Thursday, August 31, 2006

BUST A RHYME: Rap Music 4 Dummies

God, I've become my parents, who never understood a single word Mick Jagger sang. Now I gotta admit I don't understand a word of rap music either, but worse, even if I understood the words, I wouldn't know what they meant!

Thank goodness, there's a site like Underground HipHop 4 Dummies to translate for me. Here's just one rap song translated into middleagedwhiteguy-onics (and there are many more at the site):

LYRICS:
First things first, I poppa, freaks all the honeys
Dummies - playboy bunnies, those wantin’ money
Those the ones I like ‘cause they don’t get nathan’
But penetration, unless it smells like sanitation
Garbage, I turn like doorknobs
Heart throb, never, black and ugly as ever
However, I stay coochied down to the socks
Rings and watch filled with rocks

TRANSLATION: As a general rule, I perform deviant sexual acts with women of all kinds, including but not limited to those with limited intellect, nude magazine models, and prostitutes. I particularly enjoy sexual encounters with the latter group as they are generally disappointed in the fact that they only receive penile intercourse and nothing more, unless of course, they douche on a consistent basis. Although I am extremely unattractive, I am able to engage in these types of sexual acts with some regularity. Perhaps my sexuality is somehow related to my fancy and expensive jewelry.

14 comments:

SingingSkies said...

I do believe that, based on the translation, I understood about 4 words in that - First things first and I. So it isn't just middleagedwhiteguy-onics. It's middleagedwhitegal-onics.

There's a part of me that would just as soon NOT know what the lyrics mean, since I'm already aware that much (but not all) rap music advocates sexual abuse of women and violence.

Certainly I am concerned that this type of rap music will have an adverse effect on our society. I wonder if this is what our parents felt about Mick Jagger, and their parents before them felt about Elvis, and their parents before them ...

Yet, in time, we have managed to grow up and get beyond what the 'negative' music of our era taught (although I will acknowledge that not all of what our parents considered negative was truly thus). One can only hope that this will be true of the current generation. At least in terms of the young people I know, if they do listen to that highly negative genre of rap, they have not taken it into their own lifestyles, and for that I'm quite grateful.

Anonymous said...

How does this stuff get on the radio? Aren't there FCC rules ... or would applying the rules to black rappers be "racist"?

Chancelucky said...

I'd argue that there's a difference between
1) this is who I am and I like me (literal)

2) this is the way things are and I want you to see it for what it is cause I don't like it. (ironic and descriptive)

Without listening to the thing and seeing how it's delivered, I couldn't tell you which it is. They're coming to take me away ha ha ho ho hee hee.

That Cleaning Lady said...

I remember my parents being unnerved when I listened to Journey, and Alan Parson's Project. For them it was the volume and that they couldn't understand the words.
My how time flies, but the song remains the same, at least the ones I can understand!!

Love, Rita said...

While I find rap music intrinsically disgusting, I acknowledge the rights of others to appreciate it.

When, however, it is played at a volume that can (and has) rattled the glass in my office window; I feel very much like stepping outside and throwing bricks at the car windshield of the person who has so little respect or regard for other people.

I may start driving around with a basket of bricks in my front seat with me, for those moments when the booming makes my heart hurt, too.

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Anonymous said...

For the asswholes at the top u dont know a damn thing about rap. all u fucking white people do is take lyrics out of their original contact and depict them because u have nothing better to do. The rap thats played on the radio is pushed by white people like u behind the scenes. They control the mainstream media nd what gets played. They want society to think that a style dominated by African Americans only talk about sex and violence. Visit my old neighborhood. Grow up where i grew up. U dont kno shit about th experience of the "hood". Rap tells ..............fuck it why waste my time u already have it set in ur mind what rap is......

Anonymous said...

your a fucking nigger.... what? did you steal the computer that your using becuase you dont have a job right?

Anonymous said...

yo bitches no nuthin bout are rhymes rap is about how we feel and our experiences in life if u cant respect that then fuck off

Anonymous said...

All right. Those last few comments are on the right track but maybe could use some re-wording. I might be a tad biased in this opinion as I am in my 20's and they’re for am in the Rap generation and I manage a small production company that has 12 rap artist under my label.

What a few of the anonymous posters said were right in ways. The rap that many people criticize as being derogatory and demeaning to woman isn't the rap that true lovers of the genre listen to. I was unaware of this too before I began to produce rap.

The rap in the main stream is much like sensationalism in magazines. Larger producers feed off of the general publics image of rappers being aggressive, taste less, sexually abusive etc. It is a part of the image. However, this is not the true essence of rap.

