Hip Hop, Gender, and Sexuality Course Fall 2012

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Stephen McNeal

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owKhkr_d9do&feature=youtu.be

The first concert I ever went to was Bob Dylan in the 4th grade. My parents took the kids to the show, standing room only. I took advantage of being 3 feet tall and weaved my way to the front. Since that concert I’ve seen the man 4 other times and have grown to understand his music more and more. Selecting him as the focal point of my project was in many ways my attempt to go to what I felt was my bread and butter, something I was comfortable with and could really find joy and entertainment out of. Using such a music icon from the folk and rock and roll world allowed me to explore some crucial questions that have developed throughout our course. The first important aspect of the project was to challenge the conventional idea of authenticity, asking the big question of how did Bob Dylan start rapping. Of course there is humor in this idea and I tip toed the line of being funny but having a serious dialogue of issues. The next big point I wanted to make was to highlight the scrutiny that hip-hop receives in it’s lyrics and music videos; scrutiny that, I feel, has allowed other sexist and misogynistic aspects of other music to go unnoticed. Another point I wanted to make is that hip-hop has a long tradition. As we’ve seen in this course it deals with so much more than just music, it’s about graffiti, dancing, MCing, and rapping. I wanted to extend that heritage further and discuss its connection to blues and folk music.

            The framing of a radio show was important to the project overall. I initially wanted to have a video of an interview session, but after a first take it came off as far too hokey and much of the argument would have been lost to distracting and unnecessary humor/humiliation. Having images streaming while the interview took place gave a visual for the class and when I cut to his actual singing of “It’s Alright Ma” and the music video with my adapted rap it was more fluid. I am pleased with the outcome of the project and feel it was a good representation of the material learned throughout the semester.

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15 Plays
J Breezy
Identity Complex [Hip-Hop] ft. Nox

"And all of these emotions are pouring out of me": Embracing one’s identity complex & hip-hop [artist statement]

—James Tolleson

My final project was the creation of a docu-music track named “Identity Complex [Hip-Hop] ft. Nox”. It came as the result of numerous conversations between myself and a long-time friend, Darren Perry, about growing up with hip-hop and each of our continued journeys as creative artists. We conducted an interview in which we talked about everything from our first hip-hop favorites to self-expression through fashion to the absence of female rappers and the larger question: what identities can, should, and will be expressed in hip-hop?

Behind the project were two major inspirations that came out of ENG393: 1) the idea of sampled consciousness in robert karimi’s poem “how i found my inner dj” and 2) the work of Invincible and her OuterSpaces project. The idea of sampled consciousness is what karimi describes as “an old idea with one of hip-hop’s gifts, the sample, serving as a point of departure. Every generation engages in this quest to establish self (and culture) in order to find one’s relation to the universe and the universe’s relation to one.” In OuterSpaces, the artists-activists “refuse to deny any aspects of their dynamic identities, seeking to explore the crossroads of these margins where new ideas emerge and grow.” The generational quest to find and define one’s identity in its wholeness and its full context is the ultimate challenge. 

In “Identity Complex”, Darren (Nox) and I share thoughts and music about the role of hip-hop in our lives and, more specifically, our individual journeys to fully express our identities. As a passage in “Identity Complex” suggests, “Come now, it’s time… everything that I signify, yes / complex identities need to express / all of us have ‘em and none put to rest / the questions." For Darren, hip-hop allowed him "to understand adult concepts at a younger age" by making connections with artists like KiD CuDI and the track "Soundtrack To My Life", a lyric of which labels this reflection. Darren’s original track, "Black Cloud", gets to the heart of that "little bit of sadness in me" to which KiD CuDI also bears witness: "there’s a black cloud over me, showing me that they want me dead… want me dead.

We also touched on the importance of having multiple modes of expression. For Darren, fashion has become a way to manifest feelings of “difference”. One of my verses also touches on this: “my destiny in the rear / view mirror, mirror on the wall / you’re looking quite unfamiliar / where’s the young boy that I knew? / with memories far and few / of a life before the dues you pay / to love the full who you are / misinterpret the stars / mistake yourself for mars / you’re a martian? that’s cool / just don’t drop the groove." Taking Lil Wayne’s infamous line, "I am not the same, I am a martian", I wanted to get at the importance of not shying away from those feelings of difference, but also staying true to your "groove", a term I use to describe one’s changing but continuous journey.

