Last week my friend, and fellow BYP blogger, wrote a gripping piece about the omnipresence of homophobic lyrics in hip-hop through the lens of Tyler, the Creator. Jonathan’s post made me think again about what role I as a listener, and other hip-hop fans have in combating homophobia and sexism within this space. I began to think about a course I took a few years ago entitled “Black Feminism” and how and if a feminist praxis can fit into the hip-hop sphere. What I came to realize is that while hip-hop is laden with sexist and homophobic images and messages, it is not a societal outlier. In fact, hip-hop music like many other genres is merely a byproduct of society.
Essentially, rap is inextricably linked to society at-large, which in and of itself espouses male privilege, heterosexism and nihilism. Hip-hop music was not created in isolation in a social and cultural vacuum, but rather it is a byproduct of unique cultural idiosyncrasies that were birthed in South Bronx in the late seventies and early eighties. Underneath the “b-boying, “mc-ing”, “dj-ing”, and “graffiting”, existed patriarchy, sexism, and misogyny. Black folks who came of age during the post-civil rights era are commonly referred to as members of the hip-hop generation. They lived in a temporal context where the public discourse had shifted from seeking incorporation into the American polity, to seeking redistributive policies that more fairly allotted government benefits to the most marginalized segments of the population. As such, members of this group had very different outlooks on the social landscape of the country than their foremothers and forefathers. Arguably, hip-hop, both the music and culture, are responsible for the vastly different outlook. Yet, although perceptions about society may diverge from that of the past, much of the “anti-social” behavior that is constructed to be viewed as peculiar to hip-hop are merely reflective of many bastardized social mores that pervade in the Black community.