Considering Rap has only been around for 30 years and from its beginnings has been the music of minorities there is much left unknown about the genre.

In defense to claim rap music is the only part of the music world to have such problems as those stated above is naive. Today’s media is in a constant spiral. I even refuse to let my niece and nephew to watch the Disney channel and Nickelodeon as they are, in my opinion devaluing the morals I work to establish with them.

However back to the topic of Rap music. I encourage you, if you are interested in exploring what the true essence of rap music is and clearing up this confusion of "How anyone could like this stuff?!" read some lyrics from the following artists and I've suggested some songs:

2Pac- Ghetto Gospel, Dear Mama, keep ya head up
Lil Rob- No Soy De Ti
Nas- I know I can
Fredro Starr- True Colors
Common Sense- I Used To Love H.E.R.

There are many but this list should give you a taste of the better side of rap. These artists are all popular and yet when it comes time to express “true rap” and “quality artist,” they are forgotten.

The point to remember is that every true artist strives to create something beautiful and it is key to strive to see it. All artists are pure when they begin... the challenge is to maintain that purity with fame.

I urge you all to reconsider your views on rap music. Don't allow the commercialized forms to cloud your judgment on this diverse and rich culture.

I leave you with one finale guide while exploring. Never forget what it is these artists are reflecting upon. What past it is they are representing, be it in their lives or of the lives of their culture. Perspective must be respected always.

All the best,
Candice

Ron Franscell said...

Candice: I respectfully disagree about respecting perspective "always." I grant that Osama has a perspective, but I don't respect it, mostly because he thinks I should be killed.

