Before Lil Wayne and Rick Ross made a big deal of hustling the streets of ghettos and slinging rocks, Afrika Bambaataa made our planet rock with his crew Soul Force. In the 1980s, hip-hop was a way for musical artist to connect with people who mutually understood the struggles of living in the ghetto and who had dreams of making a way out.
In today’s world, hip-hop has transitioned into gangster rap. Instead of motivational lyrics to inspire a better life for the listeners, living in the ghetto is glorified along with debauchery.
There was an appreciation for the African-American culture and a certain standard to which the artists held themselves to in the 1980s. The “n-word” wasn’t a term of endearment – it was a word to be protested.
Public Enemy used their words to fight the power and shed light on police brutality, expressing how a large amount of minorities felt at the time. Also during the hip-hop era, female rappers like MC Lite, YoYo, Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa were respected because of their lyrical abilities and feminist undertones in their music.
Now, there is no boundary that will not be crossed in order to be marketable and profitable. Women are berated and the “n-word” is used recklessly to describe African-American men. In Rick Ross’ song “U.O.E.N.O. (You Ain’t Even Know It)” he makes references to drugging and raping a girl while in his hotel room. Not only are his lyrics controversial because he was making light of it, but they were disrespectful to women who have been through this situation. Along with men disrespecting women in their lyrics, female rappers today are partaking in the disrespect. Female rappers have to bring more to the table to get recognized in a predominately male industry.
Rappers like Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj are prime examples of how women who are sexualized are more inclined to have a blossoming career than a woman who isn’t. While Lil’ Kim was in her mixtape stage trying to gain a fan base, she was looked over until her very first album, “Hard Core.”
On the cover she was in provocative position and lingerie.
The change in hip-hop was inevitable due to the change in the times and the audience, but does that mean the message it holds has to change as well?
Unbeknownst to the listeners, some of these rappers are speaking about lifestyles they’ve never experience. Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne are millionaires. These rappers are also role models to the people. These rappers hold power in their lyrics and have an influence over the mindset of people who aspire to be just like them.
Things have changed in the hip-hop world, but has it changed for better or worse?
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