Beats, Rhymes and Rape?: Hip Hop’s Lyrical Debate

April 5th, 2013

(Photos from left: Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Reebok, Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Hip hop is used to harsh criticism from those outside of the culture. From C. Delores Tucker to Bill O’Reilly, critics of rap music’s vulgar lyrics and raw content have never been shy about condemning the genre and its influence on popular culture. These clashes are never as black and white as the media makes them out to be, but they always shed light on both the culture and the society it exists in.Rick Ross and Tyga are the latest rappers to be tested by this dynamic. With Harvard University students protesting Tyga and Spelman College students condemning Rick Ross for lyrics that both student bodies believe encourage a “rape culture,” the hip hop community is being forced to ask itself tough questions about its values and beliefs. Unlike the 2011 controversy that saw Talib Kweli, 9th Wonder and ?uestlove stand up against Ashley Judd’s assertion that hip hop promoted rape and misogyny, the current controversies surround specific artists who are being held accountable for specific lyrics.

In Tyga’s case, Harvard student Leah Reis-Dennis has collected 1,900 digital signatures to support her wish that school officials rescind Tyga’s invitation to perform at their annual yardfest. Citing his songs “B—-s Ain’t Shit” and “B—h Betta Have My Money,” Reis-Dennis argues that “Tyga is not representative of hip hop as a whole or what hip hop can and should be.” She goes on to point out that “Frank Ocean is available to campuses for a similar rate.” Her assertion of what a culture’s music should or shouldn’t be seems presumptive, but most music fans would generally agree that Tyga is not the best representation of the genre. Still, many others would point out that Ocean, an openly-gay singer affiliated with the mosh-pit-diving, skateboard-riding Odd Future collective, is even less representative of traditional hip hop culture. Despite her own contradictions, Reis-Dennis raises rational questions about what a conscious society should deem acceptable.

Rick Ross mastered the art of contradiction in 2010, when he simultaneously acknowledged and denied the false nature of his gangsta lyrics. Though fans had understood the paradox of gangsta rap since the days of Chris Rock’s parody CB4, the contradiction of a pampered musician assuming the identity of true gangsters had never been as ironic as when it was revealed that Ross once held a job as a corrections officer. Still, the Teflon Don survived what seemed to be a career-ending revelation by acting like he was oblivious to the contradiction his situation presented.

He’s used the same strategy to address his latest controversy, the widespread interpretation of his lyrics on Rocko’s new song “U.O.E.N.O.” as encouraging the drugging of a potential sex partner without her knowledge. “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it,” he rhymed. “I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” Ross took to Twitter and radio airwaves to apologize for the “interpretation” of his lyric as condoning rape, saying he never actually used the r-word. But protestors who want his recent endorsement deal with Reebok pulled aren’t satisfied. “Not only does Ross brag about drugging and raping a woman, he is pushing the idea that if you don’t use the word ‘rape,’ it doesn’t count,” said women’s rights group UltraViolet in a statement.

In both situations, there is a basic disconnect between the standards American society has set for rappers and the standards they are willing to live up to. As defenders of rap music have long pointed out, equally offensive content exists in all other mainstream entertainment mediums. But are rappers being made society’s scapegoats or simply avoiding responsibility for the consequences of their art? Ross and Tyga are completely within their rights to create music that expresses their lifestyles, real or imagined, just as their protestors are within their rights to speak out against them. But until both sides take a step back to acknowledge the other’s perspective, this long-standing cultural disconnect will only lead to more controversy and less understanding.

For more log on to

  • Digg It
  • Delicious


Pages: « 1 2 [3]

this is me Said on

this is me…

The thereafter always alter describe organizer blog, yourself probability that I doesnt put straight ego dispassionately frequently evenly this married. better self miserable, alter ego bet on inner man was my judicature to take, at least ego actually …

Tanya Said on

What’s up everyone, it’s my first go to see at this site, and piece of writing is in fact fruitful for me, keep up posting these articles. my blog

Holley Said on

Hi! I just would like to offer you a huge thumbs up for your great information you’ve got right here on this post. I will be returning to your site for more soon. my web page – null

Bev Said on

Howdy! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any suggestions? Feel free to surf to my blog post – –

Gloria Said on

I go to see daily some blogs and sites to read articles or reviews, however this blog gives feature based content. Look into my webpage 510

Jeanette Said on

I simply couldn’t go away your website prior to suggesting that I really loved the usual information an individual provide on your guests? Is gonna be again steadily to check out new posts Also visit my web blog ::

Google Said on


Hello my family member! I wish to say that this post is amazing, nice written and include almost all important infos. I would like to look extra posts like this ….

Google Said on


One of our guests a short while ago encouraged the following website….

Luann Said on

I lοѵe your blοg.. very nice colors & theme. Did you mаkе thiѕ ωebsite yοurself or ԁid you hire ѕomeone tо do it foг yоu? Plz reѕрond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. kudos Feel free to visit my site … buy youtube views

Rosemary Said on

Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your blog. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please blast me an e-mail if interested. Cheers! my web-site: Rosemary

Annett Said on

An impгessiνe shaге! ӏ’ve just forwarded this onto a friend who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner simply because I discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to discuss this issue here on your site. My webpage; nudie jeans for sale

Sheryl Said on

you’re truly a just right webmaster. The web site loading velocity is amazing. It seems that you’re doing any distinctive trick. In addition, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed a fantastic task on this topic! Feel free to surf to my site :: Sheryl

Malinda Said on

Yоu сould definitely see youг expеrtiѕе in the worκ yоu write. Тhe ѕectоr hopes for even more passionatе writerѕ such as you who are nоt afraid to say how they beliеvе. All the time follow yοur heart. Feel free to surf to my wеb blоg :: Billiard Balls

Georgina Said on

magnificent points altogether, you just won a logo new reader. What could you recommend about your post that you just made some days in the past? Any certain? Here is my blog post;

Trey Said on

Excellent way of explaining, and fastidious article to take data concerning my presentation subject matter, which i am going to convey in university. Check out my homepage; Trey

dating us Said on

I simply could not depart your website prior to suggesting that I extremely loved the usual info a person supply in your visitors? Is going to be again ceaselessly in order to inspect new posts

online pharmacy Said on

online pharmacy overseas – online pharmacy no prescription illegal

Wilton Said on

I visited multiple sites except the audio quality for audio songs current at this web page is in fact fabulous. Also visit my web site toenail fungus

Archie Said on

I’ve read some just right stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you place to make any such great informative website. Feel free to surf to my web site; Click On this website

Google Said on


Here are a number of the internet sites we suggest for our visitors…