They say music can calm the savage beast. I say that music can also create a savage beast. Looking back at my personal life growing up listening to predominantly rap music, I can see how it affected my views towards women, society, and life in general. Yes, I did listen to many genres of music but rap took up 95% of that music time. Not just any rap music, but a specific sub-genre called “gangster rap.” From the age of twelve, this was my music of choice. If you know anything about this genre then you know that the belittling of women is a common trend. There’s almost no way that you can go through any random five songs and not hear a reference to a woman being a bitch, hoe, or other demeaning term. Some songs are more extreme than others. Songs are sexually explicit when it comes to women. This reduces them to merely sex objects in the minds of the listener. There were a few rappers in the late eighties and early nineties that based their whole music career on talking about women in a sexual or degrading manner.
As I write this, I can hear strongly in my head the chorus to rapper Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s hit from 1993 “Bitches Ain’t Shit.” When this song came out I was twelve years old with a young impressionable mind that surely should not have been listening to music like this. For the most part my parents did control the music that I listened to as a young child. They would play reggae, soul, and jazz. They had total control, which was slightly different than all of my peers who were allowed to hear anything they wanted. By twelve years old they were less lenient and I started listening to all of the stuff my friends were listening to. My parents never talked to me about the lyrics being bad or damaging. For the most part they actually liked the music themselves. My older aunts and uncles also would throw on some 2 Short, Sugar Free, Snoop , and others once I was older. The music was good music. The sound, the style, and delivery of the raps was great. Compound that song by 1,000 over the course of a decade being created by some of the most influential people in your life and you will discover that many of your opinions have been shaped by these music artists. There is no wonder why many of my peers and others that grew up like me have such low opinion of women. This music added to an already existing male chauvinistic society where women were depicted as sex objects and lower than men in all forms of media and entertainment. What has manifested is a mind that sees women as objects rather than humans.
During the late nineties there was a branch of gangster rap that emerged focusing almost exclusively on pimping and prostitution. This break off genre was called “pimp rap” by the urban community. With this genre, many new rappers emerged. Their lyrics focused on the pimp subculture. Rapping about this lifestyle was not totally new to the rap scene. There were always a few rappers that were making music about pimps and prostitutes from hip-hop’s beginning. The number one rapper that comes to mind is Too Short who began rapping about pimping in the mid-eighties. He practically branded his entire image off of being a pimp. One key difference is that during this late nineties period there were a lot more than just a few rappers talking about pimping and prostitution. This was becoming an epidemic.
Packs of rappers making music about pimping began to emerge during this era. Established rappers who may have mentioned the word “pimp” here and there before, now made pimping the main focus of their music. Even Snoop Dogg, one of the world’s most famous rappers, transitioned from strictly gangster rap to the new epidemic-sized “pimp rap.” Not only did his lyrics change, but so did his image. He began to dress like a pimp, talk like a pimp, and make appearances with women who seemed to be prostitutes. On one occasion I remember him appearing on an award show with women on leashes next to the famous pimp Don Magic Juan. He appeared with Don Magic Juan on multiple occasions. Don Magic Juan had become Snoop’s pimp mentor. Along with Snoop Dogg, other mainstream rappers began to create songs that either referenced or were solely dedicated to pimping. Nelly’s song “Pimp Juice” and Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” were a couple. While the world may have been dancing in their cars on the way to work with these songs playing, the people who were actually living the lifestyle that this type of music glamorized, saw this as validation to continue doing what they were doing. The music being created helped plant the idea that women were to be viewed as hoes and bitches- that women were property.