This compilation of interviews, music, and lyrics (original and other) engages the complicated nexus of identity and hip-hop. I view this project as a step into a much longer conversation between Darren and I (& within ourselves) about what can, should, and will be expressed through the artistic medium of hip-hop. Will the real hip-hop activists please stand up?

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Tianna’s Hip Hop Art Project

For my final project, I decided to do a little something different this year. After doing a monologue as my final project last semester in Dr. Small’s Race and Speculation class, I decided to do a three piece artistic set for this semester’s final. I was inspired by the art being created by the individuals we discussed in class, both verbally and visually. I knew that women and how they influenced hip hop was an area I wanted to explore more with my project, as we had done so in class throughout the semester a bit. I was both intrigued and inspired by how so many women helped birth hip hop, but got little to no recognition for it. It seemed that Hip Hop was all about the man’s perspective, the “HIStory” of hip hop, rather than looking at what hip hop is, how it started, and how it still thrives through a women’s perspective. So I definitely wanted to focus more on the “HERstory” of hip hop and what it means to be a woman in this field. My first piece was more of a general summary of what we had learned in the course concerning women. I thought of this theme of silhouttes as important to place in my pieces because many women were known visually, but not their personal stories or voices in detail. I definitely wanted to emphaize the lack of this throughout my art work, but still give a voice to the women at the same time. I incoporated strippers, MC’s, DJ’s, and b-girls into this picture and quotes from some of the notes we had taken throughout the semster concerning these figures.

My second piece is supposed to pay tribute to the female graffiti artists that played such a huge role in the development of hip hop. Although they didn’t receive as much acknowledgement as I believe they should’ve, I wanted to create a peice that spoke to their gender in hop hop as well as their skills. Now, I’m no professional graffiti artist, but after reading about Lady Pink I wanted to create my own graffiti piece that spoke to the so-called ”risks” of being feminine in graffiti tagging. I decided to use pink as my color of choice and wrote the words “HERSTORY” on a black piece of cardboard. I also tagged my name (or atleast tried to) in a unique way, such as Lady Pink would do.

Finally, for my last piece I really wanted to focus on the silhoutte of women in hip hop again but also how 3 Dimensional they are. I think a lot of times, some men in hip hop and some men in general see these women in hip hop as 2 Dimensonal figures with not a lot of depth, meaning, or a multitude of perspectives. However, I wanted to shatter that conception by creating a piece that spoke to the various sides and perspectives women bring to hip hop and how that is intertwined with their gender. Of the three heads that are 3D in this piece, all are female, however; one has a ponytail, the other is bald, and another one has very curly hair with headphones on. I wanted to express that women are more than just strippers, or the Femme Thugs, or the sexy video vixen. There are so many perspectives and types of women that uphold what hip hop is and it’s important for others to see that. I also wanted to acknowledge how gender can be constructed by hip hop and how most people would like to classify straight women as “female” (hence the sign for female) or “male” (hence the blue sign for male) if they are homosexual, but it defintely doesn’t work like that. Things aren’t just black and white, there is a lot of gray, blue, and pink area inbetween that adds to the complexity of things.

Filed under hip hop gender sexuality

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Artist’s Statement, “Treat Yo’ Self: Tom Haverford, Hip Hop, and Gender Expression”

By Sarah Welty

A Link to My Project

Tom Haverford is one cool motherfucker. I chose Aziz Ansari’s Parks and Recreation character as my muse because I couldn’t think of a character on network television who twerked in the face of more gender expectations than Tom Haverford (the only real rival being Tom’s companion Jean Ralphio, whose entire aesthetic is a fabulous and yet confounding critical ball of wax).

In my video essay project, I attempted to unravel the influences on Tom’s swagger, and analyze the significance of his well-groomed, highly perfumed and yet voraciously heterosexual alternative masculinity.

