The Trinity Voice

That’s a rap

LEXI GOOD, STAFF WRITER

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Sadie Hawkins 2018: you’re dancing with your friends, whipping, nae-naeing and jujuing on that beat when suddenly you hear rapper Eminem say, “you’re the kind of girl I’d like to assault.” You, (A.) sit down on the dancefloor in silent protest or (B.) Dance harder; Eminem doesn’t really mean what he’s saying. In fact, you rationalize that maybe the creative genius is advocating for female rights with his satire.

Forty million monthly Spotify listeners choose “B,” but where do we draw the line between creative genius and predator?

Rap and hip-hop music are notorious for their suggestive natures, checking just about all of the boxes when it comes to bad role models. More specifically, it’s hostility towards women.

This isn’t to say rap music is bad. In fact, hip-hop and rap music often times promotes political and social awareness among teenagers. However, we need to preserve this genre as an art, not allow it to become an assaulter’s anthem.

Odd Future, a group of young rappers, has risen to popularity despite hateful lyrics aimed at women, the cleanest one of which is, “put her in a lake, her body sinks great.” Tyler, the Creator, a member of Odd Future, started a solo career and released a song that ends with him brutally murdering his girlfriend with a shoelace. However, plenty of our students have disregarded the artist’s lyrics, even purchasing tickets for Tyler’s concert in February.

And this isn’t just one edgy rapper who wrote a jaw-dropping song. According to an Elon University study, 40 percent of rap music included physical violence while 15 percent mentioned sexual assault.

Plenty of other artists have put these lyrics to use in the real world by assaulting women as we continue to praise and financially reward their attackers. Recently we have be extraordinarily successful in empowering women to speak up about mistreatment with the “#Me Too” campaign. However, if we allow this culture to thrive in music, we completely contradict the progress that we have worked so hard to achieve.

Rapper Xxxtentcion’s crimes extend much further than lyrics. XX was officailly charged with domestic aggravated battery of his pregnant girlfriend. Fans protested with their movement “#FreeX,” and his song peaked at 34 on Billboard’s “The Hot 100s.” His crimes were not only recognized but also used as marketing tools to gain fame.

As a society, we have been notorious for excusing the behavior of an individual merely because they write meaningful songs. I’m even guilty of dancing to R. Kelly’s hit “Ignition.” His catchy music makes it hard to come to terms with the fact that he married a 15-year-old while he was 27.

But why do we still have the desire to play these violent songs on repeat? In screenwriter Cord Jefferson’s article analyzing Odd Future’s fan base, he explains this phenomenon as “a kind of cultural tourism in which spectators get to feel dangerous without ever really approaching danger.” Because of a predominantly upper-class teen fanbase, the targeted audience doesn’t have to come in daily contact with issues referenced in the lyrics. They seem more exhilarating, and therefore exoticize a culture of crime without ever having to dig into the actual consequences of the actions described by these artists.

Fans of violent-rappers aren’t entirely assault-apologists. In fact, most don’t even know that they’re directly funding these criminal acts.

“I’m not paying him,” sophomore Henry Kuhlman said. “I have Spotify.”

However, music streaming services like Spotify pay artists on the frequency of their listeners. One stream of a song typically finances artists with a few cents, enabling them to create harmful content, or in worse cases, condone abuse.

Although the idea that audiences are influenced by media has been heavily disputed, Psychology Today reports a phenomenon called “Yukiko Syndrome,” that makes it evident that our media acts as a catalyst for savage behavior.

The phenomenon was first recognized when Japanese pop singer Yukiko Okada committed suicide. Following the event, Japanese suicide rates skyrocketed. Researchers found that adults acted as role models for children’s imitation because of a dependency on social cues. When the role models acted inappropriately, the children deemed the actions acceptable.

These results can be applied not just to movie stars, but also to the creators behind the music that we are constantly listening to.

Aside from physical effects, the tolerance of criminal rappers has encouraged a hostile environment for women.

Trinity alumna Lalee Ibssa firmly opposes rap that targets women.

“These songs tell girls that they are just mere objects and symbols of a guy’s control and prestige, and when they hear the same message rapped over and over again, they start to believe it,” Ibssa said.

 

After examining the culture in which predators are praised, it is unreasonable to question why two out of three assaults go unreported when female trauma has been explicated to an iTunes hit.

“We can not keep saying that we like these songs because of their dope beats and tight rhymes because what we are doing is normalizing assault and misconduct,” Ibssa said.

While commitment to beloved artists is painful to sever, there are women behind the lyrics fighting greater battles than unsubscribing to a Spotify playlist. After comedian CK Lewis was exposed as a part of the “#MeToo” campaign, his best friend Sarah Silverman shed light on supporters who are in the same boat.

“It’s like cutting out tumors—it’s messy and it’s complicated and it is gonna hurt, but it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it,” she said. “Some of our heroes will be taken down and we will discover bad things about people we like, or in some cases, people we love,” Silverman said.

We must stop listening to our iPods, and start listening to the victims.

There is power behind our money, and while it is easy to celebrate women who have spoken out against sexual harassment, it takes courage to support their stance. Words are lovely, but they mean nothing without the integrity to stand for what you believe in—even if it means no more Tyler, the Creator.

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That’s a rap