Monday, April 21, 2014

Tricia Rose: Quotes and Notes of her Interview

"So this idea that a certain kind of sexual deviance or violent behavior defines black culture has had a huge market in commercial mainstream culture for at least 200 years. Also, sexist images, which hip-hop has a lot of, seem to do very well across the cultural spectrum. So sexuality and sexual domination sell. Racial stereotypes sell. The market is more consolidated, which makes it easier for those images to perpetuate themselves."

I think this is an interesting point that seems so simple, but isn't thought about much. We all know sex sells, but racial stereotypes? I feel like face palming at the thought of this because it seems so "duh!" Black females have been portrayed either as helpful "mammies," angry black women or sexual deviants throughout historical discourse. So this portrayal of black females as sex objects permeates hip hop very often. It makes it easy to understand why hip hop music that isn't as community based and focused has made its way into popularity when you think about it. 

"Look, I don't want it to seem like I'm bashing everything about Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, because I'm not. I think they're both very talented. If you look at the metaphors Lil Wayne produces, they're amazing; they're very creative. It's the substance. What are you making metaphors about 24 hours a day? Same thing with Jay-Z. Even he has acknowledged that he's "dumbed his music down" so that he can sell records. This economic imperative has had more of an impact on hip-hop than [on] rock or soul or R&B."

I have to admit that I've listened to some stuff with Lil Wayne in it and he does know how to use words meaningfully. He rhymes well and uses words in really clever ways, but like she said, it's what these metaphors are made about. Often they have to do with "pussy" or killing someone. He also really likes to use the words "bitches" and "cashmoney." 

"Well, O.K., I agree, some parents are not very good at watching their kids. But a lot of parents are deeply struggling to figure out how to watch their kids and hold down three part-time jobs with no benefits. And they don't really need artists making their job harder by creating an allure, an excitement, for behavior that is completely self-destructive. Artists tell you to turn off, but they really depend on you doing the opposite. And I say, Let's take them up on it. They'll change their tune because they need an audience. They need us."

""The hip-hop-causes-violence camp is incredibly dishonest about the profound role of structural racism, of economic disadvantange that has been produced over decades. It's not just personal, lazy behavior. It's a dishonest way of dumping on hip-hop a set of conditions that we are responsible for as a nation. That being said, that doesn't mean that a constantly violent narrative is a good thing. I'm not suggesting there shouldn't be a challenge to it to some degreee. But it's not the source of the problem. It's a red herring."

I think this point is really important. A lot of people blame violence on rap music and hip hop culture because, yes, it often addresses violence. But this is not always an issue of parenting. Just like our talk about the Columbine shootings in class and the project done on it so wonderfully pointed out, the question of TV, video games and hip hop being used inappropriately because of bad parenting usually comes up when kids are black. It's really part of a certain discourse like what we talked about with teenagers in the Raby piece. It's not as much of an issue when it comes to white kids because people come to the table with the assumption that black kids come from a home of financial struggle where a parent can't always be around or a parent doesn't care. 

My question for the class is: what do you think about the "turning off" issue addressed by Tricia Rose in her interview? It's a tough question for me especially because I was a nanny and have young nieces and nephews. You can't stop things from happening by ignoring them as we touched upon with "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," but you don't want to expose your children to violence and sexism in music and TV...I think what we read about princess culture made a good point about perhaps allowing kids to interact with things but to talk about it. But do you think Disney classism/racism/princess stuff is a bit lighter than violent/sexist music? 

LOL  Jay Z


  1. I really enjoyed both your pictures and your relevance of the racial stereotypes present today, I think females especially are portrayed as angry black women and is expressed in hip hop lyrics. I can think of a bunch of songs that discriminate.

  2. I liked this argument. I think it could have been made a little bit stronger with a mention of class social standings and how often times black folk are relegated to the working classes, which is a major influence to the music - i.e. Rose's mention of "hope through despair". This image is then used against black folk in media, and then is dumbed down to where we think that these artists only think of money and bitches. I do think there is also a double standard of white and black perceptions in music, despite class status.

  3. Your question you pose to the class is hard to answer. At one point you don't want to expose children to this, but at the same time can't hide it from them either. I honestly think this a great question, and one that is difficult to find a happy median.