Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Done Had About Enough

I have a bad habit of listening to urban radio.

For the most part, I listen to very little rap any more. I still respect and appreciate the genre, and I have certain artists whose CDs I might still cop, but for the most part I've lost interest in what many mainstream rappers are talking about. Plus, I lack the energy or inclination to invest in the underground rap circuit because I'm pretty sure they don't share my values either.

But, I still have this vice of listening to the radio. I like music when I drive, and while I've tried listening to the local gospel channel, the paucity of music and plethora of bad sermons often leads me back to the local urban stations. And this week, that led to me listening to a song by Usher Raymond and Nick Minaj called "My Little Freak." (Video is here for those of you interested.)


Some of you have no doubt heard this song. With an infectious beat by Polow the Don, it's sure to become a regular on our airwaves. The ditty is an ode to women who not only are serious about sexing their man, but they are serious about going to find other women to join in with that sexing. That's right, it's a song celebrating the female, sexual wingman.

Again, sigh...

It's official, debauchery is the new black. I'm not one of those cats who thinks the "Good Ol' Days" were particularly "good" but dammit, when there are songs on the radio brashly discussing orgies and whatnot, well maybe family values have disappeared. Right?

I remember when Kanye had a song on his first album that had a line like "drug dealers buy Jordans and crackheads buy crack, but white people get paid off all of that". That line was deemed to risque to get radio play, and would always be beeped out of the song.

On Tupac's "All Eyez on Me" album, he had a song with Redman and Method Man. In that song, Method Man has a line about using German Lugers on Jews, and that was deemed unacceptable for the album and ultimately deleted by the label.

But a song celebrating chicks who love pimping out other chicks gets major radio play? So talking about race or the Holocaust is a problem, but songs about random gun play and demeaning sexual behavior are just fine? Thanks for the clarification.

And I believe that song is both demeaning and damaging to young women. I thank the Lord he hasn't blessed me with a daughter because I wouldn't get much sleep at night worrying about how she would navigate the ridiculous messages being pumped out by popular culture. From the long-standing morays about beauty, to the new jack crap about what constitutes a good woman, girls today are tripping the light fantastic in a minefield.
(By the way, I used that "light fantastic" line because I learned that's how lots of white folks and their sympathizers say "dancing." I never knew. A friend of mine compared it to the fact that white folks don't know Booboo the Fool despite the fact that black people know at least one Booboo in every family and on every job.)

Over the past decade, we've seen rap and R&B define the perfect black woman as a ridiculously beautiful, Madonna/whore, who has her own money, spends it on men, is willing to be a drug mule, doesn't mind infidelity or wedlock babies and also has a taste for casual lesbianism. Did I miss anything? (I could provide a similar description of the perfect man, but I won't.)

What is going on? Is that woman, the one described in so many urban songs, the woman we really want our daughters to become? Is that woman good for our community? Is she good for our children? Is she happy, is she loved, is she being used or is she a user? Is the woman placed on a pedestal by popular music a woman any of us really like or love?

I don't think so.

This ain't an attempt by a corny dude to gain brownie points with the ladies. This is a cry for help from the father of two sons and the uncle of a niece who is truly scared about what's being done to our children. I'm truly scared about what these radio stations, record companies and ultimately artists are pumping out. It seems like every month I'm writing a piece about some vile crap hat's recieving airplay, and every time I think the bar can't be lowered, I'm horribly wrong.

At times I even don my tinfoil hat and wonder if this isn't part of some larger, nefarious conspiracy. How else can I explain what seems to be a systematic attempt to create a damaging, female demi-god for the world to worship? I can't just shrug it off as capitalism-induced ignorance any more, now I see something malicious. I see something dark, nasty and frightening.

Enough is Enough.



Darth Whitey said...

As I was reading this I was thinking "huh? this is new?" cuz it seems like modern "gangsta" rap has always had the mistreatment and disrespect of women as one of its major topics (along with glorifying disregard for the law, boasting about conspicuous consumption, maligning other rappers, and encouraging drug use.)

The things is that it's become more and more "packaged", like it's a formula now, just being honed, it's really just repetitive at this point. It's like a feedback loop, the young rappers hear this stuff from established rappers and emulate it, making it more extreme, ad infinitum. Some of these folks even try to live it as a way to bolster their cred.

I say "meh".

LisaPal said...