One of the most fascinating facets of Tom is that he’s very much a hip hop fan. He attends a department Halloween party as T-Pain, employs the phrase “What Would Kanye Wear?” when dressing for work, and mourns for months when he can’t get tickets to Watch the Throne. However, while the show presents Tom’s engagement with hip hop as entirely authentic, much of his personality and aesthetic are composed of highly-pretentious elements engineered to project a well-groomed, Kanye-brand masculinity and hypervirility. He’s an authentic fan, but he projects his fandom as part of his neverending attempts to get laid.

            Tom is also, however, inescapably and fabulously feminine, much to the chagrin of his more traditionally masculine co-workers. By deriding Tom as feminine and ridiculous, the other characters reinforce the ideals of steak-and-mustache masculinity to which they so closely adhere. The show itself, however, utilizes Tom’s effeminacy to subtly critique the rigidity of that masculine mode. Tom’s boss, Ron Swanson, is a mustachioed paradigm of brute masculinity, but his archaic conceptions of manliness are stymied in the face of Tom’s cashmere sweaters and beauty regimen. Tom’s play with gender binary effectively disrupts the masculine traditions which heretofore dominated Pawnee.

            Through Tom, Parks and Recreation presents contemporary, mainstream hip hop as a unique sphere for male performers to employ stereotypically feminine beauty regimen and fashion concerns without affecting their economic or sexual viability. Men in hip hop enjoy a certain degree of gender freedom that eludes the mainstream American man, a fact which Tom utilizes to express his own gender difference. Tom uses hip hop as a space to embrace his feminized identity, and the show allows him to individually pursue beauty without making a value judgment on his gender expression.

In conclusion:

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The Real Ladies of Hip-Hop Nation: Intro

Filed under Taylor Sorillo Lindsey Lassiter Calley Anderson Theresa Dickson Kiah VanTull Julie Pullen Hip Hop Gender and Sexuality

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Final Mix Song Notes!

Michael DeSimone

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Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach Feat. Snoop Dogg & Hypnotic Brass Ensemble- Gorillaz (2010)

While Gorillaz have never been shy to creating rap music (as seen in 2001’s “Clint Eastwood”), “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” erases the line between the groups rock/electronic tendencies and the traditional rap song. Snoop performs non-sequitur rap lines that barely constitute a verse over a synth and drum heavy beat. “Welcome to the World…”not only acts as a smooth opener to the Gorillaz “Plastic Beach”, but also eases the audience into the surprising collaborations seen across the album. The featuring artists later include: Bobby Womack, Mos Def, Lou Reed and Little Dragon among others.

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Bad Things (Remix) feat. Freddie Gibbs- Cults (2011)

After the release of their self-titled LP in 2011, Cults announced that they would be releasing a rap-remix of their album. To put it lightly, this made no sense at all. Cults was and still is a very traditional indie rock band with bright vocals and cute duets. Nothing implied that they could produce a rap song. Even though this remix album has still not come to fruition, a single remix featuring self-proclaimed gangster rapper Freddie Gibbs was released last year. Aspects of both artists are seen in this track, as vocalist Madeline Follin displays her bright vocals and Gibbs raps as if this is any other trap beat. 

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Ridin’ feat. Lana del Rey- A$AP Rocky (2012)

Turning the tables (haha), now we have a rapper looking deep into the indie sphere. A$AP Rocky gained all of his credibility (and a 3 million dollar signing bonus) through his sublime musical taste, and his choice of incorporating Lana del Rey into his music is no exception. In past works, Lana comes off as a very traditional indie/chamber pop artist with piano/guitar driven ballads. But in “Ridin’,” her depiction as a “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” is well deserved. She throws away her traditional tendencies and flows right along with the beat. With collaborations like this, A$AP Rocky proves that he is ready to change rap in a big way.

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Lost in the World feat. Bon Iver- Kanye West (2010)

Before Bon Iver was a household name, released his hugely successful self-titled album, and won two grammies, Kanye West flew him into Hawaii to record two tracks for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. “Lost in the World” samples Bon Iver’s “Woods” off of his Blood Bank EP and brings the mournful and minimal track to the grandiose Kanye-heights we have come to expect.

