During the rise of rap/hip-hop in the 1980s and 90s, there was extremely explicit sexual content in the lyrics as well as the music videos that accompanied them. This made rap and hip-hop extremely controversial.
Rap was already controversial enough without the aspect of misogyny factoring into the music genre. Rap/hip-hop had a sense of duality. It addressed the system issues of an impoverished lifestyle and police brutality. While on the other hand, it ignored and in some regards embraced the objectification and violence of and against women. Women, especially Black Women were often portrayed as a simplification of sexual objects that needed to be dominated by men (Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009). Explicit sexual and violent lyrical content often addressed rape, murder, and abuse of women in songs that were deemed troubling and often impressionable to youth.
Social Implications of Misogyny in Rap Music
Many record labels would only sell records that included the explicit sexual and violent content of abuse against women ( Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009). This is due to the crossover of white audiences listening to rap music during the era. Many record labels as well as artists felt like their records would not sell if the negative stereotypes about Black men were not included in the lyrics ( Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009). They also felt like people wouldn’t be able to really live out the fantasy of being a poor black person without including the abuse of women in lyrics as well ( Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009) .
False Realities & Contradictions
The issue with selling this type of music speaks to a larger societal issue as well as the cyclical nature of this problem. Record labels would only accept this music because they felt like this is what a white audience would want to hear. However, doing so only provided more negative stereotypes against black people that may have not necessarily been true. On the other hand, the systemic issue of poverty and abuse was being cultivated in lyrics based on reality, which in a sense could have caused more chaos. The nature of misogyny in hip hop based on a narrative that may have not been true caused a horrific reality against Black women while also etching false realities within the minds of white youth.
Combatting the Culture
In regards to this culture, female rappers started to address this issue as well as some male rappers trying to change the narrative. For example, Queen Latifah came out with a song called “U.N.I.T.Y.” which addressed the misogyny of the rap culture as well as the violence of women. Other artists like Tupac and Common wanted to empower women that would often be ridiculed by men through misogynistic lyrics.
Weitzer, R. & Kubrin, C. (2009). Misogyny in Rap Music: A content analysis of prevalence and meanings. George Washington University, 2(1). 1-27.