Class group for ETHN117 (Winter 2019)
Week 5 photo share
February 4, 2019 at 1:49 pm #3776
Please submit your image and brief summary to reflect on week 4’s theme: the afterlife civil rights movement: the hip hop generation. Remember to include photographer/artist name (or source) and date of the image.
February 7, 2019 at 6:53 pm #3785
For the theme: The afterlife civil rights movement, The Hip Hop generation, I found a book by Todd Boyd called “The death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop” written in August, 2004.
Todd’s perspective on hip hop being the efficient way of advancing current civil rights movement suggest a transition in getting the message out there. Todd relates hip hop culture’s message to Martin Luther King Jr’s peace speech, in which, he says hip hop’s message is better than King’s. Todd argued that things changes through time, the struggles and politics are very different now and the 1960’s perspective is not so relevant to today’s event. Todd wasn’t trying to reject Martin Luther King Jr’s message, Todd was trying to say King’s message and politics are very specific in his times. Now, things are different after the civil rights era, and only the people/generation after the era would understand people’s struggle today. Todd believes Hip hop is one of the way for the current generation to understand/spread their message about relevant events and ideals. All of which gives me the idea and another perspective towards Hip hop being the next form of civil rights movement.
February 8, 2019 at 2:52 pm #3790
For this week’s theme I chose a picture of Kanye West – because his journey in the hip hop community and evolution of his attitudes towards a wide variety of civil rights topics has varied greatly – often in correlation with the amount of distance he has from the issues he once used to speak out against. Early in the 2000s and into the 2010s, Kanye west was an icon for many as a successful rapper, who had inflammatory opinions, and sometimes used his platform to speak out against real civil rights, social, and socioeconomic issues. One famous example is how Kanye West said of George W. Bush’s weak response to Katrina, that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”. Due to it’s broadcast on national television, this quote sparked national fervor both in support of, and against Kanye West. Judging by the disproportionate state of devastation to marginalized communities and response to Katrina, Kanye’s statement hit home for many, and spoke out against a real issue. This was an example of a hip hop artist using not only his music and lyrics, but also his platform, to affect real change for marginalized communities. However, in recent times, Kanye’s shocking statements about slavery, and obvious switch to Trump’s agenda, which directly targets and hurts marginalized communities, every day, is hard to believe. As Kanye grew richer, and more famous, he also became more disconnected from the hip hop community. Although Kanye’s mental health is clearly unstable, it is also clear how fame and riches distorted a possible platform for hip hop to affect change. Other famous artists have resisted this pull to normalize and popularize their music and message, staying away from statements and content that threatens the ‘status-quo’. Hopefully in the future, more artists can continue to use their platform to speak out against problems affecting their communities, and those who are marginalized around the world.
February 8, 2019 at 7:58 pm #3796
I decided to use Jay-Z’s social activism work as my topic for this week’s photo share. In this photo, he promotes unity at the Get Out and Vote Event in Cleveland, OH. Even though his music doesn’t dive that deep into social justice, his work outside of the entertainment industry really ties together hip hop as a form of civil rights activism. While he has always been somewhat politically active throughout his rap career, recently Jay-Z has really worked hard to shed light on the injustices happening to the Black community. He’s produced multiple docu-series about the Trayvon Martin and Kalief Browder cases, called for artists to boycott performing for the NFL, donated over $1.5 million to the Black Lives Matter movement, has bailed out dozens of BLM protesters from jail, and bailed out fathers for Father’s Day. Most recently, he hired an attorney to help release 21 Savage from ICE custody. Jay-Z has been using his hip hop platform to advocate for social justice, which I think contributes to a long history of hip hop activism.
Photo Info: Taken by Justin Sullivan, Nov 2016
February 9, 2019 at 1:38 pm #3801
I picked this screenshot of the video by rap artist Jay-Z the video is based on the song “The Story of O.J” publishes July 5,2017. This is a very controversial song and video because it makes the audience uncomfortable at first because it seems that Jay-Z as a hip hop artist is contributing to the ongoing issue of racism but as the video goes on and the mind becomes open Jay-Z lays out the option on addicting this new narrative as minorities and investing for future generations instead of throwing money on strip clubs and jewelry as the stereotype minority would once holding high positions . This is an ongoing activism in hip hop because it dares the listener to get uncomfortable and make a change to these stereotypes society has tried to ingrain in our minds. With that being said of the message is grabbed and narratives change then voices start to take for to make changes.
February 9, 2019 at 2:31 pm #3803
I chose to share a photo of Vic Mensa for this week’s weekly share. Vic Mensa is a particularly interesting figure, both the perfect embodiment of a figure in the hip hop world and its greatest challenger. Vic Mensa is from Chicago, which in many ways has influenced his work both in terms of his music and activism. The environment that Vic Mensa grew up in galvanized him into activism, as with many rappers, and much of his artistry is based around political and social issues pertaining to the greater Chicago area. Hip hop and rap, genres that have historically been vehicles for political and social commentary, have been crucial to Vic Mensa’s own activism.
I say that Vic Mensa is a rather contradictory figure in rap because of his own history. While he has always been vocal about social issues, he also caught a lot of heat in the past for domestic violence issues and rapping about violence against women. While rap is lauded for being a great critique on social and political issues, many have also seen its shortcomings in terms of its misogynistic tropes. With Vic Mensa it was no different. But Vic Mensa presents a very optimistic view of what rap could be if it transformed radically in terms of its views on women, specifically because Vic Mensa took the time to transform and evolve himself. Rather than ignore his critics or act defensively against his domestic violence accusations, Vic Mensa began self-examining and asking himself why he took the violence that he felt he was a victim of in his environment and enacted it upon women in both his personal life and his artistry. He began reading black feminists’ works and has cited bell hooks for radically transforming his views on masculinity and gendered violence, and he was one of the first among very few rappers who called for greater accountability for XXXTentacion (another rapper who was guilty of being extremely violent towards women, most notably his girlfriend who he beat and threatened to kill while she was pregnant). He also has been involved in a lot of campaigns and projects to end domestic violence. In that sense, I believe that Vic Mensa was not only transformed by hip hop/rap and the activism that it inherently offers, but that he in turn is transforming it as well to be more informed of the ways that gender and gendered violence have tended to be seen in the genres.
