Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crossing The Line

According to an Article in the New York Times, a hearing occurred to evaluate what is appropriate content for rap music. The hearing focused on artists 50 Cent and Kanye West, and brought up the common question of what is expression and what is inappropriate. The author of the article, Jeff Leeds, writes, "Mr. Rush, echoing comments of others on the panel, praised freedom of expression but asked the chief executives of two music companies whether they would consider a ban on certain words considered derogatory" (Hearing Focuses on Language and Violence in Rap Music).  Both of the artists featured in the article are known to dance back and forth on the line between what is considered expression and what is inapropriately derogatory. 

In class we discussed we discussed the nature of Braggadocio music, and how this can sometimes be taken too far. This hearing displays how that this type of content can be translated into derogatory language. A narrator just trying to brag about being tough and getting women, can lead to lyrics that cross the line into inappropriateness. 

For instance, Kanye West is a major culprit of mixing sexist remarks with Braggadocio. West incorporates sexist remarks in his music, such as in New Workout Plan, where he instructs women on how to loose weight in order to get ahead in life. Lines include, "do your crunches like this give head stop breathe get up check your weave," and  "Maybe one day girl we can bone /So you can brag to all your homies now." (New Workout Plan). By suggesting that a woman have sexual relations with the narrator in order to "brag to her friends," this shows the ways in which Braggadocio can be taken too far.  

50 Cent's music encounters the problem of when acting macho is taken too far and becomes overly violent to the point of inappropriateness. The tough persona his narrator puts on is shown through lines such as the song Many Men's lyric, "Better watch how you talk, when you talk about me /'Cause I'll come and take your life away" (Many Men). The threat within these lyrics, while definitely showing power, can have further implications on the way listeners respond to violence. 

The hearing featured a representative from Universal Records who stated, “I can admit that there are some problems in hip-hop, but it is only a reflection of what is taking place in our society. Hip-hop is sick because America is sick” (Hearing Focuses on Language and Violence in Rap Music). Which leads me to the take-away message I got from this article- what came first, the chicken or the egg? Is music a reflection of our society, or does society change as a result of music? 

1 comment:

  1. I agree that some artists take the braggadocio factor way to far, especially when ordering other people around or when it is taken into the inappropriate realm. But that brings up the question of, who is to judge what is inappropriate or not? The jury? To the artists, there is nothing inappropriate about their lyrics because most of the time, it's just real life. Maybe you should watch the way you talk to 50 cent because he might take your life. Who knows.
    And to answer the question posed, I believe the music is a result of society because society and its issues did come first. What rappers rap about is generally cemented in real life, with a little exaggeration here and there. But on the other hand, their persona's created by the songs might not be a reflection of what the artists feel; we will never know. There have been many arguments about weather provocative and violent music provokes violence from its listeners, but I believe listeners should realize that it is just a song and to take the lyrics with a grain of salt.


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