Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Julianne has had a lot to say lately about misogyny in hip-hop, and I'm glad she's saying it. It's been there for years, of course, and I've been tolerating it for years. It's fucked up, and I don't like it, but I still love hip-hop. I don't know if that's contradictory or not. Bridget would say that it is. She's quick to point out that I love guys like 50 Cent or Beenie Man or whoever, guys who have some really basically evil things to say, while I make fun of conscious-rap type dudes like Common and Kweli for being lame and sounding like girls. This is true. I do this. I really wish the guys I love would stop being dicks or that they guys I find boring would start being awesome so I could like them instead, but that's just not happening. The song Julianne mentions, "Can You Control Ya Hoe" is, in particular, possibly the worst example of hip-hop violence against women I've ever heard. I had a paragraph or so of splenetic ranting about the song in my Pitchfork review, but that was edited down to a snarky sentence or two. Bottom line is it's fucking disgusting. So who's to blame? The artists? The record companies who push this stuff? Me for buying it and economically supporting it? The simple answer is everyone, but that doesn't really answer anything. I really hate misogyny in hip-hop, even though I tolerate it. Everyone I know who loves hip-hop feels the same way. So are we the exceptions? Or does everyone just tolerate it? Does such a significant portion of the record-buying public just love bitch-slapping to the point where it would be fiscally unwise for rappers to stop talking that garbage? That seems unlikely. So why don't they just stop? Fuck, man. I don't know. If I had a comments section, we could talk about it, but I can't figure out how to put that up, so e-mail me if you want to discuss.

Julianne linked this Lynne D. Johnson post, which includes a bell hooks article written on the subject in 1993. hooks blames the society that creates this misogyny and allows young men (like, I guess, me) to idolize the rappers who propagate it. She argues that this misogyny is everywhere, including pseudofeminist art films, so hip-hop isn't to be blamed. It's a symptom and not a cause. Well, that lets me off the hook! Except that no, it doesn't. It's very much worth reading. She mentions an interview she did with Ice Cube for Spin in 1993 and talks about how the article was gutted of actual content before going to print. That article was the first place I ever encountered hooks. It was the first Spin I ever bought. I was 13. It had Evan Dando on the cover making out with some indie-film actress. It had the "The A to Z of Alternative Culture". I think it was the first music magazine I ever bought that wasn't Circus or Hit Parader or maybe the Rolling Stone with Ice-T on the cover in a cop uniform. The article blew me away; I was not at all used to cultural figures thoughtfully analyzing their place in the world using terms that were over my head. I had no idea I was reading the neutered version! Think what the O.G. article would've done to me!

I've been wicked busy lately working on all my year-end lists for various publications. Pitchfork wants 50 albums and 50 singles! That's hard! I'll put them up here soon.