Rap music and the Race to the Finish line

I found it interesting in Jennifer Lena’s essay Voyeurism and resistance in Rap music videos, related people’s acts of voyeurism (the white race mainly) and how it keeps them interested in rap music. Which I think voyeurism was a weird definition to say since the ones I found were all related to sex, and pervish acts. It did say the act of spying secretly, but related it to a sexual nature so a little confusing. Any who.. First off, I will start by saying that white people can listen to rap and hip-hop, because it is a culture they have lived as well. The essay makes it seem as if the white race is incapable of relating to black culture, so they fantasize about being like blacks…secretly?? Here is the definition Jennifer Lena used, “I am a voyeur eavesdropping on the black culture. To gaze gather and understand the outside culture.”

Voyeurism and resistance in Rap Music Videos By Jennifer Lena

There is a hood in every race. There are the slums in Dubai, the cartel in Mexico, and the white man’s hood poverty stricken trailer parks. This “hood” is exactly the same lifestyle that ‘blacks’ rap about… but, instead of crack and guns like in Buckhead, whites have meth heads that will shank you over a dollar. Just like the rapper TI raps about slinging crack on the corner, the white hood has tweekers from trailer parks that ride around on bikes slinging dope. Every race has a hood, it just seems that the black hood, where rap music originated is seen as the most authentic version of hood in societies eyes. In the rap culture, it is known as the top of the line “hood cred” as you can obtain. Location, gang, and family can also play a role in obtaining street cred, but someone who gets there street cred in Arcata is seen as having little to no street cred, or a person who earned their street cred in living in Compton are completely different. The type of dirt you did/do also plays a huge role in the respect you receive. “ Did you sling crack or meth, or where you a goon who robbed the dealers and collected bread?” All these amount to earning your credit. Same goes in the white man’s hood, “were you the supplier with all the money who made stuff move, or were you the crazy tweeker who stood on the corner making deals for little profit just to see time in Pelican bay? All these amount to “street cred.”

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The essay seemed to focus on how and why whites could possibly enjoy rap. I believe whites enjoy rap music for many reasons, and one is because they can relate to the hustle, or they respect the guys who have the talent and drive to rap about it. It is also hard to be white, rap and get respect. Rap music originated and is dominated by blacks, mainly because they grew up in a culture were hip hop was a dominant household sound. White people on the other hand, were probably not raised listening to rap, as there parents were likely forbidden or against listening to “black music.” They more than likely listened to country or white church music. A newer younger generation picked up rap and rapping in a newly mixed/hybrid society. And because it was probably not introduced as a child, they picked it up later in life, which hinders their talent’s development. Now, the next step if they do have talent, well good luck breaking into mainstream, because society “ is accustomed” to seeing black people as rappers, and if they see a white guy, it is perceived as unauthentic and disingenuous. A rapper that comes to mind that was able to see an insurmountable amount of success was Eminem. A white guy, from the hood in Detroit (8-mile), who knew the struggle of coming up in poverty, managed to hone his talent while being challenged “black rap community” to prove his “street cred.”

People relate to rap for many reasons probably because they enjoy the music, not because they want to sneak in, to see this forbidden culture. I believe that people who enjoy rap music do enjoy listening to the music, but also don’t have the desire to blast up a home for a sack of dope. Rap is a means of expression and entertainment.

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This essay also made it seem like every white person falls into the socioeconomic status of middle class, and are automatically deemed as having white privilege. Because there is no way that white people could be poor and struggle like blacks. Sarcasm.

In the video “Hell yeah” by Dead Prez, the white people are portrayed as the stereotypical dumb, non-street wise family, and the black rappers are portrayed as the stereotypical thug, who robs and commits fraud as a means of “survival”. In the video “Hell Yeah” it seems to justify the criminal actions of the rappers. When people play the “I have to rob, and sell crack to feed my family” card it really irks me. “No, you don’t have to, you choose to.” In the video, he steals from his employer who is giving him an opportunity to make something out of his life, and instead he decides to bite the hand that feeds him. Then, uses having a minimum wage job as a way to justify why he commits the crimes. Well, heaven forbid you get an education, or change your scandalous ways, so more opportunities would open up for you, instead stealing is what “had to be done.” In Jennifer Lena’s essay she describes it as “Unapologetic Conspicuous consumption” and refers to being unapologetic for the wrongs done by you, in response to the wrongs done to you.