It's clear how much power the recording industry has when it comes to creating social change (look at the late 60s/early 70s), but they've got a big-money formula with this stuff that spans a large and diverse market and as long as they can exploit it, the record labels will not give it up.

I have a 13 year old daughter and as much as I've tried to shelter her from it, the industry's voice and reach are much longer and louder than mine and I can't compete. We talk a lot about this stuff and I think she gets what's wrong with it, but I'm worried about the boys she's going to have to deal with. You're right. We're in big trouble.

ANd thanks for elucidating us on "tripping the light fantastic." I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

This is why I don't listen to the radio and my daughter isn't allowed to listen to certain stations on her radio.

Not because I'm trying to shield her from real life but because I want her to hear about life from our (her family members') perspectives BEFORE she hears it in the streets.

So sad that our society is steadily declining at such a pace.

Remember Rome people. Remember Rome...

Stephanie said...

On the one hand I agree with you. As a woman, I am disgusted with the images presented (and available so easily via internet) to the next generation of women (and men!).

On the other hand, it feels quite a bit like the same story that has replayed with every generation. Rock n' roll was the gangsta rap of the 60's and 70's. Elvis with his gyrating hips, the Beatles with their long hair - in the 80's, heavy metal caused teenage suicide!!

None of us have been defined by the music we listened to when we were teenagers, no matter how strongly we identified with it then. As tough as it is to stomach - the kids will be all right.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

This evening, my 14 year old had me watch "Telephone" video with Lady GaGa and Beyonce. That shit was Satanic, and I told her than and told her why. She was shocked I saw it as anything beyond "theatrical".

Yeah, that's what the perverts, evil doers, and private prison industrial complex would have youth believe. They normalize all this garbage, and who pays the price? The young and especially the young and poor.

Big Man, I was overwhelmed with the evil in it that I had to lay down for an hour.

Next weekend I'm doing a post on that, and if I get hated on for it, so be it.

Thordaddy said...

Lil man,

First u tell these females they can't be
whatever they want to be...
This means practice Christianity
less liberally...
Slit theez fools throats

Can't be scared
must put the Christ in your Christianity...

Shady_Grady said...

I haven't heard the particular song in question but I would also say is it anything new?

The Rolling Stones wrote a song called "Stray Cat Blues" about a man's encounter with a girl who is younger than the age of consent and offers to bring her friend along next time. Another of their songs euphemistically titled "Star Star" tells of a woman who does tricks with private areas of her anatomy, is sought after by everyone and winds up servicing Steve McQueen. This was back in the late sixties/early seventies.

So this sort of music or subject matter is nothing new. I think it's always up to the parents to set boundaries. Kids will always test the boundaries.

I don't listen to a lot of modern music though so I don't know how common this stuff is now.

Big Man said...

I heard about that video from a partner of mine who is convinced that Jay-Z is in the Illuminati and is corrupting Beyonce. I don't know, I haven't seen the vid.


I think you're right that risque material has been in music forever. I always get upset when people pretend that modern music has introduced vulgarity, when they used to groove to Clarence Carter's ode to "Strokin'"

But, I think today's musicians, by and large, have lost the art of being subtle. It's one thing to talk about orgies by using codewords and metaphors, it's quite another thing to blatantly discuss how your chick loves clits too. I appreciate art that pushes boundaries, but not when it pushes boundaries just because. There should be a deeper meaning, some attempt at being different and unique. Not the same trite memes in subpar packaging.

Shady_Grady said...

"But, I think today's musicians, by and large, have lost the art of being subtle."

Indeed they have. Some of the older blues/soul or even rock performers could write some lyrics that might not be as explicit but everyone knew what they were talking about. As Howling Wolf sang "The men don't know but the little girls, they understand". =)

Big Man said...


I was just talking about this concept with some friends, about what constitutes art and whatnot. Because these rappers love to call themselves "artists."

Some of them might be, but a lot of them are to artists what McDonalds is to fine cuisine.

Redbonegirl97 said...

Radio is a joke. They play the same annoying songs over and over and over again, till can't take it anymore. When you change the channel they are planning the same tunes in a different order. Not to mention we don't hear rap with lyrics anymore. It's a joke.


ch555x said...

I couldn't place my finger on who sung that song, though it did sound like Usher. I've hit a period where I do turn on the radio as background noise and never full pay attention to what's being said more so than the beats. Still, you do get that vibe flowing, telling you to turn it off...SMH!

Raving Black Lunatic