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Five Reasons Country Music Should Be Considered As Controversial as Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop is a contentious form of artistic expression to some, and that stamp of controversy is generally accepted by the mainstream – though some would argue that times are changing. Country has its taboos, too, but seems to avoid the major scrutiny that Rap faces on a regular basis.

That makes no sense, though. Country Music as a form of self-expression is very similar to Hip-Hop. It’s reflective of the dysfunction of everyday life, uses dialect that not everyone understands, and is popular, but still has outsiders saying, “Who buys this?” It has a perspective that not everyone can identify with, and has been seen, at times, as [gasp] “offensive.”

Therefore, Country Music should be considered just as controversial as Hip-Hop.  But it isn’t, and that begs the question, “Why not?” Here’s a list of five prevalent themes in Country Music that should have to be explained with “Parental Advisory” labels of their own!:

Alcohol: For as many Hip-Hop records as there are about marijuana use, there are just as many, if not more, Country songs aboutbeer alcohol consumption. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “more than 37,000 annual U.S. deaths are attributed to alcohol use alone.” There isn’t even a category for deaths caused by marijuana use with the CDC because no one has died just from that. Need proof of Country’s obsession with liquor? Check out Taste of Country’s list of 100 Best Drinking Songs. 100? Wow.

The Confederate Flag: Country Music and Southern Rock have been associated with the Confederate flag. Lynyrd Skynyrd has used it in their live shows for decades. And more recently, Kid Rock and Trace Adkins have come under fire for their support of it. Understandably, it is a very controversial piece of symbolism.  While some claim it is a reflection of Southern pride, there is also no denying its representation of a time and place associated with slavery and oppression.

Emotional Exploitation: Country music seemingly exploits grief more than any other genre of music. For example, after the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, eight Country songs about the tragedy and the war that followed charted (out of many that were released). To be fair, the songs were fitting tributes and expressed appropriate sentiments. However, there is a big difference between using music to bring people together during a tough time and taking financial advantage of tragedy. But considering that these songs were released and charted in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2007, one can’t help but think that it may be a bit more of the latter than the former. “South Park” got it right when they parodied Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)”.

The Lowest Common Denominator: A memorable moment this past year, in terms of politics, was when Republican Rick Santorum spoke at Washington D.C.’s “Values Voters Summit” to a conservative audience. He said, “We will never have the media on our side, ever, in this country. We will never have the elite, smart people on our side.” The general consensus in the Country Music world was that Mitt was the man for President in 2012. Isn’t it fair to question what values powerful influences like Country Music and Mitt Romney really support?

hank-williams-hitler-espn-lgLack of Diversity:  One of the many admirable things about Hip-Hop is its ability to grow.  Country, on the other hand, is still very much about what was and not what is. This is not only reflected in the lack of racial diversity at Country concerts when compared to Hip-Hop ones today, but also in the attitude of its listeners. Hip-Hop may be guilty of curse words, misogyny, and violence, but those are somehow less threatening than the narrow, cursed ideas that are in the undercurrent of lots of Country Music that reaches the masses (see Hank Williams Jr.). Because of technology and the global economy, the world is a smaller place now, and minds need to expand in order to accept the always-evolving times we live in.

What do you think? Does Country need to be called out for being just as controversial as Hip-Hop? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

  • Allessandra

    Is this a joke? Figures this is a racial and political sentiment. By the way every song is about human emotion. And alcohol is in every genre from country to hip-hop to pop (rose, hennessey, beer, tequila). This article is bull – how many country songs call every woman a hoe, a bitch, etc. I mean I am not a country fan but I can call bull when I see it and that is all this article is.

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  • TruthSerum

    This article is as one sided and biased as a Bill O’Reilly article on hip hop.

    I could argue every point but when your dealing with somebody who’s obviously ignorant, why waste the time. Country music is doing just fine without you…… At least the country genre has released an album in 2012 that went platinum, Hip hop hasn’t. Maybe you should stick to improving the genre this site is dedicated to and less time worrying about people who could care less what you think anyway.

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  • Guest

    Props to @Shad1424 on this one. Not going to say I am going to agree with the article, but it was thought out. I understand the side you are coming from but, i do feel we get our scrutiny on the side of the artist as opposed to the musical lyrics. The format as a whole gets a bad name do the ‘country wearing and southern talking (twang)’ thing. And just as rap our artists aren’t really good with filtering themselves while on camera, hence your picture of Hank Williams Jr.

    All in all – good article – good read!

  • kickrox

    i get the gist of what the article is saying. I can also trump it and all I need is 1 reason why country music isn’t as controversial as hip-hop. It involves mostly white people that seem to be incapable of doing anything wrong. So Miranda Lambert can sing about killing as many people as she wants to. It’ll be looked over looked and justified.

