On the continuing sexism of Kanye West and Hip Hop

I don’t really like to call out people I don’t know for shit I find a little fucked up. Especially when, in essence I agree with most of what they say. And I want to make it clear I am not trying to start a blogging war, gain readership or cause controversy. Simply put, I am just writing a response to something I read over at Mishka. Because that’s what writers and culture whores do. They comment and react to culture and the criticism of that culture.

Blogger  Marcus Dowling wrote the aforementioned linked piece in response to a new Kanye West song that I have not heard and have no inkling of interest to hear. He quotes Mr. West’s new song “G.O.O.D Friday” as such:

“Champagne wishes, thirty white bitches, I mean this shit is..fuckin’ ridiculous…fuckin’ ridiculous…”

Mr. Dowling makes a comparison to Kanye and boxer Jack Johnson, exploring the topic of interracial dating amongst entertainment figures since the days of Jack Johnson. He reasonably argues the change in times stating:

And I doubt Mr. West will feel any threat of persecution as he enjoys their company. As well, I’m absolutely certain an epic number of white Americans will gladly buy the album and never think twice.

While the hip hop consuming company will, most likely, blindly consume yet another over-produced track from a sexist rapper without much thought to content, I don’t think this is the case of a larger culture and a more critical eye not being needed. In fact, it could be argued at just how short sighted our culture is on race.

 America, in all it’s hip “we have a black president now world, look at how progressive we are” bullshit we spout, are a bunch of racially divided idiots. The American economic index on poverty indicates that a family of four on average can survive on $22,000 annually. It can not be coincidental that a large proportion of those living at this ridiculously low-income level are most likely non-white. There is an inherent issue of race built into the very fabric of our economic system, one that a successful Mr. West no longer is privy to suffering from. So yes, a flashy, young black man, in the company of “white bitches” as he announces with such poetic elegance, is not really the crux of a more critical eye to the average person who is trying to feed, shelter, cloth and educate his or her children.

But more clearly evidenced in this musing of the ever so talented Mr. West is the continuing use of the word “bitch” to refer to women. It comes off as increasingly racist of me to make this argument now  as Mr. West is both a Black male and  it’s a harem of white women he is referring to. I haven’t used this blog historically to touch on the topic of sexism in hip hop lyrics (I may have once in response to Common the “consciousness” rapper and Kid Cuddi and probably West before on that “Poker Face” song which reeks of sexist bullshit) much in the past. Partly because I don’t listen to a lot of shitty, mainstream hip-hop. I’ve heard the word “bitch” used to refer to women on some of the indie hip-hop albums I do own. Some of those rappers are white guys as well. There are moments when you can discern context as comentary , but some of these fuckers should be called out too. That’s my responsibility as a consumer to do that, and I admit I have mostly failed. But how Mr. Dowling can make the connection of historical context between Jack Johnson and Kanye West and not mention the historical context and connection between racism and sexism I find a little peculiar. Further, both music and sports entertainment have a historical record of excluding women and the connection between these two forms of expression and entertainment are married in their shit.

That the hip hop nation continues to call itself the new folk music, the music of the streets, the music of struggle is laughable, especially when its own hero’s continue, with no second thought, to refer to females as bitches and whores. There is nothing contextually radical about sexism in music. There is no separation in my mind if the woman’s race is specified or not. Sexism in lyrics is pretty fucking short sighted and poetically overwrought and boring. An argument could even be made, that on one level, we have “progressed” as a culture that now allows black men the same opportunity as white men to behave and express this violent ideology.

The saddest part about Mr. Dowling’s article is he’s probably correct in assuming that after Kanye’s latest tome drops, there will be a line of women, white, black and whatever else ready to pour more alcohol down his throat and worship (probably literally) at his feet. Artists have a responsibility to the culture that clings to them to not just entertain but to challenge the status quo. West has, largely, failed to do this with any success. The maintaining of said status quo is a rally of the mindless. Even the victims line up under the glory of this self focused idol. What kind of world is this where this is even acceptable?

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