February 9, 2019 at 3:22 pm #3807
For this week’s photo share, I have chosen the cover of hip-hop rapper Joey Bada$$’s album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. This week we have discussed how the rise of hip-hop had become a vehicle for Black folks to express their experiences and their stories living in America. A lot of hip-hop music involves narratives of oppression, police brutality, poverty, white supremacy, and the struggle for equality.
Joey Bada$$ is an example of a hip-hop artist who uses his artistry to convey the messages of the Black experience in America. In his album All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ his tracks, such as GOOD MORNING AMERIKKKA and LAND OF THE FREE, tackle issues of police brutality, white supremacy, the prison system, and poverty. He critiques Donald Trump’s eligibility as the president of the United States in his song LAND OF THE FREE. During the release of the album, Joey Bada$$ said that he wanted to be a voice for his people who don’t get to have a voice. This reflects just how hip-hop has given people a platform to tell their stories that most people of their community might not get a chance to be heard.
Photo: All-Amerikkkan Bada$$ – Joey Bada$$$ – April 7, 2017
February 9, 2019 at 3:51 pm #3809
This week in class we addressed the development of Hip Hop music and how it has progressed as time continues. The world often stigmatizes hip hop music as violent and trivial. But what many don’t understand is that many hip hop artists use their platform as a way to address social problems and bring light to inequalities that exist in the world. For this week’s photo share, I would like to present this photo of J.Cole’s album, 4 Your Eyez Only, that helps a listener gauge the social issues J.Cole wants to bring awareness to. A particular song that I’d like to focus on is called “Neighbors.” The song opens with the lines “I guess the neighbors think I’m sellin dope” and this reference is to the fact that because J.Cole and his fellow artists are Black and lived together in a predominantly white neighborhood, the neighbors suspected there was drug activity occurring. The house was later raided by SWAT because of drug suspicions, but absolutely no narcotics were to be found. This speaks to the racial inequality J.Cole and his artist friends faced simply because of their skin color. Another line, “Black in a white man territory, Cops bust in with the army guns, no evidence of the harm we done” once again references the discrimination he has faced simply because he is Black. I’d like to note that this song was produced 3 years ago, which hints to the fact that discrimination is still extremely current! As an influential artist J.Cole was able to create this song and the 4 Your Eyez Only album that helps bring awareness to inequality in present day. Unlike the stigmatized trivial version of Hip Hop many think he produces, he uses his music for awareness and is able to affect many on multiple platforms. I think J.Cole and his music are essential to understanding a way in which Hip Hop Music can be used to spur social movements and equality.
PHOTO INFO : J.Cole , 2016, 4 Your Eyez only Album
February 9, 2019 at 4:30 pm #3811
I decided to choose Chance the Rapper because he is a hip hop artist, rapper, and overall figure of social justice through means of art. What I enjoy most about Chance is his fearless discourse on all things politics, even those that conflict with his own views. Short tweets that comment on police brutality, somewhat defense of Kanye’s MAGA endorsement, and music that specifically speaks about the death of youth in Chicago due to violence (Angels ft. Saba). His unapologetic nature as a black man, one of the most disenfranchised body in the US, reminds me of our discussions in class. Chance understands that his views are controversial and can place him and his family in danger, yet, he still is a vocal advocate for black lives and youth. More so, he uses his platform to actually give back to his community. Chance constantly donates back to Chicago Public Schools and sings in charitable concerts that aid his old community.
He is an artist that I see as a contemporary Civil Rights Activist that is digested by many. Both in message and his vocality against injustices.
February 9, 2019 at 5:43 pm #3815
For this weekly share about how the hip hop generation, I want to share a picture from PopBuzz that is taken from the Vevo music video of Childish Gambino “This is America” published on May 5, 2018 directed by Hiro Murai. This picture depicts Gambino carefully handling the gun after it was used to kill a person of color. By showing this image, Gambino wants the audience to see the comparison between how guns, the power to kill, are glorified and protected even if they are used to harm another (protected by a red cloth possibly symbolizing the red states) while the person of color does not have any value as they were carelessly dragged away. The music video depicts the June 2015 Charleston church shooting and police brutality against people of color which puts into perspective that all the events against people of color keeps happening over and over again without pause due to the concurrent racism in the country. Overall, the music video demonstrates Childish Gambino’s purpose to show the audience the discrimination and brutality that people of color have to endure even in today’s society and his critique of modern day internet that distracts away from the constant racism that still happens.
February 9, 2019 at 8:51 pm #3822
For this week, I decided to focus on self proclaimed boy band Brockhampton. Although their music isn’t strictly one genre, a lot of their music is hip-hop. Rather than identifying as a rap collective, despite their discography being comprised of rap/ hip hop, they identify as a boyband as a way to challenge the idea of what it is that boybands look like or typically sound like. The “frontman” Ian Simpson or “Kevin Abstract” raps about his identity as a black gay man. He often criticizes the ostracism he deals with from the music industry and fans because they are uncomfortable with the fact that he raps about being gay. Him and others in the band touch on many different social issues, such as police brutality, toxic masculinity, racism, and classism. They use hip hop as a way to talk about important issues and even critique homophobia in hip hop culture. Just as hip hop has historically been used as a means of criticizing hegemonic institutions of racism, Brockhampton uses their platform to do the same. The picture I chose is from reddit and is from one of their merch campaigns (not all members are pictured).
