Is it the new trend in hip-hop to hate women?
Since the beginning, the genre has been crucified for its explicit views and treatment towards women — but recently, things have taken a turn for the worse. These days, we are sexualized, brutalized, and left to pick up the pieces alone. The steps necessary to prevent future incidents of verbal, mental, and physical abuse never seem to happen. What makes matters worse is the normalization of this behavior, in the forms of fans with off-balance ideas of unconditional love, or the friends of predators creating an impenetrable force field around him. This cycle is feeding a toxic environment, on and offline.
Above is a now-deleted tweet by rapper 21 Savage. Though I like his music and don’t think he meant ill will, let me break the post down and tell you why the comment is quite off-putting:
“I work so hard.” This type of self-congratulatory proclamation is common amongst men who feel as if it is their duty to acknowledge their achievements since the world won’t. While a healthy amount of pride is necessary, this statement is a horrible way to segue into the “I feel like the ladies supposed to fuck me and let me do my thing” comment that followed.
21 Savage is a hugely successful rapper from Atlanta, Georgia’s Zone 6. After laying groundwork for the past couple years with mixtapes, music videos, and proper alliances, he popped off last year and was one of the featured artists to cover XXL Magazine as one of their Freshmen 10. Since then, he has become close with Drake, had an EP to break into the Billboard Top 200, and recently signed to Epic Records. He is more popular than ever and it’s safe to say that a lot of eyes are on him.
The Slaughter Gang reppin’ rapper is also a part of a slew of New Age rappers that have the youth’s undivided attention. Millennials look to these individuals for fashion tips, lingo, the latest trends, and sometimes a moral compass. Argue if you’d like, but it’s true. So when Savage shares his archaic viewpoints, he not only offends women everywhere, but he also normalizes his thinking and makes Generation Z feel as if it’s acceptable. While it’s true that a great number of Tweeters came at 21 and showed him the error in his morality, overall there were few consequences. The rapper simply offered up an explanation of the “true” meaning behind his tweet and made it seem as if his words were being misconstrued. His management also had an excuse:
Maybe cuz I was n the car when savage said that tweet out loud…so I know the context….but there’s nothing rapey abt that statement.
— Kei⚡️ (@keiopensdoors) January 20, 2017
People r reading so deeply into something so surface level. And b/c he’s a rapper u guys assume he’s promoting rape culture.
— Kei⚡️ (@keiopensdoors) January 20, 2017
If u listened to the music – you would know what he’s saying. Smh
— Kei⚡️ (@keiopensdoors) January 20, 2017
21 Savage’s wildly inappropriate commentary propelled me to look deeper into new rappers’ recent sexual, physical, verbal abuse allegations, and how the results are perceived by the general public, fans, and the artists’ inner circles. What I discovered within such a short amount of time of researching is rather shocking and appalling. It appears that the trend is to cause some type of uproar, while the offender and their squad rebut any type of blame and responsibility. The buzz around the backlash will eventually die out and we are once again left to move on with our everyday lives like nothing ever happened.
Last year, rising Chicago swag rapper Famous Dex justifiably went through the fire for attacking his now ex-girlfriend over allegations of cheating and theft. The scene was videotaped, and in it, we see Dex chasing the young woman into a corner before viciously beating her. This was done in the residence of singer Tish Hyman, who brought the horrific situation to the attention of the media.
Famous Dex’s compadre, Ugly God, quickly backed up his friend with an excuse for the attack. The Florida rapper shared his views on the incident in a typed post that essentially put blame on the woman and spectators. Not once did the hot potato find itself in the hands of Famous Dex. Behold, a classic and dangerous example of bros before hoes.
Then, in an even more bizarre twist of events, rapper Rich The Kid showed his unwavering support for his artists in the above tweet. Famous Dex signed to the rapper’s Rich Forever label imprint sometime last year, so of course he’s now a part of the brotherhood of sworn protection. This “I ride for my signees” type tweet wouldn’t be completely awful if J $tash, was not also a known fellow batterer.
In fall 2014, popular model Danii Phae took to Tumblr to share the story of her mental and physical abuse at the hands of her then boyfriend, J $tash. According to her post, he:
“brutally punched me in my face repeatedly with his fists while I became slowly unconscious covered in blood in his brooklyn apartment bed. After he was done he told me to not tell anyone to not tell my friends, He also started to prepare legal action to protect himself in case I pressed charges against him.”
J$tash then flew to Japan, posted an explanatory photo stating that he did not commit the crime, and gave a plethora of reason to prove why he was incapable of such heinous activity. J $tash did eventually turn himself him for the assault, but the charges were dropped in June 2015. Whether it was accidental or she deserved it (yeah right) in his eyes, there never once was any public remorse from neither J $tash, Famous Dex or any of these rappers. Maybe Chris Brown was the true sacrifice for n**gas, because Lord knows he still feels the wrath for his 2009 assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna.
Hip-hop and style affiliate Ian Connor rose to fame for his fashion sensibilities and appearances with established artists like Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky. He quickly amassed a cult-like following and became known for his constant internet hunt downs of women he found attractive. Matters escalated last year when Malika Anderson shared a highly personal blog post detailing her alleged 2014 rape at the hands of Connor. This was the first of many claims, with Amber Rose revealing that 21 women had come to her and shared stories of assault. Anderson pressed charges, but they were dropped for a lack of evidence in 2016.
