Tuesday, October 16, 2012
1. Keep reading Dyson.
2. Keep doing the exercises in Pidd. We are on Be-Verbs.
3. Identify 10 arguments Dyson raises in "Portraits of an Artist." An argument is a claim or statement that is debatable, that is not an absolute fact.
Cyber-Assignment for Homework:
In 250 words minimum, discuss the evidence Hurt presents in the film and whether or not you agree with his premise that commercial rap is misogynistic, violent, and promotes a negative stereotype of black manhood.
I want you to visit http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/hiphop/ for background information on the film and director. In your essay cite a song which supports Hurt's claim(s) or refutes it. You can include the URL in your essay as the reference.
Think about Tupac where would his music fall in the continuum that Hurt portrays? That Dyson discusses? Talk about Tupac's work in light of Hurt's argument in your short essay.
Give examples of lyrics and songs that prove your point.
Hip Hop Beyond Beats and Rhymes, directed by Byron Hurt
Filmmaker Byron Hurt, a life-long hip-hop fan, was watching rap music videos on BET when he realized that each video was nearly identical. Guys in fancy cars threw money at the camera while scantily clad women danced in the background. As he discovered how stereotypical rap videos had become, Hurt, a former college quarterback turned activist, decided to make a film about the gender politics of hip-hop, the music and the culture that he grew up with. “The more I grew and the more I learned about sexism and violence and homophobia, the more those lyrics became unacceptable to me,” he says. “And I began to become more conflicted about the music that I loved.” The result is HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, a riveting documentary that tackles issues of masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip-hop culture.
Sparking dialogue on hip-hop and its declarations on gender, HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes provides thoughtful insight from intelligent, divergent voices including rap artists, industry executives, rap fans and social critics from inside and outside the hip-hop generation. The film includes interviews with famous rappers such as Mos Def, Fat Joe, Chuck D and Jadakiss and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons; along with commentary from Michael Eric Dyson, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Kevin Powell and Sarah Jones and interviews with young women at Spelman College, a historically black school and one of the nation’s leading liberal arts institutions.
The film also explores such pressing issues as women and violence in rap music, representations of manhood in hip-hop culture, what today’s rap lyrics reveal to their listeners and homoeroticism in hip-hop. A “loving critique” from a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head,” HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes discloses the complex intersection of culture, commerce and gender through on-the-street interviews with aspiring rappers and fans at hip-hop events throughout the country.
Hip-hop has been accused of glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia, and at the same time has been lauded for its ability to simply “tell it like it is.” Such controversial debates over forms of expression can rarely be boiled down to a simple case of wrong versus right. Instead, they are complex and multi-layered and must take into account the larger cultural context.
HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes goes beyond polarizing arguments to explore hip-hop’s most contested issues. How do limited perceptions of masculinity play into a culture of violence? What roles do misogyny and homophobia have in hip-hop culture—as well as in wider mainstream cultures? And are the media and music industries really to blame?
16 October 2012
Conversation between Byron Hurt and Tupac Shakur
Byron: “Hey Tupac!”
Tupac: “What’s up?”
Byron: “I am doing this documentary on Hip Hop culture and why are all the rhymes about violence?”
Tupac: “Hip Hop comes from the black culture and stems from back in the days of slavery. White men would beat their slaves. You fight to prove your masculinity and that you are powerful. When you win that person either gets revenge or you make them feel powerless. Hip Hop artists from the streets see their dads, uncles, and brothers doing it growing up. That is what is natural to them. When all you see and hear on TV and the radio are hip hop artist rapping about violence, women and sex that is all you think will sell. When do you ever hear a rap song about education, positive rhymes about women, family? You hardly ever hear that if ever. Let’s face it violence and women sell! They make us money.”
Byron: “It seems like more and more artists are starting battles between each other through your rhymes. Why is that?”
Tupac: “That is to prove who has more power. Who can spit the better rhymes to hit straight to the point. Guns, violence and breaking down someone’s masculinity with our rhymes is the way to prove that point. You will get what is coming to you if you mess around.”
Byron: “Ok. Thank you for your time.”
16 October 2012
Misogyny in Rap: A fictional conversation between Byron Hurt and Tupac Shakur
Hurt: So Tupac, would you agree that misogyny is a big part of rap and that it is a problem?
Shakur: Degrading women is a large part of rap, but not because they are women, but because rap is supposed to encourage men to be real men the only way to do that is to be better than everyone else, including women, it’s not specific to them, it’s just how it is
Hurt: OK, but women are being portrayed as sex objects and that is specific to them only
Shakur: Women are sexy and it doesn’t hurt to portray them as such
Hurt: But do you think women can do more than be sexy, like your mom Afeni?
Shakur: Yes, of course women can do more than be sexy, but portraying them as sexy doesn’t hurt women
Hurt: In the rap videos and lyrics, do you see the women doing anything besides being sexy? Do they show how women can accomplish more than just having sex and taking a man’s money?
Shakur: No, but obviously women can do whatever they want, anyone can do whatever they want.
Hurt: If someone only watches rap videos and listens to the music, do you think they could figure that out?
Shakur: I guess if I was told all my life that I could only do one thing, then I guess I would start to believe it
Hurt: Do you think we can change how women are portrayed in rap?
Shakur: It won’t happen over night, and it might take forever to succeed, but I think anything is possible
Hurt: Would you change your lyrics to be better at portraying women?
Shakur: That’s not what my audience wants
Hurt: How did your audience know that it wanted you until you presented you to the world?
Shakur: I guess go work on some now.
English 201 A
16 Oct 2012
Byron Hurt--In conversation with Tupac Shakur
Byron Hurt: Good morning! It is nice to meet you here in LA.
