haze has well passed the test and redefined it too.
All of her mixtapes released dissects and documents her inner life and deeper experiences with dexterous intelligence and skill ranging from the gothic fantasies to evocative deluge of deep-feeling love poetry as well as remunerations on religion and sexuality. In the same mixtape that featured Cleaning Out my Closet, Haze blatantly calls out Lupe Fiasco. This followed Fiasco’s attempt in the original version of the track Bitch Bad to defend misogyny and blaming women for his predicaments. Haze attacked the narrative, explaining how men and boys are influenced by and end up demonstrating the anti-female attitudes. Haze had no regrets embarrassing Fiasco for making the woman-shaming attempt (Macpherson, par 6, par 9). Angel Haze has also some reservations for the rapists. The rape culture had become dominant news in the media following the rape and murder of a medical student in Delhi and the emergence of allegations of an attempt to cover-up on an alleged gang rape in Ohio. Haze was particularly furious in her reaction to the topic of rape going arms up against those people who blame the dressing code of the rape victims. She notes that the rape victims never get justice as most of the cases are dismissed for lack of evidence. This has given the rapists more confidence in their actions as they know people are less likely to believe the victims (Macpherson, par 20). In conclusion, it is a common knowledge that the hip-hop industry since its inception has been dominated by the male artists who have tailed situations in their favor, constantly using women as their subject and objects. However, many female artists are contemporarily rising to the occasion to not only defend themselves against the men but also fight against social inequalities. Angel Haze thus far has demonstrated incredible enthusiasm in this course.

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