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Baddest Man Alive- The Black Keys & RZA (2012)

On this RZA-produced Rap-Rock hybrid, neither artist sacrifices his integrity when working with a foreign genre. The Black Keys sound like The Black Keys as their hook is backed by a very traditional guitar and drum sound. The drums are particularly strong enough to allow RZA to rap over the same beat, displaying the similarities amongst such differing artists.

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Lemonade (Originally by Gucci Mane)- BADBADNOTGOOD (2011)

Although this is not a collaboration (but OH MY GOD what if it was!!!!), BADBADNOTGOOD brought life to a dead genre through Hip-Hop last year. For the amount of rap music that samples jazz, there exists few modern jazz artists that Hip-Hop heads can discover and even less jazz heads that find merit in rap music. BADBADNOTGOOD broke these boundaries as Canadian music college students who began to interprete modern and classic rap beats as jazz songs. After releasing this song as medley containing Tyler, the Creator’s ”Bastard” and “Assmilk” as well (and receiving a C for their performance of this song), they have collaborated with Odd Future’s Tyler, the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean, Danny Brown, Joey Bada$$, and RZA. Hopefully with the release of their third LP, this new jazz sound can gain an identity in the Hip-Hop community.

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8-Oct-71- Cortex (1975)

Used by Tyler, the Creator in “Odd Toddlers” (2008)/Wiz Khalifa in “Visions” (2010)/MF Doom in “One Beer” (2004) (source)

Speaking of Hip-Hop sampling jazz music, I thought it would be necessary to put at least one piece of sampled music in this collection. I specifically chose Cortex because of their obscurity relative to what can be considered a standard Hip-Hop sample. Cortex is not a traditional Black Funk or Soul artist that a producer might have grown up on and does not contain the James Brown style breakbeats that have become the cornerstone of Rap music. Instead, this band is a French jazz/funk group from the 70s who never had a large popular following. And yet, Wiz Khalifa, Rick Ross, Flying Lotus, MF Doom, and Tyler, the Creator have sampled Cortex . Groups such as Cortex represent the ties between such a diverse group of artists.

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Shoes for Running feat. Wavves and B.o.B. - Big Boi (2012)

The combination of Nathan Williams of Wavves and Big Boi is odd regardless of Big Boi’s past features (including the dated Vonnegut on his last album). Wavves is a Californian lo-fi punk band that symbolizes a stoner, skater, and beach bum lifestyle. Outside of smoking, his music is in not obviously relatable to Big Boi. But when Wavves sings the hook of “Shoes for Running,” the pairing does not sound questionable. This could be attributed to Wavves affections to rap music as he tours with artists such as Killer Mike and GZA and has a beat making project under the moniker Sweet Valley. No matter the reasoning, Big Boi looked far beyond his expected field of vision to bring Wavves to the studio.

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Do Not Fire! (Instrumental)- Madvillain (Produced by Madlib) (2004)

After talking about sampling, I couldn’t forget to mention the Hip-Hop beat/instrumental. I chose Madlib’s “Do Not Fire!” mainly for personal reasons, as it samples my love, Street Fighter II, specifically the characters Dhalsim and Chun-Li. Like many samples, it is meant to speak nostalgically to the audience that is able to catch it. Street Fighter II players would have played the game over a decade before this song was released, implying that they would be teenages to college age kids who would assumedly be starting to get into underground rap (i.e. MF Doom/Madvillain). What could be taken at first as a second long sound byte then gains so much more meaning, Also, it samples the maniacal laugh at the end of MJ’s “Thriller” video. That one is just cool. (source)

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New Work- jj (2011)

Arguably the weirdest combination on this set, jj, a Swedish pop duo, sings over Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” jj’s affection with popular rap music has existed throughout the groups career, as they sung over Lil Wayne’s “Lollypop” on their 2009 debut album. Examples such as jj display that there exists non-Hip-Hop artists that have a developed a passion for rap and are exploring the genre on their own terms. Rap is no longer establishing its identity but others are defining their sound with its help.

