“I met a critic, I made her sh*t her drawers
She said she thought hip-hop was only guns and alcohol
I said “Oh hell naw!” But yet it’s that too
You can’t discrimi-hate cause you done read a book or two”
Andre 3000, from Outkasts Humble Mumble.
I’ve gone back and worth about whether I should even write about Ashley Judd’s shots at hip-hop last week. Honestly, it’s a mess of a topic to handle. Any time you start discussing how specific cultures or various people are viewed by the masses you should prepared to get dirty.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, actress Ashley Judd has been on a press tour promoting her memoirs. (Honestly, I didn’t know about her memoir until I heard this story. Being a University of Kentucky basketball fan, the non-singing daughter in the Judd family and making somewhat entertaining movies warrants a memoir now? No shots but I’m just wondering.) In her memoir she recounts times where she was abused physically and sexually as child. During a portion of the book Judd expressed that she was hesitant to work with hip hop artists like Snoop and Sean Combs on an AIDS awareness project, stating the following in the book:
“Along with other performers, YouthAIDS was supported by rap and hip-hop artists like Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy to spread the message…um, who? Those names were a red flag.
“As far as I’m concerned, most rap and hip-hop music — with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as ‘ho’s’ — is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny.”
Well, I guess she’s not a fan of the old boom bap huh?
I cannot and will not argue an opposing view point on her statements about misogyny’s place in hip hop. It is not the elephant in the room but it is the paint on the walls of said room. No one has ever denied or ignored its existence but misogyny in hip hop has yet to be dealt with or discussed properly. I can recite the lyrics to numerous songs that would easily prove this point. Believe it or not some of these songs are in my music collection. (You can take this time to grasp your pearls or whatever it is y’all grasp when you’re aghast. Someone think of the children while you’re at it.)
My point of contention with Judd’s statement is the rape comparison. I hate to assume but I’m going to guess Judd’s assessment of hip hop is based on the 5% of the total genre that gets played on radio and television. She may not even be familiar with that percentage of the genre. I don’t know the extent of her familiarity with hip hop whether ignorant, commercial, or conscious. I just have a problem with her sweeping generalization of the totality of hip hop. Her statement may also be a reflection of her own past abuse but I still can’t let the rape comments slide.
Her mother Naomi and sister Wynonna compose a country music duo of note, the Judds. Country music to some may be the most banal genre of music in America. I’m not totally aware of what the bulk of the genre is like. I know and like a lot of the older songs and a few modern ones too. I do not know enough to claim that I can judge the entire genre.
What I do know is that when I flip past CMT or any other cable network that caters to that genre I see something familiar; women being treated as objects. This time the only difference is that in lieu of pretty black and Latino girls I see pretty white ones. I’m also willing to say the same thing about every other genre of popular music also. Although the sex that is being sold is a lot less subtle than what you would see on a video on the Sucker Free countdown, the fact remains that the sight of a pretty white girl wearing a straw cowboy hat, a push-up bra, some daisy dukes, and a sh*t-eating grin is nothing rare. (If you look closely sometimes you’ll see a sister in the background wearing the same sh*t-eating grin.) These girls are also there for the same purpose as their black and Latina counterparts on the other channels. (The right or wrong of the girls being there is another blog for another time.)
So I ask where are Judd’s criticisms of country music? Isn’t this the type of music that put her through the University of Kentucky?
Again, if hip hop is a culture of rape and misogyny would I be off base to call country music that perpetuates and blind xenophobia racism based on the works of David Allan Coe and others? I sure as hell would be wrong to do so
Judd, who caught flack for her comments, has since back-pedaled stating “that she should’ve said some hip-hop, and some rap, is abusive.”Crucial words are missing that could have made a giant difference.”
Lesson learned Ashley. Think before you speak, write, or whatever you do to put your messages out there. When it comes to hip hop and anything else be careful if you don’t know what the entire art form is about or like. In the words of my homie O, “Talk about what you know about.”
Otherwise you just open the door for statements like “them”, “they”, or the mother of generalizations based on nothing: “those people”. And we know how “those people” are? Don’t we?
Just a few thoughts of a music fan with a few friends in low place. See Ashley, I learned that last part from a country song.
Vaya con Dios.