17 April 2007

Censorship vs gangsta rap (re: Imus essay)

  • Apr 17, 2007

Censorship vs gangsta rap (re: Imus essay)

I recently saw a MySpace "survey" which included the question "Is Rap music disrespectful to women?"
My thought was "Of course.  All of it.  Even the songs and artists which aren't.  Especially rappers such as Public Enemy, Underground, and TuPac, and current artists OutKast, RasKaDee and Dead Prez with their "Mind Sex".  Oh and the lyrics of the Fugees, Queen LaTifa, and Lil Kim, very offensive to women."
A little on the sarcastic side, obviously.
Point is, that is a really stupid question.  Rap is not one song, one artist, or even one style.  There are artists who objectify women in rock and country, and there are artists who do in rap as well.

The important question is, when there are so many political, and/or positive, and/or fun and upbeat, and/or meaningful rap songs and artists, why is it that NWA and Snoop Dogg are considered representative of the entire genre.  Why are gangsta rap, hyphe (the glorification of stupid for its own sake), dirty south and crunk, the dominate styles in their respective times?

While there may be many complex reasons, it is important to remember that the promotion of a song or group is controlled by major record labels, radio stations, and concert venue owners.  The vast majority of these happen to be white. 
I'm not saying it is a deliberate conspiracy, but it is interesting that NWA got more air time than Public Enemy, when the former was hardcore gangsta rap, promoted violence in general, was disrespectful of women in particular, while the latter was purely political, and rapped about such things as the aftermath of slavery, alcohol abuse in the black community, and the use of the word "n***er" by ignorant black americans.

I used to dislike the entire genre for the same reasons; until I started to find the numerous exceptions to the generalizations expressed here.
Fact is, it is a style of music, not a type of content.  Beyond the question of who chooses what style becomes popular, the question remains, why are so many rappers the way described?  And in that, there is the same chicken/egg question raised by all of the media influences people arguments.  Does the community build its morals based on the music they listen to, or do they choose to listen to music that matches their morals?  Does art imitate life, or life imitate art? I think the question of why the community thinks this way is more important than why rappers do.  If youth were offended by the lyrics, they would stop buying the albums, and the rappers would stop writing that way. I think internalized racism is very relevant, but not exactly accurate. It is more that many black people have bought into the idea that the black community is in some way fundamentally separate from society at large.  While many sub-cultures in the US make some effort to assimilate, in a way blacks try to move away from the rest of society.  Of course this is true to a large extent of youth in general.  But when a punk or a goth or a skater white kid writes a note to a teacher, they generally do not use the sub-cultural words they use with their friends.  Some black children seem unaware that they aren't speaking proper english, and use slang even in formal settings.  Black youth are told that math, history, english classes are not relevant to their problems, to their community.  This is an extremely destructive, but widespread belief.  While the intention may have been valid, the result is not that kids do independent research and learn the history that classrooms leave out, the result is they don't try, or drop out, and continue a cycle of ignorance when they have children and fail to encourage them to perform well in school.  I think we should consider it a problem that many blacks consider another black person who is educated and articulate to be "acting white" or a sell-out or not really black.  This is a promotion of ignorance just as hyphe is a promotion of stupid.

08 April 2007


  • Apr 8, 2007

  • Closer

    Its that one line that stands out.  Its what people hear first.  It seems dramatic in its vulgarity; and so it's taken out of context.

    This is not the typical bass thumping, "hey baby, lets get in on" song.
    It is not about dominance, nor pleasure.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    "Help me" is more key to the feeling than "I want to fuck you like an animal".

    06 April 2007

    It turns out my neighbor ISN'T a crack head!

    • Apr 6, 2007

    It turns out my neighbor ISN'T a crack head!

    It's heroin, not crack.

    Not that I am surprised.  I just use the term "crack-head" because it's got a certain ring to it, which "heroin-addict" lacks.

    I hear from one of my former neighbors, who bought some of my furniture today, that the crazy pet-abusing child-threatening neighbor-robbing 3-broken-car-owning driveway-full-of-crap trailer trash neighbor is actually being evicted!