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Fashion Party feat. Chairlift- Das Racist (2010)

Das Racist (may they rest in peace [Joke explanation: they broke up a few months ago]) had been pushing the boundaries of rap from their first mixtape. The duo, Heems and Kool A.D., have features ranging from Punjabi artists to gay, white, and brown rappers. One of their most impressive features comes as the indie-rock/electronic duo Chairlift. Unlike any of the other bands featured on this playlist, Chairlift had only released one album to limited fanfare; their name meant nothing a rap or (most) indie listener, mainstream or underground. Das Racist chose the group purely off their talents. Positively, this lead to more exposure to the group, joint interviews with themselves and Das Racist, and stronger image once their acclaimed second album, Something, released this year.

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Unto Caesar- Dirty Projectors (2012)

Alright, so you can hear this right now. There’s no rap or anything that sounds musically like a rap influence. Instead, Unto Caesar represents Dirty Projectors interpretation of rap music and how popular rap music influences them, an experimental indie rock band. I believe the front man of the group, David Longstreth, said it best in his New York Times interview.

Q. Is that why you like Lil Wayne, for the language? Or for the beats?

A. I love the beats. [The 2007 mixtape] “Da Drought 3,” a lot of that is him remaking stuff that was on the radio. That’s part of what I love about it, is the inventiveness of it, the freedom of it, the kind of looseness of it. He’s rewriting some other stuff from somebody else and making it his own. I don’t like digital recording that just presents like a perfect text, this overedited perfect vision of an accessible idea. What I love about some of those Wayne mixtapes is they’re such a spectrum of his persona, and it’s just loose and fun. (source)

"Onto Caesar" represents Dirty Projectors’ own looseness when creating a record. The band members talk to each other throughout this recording, make mistakes while playing, and even question the lyrical content of the song. Like Kanye deciding to tell his life story at the end of The College Dropout, the most revealing moments of artists’ personalities have the potential to become the most memorable. When Longstreth influenced his band to have joking fun when recording “Onto Caesar,” he reminded both his band and listeners that music is still meant to be no stakes fun, the same enjoyment he sees on Lil Wayne’s mixtapes.

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Pimp’s Up, Ho’s Down: A Review

T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting’s Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip-Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women, presents a groundbreaking look at the influence of Hip-Hop on Black female feminism or, depending on the critic, lack thereof. This highly citational work forces readers to consider that ways in which young women have learned womanhood from Hip-Hop, and the cost of subscribing to that form of womanhood.

 

Sharpley-Whiting masterfully explores the interconnected relationship between Hip-Hop, women, and the beauty industry. She delves into the ideas of beauty within the world of Hip-Hop music videos, expertly pulling in example after example to demonstrate the intertwined nature of Hip-Hop and beauty. Sharpley-Whiting highlights the growing emergence of lighter skinned beauties, such as Lil Kim, Jennifer Lopez, and others as clear examples of the evolving definition of beauty. Dark skinned, natural African Americans are no longer as favorable: instead, male rappers and consumers show that they prefer the lighter skinned, mulatto type. Sharpley-Whiting then brings us from the new standard of beauty straight to an understanding of its impact on the beauty industry and young, African American women. She points to the increasing market for weaves, skin-lightening treatments, fake nails, and other beauty products aimed at lightening young women as evidence that the increase of Hip-Hop’s focus on lighter-skinned women directly impacts young female consumers. However, Sharpley-Whiting could have done a better job at describing the psychological impact these new standards of beauty have on young African American women. She explores the relationship with the beauty industry wonderfully, but leaves a great deal to be explored in the psyche of the young African American woman in relation to Hip-Hop and beauty.

