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Michael Kwon

TDMV 138: HIPHOP


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Hip-Hop Written Response
Hip-Hop is a new art form that has come up recently in the past 30

years. However, as an art form matures and grows, many challenges have

been met. As hip-hop first emerged into the scene, there were many issues

that it espoused, such as homophobia, misogyny, sexism, and more. Byron

Hurt, an independent filmmaker, has exposited that all hip-hop seemed to do

was to extrapolate on negative cultural notions of masculinity and violence in

society. However, even though hip-hop has a lot of cultural, gender, and

societal issues, there are many good aspects that hip-hop does bring. If

anything, the newness of hip hop and the issues that it carries can only

expose the state of our contemporary society. Hip-hop is an art form that

originated from the ghettos and our societal issues do bleed into these

streets. Therefore, hip-hop serves as a stark mirror of the bleakness of our

society and it serves as a strong foreshadow of where it is headed.

In “A Brand-New Feminism”, a conversation between Joan Morgan and

Marc Anthony Neal, the two feminists dialogue about the issues of hip-hop

and how negative perception of masculinity is espoused throughout the

entire paper. Marc quotes that “I like women…. So I’m trying to figure out

how do we talk about feminism in this case, or being a Black man who is

profeminist who at the same time can acknowledge heterosexist desire.” (p

237). Marc recognizes that there is an issue with hip-hop today and how

confused the people are. Women are objectified as sex objects and men are
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TDMV 138: HIPHOP
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bloated up to be larger than life. However, Marc does make his case by

stating that there are legitimate masculine sexual desires, which is what Joan

does not discourage at all! However, the main issue is the objectification of

women and the crime-like behavior that it entails. In the next paragraph, a

popular song will be critically analyzed in the light of issues of hip-hop.

Kid Cudi is an alternative hip-hop artist who just released a song called

“Up up and away”. The tune is quite catchy and does not sound like a typical

electronic hip-hop beat, but uses the acoustic guitar to drive the main riff of

the song. A friend calls this song an “artsy fartsy song”, as it does not sound

very mainstream at all. However, in closer examination, Kid Cudi does say

certain things that betray indications of hip-hop problems of homophobia and

hypermasculinity. First, the chorus repeats itself like this:

“I’ll be up up and away, up up and away,…”

A catchy saying that repeats itself, seeming to insinuate positive feelings.

However,…

“Cuz in the end, they’ll judge me anyway, so whatever.”

Is Kid Cudi asserting his own masculinity by ignoring his critics and being “up

up and away”? The metaphor of being “above” your enemies is surely taken

to another level with this song, as Cudi sings about being up and away from

critics. He also hints at a slight sense of homophobia when he sings, “Dudes

who critique your clothes are most gay”, putting down people that criticizes
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him with insults of being gay. Even in upbeat alternative hip-hop, we still see

evidence of homophobia and hypermasculinity, issues that artists bring in

their songs.

Hip-hop is a beautiful style of art and it is one of the newest to emerge

in this century. However, this art style is the style that reflects the streets

and slums of our modern culture. If anything, we ought to look at hip-hop’s

ugliness and see our own ugliness reflected from it. To fully resolve the

problems that we see in hip-hop, we as society must take steps to address

our issues. And whatever these steps must be, they must be even more

united as the art style that reflects our problems.