Aww, Ludacris is such a cutie, playing with his daughter Karma in the park.
She’s so adorable with her afropuff. So sweet, so innocent. I wonder if Luda lets his little girl listen to his music?
“Shake, shake, shake your money maker, Like you were shaking it for some paper. Took your momma 9 months to make ya, Might as well shake what your momma gave ya.”
And that’s just a radio-friendly example.
Don’t get it twisted, I don’t mean to pick on the Ludameister as the representation of all rappers. But he’s one of my favorites. What can I say, I love wordplay and he’s a master of the art. But “Money Maker” is one of my least favorite songs by him, it’s just uninspiring and I think he knows that.
I get the impression that Ludacris’s daughter could be the impetus for him to change. With a name like Karma, I have faith in her power to do so. “Runaway Love” was another step in a better direction. But it’s a small drop in an increasingly large bucket.
Casual misogyny in hip hop goes back a long way. Perhaps even as far back as Rapper’s Delight (“hotel, motel, Holiday Inn; if your girl starts actin up then you take her friend”). Another early example I can think of is “La Di Da Di,” which was one of the very first songs I made an effort to learn all of the words to. Slick Rick was one of the first “naughty” rappers in my household; I had a cassette of The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, and it was all about me and my nine-year-old friends giggling at the most scandalous lyrics of the era. Treat Her Like a Prostitute, Indian Girl, and Lick the Balls come immediately to mind. But then there was Hey Young World — an instant classic. One of my top fifteen favorite rap songs of all time, a timeless rap song with a message anyone could get behind. And I think that imbalance of misogyny and hope set a blueprint for the next generation of rappers.
I live in Miam-uh, city of the booty bass. And I love it. I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I listen to all kinds of rap, from the most uplifting to the most degrading. I’ve got quite the Three-Six Mafia collection (36 albums and counting. No, I don’t listen to all of them). I still bump NWA on a regular basis. I listen to screwed and chopped music. I have love for Luda, Trick Daddy, Lil Wayne, and you can catch me getting crunk on my way to work sometimes — yes, I’ll rock to Lil Jon, Lil Scrappy, and TI. I’m even feeling the Rich Boy tracks that I’ve heard. So no, I don’t believe that hip hop needs to do a complete 180, but the balance needs to shift. Big time.
So hip hop, here’s what I want from you.
1. Give me a beat I can ride to and a message I can get behind. I don’t know about y’all, but I don’t notice a lot of cars down here blasting “Runaway Love,” or “Kick, Push,” or… man, I’m drawing a blank on recent, positive rap songs here. Which kind of illustrates my point. But when Shawnna’s “Getting Some” dropped, it got A LOT of airplay. “Throw Some D’s,” “Go Getta,” “Pop, Lock, and Drop It”, and “Rock Yo Hips.” That’s all I’m hearing these days. I just want to hear some songs getting heavy rotation on 106th and Park that say something AND have that hot beat at the same time. A tiny handful of positive songs every year isn’t nearly enough.
2. Rappers, pick an image and stick with it. If 95% of your album is all about bitches, hoes, and how trill you are, how much money you’re making, and how good you are in bed, don’t come at me with that one “Dear Mama” track at the end of the album. I’m not feeling that. That doesn’t demonstrate range at all. And so many rappers are talking about the SAME ish. I don’t give a damn how much money you have, or why you’re hot, or about the exclusive designer stuff that you can buy. There is so, so much more to say. I want to see rappers stop limiting themselves to money, hoes, and clothes. Wanna set yourself apart from the pack? Talk about something real that people can relate to. Struggling against poverty, or trying to stay positive in a negative world. Anything’s gotta be better than “This is Why I’m Hot.”
3. Somebody, ANYBODY — get me a good female rapper STAT. Because all of the popular female hip hop stars I’m hearing right now have the exact same things to say. And no offense; but it seems pretty obvious to me that dudes are writing some of these lyrics. Can we get at least ONE female MC who either writes her own lyrics and says something meaningful, or just recites meaningful lyrics that someone else has written? I mean, come on now. You don’t all have “42 flavors of this bootylicious bubblegum.” You can’t all make a Sprite can disappear in your mouth. It seems to me that all of these female MC’s are talking alot but not saying anything. I’m still waiting for that breath of fresh air. Glad I didn’t hold my breath for it.
4. Leave the club anthems at the club. I assumed this would have been obvious but I’ll tell you — I was shocked the first time I heard the Ying Yang Twins’ “The Whisper Song” on the radio. SHOCKED. And I’m not a particularly prudish individual. That song was crazy popular, defiantly freaky, and on the radio constantly when it came out. When did it become OK to play a song with the refrain “beat the p$%*y up” on the radio? Why not leave the most adult material where you can be assured that only adults will hear it? That was part of what pushed me away from listening to the radio, the music and the repetitive playlists. I’d like to see radio stations take their listeners into consideration and add more positivity and variety to their rotations.
Those are my four simple and humble requests. Many of you cats aren’t young anymore. Busta, Dre, Timbaland, Jay-Z… all grown-ass men. Many rappers are fathers and if you can’t see the effects of the same music, the same messages over and over again on the younger generation, you must be blind. As the leaders of the hip hop scene, it’s up to you. You can get the critics off your back by actually trying to switch your game up. It’s as easy as that. Look at your kids, and think of the messages you want them to receive. Then be brave enough to speak up and make a difference.
I’ve strayed far from beauty reviews this week, but this controversy has gotten me heated. I’ve been following this Don Imus thing closely. I read all the comments you made on my site, and the comments on many of my favorite black gossip sites. Compare those to the comments on TMZ, where readers who I assume are white — 821 comments at the time of this post — are bashing the black community for what they see as a double standard. Well, there IS a double standard at play here. I’m tired of the same. We need to make a change.
I’ll be back to the beauty reviews over the weekend, I promise! Look out for a new Ask Afrobella tomorrow, and another addition to the Lost Ones series. For now, here’s an old school jam for hip hop heads who have had enough. This is one of my favorite hip hop songs of all time. There’s not enough like this one, if you ask me.
“Black women, make sure you’re respected.” That says it all right there. What do you want from hip hop, bellas and fellas?