Hip-Hop Silences #MeToo While Encouraging Division Between Female Artists [OPINION]
(Photos by Lester Cohen/Getty Images and Photo by Jeff Kravitz/AMA2016/FilmMagic)
In October of 2017 the hashtag #MeToo was trending globally. It has since been used to speak out against the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. Dubbed the, “Weinstein effect,” which refers to movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, many women came forward to share their personal experiences involving sexual harassment. Many men in the entertainment industry have since been exposed and exiled.
While the entertainment industry was weeding out its biggest offenders, hip-hop has struggled to challenge its patriarchy. Aside from Def Jam Records co-founder, Russell Simmons, stepping down as chief executive and from all business holdings following a rape claim from 1991, the hip-hop community has remained unscathed.
Even though male artists, whose abusive behavior has been exposed, often on camera and in most cases, have led to guilty verdicts, continue to climb the charts sharing the success of the industry. They ink deals and formulate promotion plans around an album while accusations ostensibly become negligible. Inversely, female artists are vying for a non-existent title.
There is an anticipatory feud between Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Cardi B’s rise to the top has been editorialized as a threat to Nicki Minaj’s career. A couple weeks ago Cardi B released her highly anticipated debut album, Invasion of Privacy, which went gold the night of its release. After a notable absence from social media, Nicki Minaj has returned with two singles: “Chun-Li” and “Barbie Tings.” Currently, both artists have songs on the charts.
Society loves a good “catfight” and this in and of itself points to a patriarchal attitude. We have to be honest with ourselves: we push female artists into a competitive relationship because we cannot accept the fact that two women can be on top of the charts at the same time. One has to be better than the other. It can be based on talent, looks, or a combination of both. If you scratch below the surface and look at the perceived feud you do not see much. You certainly do not see behavior that would be labeled as abusive, degrading, or abhorrent. Nicki and Cardi need to realize they are not each other’s biggest threats; their peers are.
When it comes to their male colleagues abusing women is used as a promotional tool. In fact, allegations prompt radio rounds where artists break singles, while vaguely talking about their charges. Hip-hop continues to celebrate individuals that are part of the problem by giving their music a platform, offering them multi-million dollar record deals, and booking them shows.
XXXTentacion signed a $6 million record deal from the imprint, Caroline, a subsidiary of Capital Records, following a disturbing 142-deposition given by his ex-girlfriend, which details multiple assault charges. Additionally, he took to Instagram to double-down on his violence by threatening his critics: “fuck ya’ll little sisters in their throats …Anybody that called me a domestic abuser, I’m finna domestically abuse ya’ll little sisters’ pussy from the back.” He has since released the album, ?.
Kodak Black, signed to Atlantic Records, brought a woman to his hotel room and proceeded to repeatedly rape her. The following year, he released his debut studio album, Painting Pictures.
Tekashi 6ix9ine, signed a multi-million dollar deal with Universal Music Group. In 2015, he pled guilty to three felony counts of use of a child in a sexual act. Pictures from the incident were shared online as the then 18 year-old, 6ix9ine, was seen with his arm around a 13-year old minor. He has also taken to social media, specifically Snapchat, where he has referred to himself as the “happy rapist.” He has since released his debut album, Day69.
Most recently, NBA YoungBoy, signed to Atlantic Records, has been indicted for aggravated assault and kidnapping. Hotel surveillance footage, obtained by TMZ, shows NBA YoungBoy body slamming his girlfriend.
What is it about the hip-hop culture that allows the egregious and deviant behavior of a male artist to lend more credence to his overall badass image? Is it an institutionalized machismo? Is it any different from the exposed locker room chat a man running for office is found guilty of and yet still manages to assume the position of commander in chief of our country?
We have seen Chris Brown shape his career as an ever-running redemption tour. A day after the nine-year anniversary of the Rihanna incident, he tweeted this:
Just thinking.... A CRAZY WORLD TOUR would BEYONCE, RIHANNA, BRUNO MARS, CHRIS BROWN. “2 for 2”. And if y’all decide to do it without me... give me 10%. 😏
— Chris Brown (@chrisbrown) February 9, 2018
In a futile attempt to make peace with an artist he physically assaulted, Chris Brown also got dragged for putting himself in the same company of these artists.
R Kelly has a sexual misconduct timeline longer than his discography. Currently, he has been caught grooming under-aged girls as “sex pets,” and yet, continues to tour.
These artists have earned a pass, but why? In our society we continue to call this repulsive behavior a transgression. In hip-hop, the formula for continued success is: you fuck up, drop a single, do a press tour, and release an album.
There is an acceptable norm within the hip-hop culture that allows flagrant abuse and money making showmanship to walk hand-in-hand into the recording studio, on the tour bus and out on the airwaves for millions of avid listeners. Perhaps, we all share some culpability in allowing the #MeToo movement to take a detour around the hip-hop community.
I challenge you to shift your focus. Instead of being lured into the perceived feud between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, make a conscious effort to boycott their male counterparts that engage in destructive behavior that destroys the integrity of what makes us human.