RapReviews.com Feature - Females and Porn In Hip-Hop
Author: Grant Jones
Picture this, if you will. In a car at 8 o'clock in the morning, I always make sure that the radio is on, not only to avoid my 2 year old picking up inappropriate language from whatever's in the CD deck, but also because pop music is something she enjoys, even at such an early age. I'm happy for her to listen to the likes of Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift, but one morning last week, I had to turn off the radio because some songs overstepped the mark:
Will.I.Am often pops up on the radio here in the UK (and frequently on the TV via The Voice) on stations aimed at teenagers and young adults (KISS FM, BBC Radio 1, Capital) or ones that like to combine artists such as Rick Astley and Coolio (Heart, BBC Radio 2). I've never really had a problem with Will.I.Am, he is a very talented producer and albeit he took a dramatic turn in the direction of his hip-hop-focussed beginnings, he has the ability to lace Evidence with a banger, and then mix it up with Miley Cyrus. It is the song with Miss Cyrus that prompted this piece. "Feelin' Myself" is currently doing the rounds on radio and television, featuring prominently in Top 10s all across the world. It's undeniably a catchy piece of music (thanks in part to DJ Mustard) but one that contains some explicit content that doesn't really suit the daytime audience it's currently being aimed at.
- will.i.am f/ French Montana, Wiz Khalifa & Miley - "Feelin' Myself"
- Beyonce f/ Jay-Z - "Drunk In Love"
- Jason Derulo f/ 2 Chainz - "Talk Dirty"
You'll no doubt have heard the "She gives me IQ, that means she give me head" line that's repeated throughout the song. It is not only devoid of any actual wittiness or wordplay; it's an example of the simplification of mainstream hip-hop lyrics. I mean, there are endless examples of phrases that have made it on to hit singles in place of blowjobs and giving head. Dome and brains are slightly more abstract, but it's not so much the euphemism but the context. Tinie Tempah's latest single has ‘DNA' censored because it refers to unprotected sex. The word ‘penis' is blanked out on Jason Derulo's hit single because 2 Chainz asks the listener to suck it. The two terms that are censored aren't bad words and contain scientific value that can be explained to a child, but ‘giving head' is where I draw the line. Obviously, the word ‘head' is censored on Will.I.Am's single, but it doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out what the word is. Popular music has more often than not, always used love as a theme, but current playlists are dripping with sex. The best (or worst) example of an artist lowering herself, literally, is Beyonce. "Drunk in Love" reads off like a porn star's job specification, but does at least include terms such as ‘sipping watermelon' and ‘surfboard' which are ambiguous and open to interpretation.
Miley Cyrus' provocative gestures with her tongue (which is now a focus of her arena tours) and decision to join in on the ‘she give me head' line just demonstrates how far we have fallen. These artists aren't just sexually suggestive, but legitimately pornographic. It's been a slow but steady process, from the likes of R. Kelly's "Bump & Grind" to Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy" and Khia's "My Neck, My Back". We are now seeing wholesome, uber-popular artists like Will.I.Am and Beyonce, two artists that sell millions of records thanks to children, parents and everybody in between purchasing their albums, effectively selling sex. Hardcore sexual acts are now acceptable in music, hip-hop or otherwise, and whilst my opinion comes from the perspective of a father, it is one that has always accepted censorship is vital, lest we remove innocence entirely from our youth. We are also de-sensitising the teenagers that are at the beginning of their sexual lifecycle. Much has been made of how easy it is to access hardcore pornography on the Internet, and the expectations it can place on young people when starting to have sex, yet music seems to have been just as graphic in recent times.
I'm 27 and grew up on DMX and Eminem as they cursed their way towards platinum sales. You could argue that Eminem's "Real Slim Shady" censored ‘clitoris' and DMX's "Party Up" contains some intimidating threats, including the term ‘suck my dick'. I can't really defend DMX's lyrics, but I wouldn't expect them to be played on mainstream radio. Where DMX perhaps got away with it was that many of his singles saw him barking different lyrics on the radio edits compared to the album ones. DMX wasn't really on national radio (in the UK at least), especially on a Monday morning - his material was most commonly found on the Tim Westwood show on a Friday and Saturday night, after the watershed. But the key difference here is that DMX would use the ‘suck my dick' as a threat, not an explicit example of his sex life. He didn't particularly make music that my mother would buy either. What we have right now are iconic pop stars with a humongous audience, actively promoting misogyny and sexual activity to make 2 Live Crew blush.
The pornographic content of some mainstream artist's work is not necessarily the main problem, it's the fact that the two ladies that represent hip-hop right now to many people; Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus (whether you like it or not) are not just ignoring misogyny but actively taking part in it. This hinders other females' progress in the genre, with other notable newcomers such as Azaelia Banks relying on provocative, often sexual leanings in their more popular efforts ("212"). Look at the three popular female rappers before Nicki in Lil Kim, Eve and Foxy Brown. At least two of them got rich by exploiting their sexuality, despite being capable emcees. Yet, there are plenty of female emcees in the game that are both attractive and (often more than) capable of ‘spitting'. Rapsody, Dynasty, Jean Grae, Nitty Scott, Rah Digga; the talent has always been there, but somewhere we took a turn for the worse. From Salt-n-Pepa and Missy Elliott to Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus, where do we go from there? You could even argue the case that the trashy appearance of a Minaj or Cyrus is far less appealing on the eyes than a Nitty Scott, yet it is the former that catch all the headlines thanks largely to their willingness to bare flesh and act abhorrently.
Hip-Hop should stop talking about head, and start using its head.
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Originally posted: March 4th, 2014