Big Sean, Bryson Tiller and Whether You Can Dislike Something Without Being Called a Hater

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Earlier this week, Big Sean gave some encouragement to Bryson Tiller after the singer said he’d been dealing with self-confidence issues because of “haters”.

“Spent a lot of time trying to fix what haters didn’t like about me, only to be reminded by those who love me that I was never broken,” wrote Tiller. “Focus on the love, never the hate.”

Sean responded one day later and said he’d gone through a similar struggle. 

“Facts,” he wrote. “You can’t please everybody, bro. At least please yourself. No point in changing your frequency of joy and love to accommodate opinions or hate. I had to learn that too. Keep up the good work. 2018 lookin’ bright.”

Although Sean and Tiller’s messages have a lot to do with self-actualization, the word “hater” is what sparked their tweets in the first place, which happens a lot on social media.

In fact, earlier this month, when Sean dropped his joint album with Metro Boomin “Double or Nothing,” he received a lot of negative feedback for his lyrics. But many were accused of dissing him on purpose and not giving the album a fair chance. 

Undoubtedly, the GOOD Music artist was in the perfect position to offer Tiller some advice about harsh criticism, but both of their messages raise a question: Can you genuinely dislike something or someone without being accused of jealousy or being a hater? 

In hip-hop, the term “hater” is used pretty much on an everyday basis, whether in songs, on social media or offline in daily life. So much so, it seems the meaning of the word is  synonymous with the word “jealousy.”

Throughout rap’s history, a handful of rappers have spoken on the subject and questioned if people are really hating when they don’t connect with your music or idea.

“Though some of that sh– ya’ll pop true it, I ain’t relating / If I don’t like it, I don’t like it that don’t mean that I’m hating,” rhymed Common on his 2000 single “The 6th Sense.”

The group Black Star also challenged the term “hater” on their song “Hater Players” from their classic debut “Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star.”

In fact, Kweli broke down the meaning of the cut in the album’s liner notes and even back then — which was 17 years ago — said the term “hater” was overstated and used the wrong way.

“I first heard the term “player hater” in Cincinnati, Ohio many years ago,” wrote Kweli as a young MC. “I always thought it was a curious expression. We started to see cats shouting “player hater” to anyone who had the nerve to critique they wack sh–. A lot of rich players are making the wack-ass music, that’s the bottom line … We call this song “Hater Players,” because there are many players who hate the fact that we do this for the love.”

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In May of this year, hip-hop’s No. 1 curmudgeon Joe Budden and Lil Yachty had a much talked about debate over the current state of hip-hop and the younger crop of rappers.

At the time, Joe said that Yachty was ruining hip-hop after he caught a glimpse of his “Teenage Emotions” album cover. In the end, he got blasted for going at the Atlanta rhymer and was accused of being jealous of him.

Of course, one could easily say the former “Love & Hip-Hop” star is jealous of Yachty’s position in the limelight, but the possibility that Joe really doesn’t connect with his music was rarely brought up by social media users.

These days, Joe has been labeled a hater by the younger generation, which could or could not be true. There’s also a bunch of “F— Joe Budden” shirts floating around, as well as a music video where he’s being clowned.

Marcus Reeves, the author of “Somebody Scream! Rap Music’s Rise to Prominence in the Aftershock of Black Power,” said the term “hater” has been taken far away from its original meaning.

“[Hater] began to be used to shut down any criticism or examination of how one obtained success, like a rapper glorifying drug-dealing under the guise of showing listeners how real the streets are,” he told NPR. “’Hater’ is used to brush off perceived negative comments or someone perceived to be working against you, whether you’re a rapper or a cute individual who thinks folks are jealous of your self-perceived beauty.”

On the other side of the hater argument, authors and researchers found that some have an actual desire to express negativity towards a person or their artistic output, and the Internet has plenty do with that.

“The faceless aspect of our daily interaction gives rise to our collective disdain for our fellow humans,” said Lawrence Dorfman, author of “The Snark Handbook.” “With more people telecommuting, coupled with our becoming an online consumer nation, coupled with our ridiculous fascination for the myriad of hand-held devices available, one practically never needs to leave the house and left to his own devices, man will always believe the worst of his fellow man.”


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