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The Tip Drill Controversy And Its Relation To Misogyny In Hip Hop

3464 words - 14 pages

For a long time, the popular genre of hip-hop has been criticized for its frequent vulgarity; whether it be its lyrical content, its possible contribution to a violent subculture, its degradation of women, or its praise for hypermasculinity. Out of all of these criticisms, the one characteristic of hip-hip music that has arguably been the most prominent and commonly discussed is its negative and sexual portrayal of women, particularly African American women. In both lyrics and music videos, African American women in much of hip-hop music are sexually objectified in that they are viewed exclusively as a thing to be used sexually by men. Other qualities such as intellect, independence, and most importantly, respect of women are made subordinate. As hip-hop music continues to degrade women in such a way, much opposition and backlash has intensified. An example of such objection was present in the well-known case that occurred at Spelman College, a historically black institution for women, in 2004 when students protested rapper Nelly’s presence on their campus for a bone marrow drive soon after his controversial music video “Tip Drill” was released.
Though this controversy took place not that long ago in 2004 when I was in fourth grade, I was not aware of it until last year, my freshman year of college, when I was taking a course in African American Studies titled AASP 202 Black Culture in the United States. Near the end of the course, we explored the history of hip-hop and its transition up until today. One of our assignments involved watching the 2006 documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes directed by American activist Byron Hurt, that took a closer look at the implications of hip-hop that include misogyny, violence, homophobia, and hypermasculinity. At one part during the film captioned “Shut Up and Give Me Your Bone Marrow”, the situation with Nelly and the women at Spelman College was discussed in great detail. As can be inferred from the title, this section of the documentary basically criticized Nelly’s position regarding how he approached the Spelman women for his bone marrow drive idea. Basically, Nelly was opposed to hearing their opinions on the explicit material portrayed in his music video and only wanted them to consent to holding the drive on their campus. From seeing this scene, listening to interviews from the Spelman women who protested, and from my own experience as an African American young woman, I agree with the Spelman women that society should take another look at the ideals that hip-hop maintains and its relation to misogyny.
Like most people, I grew up listening to a wide variety of music, including hip-hop. As a child, I can remember hearing popular songs in hip-hop like “Hot in Herre” by Nelly, “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly, and “In Da Club” by 50 Cent and not really paying attention to the lyrical content. In fact, it can be assumed that most people when listening to hip-hop or rap music—which is a primary...

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