    • Wizard

      but she doesnt sing about killing people dumbass

      • kickrox

        you obviously haven’t heard all her songs then…. i can prove that she does. Either that or you just proved my point, it will be over looked. Oh yeah and keep this on a grown up level, grand wizard. No name calling please, you sound like you’re fuckin 5.

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  • Lyve Wire

    lets be real. we know why country music isnt criticized.

    //

    and as far the emotional exploitation goes, ive been saying that for years.

  • Luke

    Country music is not controversial because the artist are not talking about killing people and cussing every other word. To clarify, I am a fan of both hip hop and country music. As far as diversity goes, country music is not that narrow minded. Although Darius Rucker is pretty much the only black country music singer, he still sells millions of records. Black artists in the south do not want to do country, they would rather do hip hop or R&B. As far as alcohol goes, alcohol is legal as pot is not in many states, especially in the south. The flag thing goes both ways, here in the south there are black people that understand it is a pride of the south, and there are white people who believe it just represents slavery. Neither is necessarily wrong, its the perspective of the individual. As far as emotional stuff goes, most all music is emotional, whether it be about gang banging or working on the farm or loosing your homey to the streets or loosing your mother. There are a lot of parallels, but hip hop and country music are not that connected.

  • Luke

    To clarify not all hip hop is talking about gang banging, but we all know that if you are an intelligent/backpack rapper you get no respect as an artist. The mass population, for some reason, does not want to her about intellectual topics but would rather hear a catchy beat and words about strip clubs and moving weight. SMH Society is awful right now. Hip hop: get smarter artists, maybe look in different places. All this gang banging shit is ruining your music genre.

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  • Wizard

    1 Lil Jon and many southern rappers wear the confederate flag
    2. Comparing alcohol to marijuana? how about alcohol to crack or coke which NUMEROUS hip hop artists BRAG about selling…
    3. Using tragedy to exploit people for sales? Diddy’s songs about BIG? there were no hip hop tracks about 9/11?? Also you didnt name the songs after 2001..

    this article is total Bullshit

  • I definitely don’t agree with letting hip-hop off the hook… But it’s something to consider. In totality, though, I think that the country culture tends to aspire to something good (even if somewhat limited by culturally inherent bigotry), and that to me is the tell-tale litmus for controversy. Rap culture is violent. Period. From the music to the artists, to underlying activity surrounding every aspect of the current rap culture. Period. So, the fact that most country singers are not out committing crime and/or perpetuating ill-fated behavior into culture, kind of debunks the basis of this article… But it’s definitely an interesting question to consider. The alcohol argument was a good one until you run down the list of rap songs that talk solely about drinking, act as promotion for specific brands, and insinuate that you’re not cool if you’re not getting wasted and/or popping bottles… Throw that in with the fact that most people can name you several rappers with liquor companies/endorsements and can’t do the same with the country genre and now the issue becomes really clear. I’m trending towards two important conclusions… 1) This article, though meaning well, is not accurate in it’s preponderance. 2) Hip-Hop is a very powerful medium compared to other genres of music… And should be respected and used better by its artists, irregardless of how outside forces attempt to skew the argument… Word up.

  • Nate B

    I grew up listening to country first, rock next and then rap. Now I listen to acoustic rock and sometimes country. I think you are right on with country songs that talk
    about beer too much. Country music today seems to be obsessed with
    talking about beer, it’s kind of like a tough guy thing to do. If you
    sing about going to the bar and going to a field kegger out on the Jones farm then your song gets cred. If you talk about Jesus in a
    song, you MUST have beer in your song too, because if you just talk
    about JEsus then you are a wuss and naive person, where as if you talk
    about Jesus and beer then you are not a wuss for going to church. I think country music used to have
    some values in it that were good——but now it seems pop country
    musicians are insecure and always feel the need to show themselves have
    keggers at 11pm.

    The meaning of why alcohol must be used so much in country music to me is just a front so that people will be accepted by an audience. I don’t understand what you mean by lowest common denominator. Are you trying to say that country music represents things that aren’t being questioned? That country music represents a political party? I think you need to clarify what you are saying here.

    As far as diversity goes I don’t think that many country music listeners like Hank Jr. In a way I feel like he is a caricature of what country music is. What about Jason Aldeen as a representation of how country music is influenced by rap? There a section of his song “dirt road” where he raps. It’s actually kind of cheesy rapping, it’s not that good.

    Or what about Rascall Flatts “What Hurst the Most?” The way that song sounds—–it is clearly influenced by a R and B beat. Country music is influenced by rap and R and B. I’m not saying it is good music. But I don’t think that country music is static. Nor do I think that people really like Hank Jr.