For someone who does a decent amount of work where sex and gender is concerned, even I still think it’s amazing that I listen to rap and dancehall music. Not that it particularly makes a difference – I’m sure there’s a politician somewhere on earth that listens to Marilyn Manson – but I did go through a period where I decided, ‘for political reasons’, to stop listening to these kinds of music. It’s misogynistic, violent, often times homophobic, and perpetuates gender stereotypes and double standards. It’s all about men with lots of money and power having sex with whoever they want, commanding and controlling women who submit themselves to sexual submissiveness, pronouncing violence to homosexuals, and for the record almost anyone else.
And then, about a year ago, I heard Hopsin for the very first time.
Yeah, he’s no Kirk Franklin. And he’s the first to say it. He’s also one of the few to say that what rap purports these days is nothing positive at all. Maybe that’s why he got in, with his white contacts and shock rap lyrics, to be the white sheep among all the black ones…well, maybe he’s an off-white sheep.
He recently came out with another Youtube single as part of his ‘Ill Mind of Hopsin’ series, calling out young men who idolize the thug life and young girls who are sexually promiscuous and enter into valueless relationships.
And as soon as I say that, I got some people upset. I knew that would’ve happened as soon as I wrote this post. But that’s sometimes the consequence of being as frank as Hopsin is.
Of course a young rapper’s lyrics in a song like this would cross that thin feminist-drawn line of slut-shaming, make pseudo-racist statements about the negatives of the African diaspora, and maybe have some choice words for marijuana smokers. And boy, does this one have all that and then some. But it’s all in the spirit of realness. Just like the spirit of freedom to live your life however you want has removed the ability for people to be critical and blunt, accidentally leaving room for a lot of social ills that today’s youth are sick with, the spirit of realness would be critical and blunt, and take the hate at the end of it all.
It’s been the lesson that I’ve said more than once I’m trying to learn…or unlearn. Speaking about marijuana is wrongfully criminalizing its users. Speaking about promiscuity is slut-shaming. Talking about the negative ideologies trapped within pop culture is censorship… While my intention in the statements I make is not to shame people…aren’t some things shameful? And that’s where I respect Hopsin. He can’t afford to have shame in saying that he thinks some things are shameful. He pities young people wasting their lives on the dream of the thug life, living just for sex and drugs and money, simply buying into one stereotype or another instead of creating an empowered life for themselves and those that they influence. And I think it’s all too valuable that he can say it as straightforward as it comes into his ‘ill mind’.
You can take a look at the video yourself and hear what the young man has to say. I’m sure a lot of you might think me crazy, and I’d love to hear how crazy or un-crazy I am in the comments. Don’t only say something about the video, but speak about whether you think the issues brought up in these songs are real ones as far as you’re concerned, and what you think are the best ways to deal with them. It’s about learning, after all…