B—- Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better: Why Lupe Almost Got It RightAugust 23rd, 2012
By Arielle Loren
Recently, Chi-town rapper Lupe Fiasco released his latest piece of social commentary via the music video to his controversial “B—- Bad” single. The inspiration behind the song is pretty clear. The hip hop artist wants to generate more conversation about the impact of lyrics and the multiple meanings of certain phrases. However, he’s met a bit of criticism as “B—- Bad” particularly goes hard on the role that mothers and women play in perpetuating their own lyrical degradation.
If the viewer pays close attention, the video first opens with a laughing white man outside of a theater flashing a bunch of money. That one quick piece of symbolism does indicate that Lupe is aware of the source behind many of the problematic images that are the subject of his song: capitalism and who controls the media. The scene shifts to Fiasco rapping in an old theater with a young boy in a car listening to his mom playfully rap that she’s a “bad b—-.” Lupe claims that his mother then becomes the ultimate definition of a “bad b—-,” making it a more positive term in the boy’s imagination since he developmentally hasn’t been prepared to figure out that she’s just playing, b—-h is “bad,” woman is “good,” and lady is “better.”
However, it’s hard to believe that this narrative is indeed the frequent story for most young men. While many use the phrase as a compliment, it’s unlikely that they originally got it from their mothers due to the high media access most youth have beyond their parent’s control. Later in the video, Lupe makes this same argument but using only little girls, as he explains that most kids are consuming uncensored content via the Internet, a media platform that they understand better than their parents. Yet he uses this explanation as the groundwork for how many little girls grow to understand their sexuality as a mirror of the performances they see by hip hop video vixens. Arguably, little boys experience the same brainwashing, as their reference for bad b—-es, even in a “positive” way, is rarely their mother but rather a sexually attractive woman. Thus, when boys and girls grow into young men and young women, their references are skewed for how to build relationships. The young ladies think they have to mimic certain sexual behaviors and have figure 8 bodies. The young men expect young women to perform certain sexual behaviors and give them access to their bodies. It’s all one big misunderstanding, as Lupe halfway says.
But the blame shouldn’t be placed on mothers or even women. It’s partially every parent and elder’s fault for not constantly explaining the difference between entertainment and reality or exposing our kids to more diverse images. It’s also a shame that a lot of black musicians and actors are still performing in 21 century black face, as Lupe portrayed in his video. Many of us continue to participate in and consume the same ancient script, perpetuating images that don’t really serve us or take our artistic potential to the next level.
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