Trigger warning: this blog post features mentions of physical and sexual assault as well as graphic images.
Rap music is a personal favourite of many people. When asked why these individuals often cite past paced beats, the stories of social ascension and personal successes rappers tell as some of the reasons why. Listeners are often inspired to achieve the same material success as the artists they listen to. Rap music can also be a means for listeners to boost their confidence as rappers often communicate a high degree of self-confidence and speak highly of themselves in their lyrics. Despite these positives that can be attributed to rap music there are many problematic aspects of rap culture. To say however that misogyny, misogynoir, and hypocrisy are extensive in rap culture would be a gross understatement. This post will be discussing many of these troubling aspects of rap in addition to the rappers who have perpetrated many of these acts without facing repercussions to their careers.
Before commencing with the rest of this piece, I believe it is very important to clarify that while there are many problematic aspects of rap music and rap culture as a whole, it does not mean that every single rapper partakes in these troubling aspects. It is also very important to clearly define the ideas of misogyny and misogynoir that will be discussed in this article. Misogyny is defined as severe prejudice or hatred towards women. Similarly, misogynoir can be defined as intense prejudice and extreme dislike directed towards black women. It not only combines aspects of misogyny but also features the incorporation of racism
While he may not officially be classified as a rapper, Chis Brown is an example of a notorious abuser, misogynist, and overall degenerate individual. In 2009, he severely attacked his then girlfriend Rihanna. In this famously documented brutality, he punched and bit her while the pair were in a car. To make matters even worse, he decided to get a neck tattoo depicting Rihanna’s beaten and bruised face. He continued his atrocious pattern of violent, and abusive behaviour in his next relationship with Karrueche Tran.
These examples discussed are just the tip of the iceberg regarding the atrocities that Chris Brown has perpetrated. He has an extensive track record regarding misogynistic comments directed towards women. He made comments mocking singer Kehlani’s suicide attempt claiming she lied about taking her life in order to gain sympathy. He has also called women who have criticized him “b**ches”, “H*es”, and “ugly”. While he should have a right to defend himself, using hateful misogynistic langue is not the way to do it.
Despite Chris Brown’s extremely problematic past he still manages to have not only a surviving career but a successful and highly thriving one at that. After these instances of violence, he continues to top music charts, sell out shows, and other artists continue to collaborate with him.
While his fans may claim that he is a changed man who has paid penance for his violence, his actions tell a completely different story. Personally speaking, I am not a proponent of cancel culture since I do not believe that it holds individuals accountable. At the same time, this begs the question of how many atrocities must someone like Chris brown commit before he is truly held accountable and suffers repercussions in his career?
Another well-documented rapper who is known for his actions of violence against black women is rapper and predator, R. Kelly. For years he preyed on, targeted, and sexually abused young black women. Until recently he had gone unscathed for the crimes he carried out. Of course, this comes as no surprise. This is because he preyed on a demographic that is often overlooked and one that most people do not care about. Studies continue to show that black women face a disproportionate amount of disparities in the health system. They also face disproportionately higher rates of domestic violence.
While R. Kelly may be serving time for his crimes, his music is still available on streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. While he may be in jail, these streaming services as well as the people who continue to listen to his music are just as complicit in carrying out these acts of misogynoir and continuing to degrade and devalue the lives of black women. The same complicity applies to all people who continue to stream abusers like Chris Brown who have continued to engage in misogynistic acts towards women.
The hypocritical aspect of rap music is concerned with how it continues to pit female artists against one another. Women in the rap industry are constantly compared with each other. Individuals will often try to set female rappers in competition with one another over their works or to create grudges between them. In contrast male rappers who often sound the same and are mediocre at best, are allowed to exist in peace. Female rappers are also much more criticized and held to a much higher standard than their male colleagues. Male rappers have been given the chance to rap extremely explicit and vulgar lyrics in the name of art and they get praised. However, when a female rapper attempts to do the same thing the is immediately vilified and shamed.
This was exemplified when rappers Cardi. B and Megan Thee Stallion released their song sexually explicit song titled “WAP”. The release of the song was immediately followed with outrage, condemnation, and made headlining news. Cardi and Megan were vilified for the same thing their male counterparts were praised for.
With its fast-paced beats, aspirations of material success, and emphasis on high self-regard it is understandable why rap music has such a large fan base. At the same time, it is hard to ignore the blatant misogyny, misogynoir, and hypocrisy that is prevalent in rap culture. Whenever a person gives streams to a problematic artist they are not only contributing to their revenue, they are also complicit in the heinous actions committed by their favourite artist.
September 10, 2020
October 15, 2020
I am completing a bachelor’s of science degree with a psychology major and chemistry minor at the University of Alberta. Some of my hobbies include working out, traveling, and baking. I strongly believe in the power of women’s advocacy and empowerment to achieve social transformation. I am honored to be a part of this initiative as I am able to work alongside an extremely talented group in order to instill change.