Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women

In Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women (NYU Press), T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting offers a gift to the black women’s psyche: a scolding analysis of misogyny in modern Hip-Hop culture.  She exposes racism to the core, calling to mind generations of racial abuse in the black community as a reason that has defined concepts of  physical beauty. As professor of African American and Diaspora Studies and French at Vanderbilt University, Sharpley-Whiting unmasks thought provoking socio-political commentaries concerning sexual obsession in rap music and its affects on the black female sense of self.  In a sharp but forceful attempt to alarm the pop masses of Hip-Hop’s stereotypical representations, Pimps Up, Ho’s Down boldly critiques and discusses topics such as the allure of ethnically ambiguous females in Hip-Hop videos.  Through academic analysis, reporting, and satirical narrative, Pimps Up, Ho’s Down displays the image of black women in mass media through music videos, television and decomposes its appeal to millions. With an interrogation of gender politics within Hip-Hop, and subsequently the world, Sharpley-Whiting successfully balances the challenge of highlighting the destructive elements of Hip-Hop as a culture while remaining true to the fact that she isan avid fan of the Hip-Hop generation.  How women of color make fateful choices regarding their standards for beauty is definitely food for thought. The book’s demanding presence exemplifies why we should and should not allow Hip-Hop to co-exist with the confines of beauty placed on us even long before Hip-Hop made history.

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