The video and essay also touched on the idea that rap music paints a picture of being oppressed from the many injustices faced in a society that sees them as less than. I feel bad for the injustices that black people face on a daily basis. The other day I saw a segment on HLN, it was a story about a little girl who received a letter from one of her friends at school, the letter read, “I’m sorry and I don’t want to be mean, but you can’t come to my birthday party because my dad said you are black.” That just broke my heart into a million pieces. Here this poor innocent child is being treated less than, because of something she has no control over. These different ideals that the world has placed on black people are horrible. Race should not dictate how people are treated. Still in this day and age, I see the struggle that black people face, and I wonder if it will ever change. The more we desegregate, the more we can form bonds and relationships that see past color. I feel like the older generation like the baby boomers prior generations are much more racist than our generation. They were taught different. My generation was mixed in with multiracial students from an early age, and many see and understand everyone is equal. Hopefully future generations will continue to mingle, so society can work on not judging people by the color of their skin.

http://fox4kc.com/2015/03/18/girl-rsvps-to-birthday-party-explaining-she-cant-go-because-you-are-black/

I believe others races can relate to the joy rap music brings of defying authority and as Jennifer Lena puts it, “resistance to hegemony.” In the essay she touched on how punk music was something that was once popular because people related to that as their defying anthem. Everyone likes a good song that tells the govt. to f off, or that talks about the injustices of life. Everyone has felt some type of anarchism against something at one point in time.

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7 thoughts on “Rap music and the Race to the Finish line

  1. I enjoyed reading this post, especially this very defining sentence, “Every race has a hood, it just seems that the black hood, where rap music originated is seen as the most authentic version of hood in societies eyes.” This just made me think about the depth of music and the fact that it is about freedom of expression and I don’t think music, especially rap music should be stereotyped as much as it is. Although I don’t listen to rap very much myself I try to stay open to it. We’re all guilty of stereotyping music genres, even I find myself hearing someone’s music and in my mind I go “HOW CAN SOMEONE ENJOY THIS?” But then I remember to reassess and have understanding in the same way that I would want.

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  2. I thought you made some really good points in your blog this week. Although I read the same article as you, I found myself focusing on a different aspects of Jennifer’s writing, and I greatly appreciate your perspective on this issue. I completely agree that everyone can go through similar struggles, and the fact that it often comes down to people pointing out the differences (in this country that often ends up being race), rather than the similarities, very sad. However, I also feel that the struggles are inherently different due to a long history in this country of privileging one group of people over another. This is not to “compare trauma,” or to say that one person has had it harder than another person, it is simply to point out the fact that there are real differences in peoples experience with privilege, opportunities afforded to them, and access to resources. Now although this may seem bleak, I do believe we are moving towards a society where things are more equal and where (hopefully) race will not be the big dividing force it is today.

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  3. Great points! I completely agree when you debunk the statements made by the author that indicated white people fall into the socioeconomic status of middle class, and are automatically deemed as having white privilege. I’m white and would even say my parents were middle class however we lived in an area that just so happened to have a rough elementary school and middle school, we had gang presence along with fights, stabbings and shootings occurring every month. So I’ve seen the hardships of “the ghetto” as much as any other person living in “hood”. There’s no doubt that white people can be poor and struggle like blacks, there are certainly differences in the experience of both but my “hood” was certainly rough just as others. That being said I learned to appreciate both country music, through living on a ranch, but also rap artists like 2-Pac and Andre 3000 because they sang about things and thoughts I had and saw in school.

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  4. Hey!
    I thought your post was excellent and very on point. I thought that everything you said was exactly what my thoughts were when I was reading the essay and watching the video. I also really liked the part where you pointed out Eminem and how if you are not a black rapper that you are more frowned upon and it is harder for you to become something because like you said in your post todays society views all white people as middle classed so its like people feel like if you were a white male/female you would not of gone through the same struggles as someone else. I also like how in the beginning you talked about the definition of voyeurism because that also confused me as well when I looked up the definition and Im glad that someone else was confused about it! The part that interested me and probably the most heartbreaking was the one about the little girl and the birthday party. It just saddens me that something like that is still occurring today! Like ITS IS THE YEAR 2015 and people are still that racist??? It just awes me because I do not know how and why someone can still think African american and whites and frankly any race is different from each other. The only thing different about all the races is the color of their skin and hearing that story about the birthday party was just jaw dropping.
    Really good post though I enjoyed it!

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    1. thank you Marquel! Exactly, it’s 2015 and people are still racist, it’s crazy! People are all so different and color is just a color. It’s like saying someone is a bad person for having red hair; Or stereotyping all red headed kids as being problem childs. Hopefully society will continue to evolve in their thoughts on race. Seems like it has taken forever to get this far, and there is still so far to go, but eventually I think it will happen…. A couple hundred years down the line, but sadly not in our lifetime.

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      1. You mean gingers are not innately evil? (Completely kidding. I tend to think I’m hilarious.) You make important points about the lasting impact of racism in the United States and elsewhere. I would have thought, by now, things would be better. I hope you’re right about its eventual inevitability.

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