The Rap, Rock & Rape of Black Women: Music, Misogyny, or Myth?
“Wonder why they call you b*tch ?” -Tupac Shakur
One morning while playin’ with the radio on my commute, I heard something that made me slam on breaks. There was a song playing glorifying the rape of a Black girl. My first thought was that Hip-Hop had fallen to a new low. Surely Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, or somebody was gonna organize a squad of Sister Souljahs and head to the local "Home of Hip-Hop" station to tear stuff up. But, it wasn’t a Rap station but a classic Rock station that was blastin' a song that The Rolling Stones made over 40 years ago...
Recently, rapper Lil Reese came under fire for a video that surfaced of him beatin’ a young woman. Although the controversy did not draw as much attention as the infamous Chris Brown/Rihanna slug-fest, nor the mysterious video that surfaced of Jay-Z, allegedly, mushin’ a female fan in the face years ago, it still created quite a stir on the ‘net. Coincidentally, around the same time, it was reported that Cee Lo Green allegedly took advantage of a woman after slippin’ her an Ex pill. What is most disturbing is that the blatant disrespect of females, especially Black women, has been a part of rap music since the early years.
However, it must be thoroughly understood that the disrespect of sistas was taking place long before Just Ice recorded “Booga Bandit B*tch”.
Back in '71, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones released a hit record called "Brown Sugar." The song begins with a lyric about a slave owner getting his thrills off of beating a "slave girl" and raping her. He goes on to rejoice over how good sex with sistas is.
I guess 'Pac was right when he said " the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice."
Years later, since the Black Militants didn't snatch Jagger off stage and kick his bony butt all the way back to England, he felt comfortable enough to record "Some Girls" in which he, after talking about the materialistic attitudes of women of other nationalities, proudly proclaimed that "Black girls just want to f*ck all night." Thus, making Jigga's "Black chick, she don't know how to act" line from "Girls, Girls, Girls " mild in comparison.
Although we have discussed the misogynistic lyrics of Hip-Hop artists since NWA released Niggaz4Life, we have left rockers such as Mick Jagger out of the conversation. We call it disgraceful when a Black male rapper makes a record calling a Black woman a "hoe," but when Lou Reed refers to Black women as "colored girls" on "Walk on the Wild Side," we call that a classic.
Does this mean that sistas shouldn't get upset when rappers disrespect them, and then try to justify it by saying that they "ain’t talkin’ about all women?"
Of course they should.
But they must never forget that The Stones and 'em were dissin' sistas long before the Bad Boys made "Veronica" or Slick Rick first performed "Treat 'Em Like a Prostitute".
Also, as scholars such as Dr. Amos Wilson and Dr. Bobby Wright have taught us, we must trace the historical roots of the pathological behavior exhibited by some Black men.
If we are to stop the misogynistic lyrics in Hip-Hop, we must admit that the rappers are mimicking White men who have abused Black women for hundreds of years with impunity.
The relationship between White men and Black women has always been a taboo subject in the African America community.
Many in my generation never dared ask great Grandma how she wound up with those green eyes and that buttermilk complexion as we sat around the Sunday dinner table. So, we just wrote it off as having some "Indian" in our family tree and continued grubbin'.
In reality, during slavery and into the early 20th century, many Black women were raped by White men while their husbands cowered in corners. This feeling of helplessness resulted in misplaced aggression in Black men in which they began to blame the Black women, themselves, for getting raped. This disorder has now manifested itself in the actions of their great, great grandsons.
While many of the relationships between White men and Black women were forced, that was not always the case.
According to historian, E. Franklin Frazier, in his book, Black Bourgeoisie:
"In giving themselves to their white masters, there were certain concrete advantages to be gained." These advantages ranged from better food and clothing to the possibility that their mulatto children would enjoy special privileges or even be emancipated."
So, maybe some women actually felt honored that Jagger thought enough of them to shout them out on a record. Perhaps that is why, in the Hip-Hop era, there was little fallout when a lost tape ("Oh, Foolish Pride") by Eminem, was discovered on which he dissed Black females.
Ironically, while songs such as "Brown Sugar" are still played on the radio, today, without protest, Hip-Hop is under constant scrutiny.
Even though some may say that this is a case of digging up ancient history, there is no statute of limitations on the degradation of Black women and Mick Jagger and the rest should be held accountable, as well as the rappers who carry on the tradition.
Also, as we celebrate Hip-Hop History month, we must uncover the historical precedents that made rap music what it is today.
Most importantly, we, as Black men, must fight against the abuse of Black women in honor of our ancestors who couldn't.
We must never forget the horrors of that period of our history no matter how it is celebrated in song.
We must always remember, as Styles P once rapped on "I'm Black":
"Even though my skin's kinda light, that means my ancestors were raped by somebody White."
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott's weekly column is "This Ain't Hip Hop," a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. For more information on the "Hip Hop History Month Myth Bustas" series, contact email@example.com or follow on Twitter (@truthminista).
The Rolling Stones image credit: jasobrecht.com.