But here's a new study out today (Oct. 16, 2007). I'm printing the entire summary here.

~~~~

New Rochelle, NY, October 16, 2007 — African-American female adolescents who spend more time watching rap music videos are more likely to participate in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and sex with multiple partners, to test positive for marijuana, and to have a negative body image, according to a report in the October 2007 issue (Vol. 16, No. 8) of Journal of Women’s Health a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ( www.liebertpub.com). The paper is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/jwh

Many psychosocial factors can adversely affect self-image, health status, and the likelihood of engaging in high-risk behaviors among adolescent girls. One such factor is exposure to rap music videos, which often portray African-American women as hypersexual and amoral and include content related to violence, sexuality, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Shani Peterson, PhD, Gina Wingood ScD, MPH, Ralph DiClemente PhD, Kathy Harrington, MPH, MAEd, and Susan Davies, from the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory Center for AIDS Research, and School of Medicine at Emory University (Atlanta, GA), and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, sought to identify whether a link exists between the amount of exposure to sexual stereotypes and risky behaviors portrayed in rap music videos and adverse health outcomes. They surveyed and interviewed 522 African-American teenage girls, asked about their rap music video viewing habits, evaluated their health status, and screened urine samples for evidence of marijuana use.

In the report entitled, “Images of Sexual Stereotypes in Rap Videos and the Health of African-American Female Adolescents,” the authors concluded, based on a quantitative assessment, that a significant predictive association exists between increased viewing of sexual stereotypes in rap music videos and likelihood to engage in binge drinking, to test positive for marijuana, and to have a negative body image.

“The findings from this study suggest that African-American girls’ perceptions of stereotypical images of women in rap music videos may contribute to adverse health outcomes,” says Editor-in-Chief Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, in Richmond, VA. “Clearly, there is a need for greater awareness and education about the potential public health risks associated with this media exposure.”

Anonymous said...

Ron,

Did you read the lyrics to which I suggested?

The artists I represent do not encourage drinking, violence and do not have demeaning lyrics towards woman... neither do the lyrics I provided.

Your interpretation of my statement of perspective is exactly what I am supporting on the criticism of Rap. What I am saying is that you are not looking at the right perspective of this argument.

As for your example of Osama:
Yes, Osama is a radical. He could have been a radical of any citizenship, culture or heritage. However he happens to be Muslim, and now his views is the only views many people have on the Muslim population, which is why so many people are being persecuted. My father for example was born in Pakistan, and because of that fact we were ex-communicated from out neighbors to the point in which we had to move after 9/11. And we aren't even Muslim; we are catholic and a former part of the British Army!

Plainly what I am saying is you are looking at only one selection of this genre. You are looking at the bad in the Music world. Here are bad lyrics from other genres:

Kid Rock- Fuck U Blind
Smashing pumpkins- Silver Fuck
Aqua- Barbie Girl
Senses Fail- Tie Her down
Marilyn Manson- Get your Gunn

"So love me gently with a chainsaw
and take the glass against your wrist
You know I am your worst nightmare
Oh how you love my bloody kiss


But it's time to die
You're worth more dead"

Here are articles of Heavy Metal concerns and effects of the Emo culture:

Heavy Metal Music And Adolescent Suicidality: An Empirical Investigation - Statistical Data Included

It is difficult to interpret the lower RFL scores of the "angrier" subgroup. Martin and colleagues (1993) noted that the subgroup they identified might be more susceptible to the negative themes and lyrics of the music. Ties between negative affect (generated by listening to negative music) and short-term changes in cognitive beliefs (as measured by the RFL) are suggested by research showing that reasons for living are impacted by positive and negative mood induction techniques (Ellis & Range, 1989, 1992; Turzo & Range, 1991). Conceivably, chronic exposure to negative music could lead to durable, maladaptive changes in susceptible individuals' reasons for living. It is not clear, however, what would make some individuals more susceptible than others to music themes and lyrics, nor is it clear that the music being listened to by all members of the "angrier" group (which included fans of all styles but country) is negative or experienced "chronically."
Given these observations, it seems more plausible that those angrier after listening to preferred music were individuals with some combination of personal characteristics and/or life situations that have resulted in a general proneness to feeling angry, and that these characteristics and situations are tied to reduced reasons for living. However, the pattern does represent a possible avenue for negative effects from listening to heavy metal and other music, and the retrospective, self-report ratings of mood employed in the present study were limited attempts at investigating it. Future research in this area, preferably of experimental design, is warranted.

The negative effects of Emo culture
By Mark Hammerschmidt

“Sure, Pat Benatar sang that love is a battlefield. But that's nothing compared to Senses Fail singing about dreams of slicing a loved one's throat or Taking Back Sunday singing about a guy whose object of affection holds a gun to his head, ready to pull the trigger at any time. And emo is full of this type of imagery. Using horrific acts of domestic violence to describe their thoughts on love.”

These articles and many more are easy to find if you google them. There are many on all sorts of Media.

The point I am making is that it is not ok to say: “Rap Music is bad” or “Rap Music is the problem”. It isn't. The music it's self, the concept of rap is not bad. What is bad is when big production companies use this bad boy image to popularize rap music as a shock value.

It is not limited to only rap, Emo when it originated, was not a bad form of music, it was just very emotional heavy metal. Metal as well was at one time just a "rebellion against the man."

Freedom of speech is going to guarantee every idea one can image, can be spoken, versed, screamed and/or printed. However it does not have to be acknowledged. What we need to do is put quality control on what we individually listen to.