           

            Additionally, she cites examples of rappers’ obsessions with the strip club in not only their videos but in real life as a form of social entertainment. Likewise, she analyzes Hip-Hop’s strong connection to the pornography industry. She uses real-life examples of pornographic videos made by artists like Snoop Dogg, Ice-T, Mystikal and N.E.R.D as well as the emergence of documentaries about Hip-Hop and porn like VH1’s “Hip-Hop and Hot Sex” and “Hip-Hop Videos and Sexploitation on the Set.” Sharpley-Whiting expresses the importance of studying Hip-Hop’s crossover into the sex industry because it stands as yet another conflict between feminism and Hip-Hop. She cites that this role of women under the male gaze can be at times empowering, but also incredibly demeaning. Sharpley-Whiting definitely does the most detailed job of exploring this complicated relationship out of any of the readings we’ve had in class thus far. 

 

The text excellently reduces popular stereotypes about the model, video vixen, or stripper by shedding light on a counter example, the author herself. Sharpley-Whiting is an Ivy League graduate who also works for modeling. While Sharlpey-Whiting works in an industry that markets her sexuality, her educational background and writing reveals that an African American women in the sex/beauty market can also achieve a PhD. Unfortunately, while Sharpley-Whiting provides an alternative view of women in sex marketing, she does not distinguish between video vixens, models, and strippers. In the introduction and first chapter of her text, Sharpley-Whiting exposes a common thread in stripping, ‘video vixening,’ and modeling—which is marketing the women’s body and sexuality. She does not explain how and why the three fields are different. There are many facets of modeling that do not sell a hyper-sexualized version of the female body in the ways that stripping and video modeling almost always will. Had Sharpley-Whiting done more comparing and contrasting of the model, video vixen, and stripper her idea would have been clearer.

           

Nevertheless, the author takes these popular images of “the stripper,” “the vixen,” and “the groupie” and complicates their presence by addressing sexual abuse in Hip-Hop. Any particular potential this chapter held was sadly squandered. In “Black Woman and Sexual Abuse,” Sharpley-Whiting merely mentions multiple court cases in which a black celebrity assaults a black or white woman and criticizes not only the defendants case but how the case is viewed in a larger context as well. While some of these cases, particularly that of R Kelly and Mystical, are useful in understanding the context of sexual assault for these larger than life Hip-Hop figures, Sharpley-Whiting strays too far from the focus of her work, the woman’s relationship to Hip-Hop, several times during this chapter. She focused on Kobe Bryant’s trial with the same justification that he “usually listened to Hip-Hop via headphones after practice” that sports journalists used to cast Bryan as a Hip-Hop figure (80). While Hip-Hop culture extends beyond the category of music, the broad associations take away from Sharpley-Whiting’s critique. Is she critiquing Hip-Hop or black men/celebrities in general? Pimp’s Up, Hoes Down is a very informative work that offers a vital voice for the black, female community, but by not defining itself solely in a Hip-Hop context, it confuses the reader’s understanding of the differences between Hip-Hop and black culture. At the same time, it points to the pervasiveness of rape culture within these communities.

 

            In revisiting the authors voice as a college graduate, with an informed view of her own participation in Hip-Hop culture, it would have been advantageous of Sharpley-Whiting to include more opinions about Black women’s participation. We do not hear, by way of interviews, photographs, or extensive quotations, how Black females reconcile their identities with the assumed identities presented in Hip-Hop music and videos.

 

Lil Ratchet 5

 

Decker, DeSimone, Gaston, Salter, Thomson

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Pimps Up, Ho’s Down Book Review

In the book Pimps Up, Ho’s Down, writer T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting aims to broaden the gender politics within hip-hop, while exposing the challenges that women in hip-hop constantly face. Each chapter highlights a different construction of women in hip-hop and details the history and overarching themes that connect these facets together. From groupies and video vixens to sexual abuse, Sharpley-Whiting aims to expose the underbelly of hip-hop that gets overshadowed by male dominance.

