Content vs Context: Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin’ Ass”

So a few months ago Nicki Minaj  released the track “Lookin’ Ass”. The track has gotten some major backlash over the music video. Many saying it was demeaning of Malcolm X‘s message and the struggle of civil rights within America. Others are saying it has powerful message within itself because the lyrics of the song are representative of another struggle. The struggle for Women’s Rights and the need for feminism. The difficulty with this song, that a lot of other raps songs with a powerful message have, is that people get overburden with the so called graphic language. Graphic language is used often in rap music and due to this people don’t pay attention to the context or the conversation taking place.

“Look at y’all lookin’ ass niggas
Stop lookin’ at my ass ass niggas”

“I ‘on’t want sex, give a fuck about your ex
I ‘on’t even want a text from y’all niggas”

Yeah, there’s a lot of N-word usage, but the first stanza asks men to stop objectifying women. The second stanza I quoted asks for the same exact thing.

Similarly with “Bound” by Kanye West, there consistantly seems to be a disregard for the intellect behind music videos of rap songs. Sometimes there are no themes, no messages to be shared, but that is not always the case. These people are artists and artists rarely do anything without some meaning. Rap is an art form. It is their way of expression. And just like how we over analyze literature in the classroom that same kind of attentiveness needs to be shown toward music and music videos. For example, when I go out to the bars one song consistently played is “Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen. Drunks scream that chorus at the top of their lungs but how many people actually know that the song is about Springsteen’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. government during the Vietnam War.

“Got in a little hometown jam so they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land to go and kill the yellow man”

I don’t think all that many know and I think that kind of lack of knowledge in Mainstream America will always blur an artist’s message.

Check out our overview of Nicki Minaj’s most recent track “Pills N Potions

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The Macklemore Dilemma

Macklemore

Macklemore

Over the past couple of months or really this past year Macklemore has been in the forefront of music when it comes to “music consciousness”. Specifically, in reference to gay rights and the seemingly prevalent story that Hip-Hop is anti-gay.

But issues arise on how society values the voice of an individual of the majority (the majority meaning white males) over individuals actually apart of the disadvantaged group. Let’s be real, historically the lesser voice has always has been perceived as needing help from the more willingly heard. But things shouldn’t be that way. It’s not Macklemore’s fault of course, in reality, he’s just trying to help. The question is whether his help is a hindrance or truly beneficial.

Angel Haze

Angel Haze

Macklemore has attained a stamp of approval from many, if not all, popular entities or individuals of the gay community. If I remember correctly and I might not be (I prefer to write from memory) he’s been praised by the Human Rights CouncilGLAAD and our favorite gay godmother Ellen Degeneres. The exposure, it’s been lovely. But why oh why, can’t we just listen to the voices who are the voices. Why can’t we do that? Artists like Angel HazeMykki BlancoBig FreediaZebra Katz and Le1f (who had a lot to say about Macklemore’s privilege as a straight white male). Each whose message if heard and respected properly would have been more prolific in meaning than a white man who can try but never truly understand. In fact Angel Haze did a remix of Macklemore’s Same Love, I felt her remix in a way I could never feel about the original.

Mykki Blanco

Mykki Blanco

Another point I wanted to hit on is the promotion that Hip-Hop ain’t sh!t, that Hip-Hop can’t handle diversity. If Hip-Hop couldn’t handle diversity then Eminem wouldn’t have became Eminem no matter how good he is. If Hip-Hop couldn’t handle diversity then Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, or even Nicki Minaj wouldn’t be who they are. Of course there are still hurdles, but there are still hurdles in every aspect of life that have yet to be overcome. In many ways, Macklemore song was just opportunistic, a way to capitalize on a message that I feel the Hip-Hop community wasn’t even sure it needed to give at that point. That is not to say that Macklemore is just trying to capitalize on black culture (he could be but I have no right to say so).

All of this could be talked into the ground and talked around and talked over. But my point in all of this is that music of the people should be by the people and as eye-opening as Same Love was for many it was only eye-opening because the message came from a straight white male. It should be heartbreaking that the supposed need for a white savior is still prevalent today.

I just want to leave it at that.