Black Masculinity

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As of late, Hip-hop’s focus has been moving towards portraying a particular image rather than a meaningful message as it was done in the past. Hip-hop’s progression can be put in better terms by the rapper Mos Def, in the song “Fear Not of Man” when he says, “Where is hip hop going? If you want to know where hip hop is going, ask yourself, where am I going?” (Drisana 2011). This means that the music and images being shown publicly are based on the likes of the public. Hip-hop in today’s society is a representation of the world, where everything is surrounded by violence and sex, particularly in the black community. Hip-hop goes wherever the dominant culture seems to hail. Hip-hop is merely an imitation of an imaginary life that almost all males in the black community want to have, thus making hip-hop the defining factor of black masculinity.(Drisana 2011) These representations of black men in general are only helping de-mythicized the stereotypical images of African Americans; meaning that the way that black masculinity is seen only makes African Americans represent a terrible image (Drisana 2011). Consequently, throughout the popular culture black masculinity is normally portrayed negatively and hip hop culture is responsible for portraying black men as being deviant individuals, bad father figures, negative towards women, and being overly concerned with living extravagant lifestyles. It is a common belief that hip-hop can influence many young African Americans to live a life of violence. For example, some hip-hop music includes lyrics of selling drugs and young black men. Sometimes in this genre of music, a so called iconic figure mentions selling drugs; this creates a negative idolized image for young minds, who sometimes emulate these rappers and their farfetched stories. Most rappers who mention selling drugs in their past are simply playing a role for their rap image. For example, the rapper Rick Ross was a parole officer before he became a rapper; yet he portrays this lifestyle of being “hood” or living a life of the streets. Many rappers also speak of killing people, particularly other African Americans. According to Kevin Liljequist in his article Does Music and Lyrical Content Influence Human Behavior, this constant talk of killing will slowly influence the listener of hip-hop music and potentially make them subconsciously believe in the words heard within the lyrics of their favorite songs. Some believe that this negative influence by musical content has led to the highest homicide victimization rates among black males between the ages 18 and 24 (The Issues). Some could say that this issue is not entirely the rappers fault. For example, few rappers produce their own content and control the product which makes its way into mass media (Kubrin and Weitzer 7). They reveal, “Producers not only encourage rappers to become hardcore, but also reject or marginalize rappers who go against the grain.”(Kubrin and Weitzer 7). Though some rappers may create their own product, the images and ideas that emerge are representations of black masculinity as narrow, stereotypical, and reinforcement of negative characteristics especially violence (Kubrin and Weitzer 7). Some rappers claim that the constant lyrics of violence are only for selling purposes or it is the story of the youth in the ghettos while it is mostly white America that influences what is popular in the music industry. Most of those in white America that have interest in hip-hop of this nature feel as if it tells them about the struggles of black America (Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats &Rhymes). Most African American males put on this disguise to seem more masculine to other African American males, which leads African American males to constitute 67% of special education classes and ten times more likely than females to be diagnosed with a serious emotional disorder (The Issue). This portrayal of masculinity in hip-hop only helps reconstitute past stereotypes of the...
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