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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 99 | December 28 2008|


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Hip hop song: A black art!

Shafin Muhammad

Consider the following lyrics:
Now I don't wanna hit no women when this chick's got it coming
Someone better get this b*** before she gets kicked in the stomach
And she's pregnant, but she's e**ing me on, begging me to throw her
Off the steps on this porch, my only weapon is force

They are lyrics from “The Eminem Show” for which Eminem received Grammy's for the best Rap album in 2003.And if the music industry approves of music like that then the Grammy's are an indication to lyrics promoting hatred, objectification and exploitation of women which are increasingly being accepted as authentic forms of artistic expression particularly in some rap and hip hop music. Though Eminem has received a great deal of criticism for his woman-hating lyrics, he is merely one of many artists cashing in on misogyny. But at what cost to society?

Hip-Hop started as a genre of party music. You had a DJ scratching records while people danced. Eventually, an emcee was introduced to speak on behalf of the DJ and to control the party. This was innocent enough. The emcee would deliver basic story rhymes and observations that engaged the crowd while the DJ continued to scratch. However, once the emcee discovered the power of his voice things changed. The DJ was no longer the focal point of the music and the emcees began expounding on more sensitive subject matter such as the troubles they faced in their communities and their displeasure with the powers that offered no relief for their ills. Not all emcees tackled tough topics. Around 1984, Def Jam introduced LL Cool J, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and other acts that would become mainstream artist and put hip-hop on the map. The early rappers weren't particularly violent or misogynistic, but they dressed differently and questioned authority.

Yes, Hip-Hop affects the whole world. Any contrast to the status quo creates controversy. Hip-Hop has now become a big business in USA and anything that is marketable affects society one way or another. But no one should agree with senselessly promoting violence or degradation of women. The core of the hip-hop songs by any rappers remains unchanged. Rappers, like Snoop Dogg, G-Unit, T-pain, Akon, Lil'Kim, Eve, and so on, these days talk about black cash, drugs, pimping women, abusing women, and violence in their hip-hop songs. In some hip-hop videos, the ways the women are portrayed give us some disappointment. However, there are things such as the discrimination against women and the pimping lifestyle that has degraded women long before hip-hop did. Such exposure is convincing women that they are only capable of few things in today's world.

The influence of hip-hop has risen significantly in the past couple of decades. Young people always listen and watch whatever is popular and anything that comes with a harmony or a nice beat is easier for people to accept. Hip-hop music portrays the beat of dating violence and coercion around sexual activity as normal relationships. And we see an acceptance among teenagers both girls and boys of the kind of sexual objectification celebrated in this kind of music. There is this notion that it's okay to be used for sex and that there is not any emotional commitment necessary. Even Children buy into the hip-hop crap and become violent, misbehaving, and become unbecoming people in society. MTV JAMS, VIBE, and BET especially choose what images are relayed for hip-hop music videos. Even some obscene lyrics, sung by rap singers, are added in their new versions with NEW JOINT segment.

Hip-Hop affects any society just like other forms of entertainment. Some people relate to it and others don't. The reason Hip-Hop receives so much attention is undoubtedly because it is primarily a black art form and generates large profits. This is what we as a society have to work through the denial of racism. Everybody wants to be black but nobody wants to be black! It is what it is. Hip-Hop is an evolution of society and a reflection of the multi dimensional people who create it. While right now the discussion of Hip-Hop is racial, soon it will be generational; therefore, the question will no longer be 'Does Hip-Hop affect society?' but rather 'How did Hip Hop affect society at its most influential point?’

Rap and hip-hop not only affects the impoverished; it also influences some children to enter into the lifestyle of illegal activities because Rap and Hip Hop have glorified illegal activities. We shouldn't consider it as artistic music whatsoever. It is an awe-inspiring message as to how and when to gain through illegal activities, and it has caused great damage to minority communities mainly the Negro community and has caused great disgrace to the past achievements of Negro ancestry.
It does not affect the jet set whatsoever or the socially wealthy and affects the established middle class if their peers let the youth be too free from their decent lifestyle or if the youth just stubbornly want this lifestyle. It only affects the lower levels of society and causes great destruction and numerous deaths among the poor, it is unacceptable in upper levels of society and is immoral among the religious society.

