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Gender Race and Sexisim in Rap Music

By xbfg1x Apr 11, 2013 1045 Words
In Depth Case Study of Hip Hop Music

* Introduction – describe what hip-hop is and attributes of the genre (200 words):

In this case study I will be looking at music genre of hip-hop and how representations of gender, sexuality and race are reflected through this genre. Joseph Schloss describes hip-hop as ‘a diverse and vibrant culture that makes use of variety of techniques and approaches to serve many communities throughout the United States, in fact the world’ (Schloss:2004: p8). Music from the genre is mainly produced with the aid of a DJ (Disc Jockey) alongside the main rap artist. Music within the hip-hop genre typically consists of rhythmic speaking known as ‘rap’ which is often performed and recorded over samples and backing tracks.

Hip-hop music is generally associated with ‘urban’ culture and is related to the general distinctions of this culture, such as break dancing and graffiti. For example, this can be seen at the start of the music video for ‘Drop it like it’s hot’ by Snoop Dogg where a man graffiti’s lyrics and images over a wall. The music genres ‘Rap’ and ‘hip-hop’ can be viewed as very similar as both portray the same lyrical values as well as having a similar production techniques, however they have slight differences, as Henry Adaso states, ‘Rap is a form of music that stemmed from hip-hop culture. Hip hop is a lifestyle with its own lingo, dress code, etc. In the words of KRS-One, "hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do.’ (Henry Adaso. (n/a). Hip-Hop Defined)

* Give examples of how sexuality is represented within hip-hop (use SPECIFIC examples):
Within the genre of hip-hop it is rare to see a female take a dominant role as most hip hop videos and lyrics objectify women and will show men down talking to them, which suggests women are inferior to men and should only be viewed as sexual objects. Women are also often viewed as possessions of the male artist, as they are pictured alongside other items the artist possesses such as cars, money, drugs and jewellery, in order to make the artist appear desirable and inspirational. This is shown through the Wu-Tang Clan music video for ‘Gravel Pit’ where the artist is surrounded by women, diamonds and clothing.

Within the video for Gravel Pit, the artist’s masculinity is highlighted by having females dancing behind him in a sexual manner, suggesting he is desirable to women. This is a very strong trend within hip hop, you see this run from the start of hip hop and through to this day and age, as a genre the male gender will always portray themselves as this stance as to show weak or feeble would not be seen as authentic in the genre. Through research online I’ve found an article which discusses woman’s views on the stereotypical view on woman in hip- hop I ‘We're telling people [black women] are bitches and hos and sluts and not worthy of respect," she said. "And that's exactly how society is treating us.’ (Rose Arce. (2005). Hip-hop portrayal of women protested.)

It’s not just the videos that can show woman in a sexiest light as lyrics can be just as bad, the hip-hop’s Tyler the creators recent album has very sexiest lyrics with the album epically on the track ‘Transylvania’

‘Goddamn I love bitches
Especially when they only suck dick and wash dishes
Cooking, cleaning, grant my wishes’

With many artists using lyrics like this and down talking the female species this could be linked with the alpha male trend that most artists take, in many hip-hop songs the discourse of a song can just be just aimed at sexism, here is another example of sexism in Dr.Dres ‘Bitches Aint Shit’

‘Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks
Lick on these nuts and suck the dick
Get the fuck out after you're done
And I hope in my ride to make a quick run’

These just some of the many examples that run through the hip-hop genre which has lyrics like this in and can be seen as very offensive especially through female’s eyes.
The social side of hip-hop has artists mention drug use which they boast about it thought videos and lyrics; you can see this proved very well in the video for hip hop artist Ludacris – Blueberry Yum Yum. From the start to end the video and lyrics mention and show use of cannabis’s, this is a common trend through the social aspect of hip hop with artists mentioning drugs in lyrics and showing in videos. Within the social side of hip-hop the way artist and fans dress, walk and talk is a big side of the genre,

* Give examples of how gender is represented within hip-hop – how men are represented as ‘alpha males’, how men within the genre are shown as heterosexual (against homosexuals?), how men are portrayed as the dominant gender - (use SPECIFIC examples of music videos and artists where they show these representations) – try and relate representation of gender to representation of sexuality (men shown as dominant over women, etc) - (300 words):

* Give examples of how race is represented within hip-hop – predominantly associated with black people and ‘ghetto culture, etc - (use specific examples) – (300 words):

* Conclusion – draw the essay together – how these representations are stereotypical of the genre and how these representations can be challenged? (give examples of where the genre’s stereotypes are challenged, e.g. Eminem (white, uses comical lyrics, etc) - (200 words):

1) How does the music of a particular artist, group or genre represent specific associations with gender, race and/or sexuality? Use specific examples as case studies for analysis. 2)


Schloss, Joseph G – Making beats – The art of sample – based hip-hop. United states of America: Wesleyan University Press. 2004

Henry Adaso. (n/a). Hip-Hop Defined. Available: Last accessed 7th may 2012.

Rose Arce. (2005). Hip-hop portrayal of women protested. Available: Last accessed 7th may 2012.

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