Hip hop is undoubtedly the most influential subculture or genre in the world right now. It has branded itself as a political voice of the impoverished. Hip hop is also a means of self-empowerment. JAY-Z was a drug dealer before his rap career and is now one of the genre’s first billionaires. Cardi B was a stripper-turned-rapper no one initially took seriously but is now an influential figure. Despite some empowering stories, misogyny and sexism are still dominating hip hop. This year in particular men proved how misogynistic, transphobic and outright disrespectful they have always been.
J. Cole vs Noname
In a tweet, rapper Noname called out rappers for not doing enough in the Black Lives Matter movement. J. Cole seemingly felt personally attacked by this and released a song, Snow on tha Bluff. In it he raps about not liking her so-called condescending tone. In response, Noname released Song 33 where she called him out on his terrible timing as a young Black transgender woman, Oluwatoyin Salau, had just been murdered.
The Lack of Empathy for Megan thee Stallion
After Megan thee Stallion was shot, men on social media were quick to sexualize her and make jokes about the situation. 50 Cent was one of many men who shared insensitive memes about her. He himself is someone who survived being shot. Then people shared false conspiracies about her alleged shooter, Tory Lanez, finding out she is transgender. This is an example of how people will use any excuse to justify violence against women.
The Transphobia Against Zaya Wade
When the daughter of Dwyane Wade came out as transgender, she received some hate. Rapper Young Thug deliberately misgendered her and said that “God doesn’t make mistakes”. Another rapper Boosie said that she should rather “be gay” than transgender. Young Thug had since apologized but Boosie still stands by his comments.
Sexual Assault and Slut-Shaming
The allegations of sexual assault against industry pioneer Russell Simmons continues to go under the radar. Women continue to be portrayed as “sluts” and sexualised objects. Because of Future’s cult-like influence, the phrase “She belongs to the streets” is part of *almost* every hip hop fan’s slang. Or at least we are all familiar with it. Not to forget the other misogynistic words used to describe women.
“Who are you calling a bitch?”
– Queen Latifah, U.N.I.T.Y
Misogynoir is Everywhere in Hip Hop
Misogynoir is the double pressure of being Black and female. Noname’s political views may not be taken seriously by hip hop fans because she happens to be a dark-skinned Black woman. Some people have said that if Megan was lighter-skinned or white, people would have had more empathy.
As a fan of rap, I am tired of the patriarchy.
Hip hop is one of my favourite musical genres but male rappers continue to annoy me. Whether it’s my “favourite” artist Drake calling the mother of his son, a former pornographic actress, a “fluke” or Future being hailed as a hero by men for his cheating habits. It could be really simple, men in hip hop need to do better. Dear male hip hop fans, your favourite rapper making songs about how they love to fold clothes for their wives is not as feminist (or “simp”) as you think it is. J. Cole is the same artist who made “Lights Please” about having sex with a supposedly superficial woman and “Crooked Smile” about appreciating a woman’s inner beauty. The double standards and contradictions are tiring.
More men in hip hop need to actively acknowledge their privilege. Hopefully, then they will stop objectifying women as sexual beings or muses to their misogynist lyrics. Of course, this is not only a hip hop problem. Patriarchy is a societal problem affecting both genders. If hip hop wants to continue being the leaders and the voice of the overlooked, male rappers should do better. As bell hooks said, “feminism is for everybody.”