1. As you just saw, Byron Hurts Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes several questions concerning the characteristics of mainstream Hip Hop. Issues of gender, race, authenticity, and sexuality are all effectively explored through the lens of Hip Hop. For the purposes of this discussion we will be focusing on sexuality. It is no mystery that mainstream Hip Hop is plagued with homophobic lyrics. Even Busta Rhymes, who mocks the gangster mentality of Hip Hop, can’t even address the issues of homophobia.
Questions to consider for the class discussion: Why do you feel that Hip Hop’s authenticity seems so dependent upon traditional views of masculinity? Is Hip Hop simply a mirror for our societies general views on sexuality? Is it fair to label Hip Hop as homophobic as a whole? Is it any more or less homophobic than other genres of music? How do you feel fans would respond to a well known emcee proudly claiming he was homosexual?
2. For Module 4 we read Joan Morgan’s The Nigga Ya Hate To Love, which offered a unique uniquely formatted review of NWA member Ice Cube’s solo debut AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. We see Morgan wage war with her own feminism and politics as she tries to grasp with the idea of how much pure enjoyment she receives from listening to Ice Cube’s lyrics set over the backdrop of booming sounds of the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy’s production unit that produced the beats). This is a common issue within Hip Hop, and society in general, when the form (the artistic level) and the content (the political subject matter) aren’t quite on the same level. Morgan wrestles with her responsibilities as a fan when she doesn’t agree with Ice Cube’s ideology, yet can’t help but love the music he makes. A non-musical analogy would be a fan of the NBA who loved to watch Michael Jordan’s grace and skill on the court, yet troubled by his repeated attempts at taking a stand for the greater social good (for instance, he repeatedly kept quiet about Nike’s notorious use of overseas sweatshop labor despite multiple urging from various human rights organizations) Or perhaps fans of golf who love watching Tiger Wood’s finesse and power on the links, yet wish he would have responded to the calls for him to boycott the 2003 Masters, annually played at Augusta National Golf Club, a country club that reluctantly admitted their first African-American in 1990 and still has no female members.
For the purpose of this reading’s discussion, let’s focus on the following questions raised by Morgan: Do artists, athletes, entertainers, or anyone in the public eye have greater social responsibility than do us “average”, everyday folk? Do they instantly become role models simply because they are famous? How about our role as a consumer? Should we only buy, listen to, and/or support music, entertainment, and entertainers that fall in line with our personal morals or political views?
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