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February 10, 2019 at 12:31 am #3831
Source: Image from Joyner Lucas’ “I’m Not Racist” video
For this week’s photo share, I wanted to share an image that’s taken from Joyner Lucas’ music video I’m Not Racist. This video had many different topics that each subject talked about but the overall message was that there are two sides to every story but we won’t know until we ask. There was one line that really spoke to me and that is, “And even if I wasn’t picking cotton physically, that don’t mean I’m not affected by the history.” With Black Lives Matter and other social movements fighting against violence and systematic racism, these African-American activists are being affected by how they are being seen and treated. Thus, this line from Joyner Lucas’ rap is expressing that even to this day, black people are being reminded of their history. Saying the ‘N’ word or doing a hate crime against African-Americans reminds them of what their parents, grandparents, etc., had to go through when slavery was a thing, or back in the civil rights era. Even if white Americans act a certain way towards African Americans or make jokes about their culture, it is important to take into consideration that it might have a double meaning to it. As the song explained, saying the ‘N’ word is the way African-Americans greet people but when a white person says it, even as a joke, they know there is a double meaning behind it, which is power or to keep black people under. Overall, I thought this was an important piece to share because there is importance with knowing 2 sides of a story.
February 10, 2019 at 1:36 am #3833
For this week’s topic on the Hip Hop generation, I wanted to share J. Cole’s song titled “Change” which was released in 2016 in his album, “4 Your Eyez Only.” I chose to focus on this song specifically because his choice of lyrics and the way the music video portrayed his message was in an interesting way. First off, the image I included was the cover for the official music video which hinders a sense of sorrow and distress from how J. Cole slouches as he looks up at the American flag hoping for the change that his community needs. I think that the way he built up his lyrics from his optimism for a “better day” to where the main issue was, gave way for the audience to think about the realities of police brutality. J. Cole started the song to be light and in relation to his practice of religion focusing on the sense of forgiveness, but as it progresses, you can see that it evolves as much as he has evolved in reality. The shift of the song then moves towards the bloodshed and the terrifying experiences of African American people. He mentions in the beginning that he was once silent and lives through life as he does, but after a couple of verses, the change in lyrics was meant to portray his maturity on being able to use his music as a way to speak up about the truth. As he reminisces back upon all the cases of African American people dying in the hands of violence, I think it was powerful for J. Cole to end with the last 2 verses disclosing his close friend, James McMillan Jr., who became another victim of this injustice. J. Cole not only personalized this song to it’s fullest, but he imposes a clear message that CHANGE within our actions and CHANGE in our perspectives must happen because the violence and crime within African American communities can not continue.
February 10, 2019 at 2:21 am #3835
Hip Hop was started in early 1900s yet it has been a significant method for the artists to express their beliefs and identities to the citizens. Hip Hop showed some different aspects of many African Americans while it also supported themselves through music. Although long time of History changed music trend of Hip Hop, its essential character of ‘a unique field of expression’ has not changed. Even though the seriousness of Civil Rights movement died down compare to mid 1900s, the current society still has some racial issues, including the officers from justice. About this social, racial issue, some Hip Hop artists shared their opinions and thoughts about it then sang it.
A Hip Hop artist Dave East recently made an album called “Don’t Shoot”. The song mainly aims for the officers who unreasonably aims their weapons toward innocent African American, old, young ones and male, female. In the song, he describes that prison is the slave ship. He realized that some of the innocent Africans was arrested and locked in the prison. Dave East started to write songs about African American Hip Hop because he witnessed how African Americans were violently hurt and accused by the police officers. So East started to make songs by using benefit of Hip Hop: spreading the song around and eventually the awareness can reach a global warning.
February 10, 2019 at 2:54 am #3837
The picture I chose was actually a screenshot from Kendrick Lamar’s music video of his single called “Alright.” It is from his album “To Pimp a Butterfly.” It was released on June 30th, 2015. The reason I chose this is because I really enjoyed the music video’s message. It was very impactful but very sad seeing that it is true. The basis of the song is for him to tell the black community that they are going to be alright. “Alright” against the police brutality towards unarmed black people. His song spreads the hope that some black community members really need to hear. The lyrics of the song do not exactly say directly what the song is aiming for, but when you watch the almost seven minute music video, you can clearly see what the message is. It is a very memorable and intense video. To summarize in a nutshell, the beginning is Kendrick dancing and singing with others and slowly throughout the video the police are shown. Towards the end, kendrick is on top of a lamp post rapping when he shot down and as he is falling he keeps singing, then it cuts to black. Then it shows his so-to-be lifeless body…but then he smiles. Kendrick is a popular figure and he is able to peacefully protest through what he does a s a living. And his message is able to be heard loud and clear throughout the world.
February 10, 2019 at 4:10 am #3846
in Jeff chang’s it’s a hip hop world, he states that “Critics often call hip-hop materialistic, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, vulgar, and violent.” This quote made me think about the movie industry and how its glorification of gangsters. then how the Return to Mecca article talked about Spike Lee’s movie, Malcolm X, and how in the movie he misrepresents a large portion of Malcolm’s life and “in doing so, catered to Hollywood’s expectations about Blackness by spending a great deal of time on Malcolm as a hustler and “criminal.” But I don’t see any cause for this to be the expectation for blackness because Hollywood has been creating gangsters since early films. these films usually do well financially and win awards. obviously, there is racism at work here but how come it is such an issue when it is black people but when it is white people it is not criticized to the same degree?
I chose this particular picture because there is no face or person behind the clothes. what if the main character was a person of color as opposed to a white person or white-passing person?
February 10, 2019 at 7:03 am #3849
For this week, I chose a photo of the Notorious B.I.G.’s album “Ready to Die” that was released in 1994. The Notorious B.I.G. is considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, and his album made him a central figure in East Coast hip hop. He was known for his skills as a storyteller and innovative lyricist. In “Ready to Die,” the Notorious B.I.G. was very autobiographical, describing his criminal past, drug-dealing, and experiences with violence, poverty, wealth, and women.