Tupac S.: Nice to meet you.
Byron Hurt: As one of the continuously best-sell rap artist, what do you think reasons why rap culture is so popular?
Tupac S.: Hip-hop culture reflects the black culture, black community, how they act, dress, talk, walk and dance. It is creative.
Byron H: There are people who criticize that the negative aspect of Hip-hop legacy, things like it promotes the violence, misogyny. How can you interpret “thug life” in your own words?
Tupac S.: “Thug” is part of African-American culture. It is not about physical power. It should be more like mentally strong and powerful and being responsible. “Thug” is a movement to organize existing gangs and encourage them to help defend the black community rather that oppressing it. I always want to speak up for them.
Byron: “Well Tupac, as one of the most influential artist of your time, how do you feel about the Hip Hop influencing people to degrade women.?”
Tupac: “I love women. Women are beautiful.If you listen to my song “Keep Ya Head Up,” listen to my verse “since we all came from a women, got our name from a women, and our game from a women. I wonder why we take from women, why we rape our women, do we hate our women? And that’s basically how I feel about women.
Byron: “ Would you want your daughter to be called bitch or hoe and to be degraded?”
Tupac: “ HELL NO ! I beat a nigga ass if he called my daughter or even touched my daughter !” “Fuck all that”
Byron: “How would you influence people to treat women better?
Tupac: “Through my music of course. I would talk about my mom and Jada. They are the women I love most. They are the true definition of a strong black women.”
Professor Wanda Sabir
Byron Hurt: Hey Tupac do you think that the objectification of women in hip/hop and rap music is a distorted view of how woman should be represented?
Tupack Shakur: Of course it is because, not just hip/hop and rap culture views it that way, but American and western culture as well. It goes back to the idea of owning property and the right of the property owner to do what he want with his property. Whether this property was animals or Chattle , it doesn’t make a difference because it’s all the same.
If you were to look western history and art, there are similar themes. The man of the house or the owner of the estates is lord of his land. Everything on that property is his. until recently about the last one hundred years or so this have started to change of course.But that power of control over the resources of that land is still ingrained in our thinking. So being the man we must take, submit, control the land and all of the resources of that land.
This is what we perpetuate in our cultural values, not just rap and hip hop or even American, but western European thinking, subdue, control , divide. This is what we pass on to the younger generation. It end up going around a vicious circle, eventually our kids learn this too and keep the cycle going .To change the perspective, you have to change American Norms and values.
16 October 2012
Conversation between Bryon Hurt and Tupac Shakur
Byron: “Hi Tupac”
Tupac: “Hi, How are you doing?”
Byron: “I am making a film about Hip-hop culture. I think rap is the exploration about women control and violence. What do you think about that?”
Tupac: “Actually, hip-hop stand for a culture, a black culture, right? However, I don’t think it means pressing issues as woman and violence, it is an expression of ‘nigger’. I strongly believe that Hip-hop is not a part of violence. It is a good opportunity for those poor young black to seek their dream. ”
Byron: "What about the control of woman. I saw a lot of rappers are alway be with many girls as partners in their video. Do you think it is a good thing. "
Tupac: "Definitely, everyone love the sexy girl. But I don't like the concept of 'control of woman', it remains me my mother's experiences. I think there is no boundary of gender. Everyone can be a rapper, including the sexy girl. Women have their right to make their own choices. Right?!"
Byron: "ok, when I grew up I become more conflict about about the music I love, However, I have no idea what happen to myself. "
Tupac: "Well, it is no a big deal, I performed so well when I was in highschool. My mother was proud of me. But everything changes afterward because of homelessness, poor, drug, fartherless. I quit. But , as you know, I am successful in my career.So, If you have belief in your heart, you don't need to be afraid."
Byron: "Uh...thank you."
Tupac: "Trust me, Hip-hop is about our culture. That is the music we should love."
Byron: "Yes, I will. Ok, I am so glad to talk to you today. Have a good day."
Tupac: "That is my pleasure. Thank you."
October 17, 2012
Conversation between Byron Hurt and Tupac Shakur
Byron Hurt in conversation with Tupac Shakur. Choose one of the 4 elements Hurt identifies in Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes. Write a scene.
Byron: Hello Mr. Shakur
Tupac: Hi Byron, nice to meet you.
Byron: so im going to get straight to it, we both know why we’re here so why beat around the bush?
Tupac: (smiles) ask away
Byron: so tell you Tupac, if that ok if I call you by your first name?
Tupac: sure I don’t mind
Byron: why is it that there’s always lots of violence in hip hop/rap music videos?
Tupac: well Byron, lots of music artist come from violent neighborhoods so growing up that’s all they knew. It’s easy to rap on what you know and see on the streets. Now that’s considered some real shit and that Byron is what people wanna hear, “REAL SHIT”
Byron: don’t you think that things can get better in the streets and there would be less violence if rapper’s would start talking about other things besides violence
Tupac: maybe your right but the shit isn’t going to change if anything rapper is going to get more and more violent as the years pass. People start need to understand that violence started back when the white man felt there was no higher than him. Now with the law of freedom of speech, it gives someone the opportunity to speak on how they feel and a lot of times they feel anger and violence. They rap about because they’re mad. Look I don’t wanna sound closed minded and all but it is what it is and people rap and about it and they get paid because people listen to what they wanna hear.
Byron: I guess I can see your view on looking at this situation but if you start to change I think people will follow your footsteps.
Tupac: have you heard my song, “Changes”
Byron: (smiles) and said yes I have, thank you Tupac for your time it was a pleasure meeting you.