In the #MeToo era, many in the music industry have been producing and awarding sexually exploitive lyrics.
For the week of March 31st, 2018, eight of the top 20 songs in Billboard’s “R&B/Hip-Hop” chart were blatantly sexist and misogynistic. In these songs, women were portrayed as commodities or luxury goods -- something to be owned or consumed and of no more importance than money, cars, liquor or drugs. Sexual lyrics are casually graphic and almost solely about women giving men pleasure.
In eight of the 20 songs, singers used the word “bitch” a total of 55 times, with 15 blatant instances of women being treated as sex objects. Cardi B, a woman and a wanna-be #MeToo activist, had a new Top-20 song about dominating “bitches” and giving them drugs. Newly minted rap star Post Malone and Ty Dolla $ign rapped that they “can take yo’ bitch,” and receive oral sex from “hoes.” And Kendrick Lamar’s “King’s Dead” (which used “bitch” seven times) grossly detailed oral sex.
Graphic Lyrics Deriding Women as Mere Sex Objects
The song “Psycho” occupied the No. 3 spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hot-Hip Hop chart. Written by Post Malone and featuring artist Ty Dolla $ign, it depicted the luxuries the young rappers have earned, with the worst lyrics concerning the women they’ve acquired. They rapped about stealing “bitches,” and getting them to perform sex acts for them.
In just the second verse, several lines included the lyrics, “You should see the whip, promise I can take yo’ bitch. Dolla ridin’ in an old-school Chevy, it’s a drop top. Boolin’ with a thot-thot, she gon’ give me top top.”
Another current Top-20 fixture has been the rap group Migos. These three rappers have frequently written songs that objectify and are disparaging towards women. This week, their song “Stir Fry” sat at No. 8 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop listing. It’s lyrics stated that they have the “finest hoes,” and that one “hoe” in particular has “got a big ol’ onion booty, [that] make[s] the world cry.”
Another Migos’ song, “Walk It, Talk It,” was high in the chart as well. The song sat at No. 12 and was written about the rap moguls’ decadent lifestyle which included dominating loose and easy women. Several lyrics portrayed rappers’ desire for a threesome with women, “I want that thot, this thot, menagin’,” [as in menage a trois]; and a disparaging objectification of women’s bodies, “She just bought a new ass, but got the same boobs.”
“Him and I” by G-Eazy and Halsey came in at No. 13. A sort of Bonnie and Clyde romance, if you will, the song's lyrics depicted the two lovers/partners in crime living a fast and hard lifestyle. “We do drugs together, fuck up clubs together,” the song lyrics read. Although the songwriters expressed some type of dependency and intimacy towards one another, it devolved into expressing how the female of the duo is the man’s “down bitch.” G-Eazy and Halsey write:
My bitch was the most solid, nothing to solidify. She would never cheat, you’d never see her with a different guy. Ever tell you different, then it’s a lie. See that’s my down bitch, see that’s my soldier. She keeps that thang-thang if anyone goes there… We keep mobbin’, it’s just me and my bitch. Fuck the world, we just gon’ keep getting rich, you know?
No. 14 in the hip-hop top 20 was “Plug Walk,” by Rich the Kid. It was a song dedicated to his drug supplier, or “Plug,” in which Rich the Kid rapped about a day driving around with his dope-slinger, and getting into gang banger mischief. (“Pick him up in a space coup, I don’t let my plug walk.”)
Rich talked about making deals as a Gucci-wearing “boss,” and picking up women along the way, while discarding old ones. He rapped in the chorus, “New freak, had to cut my other lil’ bitch off (ooh, ooh, lil’ bitch.)” In the second verse, the rapper described a woman he was planning on having have sex with. He wrote, “Bitch this ain’t no Henny in my cup (lil’ bitch.) Stayed down, now the racks up (racks up.) She gon’ let me fuck, ass up (ass up.)”
Another Rich the Kid song in the top 20 last week, called “New Freezer” similarly treated women as sexual commodities. In the chorus, he rapped, “My bitch too foreign need a visa, I don’t need her… New bitch wanna fuck to my AP, New Freezer.” Verse one contained the lyrics, “I fuck that bitch ‘cause she bougie (she bougie.) She suck my dick in the movies (yuh.) Trap jumpin’ like 2-3, She a foreign lil’ freak (freak.)”
The second verse featured Kendrick Lamar, who rapped, “Get a bitch with a tan by the pool every day.” He also wrote about receiving oral sex from twins, saying, “I want some top from like two sets of twins. Twenty twin twins, yeah (yeah.) Ayy, bitch (bitch,) where your friends? (Yeah, yeah.)”