I thought the Notorious B.I.G.’s album clearly represented one of the ideas from the readings this week by Jeff Chang about the two types of hip hop: one oriented towards social justice, and the other focused on popular culture and commodity capitalism. “Ready to Die” embodied both types of hip hop as the Notorious B.I.G. reflected about his involvement in “the streets” and the lavishes he indulged in going from rags to riches.
The Notorious B.I.G. became an important figure in hip hop because he was a very relatable character to other blacks. In “Ready to Die,” we see the cruel reality of what it was like to grow up as an African American. Violence, drug-dealing, crime, and death were and still are unavoidable forces in black communities. In the album, the Notorious B.I.G. also introspected about depression and fears of dying early. We see through the Notorious B.I.G.’s music the physical and mental strains put on blacks in American society.
Source of photo: Amazon
February 10, 2019 at 10:53 am #3853
Date: March 27, 2015
Photographer: Orange County Register
To focus on this week’s theme of The Afterlife Civil Rights Movement: The Hip Hop Generation, I decided to share a mugshot of rapper Immortal Technique and focus on his song Dance With the Devil. As we had discussed in class, a major proponent of listeners view hip hop as braggadocios and degrading to both women and society. While this is true of some songs, what listens do not realize is the immense depth and translation that goes beyond the crude lyrics to elucidate the dark realities of life in poverty stricken areas. Specifically, Immortal Techniques’ song Dance With the Devil is the most shocking song I have ever heard. It tells a dark story of a boy who grew up wanting to be a gang member, and in the end, raped his mother thinking that she was someone else [as there was a bag over her head]. A main lyric in the hook of the song is as follows:
“There is no diversity because we’re burning in the melting pot”
The reason why this line is so significant is because it plays on both religion and ethnicity. The line is translating to the notion of race being irrelevant because individuals are all suffering from the same conditions, regardless of their ethnic or financial backgrounds.
So not only does Immortal Technique completely take an alternative approach from most rappers in essentially exercising blind racism, but he does so in order to show the consequences of a life of crime. The irony I found after trying to warn listeners about this life is that he ended up getting arrested in the mugshot after robbing and assaulting two men.
February 10, 2019 at 11:31 am #3861
Mos Def Debut Studio Album – Black on Both Sides (Released 1999)
Yasiin Bey, born Dante Terrell Smith and better known as Mos Def, is one of the greatest All-Time Rappers and MC’s in my opinion. His debut studio album – Black on Both Sides (1999) – is widely considered to be one of the best albums of all time. In his album, he merges old school with new school poetics to shed light on Afrocentric realities in America, specifically his hometown Brooklyn, New York. Many of the tracks on his album (ex. Mathematics) focus on blackness, discrimination, and marginalization from social, economic, and political standpoints. After his debut album went Gold, Mos Def gained popularity and began to involve himself in a number of social justice projects such as Hip Hop for Respect, a project that spoke out against police brutality. I consider Mos Def a pioneer of new school Political Hip Hop because he constantly uses it as a platform for speaking out against racism and sharing his left wing political views.
February 10, 2019 at 11:32 am #3862
For this weeks photo share on the topic of the afterlife civil rights movement: The hip hop generation I decided to use a photo of rap artist Kevin Gates. Kevin gates converted to Islam with his wife and has incorporated Islam in his music today. In his song The Prayer, he prays in arabic and talks about how Allah (god) has saved him and how prayers help him. He mentioned how he was sentenced to 25 to life in prison and how Islam and his beliefs helped him overcome that obstacle. He continues to speak about his life throughout hip hop and continues to communicate with individuals who listen to his music and are going through similar things he went through.
Photo Source: Kevin Gates instagram (@iamkevingates)
Date: February 8, 2018
February 10, 2019 at 11:42 am #3864
Since we talked about Hip-Hop this week, which can be a very male dominated field, I wanted to highlight Tierra Whack. Tierra Whack is insanely creative and there is honestly no one in the industry doing what she does. Whack World, her most recent album is composed of 15 songs, 1 minute each, and she made a 15 minute music video for each one of her songs, each one so unique and creative. Not only is her artistry so creative but her lyrics can have so many meanings. In her song Bugs Life, she says “Probably would of blew overnight if I was white.” Tierra Whack is a black women trying to make it in a white male dominated space and she is honestly making her mark in the industry, along with many other great female rappers.
Whack World Album Cover, 2018
February 10, 2019 at 12:23 pm #3872
For this weeks photo share, I want to share a picture of my favorite artist Beyonce! Before we talked about this weeks topic, I looked up to her because she was someone who embraced women empowerment. I listen to her when I feel sad or need encouragement to remind me of that I am beautiful, strong and independent. I’ve been to two of her concerts and every time I go, I get chills and amazed by her incredible voice. This connects to what we talked about in class how hip hop and rap is a form of therapy/remedy which has definitely been for me. Connecting to the article, it explained how many artists grew up with nothing and living in low-income environments, and creating/writing music was a form of therapy. They wrote about their experiences and how they wanted to get out of that lifestyle.
But as we talked about the hip hop generation and connecting it to the afterlife civil rights movement, I have been more aware that Beyonce has been more involved in this movement with her music and performances. Her album such as Lemonade and performance at the Super Bowl, shown activism and awareness towards civil rights movements. I did not notice before taking this class that through her performance at the Super Bowl that she created an X representing Malcolm X with her dancers and the outfits resembling the Black Panthers. When I rewatched and analyzed her performance along with Cold Play and Bruno Mars, I noticed that it was a colorful and “loving” performance. Also, Beyonce and Bruno Mars were battling against each other and coming together at the end and singing to one of Cold Plays song which could represent unity and bringing positivity.
