That''s The Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal addresses prominent issues in gender, sexuality, and regionalism. Using authors from interdisciplinary backgrounds, the editors create a dynamic and diverse range of opinions and...
That''s The Joint: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader edited by Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal addresses prominent issues in gender, sexuality, and regionalism. Using authors from interdisciplinary backgrounds, the editors create a dynamic and diverse range of opinions and impacts. Based on selected reading and our targeted focuses, the text prevents hip-hop from being the saving grace of black culture by presenting arguments that indicate its flaws and contradictions. This allows for the reader to interpret the varying representations that hip-hop offers.
Andrea Clay, Marc Lamont Hill, Michael Eric Dyson and Byron Hurt explore how homosexuality is considered the opposite of masculinity and how this idea affects both men and women. Hyper masculinity is a prevalent concept in American culture. We celebrate and glamorize violent masculinity, from football players to the military. Leaders need to be aggressive and "strong" to garner positive public attention. In hip-hop, the most popular videos and lyrics are about men dominating women. Hill discusses how if men fail to achieve hypermasculinity they''re accused of homosexuality, and such an accusation often hurts their careers. Dyson and Hurt take time to discuss black women as well, though their focus is male identity. Dyson shows how the patriarchy maintains control over women by sorting them into "types" or using them as objects. The in-depth interview covers men, women and gender roles, with a smidge of queer theory. What Dyson neglects to mention about queer black women Clay fills in, as a queer woman herself. She observes how queer women may identify with the masculinity in hip-hop, although she doesn''t mention why lesbian couples feel they must subscribe to heterosexual stereotypes.
Equating femininity with weakness is a major part of American culture and politics. Raquel Rivera''s "Butta Pecan Mamis: Tropicalized Mamis: `Chocolate Caliente''" offers a fascinating insight into the minds of black and Hispanic rappers. By focusing on the video model and rapper dynamic, the reader is allowed to ask the question: what does the video model offer to the status of the rapper and how does her skin color play a role in this? It appears being light skin in a music video is no longer enough. The Latina woman, the Puerto Rican woman more specifically, offers an ideal complexion and an exoticism that suggests the rappers masculinity is capable of conquering women from all nations.
Regionalism is also a profound concept in Hip-Hop. That''s That Joint offers multiple articles on hip-hop artist and their desire to celebrate and redefine their areas. Matt Miller, American journalist and educator, uses figures such as Goodie Mob, OutKast, and Juvenile to address the formation of black identity in the South, an identity rooted in poverty, white supremacy, and corruption. While all of these situations hold a negative connotation, Miller emphasizes the "symbolic destruction" of important symbols in the south and the "construction" of positive and negative stereotypes of blacks and whites in the south (289).
The ways in which rappers in the Dirty South deal with politics, as Matt Miller depicts, is set apart from other hip-hop regions. As he states, "specific political and economic realities informed the ways in which the Dirty South was imagined as a space, a community, and a subgenre of rap music" (290). One of the poignant political realities is that of southern racism. With Southern rappers, presenting the Dirty South is a slippery, and often contradictory, slope. They are either put in a position that emphasizes stereotypes that marginalize blacks or place themselves in a position to antagonize all notions of white supremacy. In regards to the former, this could mean the use of black southern dialect or stereotypes of poverty and violence as a means of further prescribing the South to political and socioeconomic backwardness. For the latter destruction of the Confederate flag, for example, serves to give a political voice against racism to rappers. To rappers like Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz, Bone Crusher, and David Banner, burning the flag is their form of promoting a complete separation from the South''s racial history. It gives the black South a chance to make their own political stances without having a larger media force attempt to silence them.
The multiple forms of masculinity have been constructed by American society, differing in variety of economic, social, and cultural contexts. Black men and women have had a long history of being viewed as "hyper," extreme versions of the classical European-American notions of what it means to be masculine or feminine; the extremities generally coming in the form of entertainment and what characteristics will serve the majority. Dyson states, "we''ve got to grapple with instances of internalized sexism in women where the ventriloquist magic of patriarchy is occurring" (362); just how the "ventriloquist magic" of racism and cynicism manages to dictate the minority range of opportunities for success.
Written by: Calley Anderson, Theresa Dickson, Lindsey Lassiter, Julie Pullen, and Taylor Sorillo