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Rap as a Language

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Rap as a Language

Since its start in the music industry around nineteen eighty-eight rap music has always been under a lot of scrutiny for its lyrics and messages that it portrays. Rap music has a long history starting back to the days of slavery and has come a long way since then bridging gaps between all genres of music including jazz, blues, and basic drum beats. When hip hop first came about its message was simple. It was groups of black men who described the life they were living in the ghettos all over the world. They felt helpless and viewed the government in a very strong negative way based on the lack of help African American’s were given in the contexts of housing, education, and living. As rap music developed and more artists started bringing their own styles to the hip hop community more messages were being brought. Hip hop as a culture was formed on the political views of many black gang bangers who society cast aside and never thought would even be able to have political thoughts. In the mid nineties rap changed in a way that surprised many by having female artists come onto the scene. They were usually portrayed in a degrading manner by male artists in their lyrics and videos, but now women came forward and described themselves as sexual beings and how they have power over men based on their sexuality. Many critics have taken these stances that rap artists take and speculated over whether or not they convey a positive or negative message. Many view that the lyrics and videos provide children with the wrong idea and are the reason for sex at younger ages, and STD’s being at an all time high. Rap is not responsible for the actions of young adults and music has always been a scapegoat for parents since the days of Elvis, and KISS. Rap is like all other genres of music in the sense that it is a statement. During times of war artists criticized presidential actions and sang about peace. Rap is a declaration of life for black men and questions the politics involved in their lifestyles and for women it is a way to express themselves as powerful independent beings because of their sexuality.

Stereotypes are often placed into the minds of many people in the general public based on fixed images set in the minds of many MTV viewers. This has always been the case with generational music culture to fight for more dignified images to be put forth. Rap music is a target for attack in the feminist mind because “they constantly raise the question have women been devalued” (Anne O’Connell). Femininity in Rap music is a movement in self expression. Women have played important roles in hip hop history but have always been back up singers or dancers in a more male dominated field. Feminist researcher Anne O’Connell claims that, “not until the past ten years female rappers have made their mark and gained considerable recognition and respect as artists and lyricists in the field” (O’Connell). The female rap movement spawned from female vocalists in the blues genre. These women sang about exploiting themselves sexually as a means of empowerment. Female rap artists took this idea from their predecessors and took off with this idea of female empowerment in a growing industry of hip hop. In nineteen ninety-five a female rap group by the name of Salt N Pepper came onto the scene and were the first women of the times to be viewed sexually and at the same time rap about being empowered. Their first hit single was a song called “Shoop” which is a word that is a euphemism for having sex. In the song they say “I want to

shoop” meaning I want to have sex which was not something typical for female artists to say. This song broke boundaries for women by disagreeing with the clichй myth that women should not discuss their sexuality and do not discuss their lust towards men. Pepper starts off in the song by saying, “What’s your name? No not you! The bow-legged one. Yeah. What’s your name. Damn! That sounds sexy.” In the intro she has showed that women can be forward and approach men with a form of sexuality. She then goes on to say, “wicked, wicked, had to kick it. I’m not shy so I asked for the digits. So I licked him like a lollypop should be licked.” Pepper is also showing how forward she is by not being shy and asking a man she is interested in for his phone number. In the song they talk about how they want a certain man and where they want him to touch, and then go on to say that they want to have sex with him. Salt goes on to say, “Your packed and your stacked especially in the back, brother want to

thank your mother for a butt like that.” Her she is switching the roles of male and female stereotype. She is playing the role of the whistling construction worker. She is talking about a male posterior in a way guys normally talk about a woman’s. Salt then goes on to say “If looks could kill you would be an oozi, or a shotgun

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