Gender Roles in Hip Hop

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An Analysis of Gender Roles In Hip-Hop and R& B

For my field work assignment, I chose to analyze the messages about gender in Hip-Hop and R&B music. I came across a few challenges in choosing songs for this genre before the 1990's. Hip-Hop is a newer style of music and it was difficult to find top ten songs from the 1980's, but after some digging, I came up with a set of songs that I think illustrates the themes that were present in each of the decades music. The 1980's presented an interesting mix of messages. I chose to analyze five songs by men and five songs by women so that I could see if there were consistencies among artists of the same sex. The female songs "Superwoman" by Karyn White and "Paper Thin" by MC Lyte both featured women who expected men to treat them with respect and wouldn't settle for less. However, the songs "Push it" by Salt-N-Peppa and "Knocked Out" by Paula Abdul had a more liberal view of male/female relationships. "Push it" promotes sexual prowess of a woman and "Knocked Out" seems to want a man to approve of a woman's advances. The song "Mercedes Boy" by Pebbles demonstrates a lustful advance by a woman to a man and almost obviously uses the "Mercedes" as a reference to sex. The songs by men in this decade were equally diverse in their messages. The male song "Don't Be Cruel" by Bobby Brown was about a man showering his woman with lavish gifts and being treated cruelly by her anyway. The song "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. featured very derogatory views of women and highlighted criminal activity as a lifestyle. Prince's song "Kiss" has a surface level message about relationships and kissing, but promotes liberal sexuality among mature adults, while the Michael Jackson hit "Dirty Diana" de-glamorizes sexual comportment in women seeking fame and fortune. There was one hit song from the 80's that didn't feature women or sex in the lyrics at all. Eric B. and Rakim's hit "Paid In Full" gave male listeners an alternative...
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