The Rap you are speaking of is not the same as I am speaking of. Next time, if you would like to disagree please at least refer to the sources I am giving if not doing more research yourself.

I am frustrated to the laziness of critics who decide to shoot down a style rather then acknowledge the good work of those upholding the correct morals and properly representing the music they perform.

I am not the only one. For a good read check out:

Beats Rhymes & Life - What we love and hate about Hip Hop by Keni Jasper, Ytasha Womack and Michael Eric Dyson.

This is a compilation of opinions by artist such as Nelly, Ludacris, and Ice-T about how they view the direction of Hip Hop (the umbrella genre which includes Rap and R&B) and discusses with many of the same worries the effects of what has become of their initial message.

As for your article on young women, consider this article:

Media's Effect On Girls: Body Image And Gender Identity

Did you know?

Gender identity begins in toddlerhood (identifying self as a girl or boy) with gender roles being assigned to tasks early in the preschool years (Durkin, 1998).

A child's body image develops as the result of many influences:

A newborn begins immediately to explore what her body feels like and can do. This process continues her whole life.
A child's body image is influenced by how people around her react to her body and how she looks.
A pre-adolescent becomes increasingly aware of what society's standards are for the "ideal body."
Media's Effect on Body Image
The popular media (television, movies, magazines, etc.) have, since World War II, increasingly held up a thinner and thinner body (and now ever more physically fit) image as the ideal for women. The ideal man is also presented as trim, but muscular.

In a survey of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% have tried to lose weight, according to an ongoing study funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (USA Today, 1996).
A 1996 study found that the amount of time an adolescent watches soaps, movies and music videos is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin (Tiggemann & Pickering, 1996).
One author reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen (Brumberg, 1997).
In a study among undergraduates media consumption was positively associated with a strive for thinness among men and body dissatisfaction among women (Harrison & Cantor, 1997).
Teen-age girls who viewed commercials depicting women who modeled the unrealistically thin-ideal type of beauty caused adolescent girls to feel less confident, more angry and more dissatisfied with their weight and appearance (Hargreaves, 2002).
In a study on fifth graders, 10 year old girls and boys told researchers they were dissatisfied with their own bodies after watching a music video by Britney Spears or a clip from the TV show "Friends" (Mundell, 2002).
In another recent study on media's impact on adolescent body dissatisfaction, two researchers found that:
Teens who watched soaps and TV shows that emphasized the ideal body typed reported higher sense of body dissatisfaction. This was also true for girls who watched music videos.
Reading magazines for teen girls or women also correlated with body dissatisfaction for girls.
Identification with television stars (for girls and boys), and models (girls) or athletes (boys), positively correlated with body dissatisfaction (Hofschire & Greenberg, 2002).
Media's Effect on Gender Identity
Many children watch between two and four hours of television per day. The presence or absence of role models, how women and men, girls and boys are presented, and what activities they participate in on the screen powerfully affect how girls and boys view their role in the world. Studies looking at cartoons, regular television, and commercials show that although many changes have occurred and girls, in particular have a wider range of role models, for girls "how they look" is more important than "what they do."

In a 1997 study designed to study how children described the roles of cartoon characters, children (ages four to nine) "perceived most cartoon characters in stereotypical ways: boys were violent and active and girls were domestic, interested in boys, and concerned with appearances" (Thompson, 1997).
In another study, three weeks of Saturday morning toy commercials were analyzed. Results found that:
50% of the commercials aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness, while none of the commercials aimed at boys referenced appearance.
Boys acted aggressively in 50% of the commercials aimed at them, while none of the girls behaved aggressively.
With regard to work roles, no boys had unpaid labor roles, and girls were mainly shown in traditional female jobs or roles of unpaid labor (Sobieraj, 1996).
Dr. Nancy Signorielli, Professor of Communications at the University of Delaware examined the types of media most often viewed by adolescent girls: television, commercials, films, music videos, magazines and advertisements. While the study did find positive role models of women and girls using their intelligence and acting independently, the media also presented an overwhelming message that girls and women were more concerned with romance and dating (and it follows how they look), while men focus on their occupations (Signorielli, 1997).
Sources
Brumberg, J. J. (1997). The Body project: An intimate history of American girls. NY: Random House.
Durkin, K. and Nugent, B. (1998, March). Kindergarten children's gender-role expectations for television actors. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 38, 387- 403.
Hargreaves, D. (2002). Idealized Women in TV Ads Make Girls Feel Bad. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 21, 287-308.
Harrison, K. and Cantor, J. (1997). The relationship between media consumption and eating disorders. Journal of Communication, 47, 40-67.
Hofschire, L. J., and Greenberg, B. S. (2002). Media's impact on adolescents' body dissatisfaction. In J. D. Brown, J. R. Steele, and K. Walsh-Childers (Eds.) Sexual Teens, Sexual Media. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Mundell, EJ. (2002. August 26). Sitcoms, Videos Make Even Fifth-Graders Feel Fat. Reuters Health (last visited 9/16/02)
Signorielli, N. (1997, April). Reflections of girls in the media: A two-part study on gender and media. Kaiser Family foundation and Children NOW. (last visited 9/6/02)
Sobieraj, S. (1996). Beauty and the beast: toy commercials and the social construction of gender. American Sociological Association, Sociological Abstracts, 044.
Thompson, T. and Zerbinos, E. (1997). Television cartoons: Do children notice it's a boy's world? Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 37, 415-433.
Tiggemann, M., and Pickering, A. S. (1996). Role of television in adolescent women's body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 20, 199-203.
USA Today, (1996, August 12). p 01D.