Speaking of Kendrick Lamar, an artist who was nominated for several Grammy nominations this year, his song “King’s Dead” ranked at 16 in Billboard’s list. The song was off the Black Panther soundtrack and featured several of this generation’s hip-hop heavyweights. For a movie that has been touted by some as the cultural achievement in 2018, it’s a shame that this song was filled with graphic violence, drug use, general disregard towards humanity, and one particularly graphic instance of misogyny.
The word bitch was thrown around everywhere (not to mention other kinds of profanity,) and, again, women were sex objects. In the second chorus, featured artist, Future, rapped about stealing another man’s “baby mama” and having sex with her: “Fuck his baby mama, tryna sneak diss. I took her to my penthouse, then I freaked it (I freaked it.)” Not sure whether he should discard her or not, he rapped, “I haven’t made my mind up, should I keep it? (Should I keep it?) I got big dog status, it ain’t no secret.”
The following stanza sums up the obscene chaos that is “King’s Dead,” including a vile, sing-song lyric in which rappers Future and Jay Rock talked about receiving oral sex in a vehicle. It goes:
La di da di da, slob on me knob. Pass me some syrup, fuck me in the car. La di da di da, mothafuck the law. Chitty chitty bang, murder everything. Bitch, I’m on a roll, and I put that on the gang.
The 19th spot on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart belonged to Cardi B’s “Cartier Bardi.” Cardi has recently become an advocate for the #MeToo movement, using her status as a powerful hip-hop woman to demand better female inclusivity. But the irony and hypocrisy became all too-evident when the female rapper and her featured guest, 21 Savage, contributed to the abuse of women in this song’s explicit lyrics.Cardi’s chorus and verses included:
Bardi, put that lil’ bitch on molly, Bardi! Bitch on Molly… Your bitch wanna party with Cardi. Cardi got your bitch on molly... Who took your bitch out to party? I took your bitch and departed… I got your bitch and she naked, Ice on the cake when I bake it.
And 21 Savage’s lines included:
Diamonds all over my body, Fucked that bitch on molly, ask him if I’m bout it… Bitch, I’m drippin’, ho, you trippin’, told the waitress I ain’t tippin’. I like hot sauce on my chicken, I pulled the rubber off and I put hot sauce on her titties. I’m in a Bentley truck, she keeps sucking like it’s tinted. All these VVS’s, nigga, my sperm worth millions. The bitch so bad, I popped a Molly ‘fore I hit it.
Billboard.com recently reported that Cardi B was frustrated because she didn’t see the #MeToo “support reaching women in the hip hop world anytime soon.” She also told Cosmopolitan that “A lot of video vixens have spoke about this and nobody gives a fuck. I bet if one of these women stands up and talks about it, people are going to say, ‘So what? You’re a ho. It don’t matter.’”
If Cardi B wants to be consistent, especially as a powerful face for #MeToo, why has she penned songs that include references to abusing sluts and hoes, in this case, giving them “molly” (ecstasy) so that they’re more willing to be coerced? Shouldn’t she be opposed to the copious use of the term “bitch” in her songs?
“Outside Today” rounded out the top 20. Written and performed by rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again, the song portrayed his life as a young rap star dealing with legal troubles. It involved the same recurring themes of purchasing expensive cars and jewelry, tussling with gang-bangers in the streets, avoiding bad press and legal conviction, and, of course, showing the females who’s boss.
He rapped, “I just bought a brand new watch from God, I ain’t put it on yet. I don’t care bout no bitch, I ain’t giving her shit, spend it all on the homies.” In verse two, YoungBoy apparently declined a prostitute his friend bought for him, and ended up shooting both “Ben” and “his bitch.” His lyrics said, “Ben bought me a bitch, but I don’t really want her… He say he want smoke, but I know he don’t want it. Shoot him and his bitch and I up one of his homie.”
So those were the eight songs out of this week’s R&B/Hip-Hop top 20 that were explicitly sexist. That number was even higher the previous week, when it was 10 out of the top 20 songs. Obviously, the rate fluctuates, but the genre regularly facilitates a large chunk of content that is inflammatory towards females.
And Americans are consuming it.
Nielsen ratings have found that “it’s the first time in U.S. history that the genre has risen to the top of the musical food chain,” with it making up “25.1 percent of all music consumption in the U.S.” as of 2017. Rock music is second place with only 23%. This is particularly problematic for youth. In a recent article for the The Harvard Crimson, contributing writer Uzochi Nwoko wrote that the “average age of hip hop listeners is the lowest of all major music genres in the United States. Because of this impressionable demographic, the content of hip hop and rap music has particular potential for impact.”
