alised how true and significant a statement: ‘Ignorance is bliss’ can be. As part of the hip-hop community, we prepare ourselves for ignorance at its core. It irritates hip-hop listeners, or at least find it amusing, whilst it’s a rapper’s strongest weapon.
Unfortunately, people often associate hip-hop with gangsters, curse words, and girls. Wake up! Embrace a new perspective on life and music. In fact, let’s give hip-hop a new name. How about ‘hidden poetry?’ Why ‘hidden poetry’? Because most people look on the surface and don’t bother to delve deeper into the music. “Excuse me; can I have the attention of the class for one second?” Twelve years ago, a rapper made alphabet soup and created humour. However, it wasn’t just any artist it was a ‘white’ rapper. Who most believed was a one hit wonder.
Controversy hit the world, and caused an earthquake during the summer of 1999. The hip-hop industry introduced a man with a twisted sense of humour. Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem. With multiple personalities, Eminem has the freedom to draw attention. These personas are as follows:
Eminem – The rapper with a sense of humour
Slim Shady – The rapper with a twisted sense of humour
Marshall Mathers – The artist who portrays his struggles in real life.
Of course, there are many other rappers to bring forward; like Tupac, Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, and Notorious B.i.G. Imagine your Mum and Dad going through your music collection; suddenly she stops, her next sentence is “You can’t listen to that, your factory settings change!”
“You always was a black queen, mama. I finally understand for a woman it ain’t easy tryin’ to raise a man. You always was committed, a poor single mother on welfare. Tell me how ya did it. There’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show you that I understand. You are appreciated!”
Are these the words of a man who should be condemned for his trail of thought? Or is it a man who truly understands and appreciates women’s existence? I’m not going to sit here, and say rappers like Tupac doesn’t at the same time refer to women as “bitches” and “hoes”. However, that’s only the surface, if we look into it on a deeper level, we see there’s a story behind every beat. Every lyric, and every track.
I remember it like it was yesterday, 15 years old with Tupac, and Dr. Dre blaring out of my speakers. My Mum reacting to every swear word she heard. “It’s just curse words, how can you call this music?” Ten years later, and she still feels the same. However, I never gave up on hip-hop.
Hip-hop had a whole new era; Eminem definitely succeeded because for the first time, hip-hop wasn’t about colour anymore. He used, and still uses his colour to his advantage. It’s one of the many reasons that helps him to relate to kids.
However, Marshall Mathers LP (2000) contrasted to the previous year’s release. It gave most people reason to hate the white rapper with passion! The LP makes reference to a far more aggressive, violent, and offensive persona. The album makes reference to gays, lesbians and furthermore displays violent outburst towards his former wife.
The album concept triggered protests and campaigns against the white rapper labelling him a homophobe in January 2001. Nevertheless, Eminem’s star shone brighter.
“I feel like I’m walking a tight rope, without a circus net. I’m popping percocets, I’m a nervous wreck. I deserve respect; but I work a sweat for this worthless cheque ‘Bout to burst this tech, at somebody to reverse this debt. Minimum wage got my adrenaline caged. Full of venom and rage, especially when I’m engaged and my daughter’s down to her last diaper. That’s got my ass hyper. I pray that god answers, maybe I’ll ask nicer.”
Then there was the second verse:
“My life is full of empty promises, and broken dreams! I’m hoping things will look up, but there ain’t no job openings. I feel discouraged hungry and malnourished. Living in this house with no furnace, unfurnished, and I’m sick of working dead end jobs with lame pay.”
These lyrics illustrate the struggles of a young father just like you or me. Craving for success, as he tries to give his daughter a better life, he’s not a crazed lunatic. I’m not going to sit here and deny that Eminem is an extremist. This is evident throughout his career.
Parents often see Slim Shady before Marshall Mathers, which forces Eminem’s glass to overflow with controversy.
Eminem makes a very powerful statement in “Who Knew?” on the album ‘The Marshall Mathers LP’ (2000) and presents an eye opener for parents.
“I’m like, “Guidance – ain’t they got the same moms and dads, who got mad when I asked if they liked violence? And told me that my tape taught ‘em to swear. What about the make-up you allow your 12-year-old daughter to wear? (Hmm?) So tell me that your son doesn’t know any cuss words, when his bus driver’s screamin’ at him, f**kin’ him up worse.”
Isn’t this something to think about? I’m not going to sit here and deny that music holds some kind of influence towards the new generation. Is it fair to point fingers at an individual who’s determined to express their life experiences through the art of creativity? We are all responsible for our own actions. Therefore, it all depends on the listener’s self control and willpower. As they have the choice to react either positively or negatively. I stress once more, it’s a matter of choice.
All this unnecessary drama brings unanswered questions to mind. It forces me to consider the existence of extremists in the music industry.
Rock’n’Roll has its very own chick: Pink. Another extremist with similarities to Eminem. Her lyrics and music videos lead way to debate. Her release of “F**king Perfect” gave critics reason to scream. The music video for this song rang bells for critics and listeners.
Furthermore, as I write this article it encourages me to discuss Britney Spears’ influence on the younger generation. I always say it’s wrong to be prejudice against people. However, there’s a time and a place for everything. Keeping this in mind, I want to pose the following question; why is it OK for Britney Spears to release songs that jeopardizes women. “Toxic”, and “Slave for you” express controversy clear as day. It cleverly influences changes in a male’s perspective very easily. Why is it OK for extremists like Pink and Lady Gaga to cause a debate? – it’s all just baby mama drama!