            The first chapter of Pimps Up, Ho’s Down examines the visual realm of the hip hop world with a special focus on hip hop’s connection to creating societal standards of beauty and the capitalization of the sex industry to sell a desired and marketable image.  Sharpley-Whiting draws attention to the understudied relationship with Black women and their physical and economical contribution to the hip hop community.  As she states, “Hip hop is now as much about images as it is skills and beats” (27).  So what are these images exactly and what are the micro and macro effects of their existence?  The standard of beauty in the industry centers around the “mulatta” woman or really, “the perfect blending of skillfulness in matters of sex (read: black) and physical beauty (read: white)” (28).  The emphasis placed on the projection of this provincial look has led to a significantly detrimental effect on the self-esteem of Black women from all socio-economic statuses and education level (111).  On a macro level, the increase in young women watching these videos and internalizing the sexual images is connected to a “higher frequency of sexually transmitted diseases, alcohol and drug abuse, and multiple sex partners” (27).   Each of these external and the aforementioned internal behaviors have serious consequences involving a wider range of society members, hindering individuals’ growth and psychological health.  

            “Black Women and Sexual Abuse” looks at the relationship between hip-hop and sexual violence. Sharpley-Whiting notes many examples of mainstream hip-hop using misogynistic lyrics and fantasies of violence and rape. She focuses on the treatment of black women by black men, and how black women must choose to ally either with their race or their gender. Sharpley-Whiting includes contrasting opinions in her piece – Katie Roiphe thinks of feminism as fear-mongering – and then uses them to prove her own point: “But quite different from the boy who cried wolf…sexual abuse in the United States statistically occurs with odds greater than one in three” (57). She acknowledges the violence in hip-hop while pointing out how it is a reflection of American culture, which “thrives on aggression” (75). She provides examples of that aggression from real life and film, in which rape is viewed as justified, with disgust at the victim, or as blackmail. Hip-hop’s success depends on black women, especially how their bodies are portrayed in media. That the media depicts black women as willing and sexually available helps explain why aggressors hear “no” as “convince me.” 

            Sharpley- Whiting examines the ways in which traditional gender roles are adhered but also reversed as she explores the identity of the groupie in hip-hop. She describes the groupie as a woman who uses her body as a form of societal mobility and social capital. This woman provides the rapper with companionship, and validates both his sexual prowess in bed and his success as a star. In return the man provides the groupie with money, a social network and material possessions. The groupies’ willingness to submit in order to maintain her lavish lifestyle and further her career, compliments the rappers need for control and domination.

            The objectification of the groupie, and unwillingness of the rapper to “save” the bussa, hoe, or gold-digger is a visible expression of hyper- masculinity within hip-hop. Celebrities maintain their identity as alpha males by publicly disrespecting and denying groupies in their lyrics, liking the role of affection in the interchangeable relationship to weakness or homosexuality. The groupies’ code of silence affirms the authority males place over women, further proving to the public her role as a subordinate sexual toy or prostitute. 

            While it seems as if the star is truly controlling the “game”, Sharpley-Whiting ask a though provoking question, who in fact is in control, is it the calculated groupie, or the sexually fulfilled hip-hop star? (110).

            Sharpley- Whiting uses Karrine “Superhead” Steffans best-selling memoir “Confessions of a Group” as a contrast to the common male-female role in hip-hop. Steffans helped create a demand for groupie intercommunication with the public, and exposed rappers for their infidelity, abusive and manipulative ways through her bedroom confessions. Paving the way for shows such as Love and Hip-hop and Basketball wives, Steffans created a business out of her experience as a video vixen and groupie, transitioning from the private sphere of rappers chambers, to the public sphere of industry boardrooms. Sharpley-Whiting holistic discourse on the transformation of the groupie, bends the power hierarchy in hip-hop and analyzes a woman’s personal agency in her performance as a vixen. 

            As the book comes to a close, Sharpley-Whiting refers to hip-hop as “an obvious land mine of contradictions that we as women painstakingly negotiate and renegotiate,” leaving hyper-sexuality as a method for women to navigate their way within the hip-hop community. There are obvious pains, but they don’t make up the entirety of the experience. By critiquing the one-sided view of hip-hop and the grip that its male dominance has on young women today, Pimps Up, Ho’s Down defies the complexities within hip-hop while continuing to uplift it and exhibit its worth.

 By: Calley Anderson, Theresa Dickson, Lindsey Lassiter, Julie Pullen, and Taylor Sorillo