Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hip-Hop Controversies - Tricia Rose

A) Reading: Hip Hop Controversies [Tricia Rose]

[I have chosen to freely write this week]

B) As seen in the linked biography, Tricia Rose is an internationally respected scholar of post civil rights era back U.S. culture, popular music, social issues, gender and sexuality. She is well known for her book, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, which talks about the emergence of hip hop culture. This book was considered a foundational text for the study of hip hop. Rose has written other books such as The Hip Hop Wars, which she argues that fans and detractors alike have offensive arguments about why the genre is bad and why it’s great. She writes as both a fan and a social critic. Rose has taught at different schools, and is currently a professor of Africana Studies and the Director of the Center of the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown University. Rose argues that the record industry is not selling music, fashion, or television, but selling blackness. She states that that it is a very particular concept of blackness that has little to do with real people and everything to do with violence, drugs, sexism, materialism, etc. Hip-hop artists may be getting rich, but at what cost? Could it be the messages that are being sent to younger people watching? This reminded me of Orenstein’s Cinderella ate my daughter, when talking about princesses. “Princess” “has not only become the fastest-growing brand the company has ever created, it is the largest franchise on the planet for girls ages two to six,”(Orenstein, 14). Just like hip-hop music, no matter how horrifying the images and lyrics are, it sells. Even though the Disney princesses gave out certain images, negative or positive, and even though it could “damage girls’ self-esteem or dampen other aspirations”, since it was making money, production kept happening. “Who doesn’t love nail polish with flower appliqu├ęs? Who doesn’t like to play dress-up now and again, swoosh about in silk and velvet?,”(Orenstein, 21). For young teenager boys, why wouldn’t they like hearing about getting girls, getting money, etc.? I feel that this reading was really relatable to what Tricia Rose talked about in her video and question/answers from Time magazine.  

After watching the YouTube clip… I felt that she was a wonderful speaker! She has opened my eyes to matters of inequalities in our popular culture. I liked the part where she talks about how we don’t share lived experiences nearly as much as should. She gave the example of how people say “I have two friends that..”. We ALL have friends of different backgrounds.. We exchange most cultural knowledge through pop culture and feel we know each other thru it, when in reality that is not exactly the case. She gave the example of the time one of her colleague called her “shorty”. She asked questions such as, who taught them that? Where did they hear that? She said it’s like an MTV moment gone wild! I agree that we need more cultural knowledge and literacy on hip hop culture. This reminds me of Croteau’s,  Media and Ideology, when talking about the medias images. “One of the principal reasons why media images often become so controversial is that they are believed to promote ideas that are objectionable,”(162). Media images, such as hip-hop music, can display behaviors and lifestyles that may neglect people who are different from the “norm”, as Croteau explains. The media can “normalize” certain behaviors/social relations, which may be problematic. 
After reading the article from Time..
I agree with Tricia that radio is killing hip-hop, and artists need to take more responsibility. Hip-hop has changed drastically, and does not sound like it used too. I like when Rose said, “There is an incredibly rich world of hip-hop that has been literally buried. I tell my friends and students, That’s why they call it the underground- because it’s in fact buried. But it’s not dead; it’s an underworld.” I have noticed in many recent “popular” hip hop songs that violence and sex are what is being talked about… in negative ways. The artists make themselves look sexist, and create negative images. Do they do it because they know it sells? I literally cannot even listen to most of the hip-hop music because it is so bad.  The tune may be great, but the lyrics are terrible.  When an artist can’t go one line with out saying, “bitches”, we have a serious problem. There are many talented artists out there that do not need to “dumb his/her music down”, as Rose puts it. It makes me sad that artists are doing this just beacuse it sells!

C)What are your views on hip-hop today? Negative? Positive? How has it changed? Why?

Check out my link: Thoughts?!


  1. I like how you posed the question that artists may be getting rich but at what cost? In the Q&A Rose talks about how hip-hop used to be for fun and originality and had to be appropriate enough for families. The popular stuff that sells now focuses on drugs and sex and sluts.

  2. I agree with you about your comment addressing music with great sound but terrble lyrics. The majority of this happens in rap, but I think it's going on in all music. I wonder why it's predominantly happening with hip hop because anyone can sing about sex...I don't know, it's really confusing and complicated

  3. What confuses me is why such explicit songs about sex, drugs, violence, etc. sells. Songs have always had a little hint of sex, drugs, and others, but not as bad as the explicitly said stuff now a days. It is just shocking!

  4. Loved this post :) I think that the question you wrote: "Hip-hop artists may be getting rich, but at what cost?" can be answered by the sentence right beforehand...they're selling blackness. I think the cost is stereotypes and negative representations of people of color.