"Why Women Are Fed Up With Hip-Hop"
North Carolina's DJ Chela passed along this interview in the News & Observer. I'll just note that "artistic" and "destructive" are not mutually exclusive, there have been many hip-hop records that embody both.. and I think sometimes wer'e being too easy on ourselves, by citing the underground/commercial dichotomy as the root of all problems.. Cuz the truth is there's quite a bit of misogyny and gaybashing on our underground/indie records too.
Music perpetuates a tragic cycle
THE N&O: Do you believe that hip-hop music denigrates black women?
LAUREN HARKRADER: In a lot of ways, pop music in general tries to dumb down the masses because it makes people more into a consumer and more apt to go out and buy whatever clothes and food or alcohol or cigarettes or whatever people are selling. In terms of hip-hop, what you get is a very unique situation because hip-hop originated out of the struggle of black and Latino people coming out of the Bronx, and in New York City in general in the '70s. So in the '80s and '90s, it enjoyed more of a mainstream commercial success, and now in 2000, it's definitely Top 40 music.
What I see as a tragedy is the misogyny and the violence and, in general, the self-destructive messages that are being applauded through the music. And that's just the commercial hip-hop music out there that is getting this exposure. There's also a lot of other artists that do have more artistic, more thought-provoking music ... but don't enjoy the same amount of sales as, say, 50 Cent.
THE N&O: Why would an artist like 50 Cent make this kind of destructive music? Is it all about the money?
HARKRADER: Yes, I definitely think money is a large factor, and when you look at the empire that 50 Cent has built, no one can come close to touching that right now. In whatever arena you look at, ignorance really sells, even in politics. When you also look at the other statistics in our society -- black women being most affected by AIDS or underpaid for jobs and so many black female single mothers and young pregnancies and whatnot -- you see how this situation has come into being.
Society is misogynistic, American society is patriarchal and so on, so it already sets things up. But a lot of the commercial music takes that to a higher level and really endorses it, or normalizes it, makes it something acceptable. Young, impressionable people are going to buy into that. And the whole cycle perpetuates...