What happens with hip-hop music is that those, who have managed to reach a higher level of economic development through the quick break through that a hit song or a contract with a producer provides, constantly profess how shitty their life was before reaching the top. This implies that rapper gangsterism, which inevitably goes with hip-hop, somehow may pay off. It's not conscious reasoning, but when poor black kids in suburban neighbourhoods listen to rap music constantly they end up taking in that message. Not everyone wants to become a rapper; nonetheless, the superstars in the business do promote socially unacceptable behaviour through some of their lyrics. And while we can't blame music for people's actions, of which everyone is solely and uniquely responsible, we can say that the superstars in the industry, which are looked up to by thousands of young teens and adults, don't use their potential influence over these people to promote values and behaviour that will reflect positively on their lives.

There's always a lot of talk about the role of girls' self-esteem and self respect, but we also need to see that young boys like to hear uncensored words (e.g., bi***, p****, b***s, a**le, etc.) from hip-hop songs repeated over and over and they might believe this is how they are supposed to treat women. Music record industries put rap music out there because it sells. And those who sing it make more money. But the industries need to be responsible and promote positive artists with positive messages. Rappers write and sing dirty misogynistic lyrics, but young boys and girls keep buying and following the fashion of rap music.

Therefore it's the job of parents and educators to create a framework for young people to understand what they're exposed to through music and other media. Without the framework to understand what the kids are watching and hearing, they may see those as truth. We have to be open to watch and listen to what they're watching and listening to, and we have to ask them to explain to us what it is that they're seeing and hearing in order to open up a dialogue about it. Besides, if parents get off the buts of their children and spend more time with them, and focus on what they do in their spare time, children would not fall into “derrty” (!) garbage because most kids only get to see the back-and-forth between men and women in songs and videos. They don't see all the moves and marketing strategies in hip-hop that go into creating the product. Adding, we should therefore insure that we, as siblings or parents, produce a strong enough influence that outweighs all outside exposure. If we do that, then there shouldn't be a reason to blame hip-hop for some of the problems going on in our communities. Children need to know what is appropriate and inappropriate music. We have to define what age our child is mature enough to listen to and watch certain songs. When our child gets to a certain age he should be able to watch any song and be able to distinguish what is just a song and what he really should take to heart and apply it in his life. There are many inspirational rap songs out there. Take for example the song that Ludacris did with Mary J. Blige, “Runaway Love”. That was a very good inspirational song that they won an award for.

Lecturer, dept. Of English, Southern

Dear readers, we want your response on the above.
Send in your responses to starcampus@gmail.com

An appeal to all....

Fariha Shafi

SHE is Sharmin Quazi Bonny- a student of the Life Sciences Department of North South University of Bangladesh. At the tender age of 20 she has been suffering from Fibromyalgia, an undifferentiated connective tissue auto-immune disease also known as UCTD. Her body is also vulnerable to other problems as her brain sends discharges from brain cells and she suffers potential memory loss. There is little strength left in her body and the limpness is slowly causing paralysis. She has a total of 28 medical problems which has been diagnosed in several mainstream hospitals of Bangladesh but they refuse to operate because these diseases are rare in Bangladesh.

Doctors have notified that her recovery is fully possible if she is treated abroad. For her treatment a huge amount of US dollar 58,000 is needed and to initiate it a sum of 30 lakh taka has to be provided. Students of North South University, family, friends and well-wishers of Sharmin Quazi Bonny are campaigning for funds and donations so that Bonny can be treated as soon as possible. It is not possible for her family to pay the huge amount of money but her life should be saved at any cost.

Star Campus is a very popular magazine and around 3 lakh people read the articles, jokes, and poems in it. We want Star Campus to be beside Bonny on such a dreadful phase of her life. Even if 3000 readers of Star Campus donate a sum of 100 taka it could help the recovery of Sharmin Quazi Bonny.

Donations can be send in at:
NAME: Sharmin Quazi Bonny
Acc No: 108.101.93610
Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited (Shantinagar Branch)
Log in to: www.bonny-awarrior.org)

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