Nwoko discussed that, while the message of wealth and empowerment have been appealing to African-American youth, they have also been receiving the more “insidious connotations.” One such example, the writer claimed, is “the saturation of rap and hip hop music with misogynistic lyrics that hypersexualize and give little or no respect to women.” Nwoko also reported her Billboard hip-hop findings for the week of Feb. 24, which was that an astonishing 18 out of the top 25 songs used language belittling towards women, such as “bitch,” “hoe,” and “whore.”
Take it from Grammy-winning, female rapper, Eve. She spoke to Newsweek about how misogyny is present in rap music “way more than it has ever been now.” Unlike many in the industry who seem reluctant to tackle the nature of Hip-Hop itself, Eve has argued that it’s the obscene lyrics that need to disappear. She stated, “Guys shouldn’t be rapping about it, guys shouldn’t be calling girls bitches, sluts -- that should not be done, I do not condone it at all, but it needs to be a bigger change.”
Dr. Carolyn West, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington wrote in 2008 about the dangerous implications Hip-Hop culture poses towards young black women in particular. As far as rap music’s expansion from its urban roots to the corporate mainstream, West claimed, “What’s changed over time is the greater sexualization of hip-hop. Initially it started off as a revolutionary form of music. Now, large corporations produce images that sell, and there is a blatant link between hip-hop and pornography.”
Looking the lyrics of the recent top- 20, it’s hard not to recognize this pornographic material. West argued that “Black adolescent girls are being bombarded with graphic sexual images… Black Entertainment Television, plays more than 15 hours of music videos per day.” Considering that rap has become the predominant music genre in the decade since, furthered by the enormous prevalence of social media in America today, it’s safe to say that even more youngsters are plagued by hip-hop’s negative connotations.
Why Does Hip-Hop Get a Pass?
This is problematic in and of itself, but what’s worse is that many of the media elite have made sweeping calls for universal reform in the realm of female inclusivity, without addressing the abusive implications of the hip-hop genre. They have mobilized to purge anyone who has done anything remotely abusive to women but ignore the industry’s worst offenders. All of this leads to the obvious question: Why do rappers get a pass from the media elites who impose and enforce politically correct speech and conduct?
Take the 2018 Grammys for example. The evening’s #MeToo sentiments were at a fever-pitch. Celebrities took to the red carpet wearing symbols of female solidarity (Cardi B included). Many speeches, and melodramatic performances were given for the sake of undoing sexism (here’s looking at you, Kesha), and even the Recording Academy’s president was all but run out of town for his insinuation that women should work harder to earn more in the industry. If it was such a dressing down of sexism in music media, why was the actual artistic content of the “woke” industry not even given a second glance?
Looking at the awards themselves, the most nominated artists at the 2018 Grammys were Jay-Z, with eight nominations, and Kendrick Lamar, with seven. (Lamar won five of his eight nominations) The LA Times reported that the “the Recording Academy’s big leap leap into the future appeared to be a long overdue recognition of hip-hop as a cultural force.” If this is the “future,” women haven’t come a long way at all, baby..
To have a high-profile music awards show celebrate a genre that is inundated with blatant sexism in the height of Hollywood’s #MeToo movement seems like doublethink. It shows that the toxicity of sexual abuse and misogyny in pop culture is not really being taken seriously, despite the celebrity virtue-signaling. Rap continues to outsell every other genre, and also sells to the most impressionable demographic. Even the Daily Beast argued that the rap industry practically promotes artists accused of real-life violence towards women. For those who care about our culture, obviously there is a huge problem, and for outspoken #MeToo advocates, a huge disconnect.
Still, if the political grandstanding of the past months is any indicator, it seems that average Americans will be subject to a healthy dose of sanctimonious activism on how bad women are treated in the industry without much action being taken to correct the problem where it really lies. Hollywood bodes problematic for American values, but will turn around and scream against the degeneracy in our culture. They say that everyone else isn’t listening, but are they?
MRC Culture considered the weight of the recent #MeToo movement’s publicity and decided to look at Billboard’s “Hot R&B/Hip Hop” for trends that were exploitative of females. The MRC writer used Genius.com to reference the lyrics for each of the songs in the chart’s top- 20 songs, and found blatantly sexist material for eight out of the 20. MRC counted the amount of times the word “Bitch” appeared in the songs, as well as the amount of times obscene sex scenes with women were employed. Urbandictionary.com was used to translate the heavy use of slang in the rap songs as well.