EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story contains explicit language that the Editors-in-Chief consider a necessary component of the story. The use of such language is reserved by the Legend staff for situations where the quality of the Legend would decrease with the absence or censorship of the language in question. We hope not to offend, but to illuminate this important topic for our readers. Readers are warned that links likely contain explicit lyrics and sexual imagery.
Everyone knows the lyrics to Lil Wayne’s new single. Everybody dances to it, sings it in the car with their friends, blasts it before their sporting events. The lyrics have become a soundtrack to the lives of young people, particularly young men:
“Open up her legs then filet mignon that pussy/Imma get in and on that pussy/ If she let me in imma own that pussy/ Go’n throw it back and bust it open like you ‘posed to/ Girl I got that dope dick/ Now come here let me dope you,” demands Wayne in his 2009 single, “Every Girl”.
Despite the ‘Parental Advisory’ warning on the album “We Are Young Money,” a Sept. 16 Legend survey showed that 91 students at Urban have downloaded songs labeled with parental advisories despite the warnings.
“When it comes to men calling women bitches and hoes and all that sort of stuff, and being aggressive about it, it’s just commerce because 15-year-old white boys will eat that up,” English teacher Greg Monfils said. “The people that buy hip-hop more than anyone else are white boys, simply because there are more white boys than any type of teenage boy in the United States.”
The degradation and disempowerment of women in popular rap songs, by males for males, is rampant. “I body slam her/ But I’m not a misogynist,” claims Jeru the Damaja in “Da Bichez” (1994). “Daddy’s so proud of you/ Sit down bitch/ If you move again I’ll beat the shit out of you,” threatens Eminem in “Kim” (2000). “Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks/Lick on these nuts and suck the dick/Get the fuck out after you’re done,” commands Dr. Dre in “Bitches Ain’t Shit” featuring Snoop Dogg (1992).
Though hearing such lyrics may be inevitable, listeners don’t have to accept them.
“I’d like to think that we’re all wise enough to be able to hear (this music) and not have it coarsen us… we coarsen ourselves to some extent, or at the very least we have to fight not to be coarsened,” said Monfils.
However, a potential counterculture is on the rise: White female rappers.
Rap and hip-hop songs by white female artists with strong, albeit mixed, messages are becoming popular with teen girls. In fact Brooke Candy’s video for the 2012 song “Das Me” has 1,299,962 views on YouTube as of Oct. 21, 2013.
In the last few years, sassy white women have been putting their two cents into hip-hop culture with lyrics that oppose slut shaming and promote female empowerment. “I’m a super bitch, I fuck it up, I do this shit/You say that I’m a slut/It ain’t your business who I’m fucking with/A dude could fuck three bitches and they’d say that he’s the man/But I get it in with twins, she’s a whore/That’s what they saying,” Brooke Candy, a white female rapper, raps in her single “Das Me” (2012).
Some listeners don’t immediately know what to make of the white girl rapper phenomenon.
“(I) was excited and also confused because it was like an anti-slut shaming video,” Gabe Pine (’15) said about a Brooke Candy video.
“But at the same time she was kind of talking about, like, herself, and because of the way she looks, she can do this cool stuff. And it seems like this 1-D view of sexuality. Because she has a lot of specific physical traits … she can do whatever she wants.”
White female rappers have also begun to use the same “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll” attitude in their music as their male counterparts. “Throwin Rosay equals sippin three hundred/Duh we gettin money and it’s finna talk/ Pull out twenty stacks just to buy the whole mall,” brags Lil Debbie in her 2012 rap, “Gotta Ball,” featuring V-Nasty (see “Lil Debbie Amplifies Female Sass,” at left).
Ironically, perhaps, even when gender changes, subjects remain the same. Money, women, and drugs are a common theme in popular hip-hop and rap written by men. But the presence of these themes in female rap adds a new dimension to their music, one that breaks traditional gender roles.
However, the empowering lyrics in female rap may have other, less positive messages. Brooke Candy says in “Das Me” that she will “take a knife to your dick/Imma cut your fucking loss/ Don’t say a word, put the money in the bag/ Imma tie you up bitch, yeah I like it when you gag.” Despite the obvious misogyny in rap by men, Candy’s lyrics bring similar vitriol, this time directed toward men.
“The objectification of men in rap doesn’t get anything done. It’s just fighting fire with fire,” said Mackenzie Kwok (’14). “If the women rappers were retaliating by standing up for themselves, that’s one thing. But just being offensive toward men doesn’t do anything.”
“It’s not good art because it’s degrading to people,” Kowk remarked in terms of the focus on gender roles defined by both male and female rappers. “I get that it’s provocative, but when it’s provocative in a way that’s degrading, people internalize that a lot. It’s no longer provocative because it’s overdone, it’s repetitive and it’s what you expect from rap.”
“(Misogynistic rap) perpetuates a lot of social behaviors that exist in people right now,” Kwok added.
Whether it’s a woman or a man writing the lyrics, one thing is clear: Rap is a way to express and even test values in the court of public opinion.
As rapper Kanye West once asked: “Is hip-hop just a euphemism for a new religion?”