Since a slew of high profile celebrities have been called out for sexual assault and sexual misconduct, for the most part, those in hip-hop have remained unscathed — aside from Russell Simmons being accused of rape by several women.
“[Music] does a really good job at diminishing the power of a woman, and that’s really sad,” he told Variety. “Especially hip-hop [and] rock — sex, drugs and rock and roll. A woman is a resource in that sentence. It’s sad.”
According to one expert, female-led movements like #TimesUp and #MeToo hasn’t affected the music industry, mainly because it has a history that’s steeped in treating women like second-class citizens. There’s also a huge imbalance between the genders when it comes to having positions of power within the industry.
“The film industry appears to have numerous monsters within, but in the music industry the problem may be more systemic,” said Alan Williams, who’s an associate professor and coordinator of the music business program at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. “It can be harder to identify specific villains when the very act of aspiring to a musical career requires numerous small acts of compromise and acquiescence.”
Will also said today’s music doesn’t celebrate women in a respectful manner, which is far different from the songs he grew up with.
“I understand why my mom wanted me to listen to music like Earth Wind & Fire and The Isley Brothers, where they have songs like ‘Who’s That Lady?’ where it’s a gentle admiration for a woman,” he explained. “If that song would have come out today it would have been ‘Who that bitch? [laughs].”
While Will’s joke about the Isley Brothers’ song will likely garner some laughs, his point about the lack of rap songs that praise women outside of their physical attributes has validity. In fact, one wouldn’t have to look any further than the current Billboard rap charts to see it for themselves.
Right now, the No. 1 song is Post Malone’s “Rockstar,” where he and 21 Savage talk about having a “100 bitches in a trailer” and “hitting bad bitches from the back while pulling on their tracks.”
The No. 2 song on Billboard is G-Eazy’s “No Limit,” where A$AP Rocky delivers the following chorus:
“If I hit it one time I’ma pipe her / If I hit it two times then I like her / If I f— her three times I’ma wife her / It ain’t safe for the Black or the white girls,” he rhymes.
The lack of rap songs that show respect to women could be why Drake has been so successful since he’s seemed to fill a gap that was occupied by artist like LL Cool J back in the day.
The same could be said for Kendrick Lamar’s latest single “Love,” where he promises to be loyal to his woman and asks her to do the same. The song was released nine months ago but still gets radio play as if it were brand new.
Elsewhere in the Variety interview, Black Eyed Peas group member Taboo also expressed frustration about today’s music and said it lacks true activism.
“It’s sad that in this day and age of music we don’t have a huge support for activism like we used to,” he stated. “In the ’60s, everybody was trying to make a statement with their music. It seems more athletes are standing up for causes than actually in the music industry.”
Taboo was obviously speaking on the many protests within the NFL since Colin Kaepernick first took a knee during the national anthem in 2016, and it could be argued that rappers and other Black musicians aren’t as unified as professional athletes.
But a closer look at some of today’s rap songs, particularly when Donald Trump took office, challenges Taboo’s point since a number of mainstream artists have released politically charged tunes — and not just Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole.
Examples include The Game , as well as Jeezy, JAY-Z and YG, who delivered cuts like “Police Get Away Wit Murder.”
“Black males in a hoodie that’s a target to them / They say he over-sized and choked him out that was harmless to them / They’ll hit us and try to blame it like I ain’t owe this to them / But f— it, I’m waking my people, making it harder for them,” he rhymes.
Artists from the R&B world have seemingly stepped up their efforts to address injustice as well, like Beyoncé’s “Formation” and her song “Freedom” with Lamar.
Miguel is another R&B artist who’s addressed topics like police brutality in his cut “How Many,” which he dropped after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were gunned down by police.
Just last week, the North Carolina rapper and recent Grammy nominee Rapsody spoke about politically charged rap songs and unlike Taboo, she claimed to be pleased with hip-hop’s current direction.
“Now you just see these movements and people are coming together more. Even in rap,” she told Larry King. “People like to divide rap from underground or socially conscious, but I see artists coming together now more. I see women coming together, so these times I think they definitely bring us together more.”