There is a dedicated group of individuals who wholeheartedly believe in Connor’s innocence. From disillusioned teens on Twitter, to grown men like A$AP Rocky and Virgil Abloh, who offer up nothing but loyalty to the accused violator, there are more than enough people to sweep all occurrences of abuse under the rug. It seems like being a(n) visionary, money machine, and idol of many excuses you from facing the consequences of hurting multiple women. This is only a brief rundown of known instances of sexism towards women in this current wave of hip hop culture. Other artists, like Kodak Black and Yung Gleesh, have also been accused of involvement in sex crimes in recent years. As per usual, they were defended by those who could never fathom the pain the victim endured.
The fans of these men add a complexity to the situation that deserves further discussion. Not only do we strive to understand the warped mindset of people who would go out of their way to defend the guilty, we’d like to grasp why it’s happening. What would make someone (and thousands of others just like them) ride for any kind of sexual abuse when there is a clear explanation of the situation, evidence, and in certain scenarios, admission of improper behavior? The sheep mentality is winning right now.
I believe there can be a deep, psychological attachment between the artist and the fan. Fans look up to (and think highly of) their favorite celebrities because they are supposedly living “the dream.” These undoubtedly talented men made it to a point people all over the world labor for, so they deserve worship in the eyes of many. Why not offer your allegiance to man-made giants of people who have an abundance of wealth, many times lead well documented, hedonistic lifestyles and appear to have all things together?
Young onlookers may be inclined to adopt the mindset of those they perceive to be on top (and those connected to them) so that they’ll be equated with the greatness they see within their icon. Grounded adults may not be so easily swayed, but the youth will do just about anything to be affiliated with and protect their fave. Since the “leader” has achieved such high status and seems to know what they’re doing, the herd blindly follows. Believing they won’t be led astray and putting an unhealthy amount of confidence in the leader, the masses look beyond themselves when forming opinions and making critical decisions. This is worsened by the fact that the majority of the people involved are below the age of 25, which approximately when the brain develops fully, according to the University of Rochester’s Medical Center.
So essentially, we have a culture of underdeveloped, off-center kids who are so enthralled by the idea of fame that they refuse to use proper judgment. It is this refusal to break apart and align with what is ethically sound that ends up creating a monster built on the backs of the abused. A solution for this repeated behavior could be time, readjustment of thought, and patience for those on both sides. But in order to have an effective solution, there must first be admittance of a problem. We’re waiting on you, millennials.
Another aspect of relations between sexes that warrants dissection is the mindset of the celebrity. We need to get to the root of the mindset of why they deal with women in an all around negative way. From cringeworthy lyrics like “I know I’ma get my bitch back,” to the discussion of a woman’s sexuality on a public forum, industry-affiliated men have been ruthless with their interactions and comments about women. This ties back into the entitlement men feel concerning women’s bodies, along with deeply ingrained feelings of superiority and an age-old construct called patriarchy.
From birth, the idea that men are the dominant force in the world, especially when it relates to women, is enforced. Men are taught to celebrate their sexual conquests, deal with women as if they were objects, and unite with other men over made up principles. Patriarchy is the backbone of several cultures, religious institutions, and individual families, and as a result, men have decided to perpetuate this belief system, even though it is dangerous. This school of thought is especially rampant in the black community, with music sometimes being a major platform for the spread of it.
Birthed from misogyny, or the embedded contempt for women, patriarchal attitudes can be coupled with abusive tendencies, anger, and objectification. Add years worth of fuel to this fire (should we mention mother issues?) and BAM — we have the aforementioned conduct issues. Imagine having these negative, misguided convictions force fed to you from an early age. Imagine being surrounded by men (as well as some women) who feel and think similarly. Imagine being so lost in it all that you crack under the pressure of an ancient establishment.
Even though the perspectives, behavioral patterns, and network of people who support women-bashing are now better understood, we will not ease up in our defense of those who have been victimized. At the end of it all, what’s being done is still wrong. It has to be called out and analyzed for the sake of progression. If no one else will discuss these touchy topics, we will. It is key to not only hip-hop, but to humanity.
It’s totally cool — for men and women alike — to bump tracks like 21 Savage’s “No Heart” in turn up sessions with their homies. And much love to you if you go to a Famous Dex and Kodak Black show. We here at Electric Circus personally enjoy the musical products of these artists. We are not here to diminish their skill, but we what we won’t and can’t stand for is the constant mass appeal of the disrespect of women, lack of moral regard and it’s current day ignorance. It is time we call attention to the entitled, misogynistic attitudes that can be attributed to those often heralded as heroes. It is imperative to bust up circles of brotherhood that are devoid of any accountability, stand with women who have cases pending, and fight against what is wrong — no matter what their reasoning is for committing the ill. A simple “I’m sorry,” or a basic understanding of one’s problematic behavior is a start. Let’s open discussions to and hopefully put an end to this cycle. Accountability for all, no matter who you are.