Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip hop Contraversies

Dr. Tricia Rose is a well respected professor of Africana Studes at Brown University, previously Dr. Rose has taught at NYU and the University of California. Rose attended Yale University where she received a Bachelors in Sociology, she then proceeded to attend Brown University to receive her Ph.D in the field of American Studies. Dr. Rose has published four books along with various articles discussing hip hop culture. Dr. Rose is most famous for her ground-breaking book Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Her discussion of hip hop culture in this book is so rich that it is considered a foundation text for the study of hip hop and is said to have defined what has now become a serious field of study.

In the YouTube video, Rose begins her talk by talking about popular culture, one of the subjects we've discussed in depth all semester. She says talking about a race/gender in a multi racial/gender/orientation setting is so difficult because what we all have we share is popular culture, we don't actually share lived experiences "We think we know each other through it"her quote really made me think about how this same rule applies to how we view teenagers, popular culture completely dictates our views on teenagers. This idea made me think back to the dominant discourses Raby discusses, those discourses construscted based on what we think we know about teens through what popular culture teaches us.
Dr. Rose argues that although she's "romanticizing" the evolution of hip hop by discussing the creativity that goes into the making of this musical genre, "this is a profoundly destructive period of time for black America" due to the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination. This dynamic genre of music expresses an awful lot of pain and anger which is something I think is often forgotten when we talk about hip hop now. In my senior year of high school I took an Urban Sociology course in which we discussed many "old school" hip hop artists and songs. While listening to this talk, I dug up my old high school binder in which I found some of my old work. One of my reflection papers was on a fairly recent song called "Speak Your Mind"(2001) by Immortal Technique. This song lyrically addresses many of the realities true for black youth such as being judged based on skin complexion, religious beliefs government (where they come from) etc. Another fairly recent song by rapper Papoose is "50 Shots" which talks about the controversial Sean Bell case. Both these songs, I think, illustrate the crisis of segregation and racial discrimination that Rose discusses in much more recent times than the 60's when hip hop was born.
In the Time Magazine interview with Dr. Rose she is asked why Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, etc don't sell as well as Jay-z or 50 cent she responds with the argument a certain kind of violent behavior defines black culture and there is a pleasure in consuming these ideas. Sexist images, sexuality, sexual domination and racial stereotypes all sell which makes for a consolidated market. As the interview goes on, Rose mentions that Jay-Z has admitted to dumming down his music to sell records and now rather than beong fun and play, hip hop has become an "economic industry where people get involved for the money than for the cretivity". Thinking about how hip hop has evolved, I began to think about our class a few weeks ago on Princess culture. Similarly to hip hop, princess culture also changed from fun and creativity to a multi billion dollar industry as it is discusses in Cinderella Ate My Daughter. We've come to a point where industries/companies only care about making money, not about what they are selling and how it can be damaging to not only our youth but to all memebers of society.


  1. I agree that companies only care about making money. It doesn't matter that some songs may be degrading or inappropriate as long as it sells

  2. Everything nowadays is about money so I am not surprised rappers go out of their way to shape their music to sell records.
    Almost all rappers use their songs to tell their story or a story. When we pay close attention to words we can hear it but usually we don't sing songs to understand or to listen attentively to the words. I used Jay-Z as an example in my blog to show how he tells his story through his songs.

    Great connections.

  3. Jay Z is one of the few modern rappers whose lyrics I will listen to. I find he does a great job with writing as well as using his voice as an instrument. He is a great artist and I am disappointed the hip hop industry does not stay true to what it represents.

  4. I agree Christina...I wonder if it bothers rappers that they represent a culture by singing about sex, rape, money and racial stereotypes. I know it's not every singer, but the majority of them...Wouldn't it bother you if you were representing women in a certain way as an artist that was hurtful to them as a group.

  5. I like the quote that you chose to discuss: "We think we know each other through it" and I agree with your statement about how it relates to society's way of looking at teenagers through pop culture. Before taking this course, I never realized how often it happens!