The culture of hip hop and rap music is something that we studied earlier in the year. As a class, we read “Wait… Hip Hop Sexualities” by Thomas F. DeFrantz from MIT. DeFrantz opens his essay with his experience with a certain hip hop song that caught his attention. “Wait (The Whisper Song)” was a hit record by the Ying Yang Twins in 2005, and it was the epitome of what a lot of hip hop in modern culture is like: heavy bass, catchy beats, and sex on the dance floor type lyrics. But why has hip hop become an outlet for true sexual desires? How come no other type of music has been as related to sex as hip hop? Hip hop has been predominantly a part of African American culture since its inception (breakdancing, b-boying and b- girling) in the early 1980’s. A stereotype we have learned in class is that African Americans have been slapped with a label of being hypersexual, and a lot of hip hop artists over the years have coincidentally proved this stereotype to be true. DeFrantz writes, “African American culture has long prized a comfortable connection between spirituality, physicality, and sexuality in its performance traditions. These performances allow for: ecstatic release of energy; the call- and- response of performer and witness in service of communication; and a commitment to the well- being of the gathered community for the performance” (NSS 385). He goes on to write: “Taken together, these esthetic aspects of performance led directly to the place of sexually-charged lyrics in hip hop music” (NSS 385). DeFrantz believes that race is an issue in this subject, as African Americans’ suggestion of sex created a lot of anxiety for Whites. In my opinion, I feel that sex is made out to be a much bigger deal in White culture than in African American culture; in African American culture sex is more easily talked about, and is made a part of natural everyday life. In White culture, more often than not sex is made out to be a very strong taboo. For this reason, since hip hop is dominated by African American men and women, it is not uncommon to rap about something everyone in their culture is already thinking about. In their eyes, they think what’s the big deal? It is also no secret that sex sells.
Rappers make records about sex and women because it is what makes them the most money. Most rappers don’t care about the lyrics or message their music sends, as the only thing that matters is that it gets played on the radio, in clubs, and on iTunes. Every time someone hits play on their record, they get money, and that is all that matters. When people are drunk in a club and dancing and having a good time, surely they aren’t listening to any lyrics of a song. What they hear while bumping and grinding is a catchy beat and a couple sex terms that coincide with their situation at the time.
While browsing on YouTube for some songs to match this sexual hip hop stereotype, I found a couple of songs (newer and older) that exemplify this notion. In 2005, David Banner came out with a song called “Play”, and literally, and I mean literally the entire song is directly about sex. Whatever type of sex and style, you name it- David Banner mentions it in his song. No matter how vulgar the lyrics may be to this song, the beat just makes you want to move, and I actually find myself doing so while writing and listening to the song. David Banner raps about all the things he wants to do with the girl, and every way that he wants to please her… what a gentleman, right?
In more recent listening, a popular song in hip hop and r&b is “Or Nah”, by The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Ty Dolla $ign. Here, the lyrics are even more direct, as the beat recreates the squeaking of a bed frame while the chorus includes, “can you really take dick or nah? Can I bring another bitch or nah?” Ty Dolla $ign raps: “Girl, is you sucking me or fucking me or nah? Can I bring another bitch? Let’s have a threesome. Keep saying you’s a freak you gon’ prove it or nah?…. Say you not a side bitch, you all in or nah?… Can you do it like that on this dick or nah?” In my opinion, there are certain songs that are just solely meant to have sex to- and this one is one of them. It is very provocative, and while a couple is in the heat of a very powerful, meaningful and sensual moment, can be used to somewhat spice things up. Here’s the link:
Ultimately, it is no secret that hip hop music has come to be an outlet of sexual tensions of sorts. It has been used as a release of expression since its inception in the 1980’s. As a fan of hip hop and rap, i feel like the music I enjoy the most will continue to go in a sexual direction, as it has proven song after song after song that it sells and makes a ton of money. This being said, although it sells, is it right that rappers get to rap about sex, yet degrade women and objectify them along the way? Absolutely not. Sex is something sensual and private whether it is meaningful to both partners or not. Sometimes, as we see often times in life, money and fame wrongly get in the way of morals and values.