March 22, 2018, by Sarah Waslak
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February 10, 2019 at 1:20 pm #3877
I was interested in researching into was an alternative Hip Hop collective group called “A Tribe Called Quest”. I used a photo for the group’s studio album, “We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service,” which holds one song that I will be analyzing. Their song “We the People” intrigued me because the term is in reference to the founding fathers’ Declaration of Independence. On closer inspection, the song is actually a parodical response to Donald Trump’s racist propositions on building a wall between America and Mexico. The group’s song includes a line that sounds very much like a protest against people who are Muslim, Black, Mexican, gay, and poor but plays a role in depicting these people as “bad folks”. A Tribe Called Quest calls out on these irrational, intolerable, and racist propositions by using the same democratic language such as “We the People” and everyday racist remarks such as “Muslims and gays, Boy we hate your ways,” to bring attention to the hypocrisy in America’s undemocratic actions and following consequences. The group’s song is an example of how Hip Hop continues the legacy of the Civil Rights movement by shedding light on the injustices in the system, especially against racism.
Date posted: November 14, 2016 by Jayson Greene
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February 10, 2019 at 1:46 pm #3882
The photo I chose for this week is from the cover of Village Voice in October 1989. I found this photo on an article titled “When Christian America and the Copes Went Insane Over N.W.A, Rap, and Metal” by Village Voice Staff.
I found this cover photo interesting because of the emotions it brought up for me when initially seeing the photo. I personally do not listen to music on an analytical level, but I do remember listening to N.W.A as a kid growing up in southeast San Diego with my older sibling/cousins. Before, I listened to rap/hip-hop simply for amusement, but by viewing and listening to music through an ethnic studies lens, it is interesting to to see the ways in which hip-hop culture intersects and influences various aspects of life. The photo shows a huge stamp across the group members stating “THE FBI HATES THIS BAND.” I relate this to the ways in which hip-hop not only produces music that a wide population enjoys, but it also confronts and refutes dominant ideologies within society. N.W.A songs that have stuck with me are the ones about having a sense of pride in one’s origins (i.e. Compton) and fighting the system and oppressive powers (i.e. the police). These songs then shed light on the ways in which power structures in American society–for example, religion and politics–then enforces the same dominant ideals that contradict the messages N.W.A put out in order to morph hip-hop culture into this evil entity that is the antithesis of the “good” dominant hegemonies of society. I also found it interesting connecting Adichie’s single story narrative to the civil rights movement in hip-hop and the oppressive powers that refute the movement. I believe both sides create single stories about each other and fail to see the good/grey area. This is then revealing in the positions that both sides are in. For instance, N.W.A’s positions shows the extreme oppression African Americans endured in Compton (which is why they only know of bad cops). And on the other hand, the projection of the single narrative on hip-hop culture and N.W.A shows how power structures allow for these narratives to be constructed in order to protect dominant ideologies.
February 10, 2019 at 1:54 pm #3884
For this week’s photos share, I wanted to highlight one of the topics we discussed in lecture on Friday, which was the use of the N word. In class, we raised the question of who is allowed to use this term and something that came up in this discussion was why do people of color continuously use this word. The reason being is that people of color utilize this term to strip it from the negative ways it was used in the past and reclaim it as there own in order to regain power. Yet even to this day, there continues to be confusion as to what is acceptable in society. Which is why it is important to understand where this word comes from and the negativity that it brings before we begin to use it.
Date: November 15, 2017
Author: Marcus Donaldson
February 10, 2019 at 2:03 pm #3886
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>For this week’s photo share, I chose to share the album cover for Logic’s “Everybody” (2017). One of the songs on this album, ‘America’, is a critique of American politics in the light of Donald Trump’s election. In class, we spoke about how hiphop, like any genre, is not a monolith. There are some sectors that are politically conscious, others that are not. I found that ‘America’ is a track that highlights difference even between artists who are willing to lean into politics. </span>
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In ‘America’, Logic says, “</span><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>George Bush doesn’t care about black people/</span>
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>2017 and Donald Trump is the sequel so/Sh*t, I’ll say what Kanye won’t.” Here, Logic references a 2005 quote from Kanye West, another rapper, who famously said that then-president George Bush didn’t care about Black people in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. Since then, much to the chagrin of many political hiphop and rap artists, Kanye West has shown his support for Donald Trump’s presidency. </span>
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Logic, a biracial, often white-passing man, often catches backlash for discussing racism in his music. Nevertheless, ‘America’ freely comments on such topics as white supremacy, police brutality, the prison-industrial complex, and the border wall in its 5-and-a-half-minute runtime.</span>
Source: Logic. Everybody, Visionary Music Group and Def Jam Recordings, 2017.
February 10, 2019 at 3:05 pm #3907
When searching “Kendrick Lamar” on Google, multiple headlines appeared highlighting how several artists with multiple nominations are refusing to perform at the Grammy Awards. Some of these artists include Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, and Drake, who are all esteemed in the hip hop world. Although none of three artists commented on their decision, most news outlets are assuming that it is due to the tumultuous relationship between the hip hop community and Grammy Awards executives. An example of prejudice within the awards community can be seen when Kendrick Lamar lost to Mackelmore for Best New Artist in 2014 even though Lamar’s album was more critically praised. Furthermore, most hip hop performances aren’t fully broadcasted during the awards show.
The three hip hop artists’ refusal to perform is relevant to our discussion about hip hop. In class, we talked about how hip hop music has certain aspects that make it unappealing to some audiences and perhaps how this can be intentional. The refusal to perform at the Grammys raises attention to how hip hop is not fully accepted into the mainstream but also to the artists’ refusal to even be associated with the mainstream.
February 8, 2019
February 10, 2019 at 3:12 pm #3909
The following image is the album artwork of Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides album. I chose this image in reference to the elements of religious and conscientious lyrical material in hip-hop. I went to a charter school which was comprised of first-generation Americans who were from the inner city and sought an alternative education. In this space, our curriculum matter was oriented toward us. We learned poetry through hip-hop legends, most notably the work of Yasiin Bey. This album explores the connections we, as a people, have to our environment (in concrete and metaphysical ways). He discussed the white appropriate of hip hop and other black art forms– in the same ways we discussed during class. The album also connects to Judaism and Islam along with traditional Christianity. All around– he would be proud of our class discussions regarding the product knowledge embedded in the practice of hip-hop– though he was making these claims almost 20 years ago.