    Apparently despite the drug sales, the credit card fraud, the identity theft, and the burglary, he still couldn't pay the rent.
    Supposedly that time the cops were here for so long, it was for his girl, not for him.  That explains why she hasn't been around for a while.  Supposedly she will be away for a good while, from all the identity theft she was caught involved in.
    The former neighbor who told me all this, she warned me to watch out.  Now that he's being evicted (dear god I hope they take his kid) he has nothing to lose from hurting his neighbors - especially ones he has a grudge against, i.e. ME. 
    So, one of these days something of mine will be missing, or maybe there will be a brick through the window of the truck or trailer.
    But, it will be worth it!
    Won't have to deal with him ever again after that.  Won't have to listen to him cursing and threatening his 2 year old for walking more than 5 ft away from the driveway.  Won't have to worry about the revenge that might or might not be coming some day.  Won't have to worry about drunkenness giving him the courage to actually start a fight - I'd have the advantage of being sober and not an idiot, but he'd have the advantage of surprise, size and weight, and probably countless street and prison fights in the past.  Considering that he already has nothing, I couldn't even sue for damages.  Even if I "won", nothing good could come of it.
    But it may be a moot point very soon.  He didn't pay his rent.  They're throwing him out.
    Ding-Dong the witch is dead!  Which old witch?  The wicked witch!

    04 April 2007

    No wonder I've been tired!

    • Apr 4, 2007

    No wonder I've been tired!

    And no wonder I haven't been shopping yet.
    I just looked back over my google calender.
    Today is the first day without at least one job scheduled for 10 days back.  Before that was one day off, and two more work days before that.
    13 days, one day off.  Well, actually - one cancelled last minute, it was really two days off, but not consecutively.
    It felt like a lot, but I didn't realize it was that much.
    If I wasn't self-employed, that would have been illegal.
    Today I'm not officially working, but I have to get rid of all this stuff.
    Need a kitchen table/chair set?  They are wicker, good condition, glass top, rolling chairs.  How about a 7ft tall solid wood entertainment center?
    On the plus side, most jobs are only a few hours - on the other hand, 5 of those days had 2 or more jobs in the same day.
    Now, if I only could get my pricing down, so that I'm never spend more on a job than I charge (twice last week!!!!!!) I would be doing pretty good.
    It will be nice going back to a 4/10 schedule (10 hour days, 3 days off per week) when/if I get my new job/career going.  Its like a mini vacation every week!

    03 April 2007

    Bike Station

    • Apr 3, 2007

    Bike Station

    As you probably know (if you have looked at my profile, or spoken to me for half an hour) I've had a lot of jobs. About 25 in fact, of about 15 different types, ranging rather widely.

    I can't remember one in which I have enjoyed the commute to work as much as the commute home.
    And not just because of the 15 mile bike ride at 2pm through sunny Berkeley and Oakland, around the lake, along the "bike boulevards" in near perfect weather.

    Today, I took a few extra moments before someone left with their bike to cut off the end of a used inner tube. I had noticed their headlight was too loose for the handlebar, and I made a shim out of the piece of tube, and now instead of pointing straight down, her headlight points forward. Which means its just a little less likely that she gets hit by a car sometime.

    02 April 2007

    My blog views have finally surpassed my profile views!

    • Apr 2, 2007

    My blog views have finally surpassed my profile views!

    It must have been that I started writing these meaningless silly ones, sort of like this one, instead of the constant barrage of opinionated, angry, political/philosophical crap I started out with, that whole "Chapter #; in which..."

    800.  Wow.  Really wish I could see who all these people are. 
    I barely know 8 people, are they reading them over and over, or have I somehow caught the attention of total strangers? 800 views of 50 posts, that's an average of 16 each!  Now I need only adding in subliminal messages, and before long I could - dare I say it?- RULE THE WORLD!
    Mwah HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!!!!

    2 more!  already?  how is this possible?  Does the mere act of posting count as a "view" by myself?  And even then, who's the other one?  Just now?  in the time it took me to post the above blog?  WTH?  who are you?  why don't you ever comment?  yabadahlieoto?!?! what is the smiley icon for confused? hows that?