The article does say Music Videos are a cause for body dissatisfaction but there is no specification as to Rap videos. However one of the accentuated factors attributing to low self-esteem in the article was, Soap Operas. Even Britney Spears who is a pop artist, which is not Rap or Hip-Hop (to clarify.)

TV shows as well are mentioned many times. As I before stated, I do not allow my niece and nephew to watch the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon features a very popular TV show called Drake and Josh about two brothers (by marriage) who are around 15 years old and are complete opposites. In the show Drake (the popular one of the two) makes-out, in full camera view, with a minimum 1 girl an episode and when he is criticized he uses excuses like "She's hot and I bought her a coke, why not?" for reason to make out with her and laughs at the idea of ever dating them or seeing them again. This show's target audience is 12-13 year olds.

So again, blaming rap alone for the problems of self-image etc. is basically silly. The argument that media is on a crash course however I support. Rap and Hip Hop is a wonderful uplifting culture. Like all of the arts it enhances quality of life.

In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Do not hate the sinner hate the sin.”

Let us find morals again in our society and stop pointing fingers at each other. There are enough outraged voices in all directions that if we were to focus on the real problem at hand (the bad artists, not the genres) we would have much more success.

Candice

Ron Franscell said...

You forgot "Jailhouse Rock."

Look, I wouldn't begin to argue that criminal behavior, misogynism and violence are absent from other musical genres. You quoted a few examples that are apt. (OK, "Love is a Battlefield" is a big stretch, but I'll give it to you for argument's sake.)

And I gotta agree with the potentially negative effects of some popular heavy metal, goth and EMO tunes. My son disagrees with both of us, but since he hasn't committed suicide, killed anybody or slept in a casket, I tolerate it.

Many of the examples you cite are far more complex situations than rap. Girls might feel a need to look pretty by watching TV ... and young black men might think rape, killing, gangster activity, drugs, misogyny, infidelity and blood-spilling are cool from listening to some of those bad lyrics. Assuming we must prioritize our crusades, which would you choose? Feeling ugly or drive-by shootings and drug deals?

I think the "search for morals in society" is exactly what I am talking about. Unfortunately, we disagree about how we maintain a society that is both moral and diverse. You say we do it by not judging; I say we cannot influence morals without speaking out against bad influences. We can remain diverse, but we cannot remain tolerant of openly criminal and/or grossly immoral messages and hope it works itself out. Tolerance has limits.

Yeah, yeah, I know that my parents thought rock 'n' roll was animalistic and immoral. I also know Snoop Dogg might be the next Elvis. I'm perfectly willing to be wrong about a lot (not all) of rap's ugliness. But right now, rap is its own worst enemy because people (like you) who want to exalt its "good" side are refusing to diss the "bad" side.

Is rap the enemy of American culture? Not at all. It's an irritation on the level of punk rock, but given our national ADD, there will be another musical fad along any minute to take its place.

Anonymous said...

There may be another fad that begins tomorrow I agree and I await to see what it brings to the mainstream. Yes it will be new, but like all the past genres, Rap won't die... it will only evolve.

I don't ignore that there is bad in the Rap world however I believe that people are too hasty to judge the entire form of music.

Production is a business. In my business I don't allow language and ideas I consider suggestive or profane. However as Charlie Gilreath says: "I have sat in major label meetings where the A&R people have stated that a record was 'not controversial enough.'"

As for a solution that you were asking for, it is obvious that the people at the top of these labels are not going to change. As for the artists... Many of them already are doing more good then many people know:

Heavy D has "Operation Unity" promoting racial harmony in American cities
Ice Cube has "Brotherhood Crusade" to aid the homeless and elderly
Queen Latifah has "Daddy's House" providing educational opportunities for underprivileged children.
The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has the Musician's Assistance Program, the Partnership for a Drug Free America and countless PSA's
As well as the Rock the Vote Campaigns that are so prominent.

The Consumer is all that remains in the equation. The Music industry (just like the film industry) has a ratting system on all inappropriate music with parental advisory as well as publications such as Family Entertainment Guide which listens and reviews the lyrics of all major releases so that parents can make informed decisions on the music they listen to. And these ratings are also advertised to ensure parents understand that they are in place and what they stand for. More over, record stores are not permitted to sell these records to those under the age of 17.

Again like Charlie Gilreath said in his testimony given before the US Senate Commerce Committee “Music is a unique form of entertainment we discover on our own, unlike film or television, which we start watching with our parents. This family aspect of T.V. and film gives parents some understanding and control over the child’s T.V. and film diet. However with music it is common for parents to react to their childrens’ music by saying such things as ‘go to your room if you want to listen to that junk’ or telling them to ‘turn down the noise.’ This sends kids and their music into a very isolated environment.”

My family raised me listening to records together after church. My dad and I danced to Soul train in our living room every weekend and my mom bought me all my concert tickets and CDs as a kid. My dad being a DJ when he was younger made music a huge part of my growing up. Every CD I owned was listened to by all of us… we all knew the words. Now with my niece and nephew it is the same thing. High School Musical, Happy Feet Soundtrack is just as listened to as the radio; if there’s a bad song we change the channel if it’s a good one we all sign along. We as a family show them the good in what is out there so that they find no need to resort to the bad.

The solution is in the masses. If the bad music isn’t being bought, they won’t make it because it won’t sell. With Internet downloads you can download individual songs if you don’t like the whole CD.

Like Hilary Rosen states in a presentation to the U.S. Senate Committee on Government affairs, “In a retail record store with 110,000 titles, less than one-half of one percent of that store’s total inventory will carry the Parental Advisory logo.” And yet it takes up 100% of our attention.