Hip Hop is Dead: Rhetorical Analysis of Hip-Hop
“Rap is something you do, Hip-Hop is something you live.” – KRS-One. Majority of rappers from the last 10 years don’t understand this concept. The current generation of Hip-Hop artists mistook this quote in the complete opposite direction it was intended for. Michael Ralph wrote an article humbly titled Hip-Hop. This article discusses the social aspects of Hip-Hop as well as how it transitioned from being solely an art-form, a way to express oneself, a way of life; Into a misogynistic misunderstood genre of overly masculine men boasting about their riches and how they used to perform illegal actions like the selling of narcotics to earn money, rather than promoting the values that original Hip-Hop stood for and a more positive image.
Based on the vocabulary and the terminology, it seems that this article was written primarily for other scholars because of the facts displayed but is also meant for the average reader that is interested in Hip-Hop culture. Ralph tries to incite thought using provocative language about when Hip-Hop truly became a force in the media world not when it was rumored to have been conceived. Using multiple historical events to substantiate his claims, Ralph shows a very strong understanding of that topic and that expands his credibility overall. For example, Ralph brings up the influx of crack during the late 1980’s through the 90’s in the low-income neighborhoods. Using This led to the U.S. congress hastily trying to use the newly formed art-form as a scapegoat to blame the destruction of the “Hood” This is one of the reasons as to why drug dealers and gangbangers are interconnected to this specific genre of music.
As a result, fans and rappers came together and developed a list of criteria the music needed in order to be defined as “Hip-Hop” This miniature history lesson allows the reader to have just enough knowledge of the subject to clarify what Hip-Hop means for themselves and read further and/or take a second and fact check these statements.
The author also uses mostly Pathological approach by writing about the politicians versus the rappers blaming each other for destroying the under-privileged communities, using the readers predisposed bias to pick a side. He then gradually shifts to the social issue of feminism in Hip-Hop, which is another strong use of Pathos. Having a B.A. in Africana Studies and a Ph.D. in Anthropology, Ralph adds credibility to his article and provides reassurance that his research was put to a positive and productive issue.
He says Hip-Hop’s most influential aspects come from the male’ s desire and fantasy (i.e. Sex) which has to give credit to the women of the industry. While feminist have made some strides to banish the disrespectful and demeaning tendencies of male rappers, it has also fed the movement to get rid of sexual practices in music as well. At the same time, ironically, current Hip-Hop shows no regard or appreciation of women with what seems like an unfortunate necessity to sell. This is a textbook use of emotion to try and get women more involved and participate in the gender equality of Hip-Hop. Ralph has a valid argument in:
A sincere investment in artistic and political freedom would need to distinguish between lyrics that discuss sexual desires and the slimmer category of those that encourage or enable sexual violence. Some of the same scholars who critique and challenge the disproportionate incarceration rates of African Americans (and black men, in particular) often seem incapable of managing unhealthy attitudes about sex and gender without resort to policing the kind of music rap artists produce. (144)
In this excerpt, the author illuminates the idea that many of the same people that try to fight and protest against unfair incarceration of African American are the people that can’t keep an optimistic attitude about women and gender in their lives. Ralph views this as being potentially even more harmful than the exact lyrics he is writing about. He also says this current state of disrespect to women can be accredited to the Production companies and music labels that are paying these male artists to create and promote this music. Ralph creates a piece with slightly more bias than he may have wanted but the topic of Hip-Hop is something supported by mass opinion and not necessarily statistics. Repetition of the misogyny that women in the Hip-Hop industry face is prevalent in this article but loses traction as the same points are being broadcasted through difference examples. He then moves on to talk about the role women play in music videos.
“Far from ‘selling their bodies indiscriminately to men,’ sex workers” instead tend to “exchange specific services, often for very good money, carefully negotiating the time, the terms, the amount, and the exact service, demanding, though too seldom receiving, the respect that other workers in the social service sector receive.” (Anne McClintock ST 37)
Dancing around in usually a bikini or sometimes less leads conservatives to believe these acts are likened to prostitution. He then adds a quote from an earlier issue he is writing for that shows Ralph’s bias to the topic. Ralph uses a quote that I don’t believe many would agree with. I believe it’s a tactic to keep the reader interested and make the reader to read more to understand his reasoning. Ralph finds his research to be insightful and applied it to the real world by questioning the music industry. He believes this occurs because if a Hip-Hop mogul were to own a distribution company, it would give rappers more self-sufficiency. The end shows Ralph’s tone on the subject and how he is hopeful for the future of Hip-Hop studies in America.
Art does not judge nor does it oppress so why should Hip-Hop? Increased knowledge of the social injustices like U.S. congress’ attempt at hindering the progress of Hip-Hop or the notion that women are only video vixens can lead to a positive outcome in the future of Hip-Hop history for years to come. My research paper will be used as a tool to provide knowledge and insight on the negative connotations of Hip-Hop and how they can be reversed.