Oprah ain't got no love for Hip-Hop

BlogHer Original Post

Laina Dawes also writes at Writing is Fighting and is the Music Editor for Suite 101.com.

In the May issue of GQ Magazine, Rapper /Actor Ludacris complained about Oprah Winfrey's lack of interest in having Hip-Hop artists on her show. In the latest issue of FM Magazine, Rapper / Actor / Producer Ice Cube shared the same sentiments. But what they all have in common is making money at any cost. The only difference between them is how they do it.

Oprah (which admittedly, I'm not a fan of)panders to a specific audience: Middle-class suburban moms who watch her show to find out how 'the other half lives.' She has to promote the mega-superstars, which includes having that misogynst nutcase Tom Cruise, Bon Jovi and Beyonce on her show because that's what people feel comfortable with and what they want to see. When she had the cast of Crash on, it was pretty obvious that while Ludacris did a stellar acting job in the movie, she chose to critisize him on his lyrics. But hey, it's her show, right?

But what woman wants to be sexually objectified? When Rap music first emerged on the scene, I loved NWA, in which Ice Cube was a prominent member and I was digging Public Enemy and Run DMC. In those days, the music served as a gateway into another world - a world in which as a girl growing up in rural Ontario, I knew nothing about. The tales about the gritty life in the inner city, and messages of black empowerment were things that didn't know about, but were interested in experiencing. Obviously, things have changed for the worse.

Before Hip-Hop became popular, the artists were not making any money. Major record labels wern't really interested in signing black artists, not knowing the power of the genre on the streets, until public demand of underground mixtapes and sold -out concerts finally made them decide that they could capitalize on it. And when that happened, the quality of the music slowly started to slip. In my opinion, Hip-Hop is now focused on providing the public with what they want to hear - pandering to the prevailing stereotypes about the sexual accessibility of women of colour (which existed long before Hip-Hop), and critisizing women (predominantly black) who refuse to be marginalized, calling them 'bitches.' As I don't really listen to Hip-Hop these days for that reason, I do understand where some of the bullshit is coming from.

Hip-Hop is a gateway for a lot of people to make money. Undereducated, impoverished, some look at the music industry as a way to get out of a tricky situation. Some people cry, "get a real job," , but it isn't so easy for some. Yes, Oprah came from a challenging life and persevered, but she also had a lot of good luck, knew how to play the game to get what she wanted.

Last year, Vibe Magazine published an excellent article on the Ying-Yang Twins, one of the most offensive Hip-Hop groups out there. Both of the members have physical disabilites, and acknowledged that they wrote their lyrics because that was what their fans wanted to hear and that's what made them money, not because that's how they felt about women. They knew that their disabilities had hindered them socially and economically and this was a way where they could support themselves. Again, I'm certaintly not advocating "The Whisper Song" or Nelly's "Tip Drill," but there are two sides to every story.

When it comes to music videos, are we dragging black and latino women onto the set, forcing them into lingerie to shake their behinds in front of the camera? No. But what Oprah, Ludacris and Ice Cube should do is look at why these women feel that by participating in misogynst videos is a gateway into a bigger career - which it isn't, unless you write a tell-all book. Money is the underlying factor, and if you want it bad enough, you will do anything to get it, which includes pandering to get those lucrative advertising dollars, exploiting your own people and believing that the way to getting respect is through material wealth. Remember Paris, Oprah?

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