February 10, 2019 at 3:30 pm #3913
For this week’s photo share, I decided to share the album cover of Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah. Erykah Badu goes along with our theme of hip hop and rap artists using their music as platform for social activist movement. In this album, Badu speaks on the various ideals of living in America as a woman of color, and the idea of the “American dream”. In the first song, entitled “Amerykhan Promise”, a lot fo different voices speak on the ideal of attaining the American Dream. A thundering voice throughout the entire song speaks on America being a land of broken promises, saying that this country gives us freedom in response to us giving it everything that we have, despite this being entirely false for those who live here. I believe this song is a social commentary of the state that many immigrants find themselves in when deciding to come to the United States, and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to receive a fractured version of the American dream. This album resonated with a lot of individuals who agreed with what she had to say about the world going on around her, which is still fairly relevant due to the album having only come out in 2010. In an age where a lot of Black artists are more cautious to take a stand in our current political and social climate, it is artists like Erykah Badu who stay true to the roots of hip hop, R&B and soul.
Referance: “New Amerykah” Erykah Badu, 2010; (listened to on Spotify music)
February 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm #3922
For Week 5 I have chosen to submit an image of UK Grime artist Stormzy. From south London, Stormzy is one of the most prominent grime artists in the UK, but in addition to his genius lyrics he is also well known for his political activism and work to support black youth, especially in terms of achieving in Higher Education. He notably used his performance at the BRIT Awards to call out Theresa May’s government’s response to the Grenfell Tower fire in which 72 people died. This called into question how much the government cared about the housing of low income and working-class families, and many of those who died were people of colour, whereas the surrounding borough of Kensington and Chelsea is highly affluent and majority white. Stormzy has also created a publishing award for young writers called #Merky Books, in association with Penguin Random House, and he has also created a scholarship at the University of Cambridge which covers tuition and provides a maintenance grant.
Photographer: Gareth Cattermole, 21/2/18
February 10, 2019 at 4:17 pm #3928
I chose this photo accompanied by this quote for several reasons. I initially saw the quote and I believe that it is a very true statement. Hip hop is and was a very strong political force and should be used wisely. In class, we talked about how there are different types of hip hop artists and how some seem to portray the wrong message. Messages of misogyny and drug use, gang violence and murder. However, there are artists who solely try to spread their political messages and open the eyes of the youth. Assata Shakur was a female black panther and part of the Black Liberation Army. She was arrested for the murder of a state patrolman and after her escape to this day, she resides in Cuba. She was part of one of the most radical black power groups ever and yet now she talks about using the weapon of hip hop wisely.
February 10, 2019 at 4:20 pm #3931
The picture I chose was a snapshot of the Youtube music video that accompanies the song “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done.)” The “Hamilton Mixtape” was produced in 2016, a compilation of songs from the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton” but re mixed with a 21st century take. “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” is a song that features hard hitting lyrics on the diverse experience of being immigrants in America and how we have not achieved full freedom as a society because of our treatment of them.
The concept behind the song was said by Lin Manuel Miranda to be the opposition to the hateful year that consumed American regarding immigration.
“This election cycle has brought xenophobia and vilification of immigrants back to the forefront of US politics. This is a musical counterweight.
On the lineup we have K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC and Residente: Each MC culturally represents from a different place on the map. These are my favorite MCs from all over the world. They can speak to this theme from their brilliant perspectives.” (Taken from Genius lyrics, verified)
The entire song is a critique on society as a whole on how immigrants are treated–how the world has villainized and reduced them to a single story. Each MC takes a verse pointendly and powerfully perspective on coming to a place that rejects their presence. The music video, or rather mini film, contains harrowing scenes of immigrants and the harsh reality they face, of being America’s “ghost writers,” of being undocumented, and of being vilified. Stories like these told through rap show how this form of music has become an incredibly global platform that hasn’t yet lost its ability to shed light on issues that society needs to pay attention to.
February 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm #3933
For this week’s photo share, I really wanted to discuss a hip hop artist in the music industry whose music requires a lot of dissection and investment in order to understand the messages in their pieces. As an individual who choses one artist at a time to invest a good amount of energy into listening, understanding, and reading their work, I didn’t really have a comprehensive list of artists to chose from. One group of artists that I had the chance to listen to was the hip hop boyband Brockhampton. I took a lot of interest in this music group around a year ago, because both the sound and the messages of the group were appealing and required me to actively listen in order to understand what messages the artists were trying to convey. The boyband relates to this theme of the week in that their works contain information that challenges bodies of information that are fed to our societies. Brockhampton discusses in their music topics that are not being addressed in our societies, such as toxic masculinity, racism, and rape culture. Brockhampton like many other musicians/music groups in the genre of hip hop are continuously addressing issues in society that need to be discussed.
Photo Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/3ac96b4c-4f42-48c8-b793-84dbf54d7ac6
Date of photo unknown
February 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm #3935
<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>This week I have chosen to talk about Kanye West in the modern Hip Hop atmosphere. I momentarily hesitated when writing this, because of the grand intensity that is Kanye and whether or not I had the credentials to even begin this conversation. But he’s so intriguing to me I thought I would give it a shot. I think the biggest controversy with Kanye now is his association with Trump and usage of the MAGA hat. It seems out of place, ironic, and overall nonsensical that an African American man with such a prominent image and accessible platform would ever support an image related to racism and white power. To be honest, I don’t know why he does it, and I think that’s why it’s so controversial. Some have argued that it’s because without the hat he and his wife would have never gotten to have the conversations they had about incarceration and other race issues with the people that they did. All the while, others argue that it’s not his place as an artist to make those kinds of sacrifices, no matter what the benefit, because that’s not “his lane.” Even further, others argue that it’s all for publicity or he’s having a mental breakdown. Regardless of his actual intentions with the MAGA hat and the meetings with Trump, I think the most important thing is that it has become so controversial. All throughout class last week one of the biggest themes I observed was the hyper-critical eye audiences have on the artists. If they sing about money, drugs, and parties they’re not utilizing their platform to the fullest extent, but if they do use their platform they get criticized for being too “universal.” Ultimately, Hip Hops artists through the generations have employed their platforms in varying ways to make statements and call issues to the public attention.</span>
February 10, 2019 at 4:44 pm #3940
For this week, I chose to select a picture of my J. Cole’s album, 4 Your Eyez Only. In the album, J. Cole comments on several issues of society that continuously holds down the Black community. Racial inequality, the prison industrial complex, the war on drugs, and selling drugs in order to provide for family due to no financial opportunities, are discussed frequently throughout the album. J. Cole writes about how dangerous the lifestyle is, and how although he knew it would one day lead to his death, his friend James continued down this path for many reasons.
