Rick Ross, Rape Culture and Reflections.

RickRossSo Rick Ross has taken some heat with regards to his rap lyrics. For those who don’t know or have missed all the furore here are the lyrics from his song “U.E.O.N.O”

“Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,”

For those who don’t understand it, molly is a euphemism for MDMA. What Ross is getting heat for, including a growing campaign to Reebok, is the implication in these lyrics about a woman being drugged or drunk and being raped. While it’s easy to make out Rick Ross out as the scapegoat the issue of rape culture is much bigger than one rappers song.

Rape in Popular Culture.
Rick Ross will not be the first rapper to include rape in his lyrics, implied or otherwise. Other rappers including Eminem “As the World Turns”, Biggie Smalls “Dead Wrong”, DMX “I’m Coming” Action Bronson “Body Language” and Tyler the Creator “Blow”

Thing is this rap is not isolated in including rape lyrics in their songs. As I mentioned in a previous post Decoding Misogyny artists such as Korn “Beat it Upright”, Slayer “Sex Murder Art”, Nickelback “Figured You Out”, AC/DC “Giving the Dog a Bone” or the gentle “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” by Cannibal Corpse.

Add George Michael and Nick Cave to that list and this nothing new. In many respects its easy to scapegoat Rick Ross and rap but they are in many respects continuing on a rather troubling trend.

We could add video games to this list. Stand up comedy. TV crime shows. Films. And yes whilst rape is not limited to one gender the culture leans to glamorizing or trivializing rape of women as an artistic expression. Storytelling is storytelling and no one wants to go down the route of censorship but theres something crazy and irresponsible about trivializing rape. Especially in a culture where it is so prevalent.

A number of interesting debates took place online between members of the hip hop community. Rappers Talib Kweli and Lupe Fiasco had an interesting debate and caused responses outside of their conversation. This was followed by another debate between writer dream hampton and Talib Kweli.

The bigger thing is this, when we accuse people of overstepping the mark as a society we need to hold up a huge mirror. I recently had to hold up the mirror and take a second look at Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” song. Why is he blaming women for the way misunderstand them? I also reviewed my own track list on my backpacker playlist in Spotify. Even had to think about one or two ATCQ songs I play in front of my daughters.

I also think it important in the dialogue for some of my female colleagues to not assume that many of us men who support are coming from a place of patriarchial bias. Especially when we are working through some of our own subsconcious biases. This is not to position us as victims. Male privilege is real and present but dialogue is how we move forward rather than having one imposition over another. It is important that for many of us men who don’t fully understand or comprehend the emotional damage and fears women feel as a result rape culture that we do so in order to support you in our fullness.

The thing is as a culture we will continue to listen to all kinds of hip hop and music as a whole. We will consume entertainment that is uncomfortable for others. So even if I don’t listen to Drake, Lil Wayne or Rick Ross I am not going to pretend that I have not had my own guilty pleasures of listening to Mystikal or Obie Trice. Those beats aren’t hypnotic for no reason.

It saddens me that the most popular artists will continue to have engines that promote the least favourable part of rap. And I for one am not fooled that ‘conscious’ rappers aren’t capitalists. It’s called the music business for a reason. However whilst holding up the mirror to Rick Ross there are a lot of people who have head bopped and shaken their tush to a lot worse. But I guess there always has to be a fall guy to deflect and prevent many of us from taking that serious look and not being honest enough to admit that we buy the music from those artists and in turn we can keep them accountable. Even if only it means in reduced sales to begin with.