Monday, March 25, 2013

New Music Mondays: Challenging the Junk Food Industrial Complex

Michelle Obama has spent a lot of her time in office supporting a healthy living program through her Let's Move campaign. She has been traveling the nation encouraging kids and adults to spend less time on the couch and more time being active. Healthy diets play a major roll in her campaign as well. She even published a recipe book inspired by her work in the White House garden and gardening traditions across America to highlight the need for healthy eating habits. All these efforts in hopes to lower the abysmal obesity rate in America.

Earth Amplified ft. Stic.Man-"Food Fight"

Courtesy of Okayplayer

Hip Hop has also jumped on the healthy food bandwagon. Dead Prez's Stic.Man partnered with Earth Amplified to create the above visuals for the burgeoning war against processed foods. "Food Fight" features Stic on popular Dead Prez themes: eating healthy, staying active, and fighting the power of The Man. In this case, in the form of genetically altered seed producer Monsanto and the guys that put all that high fructose corn syrup in everything. The music video particularly highlights the lack of access to healthy foods that influences poor eating habits in African American and poverty stricken communities. The song is most effective in the chilling way it connects the cold-blooded tactics of the American drug trade to the ruthlessness and coerciveness of the junk food industrial complex.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Problem of Voice: Male Rappers and Female Positionality

Hip Hop has been long criticized for the limited scope of female perspectives offered in its most popular narratives. In mainstream Hip Hop women are generally depicted in roles that only serve the needs of male protagonist. 2 Chainz, who was recently voted the 2nd hottest MC of the year by the MTV brain trust on these issues, hit single release “Birthday Song” is one of the most egregious example this practice. The song asserts that what is most important about women are the physical attributes that make them desireable to men sexually. By reducing a woman's importance to her physicality and its relation to men, 2 Chainz and West assert that women don’t own their bodies but they exist exclusively for the pleasure of men. Although Hip Hop is by no means the originator of misogyny 2 Chainz and Kanye West use it to great affect in this song.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Queer Hip Hop Studies and Macklemore's "Same Love"

In May of last year President Barack Obama became the first sitting President to publicly offer support of gay marriage. Earlier his administration had stopped defending the abhorrent Defense of Marriage Act and had begun the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the controversial policy that allowed gay and lesbians folks to serve in the military as long as their sexual orientation was not known. President Obama said that he had been “going through an evolution on this issue” and had finally come to the place where he personally believed marriage was a right that should be afforded to all.

He admitted that this journey was facilitated somewhat by his daughters who have friends whose parents are in same-sex relationships. Lots of polls show that a younger generation is less interested in keeping basic rights from folks because of sexual orientation. Taking the temperature of Hip Hop on this issues has been a far more difficult task, but like Obama, Hip Hop seems to be coming around and it’s a change driven by its younger generation.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Response to "Being White in Philly"

The worst kind of racism is the kind paved with the good intentions of well-meaning people.  Since the victories of the Civil Right era this more subtle and coercive form of racism has come to the fore. No more beatings, lynching, and whites-only water fountains, but racism still creeps on by burrowing itself into white guilt and shame and then re-emerges in articles like the one found in the Philadelphia Magazine this month.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Don Imus, and Scapegoating Hip Hop

Is this cover art racist?
A Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover elicited outrage this week. It depicted Latino and African American characters in a house over-flowing of money. The characters fan themselves with stacks of benjamins, feed money to their pets, and grab fistfuls of "dolla dolla bills y'all". Although the article that the cover advertises for says little to nothing about folks of color. The cover, nonetheless, advances the false assumption that greedy black and Latino folks were at fault in the subprime mortgage crises as opposed to greedy banks who knowingly coaxed vulnerable consumer into risky mortgages. A peruvian author drew the cover, and claims the people look the way they do does because it reflects the community where he grew up. The motives of the cover author though are not what is important. What is amazing is that no one in the editorial process was aware enough to think about how the cover advances insidious beliefs about black Americans, who have been wrongly blamed for the subprime mortgage crisis. This incident illustrates the naturalness which the American public scapegoats African Americans for institutional problems. This has certainly been the case with Hip Hop.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Importance of Nitty Scott, MC

Although, she has been hustling for a while, Nitty Scott, MC burst on to the scene a few years ago when she ripped into Kanye West's "Monster" beat. Immediately the track gained traction because it was a percieved diss to Nicki Minaj, who appeared on the original. Scott vehemently denied it was a diss track, and it wasn't. It was much more than that. It was a declaration of what type of emcee she was going to be: uncompromising in her craft, steadfast in her integrity, and driven. Nitty Scott, MC represents the best of a new era of rappers and the best of what Hip Hop has to offer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Hip Hop Parenting 102: Big K.R.I.T. and Lessons from his Father

Hip Hop has a complicated relationship with fathers. Black male rappers are real quick to raise up thier mothers on a pedestal, but when father's enter the conversation those songs revolve around loss, regret, and anger. For these reasons Big KRIT's "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" caught my attention on Live from the Underground (2012). LFTU is a beautifully constructed album that covers topics from slavery, love, sacrifice, spirituality, insecurity to wealth and poverty, flaunting and falling, and sex. In one album, K.R.I.T. is able to speak to large swaths of black humanity and finds one of his most intimate and moving topics on "Rich Dad, Poor Dad".