As my favorite hip-hop artist, the evolution and progression in his music is crystal clear, and J. Cole’s music takes a much different direction than his previous album. Having gained much more popularity, he uses this album and his rising fame as social commentary on our current society because he wants to bring about change, and not rap about otherwise unnecessary topics. In relation to our week in class, J. Cole realizes his platform, hip hop, like many others in the past, is one in which he may help his community to change and grow, and crafts a beautiful composition telling a story throughout the album.
February 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm #3946
This week’s theme has to do with the hiphop generation. I first want to point out how some people believe that hiphop is aggressive towards authority just to be disrespectful, but that is not the situation. Hiphop is used towards shedding light to injustices that people of color have gone through or are going through. For example there is the song that says “fuck the police” which many people find rebellion towards the authority, but it actually talks about the police brutally situation. The image I picked is a quote from a book titled The New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop, Boyd by Todd Boyd. The quote brings to attention how hiphop is not used as a form of violence, but a form to create awareness about situations that are violating people’s rights. Hiphop serves as a voice to those people whose rights have been violated and silence if like nothing had happen. This quotes connects to this week’s topic because it brings to attention how hiphop isnt violent towards the athuority, but how hiphop serves as people’s voice to speak about injustices and discrimination that has happen and continues to happen.
Date: March 1, 2003
Source: Hiphop: Today’s civil rights movement ?
February 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm #3948
Attached is an image of Kevin Gates. This image of Gates most closely reminds me of the discussion of Islam and rap in class. It was interesting that someone posed the question “what mainstream rappers are of Islamic faith?” As a response, I briefly mentioned that Gates and others were practicing muslims. It is interesting that in the 90’s there were lots of rappers that were vocal about their religious beliefs and that even currently there are many. Rap and Islam have intertwined histories and are both embedded within each other. This discussion also reminds me of the Sohail Daulatzai, Return of the Meccca reading where the author discusses the relationship between religion and the genre of music. I look forward on expanding on this in my final playlist project.
February 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm #3951
This week I wanted to focus on the growing underground movement of Black women rappers. As we discussed in class, some rap has been historically laden with often violently misogynistic sentiment, specifically against Black women. This in turn has made rap nearly exclusive to men and therefor very difficult for women to find platforms or even support for their rap careers. While there have been remarkable women in rap before such as Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot, Eve, and Nicki Minaj; they still made a very small minority in the industry and were subject to significant misogynoir throughout their careers. However, now we are seeing an increasing amount of diverse and multifaceted Black women rappers rising through the ranks and often establishing their own platforms. Name like Cardi B, City Girls, Young MA, Noname, CupcakKe, Bbymutha, Rico Nasty, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Maliibu Miitch, and so many more are making their own success in an industry that actively works against them. The best part is, is that all of these women are multifaceted and are expressing themselves in their own unique way and subverting the stereotypes waged against them. I wanted to call attention to CupcakKe, Elizabeth Harris, a clever X-rated rapper who promotes sex and body positivity and is often judged for her racy lyrics and music videos. There is a youtube video from the React youtube series and it is “Elders react to CupcakKe” where many of the elder participants say her sexual songs are “disgusting” and felt that Harris should focus on promoting her songs with social messages. However, that is the beauty of these multifaceted rappers who are breaking barriers and not catering to the limited expectations of them such as focusing their music on addressing racism and sexism and solely performing their traumas instead of focusing on what truly inspires and empowers them.
The image I chose is of CupcakKes’s 2018 album, Ephorize, whcih gained critical praise. The cover art was shot by Chicago photographer, Shaun Michael, in 2017
This is the video I referenced: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tarFJQHCKH4
I also really enjoyed this article by Briana Younger from the New Yorker which articulates this movement much more beautifully:
- This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by Mariela Flores.
February 10, 2019 at 4:59 pm #3955
Rather that attaching an image, these week I have attached a link to a video of Cardi B talking about the government shutdown. In case you are unaware, she is a rapper who has been in the limelight for a couple years now. Lately, she has been using her platform and social media to talk about politics. A lot of people have a problem with her giving her opinion because they think that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. They think that because she’s a rapper, she can’t be political. To me, this stems from people’s disbelief in the layers of hip-hop and how black culture can have many layers. It also reminds me and is similar to the way people reacted when Martin Luther Jr. spoke out against the Vietnam War. A lot of people criticized him because they thought the Vietnam War didn’t afffect him and therefore he didn’t need to speak out about it. The same can be said in the situation with Cardi B.
February 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm #3959
I chose the album cover, Stankonia by Outkast because it seems to have a political message but the songs it consists of are not overtly political. I think this album, as an art piece, reflects Black musicians complex relationship with race, America, music, identity and hip hop. The album cover which shows Big Boi and Andre 3000 in color over the background of a black and white American flag. I believe the cover symbolizes that these two Black men are trying to live their lives creating art while living in a very racially separated society. Their reality and experience is shaped by their racist environment. Despite living in a racist environment, they continue to live and innovate and have fun. Stankonia was released October, 31, 2000 and was the first album of its kind in a lot of ways. Outkast was considered weird hip hop at that time, innovators but weird, not yet legends. Sacha Jenkins in 2017, had an interview with Big Boi and Dre and asked them about their feelings about Outkast’s growing white audience and fan base. Big Boi says, “Our whole thing is, as long as we’re making music that is true to ourselves, we want as many people to hear it as possible.” This is an honest and generous perspective on white audiences as potential allys listening to Black music.
