I’m a music fanatic. A hip hop fanatic. A “good” music fanatic. So it bothers me that that hip hop music often gets a bad “rap” from people who can’t see past all the bling and female objectifying that some artists choose to portray. A few of my female friends say they can listen to hip hop, or as it is also called sometimes, rap, but that it gets old when the artists keep telling a girl, to “back it up”, or chant some other lude comment insinuating sex. Completely understandable. My roommate says she likes Kanye West, but found some of his lyrics in his songs not for her taste. I explained that all of his songs aren’t like that and some have uplifting messages hidden beneath the hip hop beats and rhymes.
All hip hop artists don’t strictly talk about how much money they have. All hip hop artists don’t objectify women immensely. They may make songs which delve deep into the issue of male/female relationships, and the women they have encountered. However, they know how to also use their talent to express their appreciation for women. Unfortunately those artists come far and few, and there is definitely a lack of of female rappers to balance the hip hop game. It’s the same idea which made parents and conservatives alike go awry in the 80’s when rock music seemed to glorify sex, music, and drugs. Since then rock music has gone in a different direction, but there is often that stigma still attached to it.
My favorite song that is getting a lot of play right now on MTV2 is by Wyclef Jean. Wyclef has always been a hybrid of a rapper and a singer. Wyclef is most known for being in the multi-platinum selling group, The Fugees, and for pop-crossover hits like, “We Trying to Stay Alive”, “Gone Til November” and “911 with Mary J. Blige. His Caribbean influenced style fused with hip hop has been the best formula for his longevity as an artist. He’s come out of musical hibernation to make, “Sweetest Girl”, featuring Akon, Lil Wayne, and Niia. The song follows the demise of a girl who had it all in high school, but has fallen victim to drugs and prostitution. While, the concept is not completely original, the song itself speaks volumes while bringing these four artists together.
The video features a refugee camp, and is great visually while under the memorizing reggae spiced hip hop beat – as Wyclef strums a guitar as the scenery of the girl’s interactions is portrayed throughought the video. The rawness of video may be a bit nostalgic as it reminds us of a modern day, “Ready or Not” fused with “Fu-Gee-La” from the early Fugees videos. All in all, the song shows us what we’ve been missing from Wyclef and his unique sense of melting his Haitian roots with hip hop.
Sometimes the message won’t always be pretty in any particular song, or type of music, but the beauty is in the reality of it. No one wants to hear a song which degrades them by the second, but open up your mind before you dismiss a certain song or type of music.
So, do your research. All rap music, or all rock music is not there to treat women as sex objects. Some do, but there are some quality artists out there, who won’t assault your ears with cheap come ons and sexual innuendo, every few seconds. We also have to be aware that sexuality has a place in everyone’s life and we can’t be shocked with it mixes with music. Music mirrors real life. It may not always be a reflection we like, but it’s here and not going anywhere.