Monday, April 21, 2014

Hip Hop Controversies

Writing Freely~

Dr. Tricia Rose is a professor at Brown University who studied sociology and American studies.  She is an internationally respected scholar post civil rights era.  She has published many books such as The Hip Hop Wars what we talk about when we talk about hip hop--and why it matters.  Dr. Rose is a phenomenal speaker who is very passionate about how hip hop music has evolved.  For example, she refers to hip hop as being in "gravely ill" and not officially dead but buried by contemporary hip hop that has been "dumbed down" in order to sell.  She argues how society knows hip hop today as rap that demoralizes women, dominated by violence and crude sexuality.  She also argues through lecture of the way race and stereotypes are portrayed primarily through hip hop.  
lblack noise
I found it very interesting when she spoke about her days on the basketball courts where people would freestyle on a B-side cassette and who ever had the most creative lines were the next to play.  Personally, I had never thought about where hip hop came from.  I understood how black blues during the 1930's helped shape country music in the 1950's through the 1960's paving the way for artists like Hank Williams Sr and Johnny Cash.  I can see how the concept of "dumbing down" today's hip hop is the only way to sell records.  Music all around seems to have taken a "cheaper" route.  I think the foundation of hip hop music needs to be talked about more! 

This leads me to my next topic.  It is a side note.  I was looking at Dr. Rose's other publications on her website and noticed she published a rare oral narrative about the history of sexuality of black women.  It is a topic I feel is not talked about publicly.  In relation to the topic of hip hop where not much is known about black women's sexuality besides their sexual desire and sense of ownership by men who are rapping, more needs to be understood about the culture of black women.  Dr. Rose's book, Longing to Tell, may be open society's eyes to a cultural understanding of black cultural sexuality.  The description of the book describes taking the reader into the testimonies of black women to break the silence of society's perceptions of black women as sexual beings.  
longing to tell
Looking at these cultural aspects to teenagers, this brings me to the past reading by Raby when the Tangle of Discourse is discussed.  It sounds like the way hip hop today is being displayed as teenagers as the social problem.  For example, Dr. Rose argues the misconceptions that rap songs today promote violence, substance use and sexuality.  The pleasurable consumption discourse can be applied to these ideas as well, for teenagers are the target audience for these songs as the lyrics and videos appeal to teenagers.  
Who or what is responsible for this shift in hip hop music?  What does this say about artists such as Jay-Z and 50 Cent who modify their philosophy as an artist and conform to less than standard music?  


  1. I too did some extra research on Dr. Tricia Rose and I watched a couple other videos. She truly is a a phenomenal speaker and I can't believe she's right here in Providence at Brown University and I've never heard about her. I am hoping to read about the book you posted about the sexuality of black woman. As being a African American woman I am very interested in seeing what she writes and her thoughts.

    Nice post!

  2. I just purchased the book! lol

  3. I also enjoyed the article on sexuality with African American women and also feel that it should be talked about more!

  4. First off, I want to tell you how much I love this post. I also don't think that we as a culture talk about the roots of hip hop. We often overlook what black folk have done for the music industry which we have come to put a great emphasis upon. I also love how you threw in some mention of black sexuality, another topic which is rarely discussed in polite society (read white culture). I think that these topics are extraordinarily difficult to examine separately, especially when we blame rap and hip hop for being overly sexualized.

  5. I didnt come across that book but it seems like it would be an interesting read. I feel that different races think they know so much about each other but in reality, a lot is so overlooked.