- This reply was modified 1 week, 5 days ago by JACQUELINE MEJIA.
February 10, 2019 at 7:50 pm #3969
For this week, I chose to focus on BROCKHAMPTON, a self-proclaimed hip-hop/rap-centric boy band from San Marcos, TX. What makes BROCKHAMPTON stand out to me is that this boyband was unlike what society considers a boyband. The group consists of rappers, singers, producers, videographers, designers, and all parts needed to create a brand. Moreover, most of these members were young men of color with different backgrounds. Most notable is “leader” and “frontman” Kevin Abstract (born Ian Simpson) who is an openly gay black man. He openly raps about being a gay black man from a conservative family now entering the world of hip-hop and fame. The image I chose is a still from the band’s music video ‘JUNKY’ with two lines from Kevin Abstract’s verse overlaid. I chose this particular image because it highlights how hip-hop criticizes hegemonic narratives not only in the dominant culture of society but also in the dominant culture within hip-hop itself. Kevin’s verse focuses primarily on homophobia and how the people around him question why he’s so open with his homosexuality. Other members have verses focusing on drugs, class, race, education, mental health, and misogyny. These are subjects that mainstream pop music doesn’t usually address let alone as explicitly. However, these are subjects that even hip-hop musicians don’t address, especially considering recent diss tracks from 2017 such as Eminem’s toward Tyler, the Creator in which Eminem, once again, uses the term “f-ggot”.
The music video for ‘JUNKY’ was released on August 15, 2017 and is linked below.
JUNKY – BROCKHAMPTON https://youtu.be/4AR7SenR2Hc
February 10, 2019 at 9:26 pm #3971
For this week’s photo share, I decided to center my discussion around Digable Planets, a 90s hip hop trio from Brooklyn, New York. Digable Planets’ music is, overarchingly, infused with a leftist and radical spirit. They have rapped about Marxism, reproductive rights, war, and the AIDS epidemic, among other things. The photo attached is the cover of their ’93 album “Reachin'”; I chose this album specifically because it includes the song “La Femme Fetal”. La Femme Fetal speaks to the necessity of abortion rights and bodily autonomy. I appreciated their criticisms of pro-life stances, because, as far as I am aware of, this specific issue is not exactly a popular one in the hip hop world. I was both surprised and happy to hear Digable Planets advocating for pro-choice abortion rights, especially because this message is coming from a group composed of two men and one woman. This is one specific example that refutes the myth that rap and hip hop are fundamentally sexist and misogynistic– characterizing these genres in that way works to erase the activist qualities of music such as Digable Planets’.
Digable Planets’ album “Reachin'” published: February 9, 1993 by Pendulum/Elektra Records
February 10, 2019 at 11:35 pm #3978
While not a hip hop artist, SZA represents an important part of urban music’s role in shaping perceptions of the black narrative today. This illustration questions why SZA did not win any of the five Grammy awards she was nominated for at the 60th Grammy Awards. Her album Ctrl focused on the humanity of living in her normal reality as an average person with her own universal fears and insecurities. Through her lens as a black woman, SZA may not be the most conventional face of civil rights’ place in modern music, yet her musical vulnerability and ability to foster community through her lyrics and singing have added a new and refreshing layer to the conversation. She has even collaborated with renowned rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose commentaries on the modern realities of living in our society as a black person may be much more direct and obvious. Yet, SZA’s musical choices such as her stage name, meaning “sovereign or savior” of “zig-zag, Allah” have origins in civil rights history that may be more subtle to the everyday listener. I believe that her focus on her vulnerability as an individual speaks to being unable to fix the struggles that continue to persist throughout our lives, which makes her all the more relatable as a modern voice in the legacy of civil rights in music.
Artist: Jessica Doojphibulpol
February 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm #3988
For this week’s discussion, I wanted to centre so-called gangster rap that was mentioned a few times in class. For this purpose I chose an image of MC Schoolly D – the original gangster rapper. His 1985 release “P.S.K What Does It Mean?” is widely considered the blueprint of gangster rap and this is why I have chosen this picture when it could so easily be a picture of Ice-T, Big Pun, Big L, Eazy-E, Mobb Deep etc.
The reason I wanted to consider gangster rap once again is because I feel that in most conversations, including the one we had in class, there is a degree of what I would consider snobbery when people think about this sub-genre of hip-hop (apologies if that sounds like I’m attacking anyone). There should always be room for criticism – particularly in relation to elements of homophobia and sexism that can be prevalent – but I have found that traditional criticism of gangster rap often contains aspects of classist language and assumptions within it.
When one finds themselves growing up in particularly dangerous or otherwise socially deprived areas you soon realize that traditional means of asserting status in our capitalist society (e.g. monetary success or academic achievement) are not available to you in the same way which can often lead to a sense of powerlessness that may manifest itself in various widely-reported ways. What gangster rap and other objectively aggressive forms of music can do is provide a sort of alternative or hyperbolic reality where one reclaims their power through expression – this has been explored more fully with heavy metal music and the way that it applies power to supernatural or occultist symbols as a way of reclaiming power that regular society denies listeners and performers. This has been outlined by scholars such as Ryan Moore in his book ‘Sells Like Teen Spirit’. This to say that, profane and violent lyrics and personas expressed through some rap music are not necessarily a conformity to stereotype but rather the only viable means that artists and listeners may find it in themselves to create a vision of the world where we are something other than scum.
The violent words are not about the violent acts but rather the power it gives to those who identify with it and the power it has over those who fear them.
In the words of Schoolly D – “P is for the people who can’t understand”
Source: David Corio/Getty Images
- This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by TORRIN HOYNES.
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