Are Black Men In Hip Hop Being Demasculinized?
I adore hip hop. I love it and all its complexity. Being a music artist myself, I can usually understand the push and pull of it.
Hip hop is one of the anchors in the Black culture. It’s what we instantly identify with and what people can identify when they think of Black people. And regardless of how people feel about where it’s going, it’s here to stay with us and will be represented by each generation to follow.
Hip hop’s sound, dialect and moves are forever changing. It’s really what dictates the trends in pop culture. And even its fashion has inspired well known fashion designers to fall under the influence and expand their look to appeal to a younger demographic.
Yet, as hip hop artists step outside of the norm and venture into daring fashionable attire, we often hear a little birdie squawking and protesting. Are they fashion police? Worse, they’re people who generalize and express homophobic and sexist view points towards male hip hop artists specifically, Black males. Bashing and saying that “there’s no room,” for them only baffles me.
Black men must carry their masculinity on their sleeves. They must be stern, unbreakable, uncontrollable, and far from meek. Being boisterous, almost arrogant to present some type of bravado, Black men are placed in the cross fire of being seen as either “too hard” or “too soft.” I can’t help but to hear male hip hop artists and listeners critique each other in their songs and interviews, with a touch of colorism to sway their beliefs either way.
Now a days, hip hop artists have returned to being more alternative, eclectic, contrary to the ways of what some would consider “traditional” hip hop fashion. From wearing skirts and even dresses, these men are criticized and accused of being victims of the feminization of Black men.
I condemn the belief that to be compared to a woman is an insult, a downgrade, is to be of ridicule. That anything that is relative to that of a female, is inferior, and I believe that this idea should be omitted.
Kanye West and Omar Epps who have both worn skirts, WITH pants seem to raise protests from other Black male artists. Under harsh scrutiny and implying that that this choice of attire has no room for Hip Hop, I question if they ever took a look at Hip Hop back THEN.
Black male Hip Hop artists have worn spandex, the color pink, make-up, skirts BEFORE Kanye, and many other “feminine” things that these now head-strong Hip Hop protestants oppose. And they may argue that was the style back then. If so, what’s wrong with the style now?
If you don’t care for it, don’t look. Everyone has the right to dress the way they choose. To express such strong disdain either means you’re intimidated that they can do something you’re too scared to or you have entirely too much time on your hands.
I believe this can be a way of breaking the homophobic mentality that’s in the Black community and Hip Hop. With “out” gay hip hop artists and songs about the “same love” and androgynous fashions, we cross the line and transition in a place where we can be more comfortable with who we are. We prove that Hip Hop is an ever changing, multi-dimensional genre that will continue to shape pop culture.
If this blog doesn’t enlighten you to change your mind, take a look at the fashion trends of some Hip Hop artists today and of the past!
In art, there is no right or wrong.