Does mainstream rap music exist to push stereotypes?

Nov 2013
588
US
With the topic about rap and violence, I wanted to look at it from a different perspective and ask a different question.

Many people form a negative opinion about the rap genre due to the fact that much of the rap that is being played on the radio is unoriginal, superficial and ignorant. A lot of it is formulaic, washed into autotune and covers the same 4 subjects: guns, sex, drugs, money.

There are many intelligent rappers who simply do not get radio play. The people who tend to dismiss the rap genre as a whole, in my opinion, only because they haven't been exposed to intelligent rappers.

It would be equivalent if record companies primarily played songs by women which are about cooking in the kitchen and washing the dishes - when there are plenty of intelligent creative female artists out there.

Is the corporate side of the music industry interested in giving a voice to intelligent black people? Do people listen to mainstream rap music purely to revel in the black stereotype?

I want to hear your thoughts on this.
 
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sculptingman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2009
3,669
San Diego
Rap is self stereotyping.

The vast majority of us WANT to be stereotyped in some fashion. ESPECIALLY the people who complain about stereotyping as being 'wrong'.

We brand ourselves in a thousand different ways. From the beer bellied graying grandpa who buys a harley and set of leathers, to the gangsta with the falling down short pants and snapback hat.

We want to fit in with groups we want to be seen to belong to, and we WANT other people to make assumptions about us before they even meets us by virtue of our branding.

Trust me, the ethnic guy wearing the gangsta outfit WANTS you to assume he's dangerous.

Just as the Banker wearing the suit wants you to think he's conservative financially, and his life in good order.

In that sense, the Black rap community is selling a narrative. And so are the commercial interests backing them. They want to be seen as having street cred ( even tho most of them simply don't ) They Want to extract money from a Black youth that feels disenfranchised and put upon and who celebrate the ignoble avarice of quick money doing illegal things and the juvenile fantasy of blowing away anyone who disses them.

It is the exact same thing as selling first person shooter games to suburban white boys.

They are not examining any cultural issues… they are looking to cash in on youthful ennui and anger.


And, sure, there are artists out there who want to say more, or do more within the structure of that sound and that culture… but you don't make mad money by selling elitist think pieces to the hop polloi.

For every Tom Waits writing strange, compelling, and interesting music that might appeal to the pro musician, or the connoisseur, there are GOING to be 6 death metal bands screaming songs about the inchoate angst of teenage boys.

For every Jewel or Bjork- we must suffer thru a legion of Taylor Swifts and Brittany Spears.

Gangster Rap is the Taylor Swift of Hip Hop. Selling the blandest flavor of exactly what their demographic expects,
Angry abusive music for Wannabe thug fukboys.
 
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Fox

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,937
Korea
Is the corporate side of the music industry interested in giving a voice to intelligent black people? Do people listen to mainstream rap music purely to revel in the black stereotype?
Why does the "corporate side of the music industry" have to do anything? Platforms like Youtube allow any would-be musician or singer to put themselves out there at minimal cost to either themselves or their potential fans. If there are "intelligent" rappers out there, and there are people who want to listen to "intelligent" rap music, then the obvious choice is to bypass the corporate music industry and hook up using the Internet, which in turn can lead to live performance tours if and when the "intelligent" rapper in question becomes broadly popular. Which they will, of course, if all this supposed demand for "intelligent" rap music is real.

Personally, though, I expect the corporate approach to handling rap music does as well as it does precisely because it's giving a large number of people exactly what they want. I don't like either the style or substance of "corporate" rap music, so I don't listen to it. Conversely, it stands to reason that the people who spend an appreciable amount of time listening to it probably like it just fine.

sculptingman said:
The vast majority of us WANT to be stereotyped in some fashion.
This is insightful, and probably correct. A huge portion of what people do is done in order to send implicit signals to others, and those signals rely upon imagery and associations. "Corporate men in suits are standing between our youth and 'intelligent' rappers," is a nice-sounding narrative, but it's still just a narrative. "Corporate men in suits are cashing in on the desire of a certain demographic to signal to one another," is probably closer to the reality.
 
Jul 2015
278
United States
Great question and without a doubt it does.

I will admit I know very little about what's going on in the rap world in 2015. The latest mainstream rapper I remember is Lil Wayne and I abhor him. Lord forgive me but he was very sick at one point, and because of his streotypical damaging image of black youth, I had some horrible thoughts about him and his health, I'm just not even going to share that. I never hear anything about rappers in general anymore. I don't even know who is a rapper or now. Ok, there's Drake & Macelmore.

A few months ago I was talking to a teenager and she said they know who the intelligent rappers are and they support them, it's like an underground support. Thing is, are the positive rappers willing to turn down a multimillion dollar contract shall a big corp come across them? That's the problem, people willing to do anything for money.

I've been reading and making lesson plans regarding the stereotypes of black people, going back to the days of silent movies! Even before sound was able to be incorporated into film, black people were only dehumanized stereotypes in mainstream Hollywood silent films. The same thing persists today. There are some flashes of improvement, but nowhere near enough.

I plan to have students educate me on these rappers of their generation. It'll be very extensive projects. I can already feel the headache coming on because this generation is so different, they overwhlem me anytime I get to discussing things with them for hours on end because their worlds are so complicated and so very different, so much harder than mine when I was their age. So using the history of black people in American music and movies, we'll evaluate these rappers' images, looks, lyrics, photos everything. They will be able to see a clear connection then.

I've been told that Kendrick Lamar is a very positive, smart and empowering rapper.

I'd like to challenge students to take a positive subject and turn it into a rap song. LOL. A rap song about an ancient African powerful kingdom. Sounds funny as hell but I'm not lying, lol.

Our youth won't do better until we teach them better. I say, let the ignorant (and this includes people of all races, the international community etc) continue to support stereotypes, we cant do anything about billionaire companies and what they choose to do with their money, and we cant d anything about people who will sell their souls for a buck. But whatever we can do, we need to.

Edit: of course other mainstream rappers like TI, Nicki Minaj, is Iggy Azalea still rapping? etc, everyone knows who they are, but when i think of stereotype i just immediately thought of lil wayne
 
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Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
...
Many people form a negative opinion about the rap genre due to the fact that much of the rap that is being played on the radio is unoriginal, superficial and ignorant. A lot of it is formulaic, washed into autotune and covers the same 4 subjects: guns, sex, drugs, money. ...
Ninety percent of all music is crap.