#NiaDiaries Vol. 8: My Toxic Relationship With Hip Hop

Recently, I have become more intentional about the content I consume. I only have time and energy for content that makes me feel good. For example, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and tons of jazz music. As I consume new content, I’ve been letting go of others. For example, I’ve been listening to less and less hip hop.

Hip hop is a music genre I used to love unconditionally, especially as a kid. As an adult, I have not been giving the genre as much time as I used to. I took a walk down memory lane to find out the reasoning behind my actions. I learned that hip hop has affected my life (aspirations, relationships, etc.)  since I was a child, and not necessarily in the best way.

Watching Hip Hop Videos As a Kid Made Me Uncomfortable In My Own Skin

Watching hip hop videos made me aspire to be someone that I’m not and will never be. I wanted to be the girl that rappers would idolize in their videos. Typically, that girl has light skin, long hair, slim waist, fat ass, and a flat stomach. I’ve always felt like I needed to be that girl for guys to really like me. (The TV and movies I watched as a kid definitely played into this as well. I’ll probably address this deeper in a future blog post.) I used to pray to God to make me lighter and obsessively wondered why I wasn’t pretty like the girls I saw in the videos (i.e. Lauren London, Melyssa Ford, Karrine Steffans, etc.).

These crazy beauty standards have affected how I have seen myself all my life. I can only imagine how terrible it must be for Black girls growing up now with the hip hop’s obsession over Kardasians, Fashion Nova models, and plastic surgery.

I Became Numb to Hip Hop’s Misogyny

I’m not the first nor will I be the last one to say that misogyny in hip hop is a serious problem. But, I had been listening to it for so long that there was a point (might have been high school) when I became numb to it. The misogyny I was subjecting myself to every single day just became a ‘necessary’ part of my life. That’s when it gets scary.

You listen to people call you a bitch and a hoe for so long that you start to believe it and think you deserve that disrespect. That’s what was happening with me.

Now that I’m trying to be more intentional, I had a realization. I would never let anyone call me out my name like that. But, now, I’m just going to let this random person do it constantly because the beat slaps?

Recently, I’ve seen a lot of rappers switch to a more nuanced, undercover misogyny. Drake is the KING of nuanced misogyny. Hotline Bling, for example, is the creepiest most manipulative song ever but it’s one of Drake’s biggest hits. (This misogyny paired with his reputation as an emotional, lovesick rapper makes the song even grimier. Big ew.)

How Male Rappers React to Female Rappers

I’ve been listening to a lot of female rappers recently, and it’s been a breath of fresh air. It’s nice to see the shoe on the other foot. For example, I just listened to Flo Milli’s album Ho, Why Is You Here? and loved it.

Some male rappers can’t handle an opinionated woman with a platform. It’s a disgrace, truly. For example, the rap world’s reaction to Megan Thee Stallion & Cardi B’s song WAP was a laughable, disgusting mess and their reaction to Megan getting shot was just despicable.

It all makes me question who I support with my time and money. Why should I take the time to support certain people when it’s obvious they don’t respect or value me as a woman?

What All This Means/Doesn’t Mean

This doesn’t mean I’m letting go of hip hop entirely. There’s a lot that I love about hip hop and so many artists I adore. For example, I just listened to Amine’s album Limbo and thought it was great.

The observations that I’m making aren’t generalized, blanket statements. But, it happens enough that I believe it needs to be discussed. I’m just taking more responsibility for the content that I consume. I think you should too. A large portion of my life was spent on autopilot. I was doing what people expected of me and not taking into account what made me happy. It’s time that I draw the line and be honest with myself.

It’s like being in a toxic friendship. We’ve all had that friend who uses us or makes fun of us or constantly puts us down or berates us. Yet, we’ve stayed friends with them because of our ‘history’. It’s time to stop answering their calls, block their ass, and go find friends who actually like us for a change. (If you are in a toxic friendship right now, this is your sign to LET THEM GO YOU DESERVE BETTER BABE)

What’s your relationship with hip hop? How intentional are you about the content you consume? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

If you would like to read more music content, check out my black love story playlist for my Camp NaNoWriMo project or my review for Goldlink’s album Diaspora.

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